I know, I know. It’s that time of year when there’s so much going on it would take a blog of Tolstoy-esque proportions to capture it all. The thrills and chills and social drama worthy of the Russian aristocracy during a Napoleonic invasion is all here, with introductory classes, convocation, peer advisor meetings, dorm charters, the first town meeting, and community dinner with produce from our very own farm. It’s the week where lively new students take the big plunge into the ever-lovin’, communal-livin’, brain-boostin’ life at Marlboro, and the community gets an infusion of garden-fresh new students. There’s so much to talk about, but I still want to talk about biking.
I mean, if you have every bicycled with seven Marlboro students you would know why. A few of us staff and faculty joined the Bridges orientation group called “Biking Towards Community” on the last day of their epic trip through Vermont, and it was like a breath of fresh Vermont air. These guys had been riding for four days, from Ascutney, Vermont, and we found them playing cards in the shade of a covered bridge in Townshend as if they had known each other their whole lives. Now, I’m used to seeing Marlboro students bonding over discussions of existentialist philosophy and post-apocalyptic literature, but this kind of bonding over achy muscles and saddle sores and sunburned necks was downright wholesome.
There is something awesome you get from riding with a group that is another world from riding alone. It’s like you become part of an ant colony, part of a hive of bees, part of a termite mound, all striving with your rhythmic pedaling toward some lofty goal, which in our case was dinner. An in my case it was not so much rhythmic pedaling as frantic pedaling, but you get the idea.
From Townsend, our merry band of pedalers followed Route 30 south and stopped in Newfane for gelato, water, shade, and costume adjustments (trip leader Lia Gips decided that, despite the striking fashion statement, her snakeskin-pattern bodysuit was too hot). Then we stopped at the covered bridge in Dummerston (I tell you this state is covered with ‘em) for a dip in the West River, and rode on the new rail trail into Brattleboro. From there it was a hop, skip, and a pedal to the home of Max Foldeak, director of health services and leading cycle-therapist, where we enjoyed another refreshing and symbolic plunge (above) and a cookout. Riding with these guys gave me a burst of energy for the new year and a cluster of new bicycling buddies to ride with in the coming weeks.