You never know where you will end up on these rides.
Yesterday was a cold, rainy difficult day. Leaving Middlebury we rode down to Lake Champlain to take a cable ferry across the lake in the misty freezing rain.
Soaked to the bone and shivering I pulled into a McDonalds in Ticonderoga more for warmth than food. Two riders ahead of me were there nursing hot chocolate to delay a return to the miserable day.
Out the window we could see the low hanging clouds draping the road to our ascent West…a six mile climb, not too steep but rather relentless.
All good things come to an end and so when my breakfast was gone I positioned myself in front of the air blower in the bathroom to try to get some final warmth. My dripping gloves refused to give up their cold so I decided to move on.
Slowly ,ever so slowly, I climbed into the clouds looking back to see the Lake and Ticonderoga disappear behind me.
Finally at the top surrounded by dense fog and soaked with cold rain the terrain flattened a bit towards the West.
With occasional breaks in the coverage I could see that I was surrounded by the Adirondacks with their rounded peaks covered in deep greens trees.
This is an unusual set of mountains in the from of a large dome 160 miles in diameter. Created millions of years ago by tectonic plates moving north they have been worn down by time to their now rounded appearance.
Sold off to loggers with the birth of our nation the area has now been preserved as a National Park.
Few major roads traverse these mountains and our path takes us on one of the few east west routes. Rare are the towns and even rarer the services. We are truly in the wilderness. Phone service disappears almost immediately and will not reappear for another 150 miles.
Deep into the forest we go even more isolated from the world around us.
Some 40 miles on in front of me yet another 6 mile climb, unexpected and a great surprise. By the time I reach the top, shivering with cold, drenched in rain and sweat, I am feeling tired and ready for the misery to end.
Our night’s stay is unusual, a Catholic Church…St Theresa’s in the small Hamlet of Newcomb.
I have never stayed in a Catholic Church before.
Finally I see it ahead of me and pull into the small parking lot where stands an elderly smiling priest to greet my arrival.
I pull up next to him.
“ Bless me Father for I have sinned. I had the Hubris to do this ride a second time. For my penance I accept that tomorrow I must get on this saddle again”.
He laughs…”You are obviously Catholic of the Church of Perpetual Guilt. Welcome.”
Inside I find a quiet nook at the base of a full sized statue of the Virgin Mary. I look up…how many times have I prayed to Her in my life?
Not sure quite what to say given that I will be sleeping at her feet I look up and offer “Well, here I am, cold and soaked to the bone”.
After showering in the priest’s house I fix my meal of soup, kefir, peanut butter and marmalade in front of Mary, fix my mattress and bedroll and turn in for a very peaceful night’s sleep.
When I awake I look up, smile, and give thanks. Angel just happens to be sitting there with Flossie at the base of the statue. Both wink and pass on a grin.
So starts another day…