This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
We sent David ahead to buy sandwiches at the Stockbridge General
Store. This has become one of our favorite feeding spots in Vermont
over the summer. Last time we were up training, we told the owner
about BMB and when we would be coming through. The store has an
outdoor water faucet and an outhouse, so even if it's closed it's a
good place to know about. There are several chairs and tables on the
lawn and the porch, where weary riders can take a break. And there is
a cute steel dinosaur over near the outhouse. But the best thing is
the homemade sandwich bread. We saw signs for a B&B Pit Stop ahead
and then realized that he must have misunderstood our accents or
something. We made a quick stop to say hi, use the facilities and the
rolled out. David picked up four sandwiches for us to eat when we
stopped in Middlebury for the night.
We had a few more miles of flat riding before starting the toughest
ascent of the day over Middlebury Gap. As we were riding along we were
passed by Lindy's husband Jamie, in his car. He asked how we were
doing, and we asked about Lindy. Apparently she was getting a sore
throat and feeling bad, so she decided to stop at the base of
Middlebury. He was driving up to meet her. We made a quick pit stop
just before the climb. While there we were caught by a small group
from Ottawa. We took it easy at the bottom, trying to save ourselves
for the worst yet to come. We had hoped to make the climb in daylight,
but we'd taken too many breaks, and we reached the base at 8:00PM,
just as it got dark. We planned to finish off our morning battery on
the climb, and then put a fresh one on at the top. David drove to the
top to take pictures of people in agony on the climb.
Some people say that it isn't that bad when you are fresh, that it's
having 220 miles in your legs that makes it so hard, but we've ridden
it fresh and it's tough! As we reached the top, we passed two very
strong riders, with inadequate gearing, on foot. We stopped to add
jackets and gloves and the fresh battery, so we could use high beams
all the way down. A rider from Arizona joined us for the descent.
we gave our brakes a thorough workout for the next 10 miles. We rolled
into Middlebury at mile 237 at 9:38PM, found the gym and checked in,
then headed down the road a few more miles to our motel with showers
When we made the reservations, we were given room number 23 and told
that the room would be unlocked, since no one would be in the office
late. But when we got there, the clerk gave David room number 19,
since they had put someone else in 23 and said they were doing things
differently. We found an icy cold room with wide open windows and no
heat. We finally got the windows closed, took showers, ate sandwiches
and got to sleep by 10:30. But apparently we forgot to lock the door
and a rider who came in later had been told room number 19, as we woke
to find a strange person clattering around our room. We sort of
groggily suggested that he go wake the manager, and get out of our
room so we could sleep.
We got another two hours of sleep and were back on the road by 3AM.
The night was dark and cool and there were a few confusing turns at
the beginning. After one of these we passed Victor checking his cue. I
called out that this was the right way to go, but I'm not sure he
believed us. The next few miles were gentle, but were followed by some
short steep little monster climbs. We saw a few Vista lights blinking
ahead of us and slowly gained ground on them. As we were climbing one
hill, we recognized the tandem with two other singles, the rider from
Arizona and a guy named Bob from the Finger Lakes area of New York.
We jockeyed back and forth on the hills for a while, and we heard the
Arizonan call out that he'd see us later. We continued on and caught
two more riders on some rollers going into the Burlington area, where
we found a secret control. Just before the secret control I noticed a
rider sleeping sitting up leaning against the front of a Mobil
Station. This was quite a common site in France. In a few years,
people throughout Vermont may get used to seeing this every year in
Around 7:00 AM we reached Lake Champlain and crossed over to the
island. David had planned to find some breakfast for himself and then
meet us on the island with more Ultra Energy for us. He picked an
incredibly scenic place to stop on top off a knoll in a field of hay
with beautiful views of the water and the road as we rode up, but not
a tree or bush in sight. We refilled bottles, dumped batteries and
headed down the road in search of a bathroom, or at least some woods.
While we were stopped Melinda and a rider from Missouri blew past with
their sights set for Rouses Point.
David found us a few miles later in front of a store with flush
toilets and told us what had happened to the rider from Arizona
earlier in the morning. I had thought he was just backing off a
little, but apparently he broke a pulley. They had rigged it back up
with a wire, and when they saw David, they asked if he had any tools.
Fortunately, since we had packed everything we own, he even had spare
pulleys. He sold the guy a pulley - only charged him $10, and provided
the tools to get him back in working order. I jokingly suggested he
could have made some serious money on the pulley. Of course I had
also suggested he park halfway up Middlebury and sell freewheels!
The terrain had flattened out a little to be more rolling and better
suited for tandems, and we started really cookin'. We caught a rider
who stayed with us for a while, until he saw an appealing store. We
slowly counted down the last few miles to the New York border and the
bridge which would represent our last hill for 100 miles. We reached
the checkpoint in Rouses Point at 9:08, the 11th bike through. Two
10am starters had come through already and you could almost see where
the pavement melted as they rode by.
One rider had made the trip over from France. He planned to ride fast,
but he started with the 90 hour group, despite the fact that the
checkpoint at the border would not open until 3AM. He apparently took
his sleep break just before this control, and according to Hauke, the
he was circling in the parking lot when they arrived to open the
We decided to go to Montreal unsupported to avoid hassles of getting a
car full of bike stuff across the border. We carried extra packs of UE
to mix in Montreal and jackets, just in case, despite all indications
that the day would become quite warm. We moved through customs quickly
with the basic questions of where are you from, are you with the ride,
and how are you getting there.
Most of Quebec is quite beautiful, but the section we rode was
cornfield after cornfield after cornfield with no way out of the wind,
and we had strong headwinds or crosswinds the whole way. The roads
were a bit rougher than what we'd been riding, and at one point they
tried to rectify the situation by paving them that day. We suddenly
hit this gluey substance and I felt hot sticky rocks hitting my legs.
I screamed to Steve to get on the grass or off of the sticky pavement,
but it was too late. Our tires were covered in 1/8 inch of tar and
rocks. And it was on solidly. It took another 40 miles to finally wear
clean. We tried to scrape it off with no avail. I vowed that we would
walk through this section on the way back!
We saw the Frenchman heading back in, and a little later saw Ted, our
friend from Montreal and another rider on their way back to the US.
The towns going into Montreal have 4-way stops at every intersection,
which made for quite a challenging trip into the final control. We
caught some beautiful views of the island of Montreal, but this was my
least favorite part of the ride. This was also where I hurt myself.
One minute I was fine, and then suddenly intense pain behind my left
ankle. After a mile, we stopped so I could take some ibuprofen and
then continued into the checkpoint. An ultramarathon runner (this guy
ran from Montreal to Boston last year) looked at the foot and
suggested a tendon problem. He massaged my legs a little while I had
ice on my ankle and tried to eat some spaghetti with smoky (nice way
to say burned) sauce.