This Sunday I drove past the gates of the North Hero State Park and down a narrow road to join a group of thirty costumed cyclists for the second “Decade” bike ride of the summer. Everyone had gathered in the grassy parking lot and exhibited their feathers, bells, whistles, hats, and spandex while they snacked on pre-ride peaches. When the bike bells began in a frenzied chorus, we all set out for our grand ride. During the first ten miles, we danced upright on our seats to “The Big Chill” soundtrack that crackled out from someone’s plastic tape player.
Seagulls flew overhead as we crossed over to Isle La Motte, and soon afterwards we all congregated in the shade for a quick picnic. This is how the Decade rides function: slow, lazy, wildly entertaining riding, then a picnic, then the cycle begins again, and by the end of the day we have spent more time eating than biking. While some folks spread their picnic blankets, others stripped layers of clothing and dove into a clear bay, avoiding the sharp zebra mussels at their feet. I was among the swimmers, and happened to be wearing strangely buoyant shoes, which allowed me to float far into the lake without much effort.
Back at the blankets, we popped champagne corks and cut into a decadent fruit cake. My favorite dish was a caprese salad, which I am sure I could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a year without growing tired of little garden tomatoes, balls of soft mozzarella, sea salt, and garden basil. We heard the faint ding of bells grow again into a fervor, and we were called back to our bicycles.
Everyone exhibited their tricks along the ride: the most impressive being Mathew Minor’s ability to stand on his seat while in motion. I attempted, successfully, a superman pose, by balancing my belly on my seat and thrusting my legs behind me in the wind. Just a little bit of wobble!
Our next stop was the Fisk Farm, a historical family farm with old stone buildings, an overflowing vegetable garden, and best of all– a tea room, complete with three kinds of afternoon cakes! Carrot cake, cheesecake with fruit, and a flourless chocolate torte. All of the tea was served in ancient porcelain cups and saucers in a little room decorated with dried herbs and flowers. Our group slowly gathered on the lawn, where the inn was hosting a little harp concert. It was amusing to watch the disturbed expressions on the faces of the small audience when a band of rambunctious, colorful bicyclists invaded their serene afternoon entertainment.
It wasn’t long afterwards that we all stopped for maple creemees, giving in wholly to our indulgent natures. Four or five members of our gang blew bubbles into the road while we sat crunching our waffle cones on the porch of the pit-stop.
The sun diffused into a dark storm above the lake as we biked into a beach claiming “sand dunes.” The dunes were nowhere in sight, but we swam with delight. I have never seen so many naked bikers in a body of water before! The water was lukewarm and full of algae, but we frolicked like caffeinated mermaids in the waves. Afterwards, apricots and blueberries and sandy bottoms!
After such a high dose of sugar, I felt the urge to sprint back the last 10 miles to the State Park. I couldn’t resist initiating a dance party in the grass as the other bikers rolled in. Everybody was loopy and smiling goofily after such a splendid adventure.