Hancock, VT

July 28, 2010 8:56 pm


We made it into the Hot Biscuit for breakfast. Larry was there at the counter; he said he ate there every morning. We sat at the counter as the regulars filtered in. Our server was Kathy, and next to us on the right was Pastor Maxson from the local Baptist Church. Good spirits all around.


Kathy and Pastor Maxson

DSCN1109s.JPG We came to a river called Lake Champlain. I wasn’t sure why it was called a lake, as it was flowing. There was this cord to pull that raises a flag to call the ferry from the other side It was $2 for each bike.


Ferry across Lake Champlain


Elliot noticed a smell on the other side. The road was covered with manure for a mile, as if a cattle drive had gone through.


We came upon a gas station that still offered free air and water. I filled my back tire.


Elliot went in for a slice of pizza.

Just before Cornwall, I hit a pothole, and noticed a squeaka-squeaka-squeaka sound coming from my wheel. I stopped to investigate. While I was stopped, BOOM! The rear tire burst. My fault for putting too much air in it at the gas station. While I was squatting to pump air into the tire, rrrriip! The sole of my left shoe tore off. I would have much preferred it been my shorts, because we had the toughest climb of our trip coming up.



Cornwall was small, and unlikely to have a new shoe, or stuff to fix my existing shoe. At a produce stand called the Levalley House Farm Market, Earl offered me some epoxy, but also said that there was a hardware store in Middlebury down the road. He sounded like a Kennedy; he had a Massachusetts way of talking. I was thinking that epoxy would still take an hour to set, so we would go to Middlebury. I just wouldn’t pull up with my left foot.

In spite of the name, Earl and Beth were not the Levalleys. They had bought the place from the previous owners. Business was steady. They had three children, who were away at camp at the moment.


Earl at the Levalley House Farm Market. His pretty wife Beth was off helping other customers.

They had wonderful tree-ripened fruit. We got 3 peaches initially. Elliot only wanted one. Then he went back and bought 2 nectarines. Then I went back and got a nectarine. As I stood in line to pay, Earl said not to worry about it.


At the hardware store in Middlebury, I got some contact cement to fix my shoe. The instructions said to allow 1 hour for full cure, so we hung out for a while. I sent some stuff back at the UPS store. Mailed a postcard. We got a foot long at Subway. It was 4 pm by the time we hit the road again.


In the distance, Bread Loaf mountain looms, the first and only big climb of our trip.

When we got to the hill, there was road work going on. Although the road was rough, we did not lose traction. Funny thing, pictures don’t capture the steepness of the road. This hill is like Page Mill Road where we live, nothing spectacular. But our whole trip had otherwise been relatively flat. There was a Robert Frost something near the town of Bread Loaf – maybe this is where the poet lived? There were actually two climbs – to Ripton, then again from Bread Loaf to Middlebury Gap.






After Middlebury Gap, it was all downhill. I didn't get any pictures of the descent, because I was too busy grabbing my brakes on the unfamiliar curves. That, and wetting my pants.

We reached the town of Hancock, and looked at the Adventure Cycling map. Our original goal for the day was Bethel, but as it was already 6:28 pm, that looked too far. Rochester was just 4 miles away, but only showed B&B’s. There was the Old Hancock Hotel in our present town, so we decided to stop. One of the customers at the general store across the street said that the hotel had really good food.


The Old Hancock Hotel in Hancock, VT

Diane, the owner, checked us in. She had an interesting life, went to school at Georgetown, got married to someone there, moved to Manhattan, then later to Vermont. She also has lived in LA and Houston. She has been running the Old Hancock Hotel since 1989. Her ex, who is a musician, still works together with her.


The hotel had 4 rooms, and we got room number 1. It was just $65 for two people, and could easily have slept six. There was no air conditioning, no TV, no phone, and no Wi-Fi. The mountain air was moderate, though, and A/C was really not needed. Without the distraction of TV, Elliot got to sleep early. There was a radio to play music, and a reading library.


To the left of the picture was a kitchen where we cooked dinner. Up the stairs was a loft with 2 beds. There were also rollaway beds, and a whirlpool bath, which we didn't use.

Later on, I walked half a block down highway 100 to see the Gathering Inn. It had hostel beds for just $25, and Wi-Fi. It was unfortunately located, just barely off the Adventure Cycling route, which turns right on Highway 100 instead of left.

