July 4 - Biking 'till dusk: Near Bennington Vermont

We took full advantage of our motel room last night. Showers, swimming, recharging batteries (literally), full use of a free phone line for as long as we wanted, laundry, bike repairs with easy clean up, continental breakfast (bagels, OJ, cereal, Eggos, everyone was satisfied) from 6-10 AM, so I went twice with no difficulty.

But the big wait was for Will's wheel. After grocery shopping and a futile search for LP gas, we drove over to the bike shop a little before noon. Will humbly asked when they'd be getting around to his wheel (he'd been promised 1 or 2 PM); they walked up to him with the Mavic rim fully laced and ready to go. I bought a pair of old style LX cantilevers to replace the Suntour Pederson brakes on the rear of the tandem, which I've long since grown weary of trying to keep in adjustment, having only two hands and one brain (they were obviously designed for someone with one more of each).

On the road at 1 PM; Will had to cover the extra five miles from the bike shop, while Cody drove Cheryl, Annie, and I over the Connecticut river to start our leg. We rolled through Northampton. Cheryl is still impressed with the quaintness of the New England small towns and their colleges; Smith was on view here. Then we stated to climb, to Goshen. I imagine this was getting up to the Berkshire plateau, but I'm not sure exactly what "range" of the northern Appalachians these were - might have been Hoosec or Taconic, for all I know. At any rate, I was a bit put off by Annie seeming not to work up the hill. Four, five, six miles - we kept going up, granny all the way. I've done the Cascade mountain passes, which are longer, and the hills around home, which are definitly steeper, but this seemed to tax us a fair bit. Fifteen miles for the seven year old on the back of the tandem, most of it uphill, was all she wanted. Shaine took over, and we proceeded to roll mostly downhill into Plainfield - until the last three miles, when we rose up again. Frustrated by all the climbing, but no majestic views; and also worried by the advancing time, and our need to be at camp past Bennington before dark, Cheryl and I were ready to call it quits. (Will had scooted ahead to Adams, MA, birthplace of Susan B. Anthony. He chose to wait the 90 minutes at McDonald's instead of the museum commemorating her)(note from cody: untrue, he slept underneith a thing in a park 150 from mcd).

Cody, however, would not let us quit. "Somebody from the family has to keep going", he insisted. "It's just not right, at least this early into the trip. Come onl guys, don't wimp out on me." (a note from cody: hey! I didn't say that, it was more like this: "some one from the family has to be on the road at all times" al:"but will is riding" cody:"wills not in our family, what is the point if someone isn't going to bike all the way" at the end of the day:cheryl"thanks super duper cody neato dude, we needed the extra push" (well, it's a bit closer:) All right the, it's a matter of honor, is it? We toyed with me going ahead now, and then Cheryl taking over in 17 miles but luckily, we got on the tandem together.

Luckily, because the countryside up on the Berkshire plateau is quietly beautiful. Up there, the density of Eastern MA is gone; small farm houses, neatly kept gardens, US flags blowing (westerly, right in our face the whole way, another nagging problem), multi-generational families gathered outside in the 70 F breeze for holiday picnics - rural America the way we all would like it to be. And the road was perfect: smoothly asphalted, some shoulder, no truck and few cars on the afternoon of the fourth. Cody stopped for us several times in the parking lot of small white, steepled churches built in the 18th century. Many of the farm house looked like estates. They had signs doucmenting their origin and longevity, and a few had tours, just like European castles.

Luckily, because we had no idea of how high up we were, and by the time we left Savoy, the six miles from their into Adams on SR 116 were a tandem team's dream - an endless downhill. Coasting along at 40 mph, lightly touching the front brake now and then, grinning at the few motorists who cared to pass us, we made up for all of the rushed feeling, grunting climb, and delays from the dented tire. Our trip was certainly begun.

From Adams, we cruised along in a mini pace line with Will through Williamstown. Although I went to Wesleyan, I was always charmed by the setting of Williams College, in the small forested hills along the Hoosec "River", beneath the shadow of Mt. Greylock, the highest point in MA. A small drizzle found us cheering as we crossed the MA/VT state line, and two more miles took us to Pownal, where were met Cody exactly at our previously agreed on "drop dead" ending time, 7 PM.

In the evening, Annie wanted to do something to celebrate fourth of July. in WA, we have Indian reservations all around, so fireworks are a big deal. In civilized MA, they are totally illegal. Annie wondered what people do in MA to ignite the night. She then suggested a hot dog and marshmellow roast over the propane grill, followed by shining a flashlight through a sheet (something she saw at Sturbridge, albeit with a whale's oil lamp) and making funny pictures. It was a great idea, and all the kids were glad she thought of it.

Massacheusetts seems a small state. It is skinny, but we went from one corner to another, and it took us four days, But tracing our route on the US map, which we will do after every state we do major riding thru, it seems we still have a long way to go. And 90 miles tomorrow.

Miles: Will: 61; Al (on Tandem) 56; Cheryl (on single and Tandem): 56; Ann (on Tandem, mostly uphill, 15); Shaine (on Tandem, a lot of up hill, 15).

Total Miles: 203

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz