• Stephen D'Agostino

Vermont Overland Returns to Reading on August 25

One of my favorite memories of life on our quiet road is of Bill and me pulling up chairs to the edge of our hill at about ten minutes to nine on August 26 of last year. We were awaiting what was promised to be a rush of serious cyclists pushing to win the Vermont Overland, followed by a more steady stream of folks out to enjoy a very Vermont event: biking on dirt roads and Class IV roads. And shortly after nine, we heard the first few bikers and then saw them race by at speeds I can barely manage going downhill.


The Vermont Overland will have its second running in Reading on August 25, and I am sure that Bill and I will again be spectators of the near-beginning of the race. This year, we’ll have even more bikers to watch. Though Peter Vollers, who runs Vermont Overland, was thrilled with last year’s attendance of about 700 riders, he told me that over 900 had registered for this year’s event. The actual number of participants is weather dependent, but Peter thinks 800 to 850 people will grind the gravel the Sunday after next. With that many people participating, I asked Peter how long it will take for the very last rider in to cross the starting line. “Ten to fifteen seconds,” he said to my surprise.


Most of the ride takes place in Reading and West Windsor, and most of the roads the bikers will traverse are dirt and Class IV. However, there are some stretches of Routes 106 and 44 the bikers will also be riding. If you want to see a map of the route, check out this link: www.ridewithgps.com/routes/26591558.


The map also shows the different elevations along the entire course. Peter tells me that if I added up the climbs the bikers will endure, the total gain in elevation is about 6,000 feet.


If you want to see the entire course, visit the link. If you want to know when to avoid those roads on the map, read on.


The race starts at 9am on August 25. Bailey’s Mills Road from Town Hill Road to Route 106 will be closed from 6am to 5pm that day. Peter expects that the first racers will cross the finish line at Bailey’s Mills Road in about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Those who aren’t in it to win it, but are in it, instead, for the experience, will take longer. Peter expects the final riders will finish around 3pm. In short, be extra careful on our roads from 9am to 3pm.


Though I am sure the riders will enjoy their 43-mile trek, the real fun for non-riders will be greeting the racers as they come in. There will be a party at the start/finish line, which is also Peter's house. There will be food trucks, a DJ, and live music provided by John Snyder. Everyone is welcome to come by around noon—friends of riders, people whose houses they zipped past, residents of Reading and West Windsor looking for something fun to do on a summer Sunday. Everyone.


In 2018, the Vermont Overland donated $5,000 to the Reading-West Windsor Food Shelf. This year, it will donate $7,500. According to Peter, in 2020 and forward, the donation will be $10,000. Knowing they can rely on this donation, he says, will help the Food Shelf with its budgeting.


If you’d like to help out, you can donate food for the two rest stops, which are located in West Windsor and at the Food Shelf. Cookies and salty snacks are good for the bikers. You can also help Vermont Overland with the pre-ride and ride-day logistics. For more information on volunteering, contact Peter Vollers at pvollers@vermontoverland.com.


When we talked, Peter noted that though he has run the Vermont Overland in other towns over the years, Reading has been the most welcoming of the race and most grateful for the support it brings to the Food Shelf as well as local and regional businesses.


Speaking of local, there is an exciting Reading event happening tonight. Live music at Puddledock Park! The third party in the nine-week series of Puddledock Park Parties features Upper Valley trio Rose Hip Jam. They play folk, folk-rock, country, country-rock, blues, and old-time favorites. It's also a potluck barbecue, so bring some food for the grill and some to share with your friends and neighbors. Also, bring a chair or blanket to sit on and bug spray. You can bring your dancing shoes, too, but you can also dance barefoot. It's that kind of party!


Next week, August 22, the theme of the Puddledock Park Party is Swap Night. Go through your house and find things that you no longer want or need and bring them to trade with someone else for something you love and just can’t live without. Think of things you might put in a yard sale, but think differently, too! How about some perennials from your flower garden or cookies you just baked. Overabundance of zucchini? Bring them! A bouquet of flowers? Why not? Whatever you want to try to swap and you think someone else may love is perfect to bring along!


All Puddledock Park Parties begin at 6pm. They are free and open to the public. Puddledock Park is located next to the Reading Public Library.


Happy birthday to Laura Griggs (August 18), and happy anniversary to Calista and Tom Brennan (August 18).


That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!


This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on August 15, 2019.

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