I think I should adjust my thinking. In Vermont, B&B doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.


The Gathering Inn. A small sign on the left said Hostel Beds $25

I have no regrets about our choice of lodging. $65 was a great price, and a thunderstorm started after we got in. Here we are inside our comfortable room, dry and warm.

Miles for today: 41


  1. Mona Schorow says:

    Almost exactly 18 years ago, David and I cycling from Burlington, VT to Lewiston, ME for our honeymoon. (Wives on bike tours? 18 years ago, I grumpily asked him several times, why we didn’t honeymoon in Hawaii.) We went out of our way to do the Green Mountains and the White Mountains which were not as steep as we’d expected. We went through charming country!

    Keep that good news coming as you travel through New England! You’re both doing so great!


    • roderick says:

      Happy Anniversary, Mona and David!

      These mountains are still charming; I imagine not much different from when you rode them nearly 20 years ago.

      Thanks for your continued encouragement. We are basically done, now. We’re going to return a day early, because the airport across the river is the only one near the route for days. This way, we can take our time with packing, too.

      I’ll probably send one final post tonight.

      All the Best,

  2. Marilyn Lang says:

    What a day you had! I hope your shoe fix holds up.

    Robert Frost was born in San Francisco (of all places) but eventually settled in the northeast. He taught at the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College (at their mountain campus at Ripton, Vermont) for forty-two years, and was a faculty member for over forty years at Amherst College (Massachusetts), where he (on and off again) taught English. (Amazingly enough, he did all this without ever having earned a college degree!)

    The main library at Amherst College is named after him, and there is a portrait of him as you enter on the first floor. There is also a statue of him on the First Year Quad. (When Alyssa and I took the tour her junior year, the tour guide (scandalously!) did not know who the statue was supposed to be.)

    There is a 47 mile Robert Frost Trail that winds through the Connecticut River valley of Massachusetts, which passes through the town of Amherst. I put it on a suggested list-of-things-to-do while Alyssa is at Amherst, but she does not seem to be interested in hiking out there. (Granted, getting to and from any hiking venues would be a bit of an issue (even with the good public transportation throughout the valley), not to mention the weather most of the academic year.)

    • roderick says:

      Wow, Marilyn, you’re just a fount of knowledge!

      No wonder the guy did so many poems, Ripton is such a bitch to get to with that 12% grade, that nobody would want to go up and down the mountain to do anything else.

      The contact cement was just the thing. I don’t think I could have made it up the final climb from Bread Loaf to Middlebury without being able to pull up with one foot while pushing down with the other.

      • Marilyn Lang says:

        I cheated, lol. I knew about the Amherst College stuff from being there, and the Robert Frost Trail I stumbled on (online) while looking for things to do in the Amherst area, but I looked up the rest of the stuff on Robert Frost today. I’m still amazed that he got (and held) TWO college teaching positions without ever having earned a college degree! I guess it goes to show that they recognized and rewarded talent back then… but could a similarly talented person do the same, today? Hmmm…

        From your comments, are you using bike shoes that have cleats in them that attach/clip in to special pedals? Forgive my ignorance (sorry, I’m not a biker), but Alyssa got these things recently and she says that it makes a big difference…

        • roderick says:

          I have Look-compatible cleats on my shoes. They’re just about worn out now, too. The right one comes off the pedal now with the gentlest twist. I’ll have to change the cleats when we get home, or maybe just get new shoes.

          Elliot has regular running shoes, which have their advantages on tour.

  3. Merrianne Young says:

    Kendra and I faithfully read your blog daily, sometimes more than once. It’s hard to believe that your tour is practically over, Vermont is a great place to be cycling in. The Old Hancock Hotel looks like a wonderful place to stay.

    Mom is settled comfortably in the living room. Kendra had her wisdom teeth pulled yesterday, it went well. No swelling yet. Mom and I played Scrabble until 2:30am last night. Way too late. I have been trying to get the house cleaned up before you two return home on Saturday. The weather here has been very pleasant. Looking forward to having you back home.


    • roderick says:

      Hello, my sweetheart.

      We just shipped our bikes and gear, so all we have to do is return the rental car tomorrow and get on the plane.

      Clear off my side of the bed!

      Love You,