August 5th, Day 48: Latham, NY to Brattleboro, VT: 79 miles, 5080 ft. ascent

Although we only have 2 days of riding left, today was the first seriously hilly one for the new boy Owers. We are pleased to report that despite worries about his left thigh he acquitted himself commendably. Without any silliness we pushed through the 79 miles and 5080 ft of ascent at 12.5 mph. We were rewarded at one point on top of Hogback Mountain by views into 4 separate states – Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts.

Chris, James, and Genevieve pose in front of a beautiful vista (James looks silly). Chris, James, and Genevieve pose in front of a beautiful vista (Chris looks silly).
James and Chris take it in turns to look gormless against the beautiful backdrop of Hogback Mountain

As we near the end of the ride, many of us are wondering how we will cope back in the real world without the institutional regime of a Transamerica ride. Some of the group are planning to continue riding on a daily basis. Others are planning on throwing their bikes into the Atlantic, but nonetheless initiating hourly calorific refreshment breaks and pre-dinner briefing sessions, just to keep enough institutional structure in their lives.

Paradoxically, one of the reasons I decided to do this ride was a slight phobia of becoming institutionalized back home, or at least overly dependent on the amazing people around me – most notably my incredible wife Shirl. As a blind person, often the most trivial things can be very hard to do without assistance – e.g. shopping, choosing what to wear, buying gifts or cooking a meal. 

This can make one feel pretty helpless and overly dependent in some situations. For example, when invited around to a casual dinner party, where the other guests naturally lend a hand. My great blind friend, John Rigg, who introduced me to James and Alastair usually resolves this by taking centre stage as chief raconteur, wine taster and bon viveur. However, on one occasion, as everyone else had decamped to the kitchen to wash up he decided to see how he could contribute. Finding himself leaning against a radiator with a drying cloth conveniently close to hand he asked to be passed some dishes. As he was drying the fourth or fifth dish, while entertaining the girl stood next to him with one of his countless anecdotes, he reached the denouement of the story and raised his hand, dish, cloth and all high into the air for emphasis. At this point he found his hand being returned swiftly and forcibly below waist level by the girl, who had suddenly lost interest in the story. She whispered urgently in John’s ear that she hadn’t wanted to say anything, but he was in fact drying the dishes on her skirt. While this was sort of OK, she would prefer it if he could endeavor to keep said skirt around her legs rather than around her chest.

Cynics amongst you might of course say that, along with breaking crockery, burning the dinner and dressing badly, this is just one more ruse employed by blind old duffers to ensure no-one ever asks us to do anything that might detract from consuming Adult Beverages or otherwise enjoying life.

James takes a selfie in front of the sign welcoming you to Vermont. It
James and Chris pose for their latest Album Cover
James and Chris close up at the top of Hogback Mountain
James and Chris were pretty pleased to complete the day's ascent today!