COMING FULL CIRCLE.

A Bicycling Ephiphany.

cycling 4

35 miles, 2 ferry rides across Lake Champlain, a peloton of eight wonderful women and  a five course, wine-paired dinner at the historic Basin Harbor Club are but a few highlights from Sojourn’s 2017 Vermont Women’s Weekend Tour. As a customer service rep at Terry I share my passion for cycling daily on the phone, but rarely have the opportunity to share the joy of actually riding with our customers. Sojourn Bicycling and Adventure vacations provided me with that chance with an invitation to join the Saturday leg of the Vermont Women’s Weekend Tour.

8:00 am, June 17, the guests, trip leader, Barb Lougee and I boarded Basin Harbor Club’s private yacht, “The Escape,” on a venture across Lake Champlain to New York. Captain Bob gave us a history lesson of the Lake while his two buddies/first mates provided the entertainment.

Buddies 1

 

buddies 2

We landed in Westport, NY, went over the route, and set off on the day’s ride through some of the most rural sections of New York’s Adirondack Park.  We peddled the rolling country roads past scenic farmlands high above Lake Champlain with panoramic views to east of the majestic Green Mountains.  We cruised down the shore roads of Lake Champlain towards historic Essex, NY.

cycling 1

cycling 2

cycling 3

By 15 miles of North East “rolling hills” we earned our picnic lunch at Beggs Point Park.  The Park is situated on a little peninsula overlooking Lake Champlain.  Essex is a beautiful and picturesque town full of well-preserved, 19th century brick and stone homes and quaint little churches and shops.  While the Sojourn girls, Karyn, and Karen, prepared lunch, we pursued the shops, and grabbed iced coffee.  By lunch I was already feeling spoiled by the weather, ride, and scenery; the picnic was beyond the crown jewel.  Karyn and Karen presented us with a spread fit for a Queen: homemade salads, bread, VT Cheeses, fruit and vegetables, fresh squeezed lemonade, Pellegrino, and of course chocolate!.

group lunch

At 1:30 pm we boarded the ferry back to Charlotte, VT for the 20 mile return to Basin Harbor Club.

Ferry

We approached the final stretch of Basin Harbor road, and I began to reflect on the day’s journey.  The landscapes were gorgeous, the ride had the right amount of challenge, the lunch was delicious, and I still had a wine-paired dinner to look forward to. Sojourn facilitated an amazing day but it was the 7 guests, and 3 leaders that have left the biggest impression on me. This group of women began as strangers, from all different walks of life, spanning ages, careers, locations, and experiences, but shared a love for cycling.  I never expected the camaraderie I would feel towards these women, nor the amount we had in common; more than some of my closest friends.

The tour was complete at mile 35 in front of the lodge at Basin Harbor Club. I unclipped, hopped off the saddle, took a deep breath and had an epiphany.  Like the route of the day’s ride; my relationship with the bicycle has come full circle. After a horrific cycling accident in the fall of 2015 which kept me out of work for almost a year, I struggled to hop back on the saddle.  Ironically, once recovered, I took a job with Terry and had to discuss cycling daily, which reinvigorated my desire to start riding again. The Tour was the first time my accident did not replay through my mind while riding, and 11 women who knew nothing about me other than being the gate keeper of the “Soleil shirt”, guided me to complete my longest ride post-accident. Most importantly they reminded me why I ride.

group photo

Thank you, Maggie, Nancy, Ruth, Pat, Julie, Ann Marie, Paula, Sojourn (especially, Barb, Karyn, and Karen), for inviting me and accepting me into your special weekend and being strong, compassionate, beautiful women.

“The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world,” Susan B. Anthony.

 

Ashley Lipton

 

 

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