Easy bicycle touring in Vermont? Yes, not all of this state is mountains and our cycling club spent a week cycling in western Vermont in the Middlebury area.
This scenic region lays between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains and provides plenty of easy and moderate bike routes. During our visit due to damage from tropical storm Irene many of the bridges and roads had been washed out and we had to revise the routes on the fly but with good maps that was not a problem. Also during our stay the bike routes on the steep mountain roads were closed due to the storm. On another trip the following year our group did tackle some of the hills of central Vermont.
Vermont is one of the more popular bicycle touring destinations, especially during the autumn to see the fall colors, covered bridges and scenic countryside.
Your accommodation could be camping or a stay in one of the many quaint inns dotting the state. However our group rented a house for the week on Lake Champlain which is very economical, particularly as most of our dinners were in house with the group shopping and preparing the meals together.
Having a barbeque on the patio overlooking the lake really helped. And yes one of the dinners did include the Ben & Jerry’s brand of ice cream as their factory is located not far away although we didn’t make a visit. And we did have one great dinner at the historic Shoreham Inn, often used by cycling groups (reservations a must).
There are numerous easy and moderate routes over the rolling countryside available in the area displaying the signs of the Lake Champlain bikeways including some on the islands in the lake. Although there were many bike route signs they don’t indicate a particular route just that it is part of a bike route so you still need to plan on which to follow as they sometimes head in all directions.
Along the way besides the views of the lakes, rivers and mountains we did see some of the famous covered bridges, quaint inns, farms of dairy cows and corn.
In the New England tradition many towns featured village squares in the town center featuring a gazebo along with the white churches with the tall steeples. The village squares make good lunch spots as there is usually shops nearby with food items.
You will not be alone on the roads (there were no bike paths in our area) as we met other cyclists from California, Canada and elsewhere, usually at intersections as the road signs and Lake Champlain Bikeways maps can be confusing. On one section of Hwy 7 heading into Middlebury (good as there was a full paved shoulder) not one of the intersecting road names matched the map for a 20 mile section.
If you run into problems, as one member of our group did, there are plenty of bike shops in the area for repairs. For example there were two in Middlebury, each with highly qualified bike repair staff and lots of cycling apparel.
Click here for reviews of other cycling routes in New England. We are already planning some more easy bicycle touring in Vermont, in the Burlington area to the north.