When did the rules change? My mother asked me this as she carefully pulled out her handbag that matched her shoes that matched her watchband that matched her leather gloves. She smirked as she saw me grab my turquoise handbag and slip into my red boots. “Haven’t you heard? There are no fashion rules anymore,” I said to her. She just laughed.
Yes, the style rules have changed over the years, and as my mother would admit with many reservations: “It does seem like anything goes these days.” As our mothers watch in amusement, many of them are just like us .. still trying to figure out what looks best on them in a world where good taste often seems like it has vanished along with the style icons of yore: Audrey Hepburn and company. My mom and I also love Coco Chanel — the French designer whose name lives on today as a fashion legend. We both agree with her when she said: “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”
But if your interested in what the new generation of fashionistas are proclaiming, here are a few “new” rules:
• No, everything does not have to match. There was a time when I remember my mom and my grandmother would never leave the house without their matching shoes, handbags, gloves AND hats. Now, individuality reigns and eclectic accessories that do anything but match are the new way to go.
• One size does not fit all. Buyer beware when you see this tag, unless of course it’s a fabulous scarf, a pair of diamond earrings or a sterling silver flower pin.
• Black is always in style. My mom may like Coco Chanel and her black and white classics, but she always believed that “black attracts everything but men and money.” So when she sees me having yet another black attack, she always thinks I’m once again teetering on the dark side. My daughter’s “Goth” period was enough to do her in. And then when my cousin’s bridesmaids wore black dresses in her wedding .. well, that did put her over the fashion cliff.
• White is always right. Another color conundrum for the fashion challenged. When I was growing up, one rule you never broke was not wearing white until after Memorial Day. Then you put up your white cotton pinafores and white patent shoes when Labor Day rolled around and your new fall school clothes took their place. Now, I have a white coat I wear in the bleakest of winter, but I still hesitate to wear white jeans year-round like some of my friends.
• Clashing is cool. Mix your paisleys and your checks, your purples and your pinks. This rule is another one that I seem to side with my Mom on — mixing patterns and prints and colors that clash is one way to get some fashion forward looks into an otherwise boring wardrobe full of basics, but it does take some savvy expertise to pull it off.
• Whatever you do, don’t wear those “Mom” jeans. By now, you and your Mom (and President Obama) should know this rule. But let’s face it, jeans have become a go-to uniform for many of us, even dressed up for the office .. something my Mom would never have done. Her rolled-up jeans and saddle shoes were reserved for sock hops only.
• Forget pantyhose, unless your office dress code requires it or you’re bowing in the presence of the queen herself. Otherwise, keep your feet buffed, your toes polished and your legs moisturized. If they’re not your best asset, wear pants, not pantyhose.
• Let your undies show .. well, sorta kinda. That lacy camisole that peeks out from under your jacket is just fine, as long as you don’t bare too much skin. If you can hear echoes of your Mom’s voice saying, “You are not leaving the house looking like that!” then you might need to head back to the closet.
• So, even though the way we dress may have changed since the days of Audrey and Coco, we can all still follow one of Chanel’s enduring quotes: “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” And dress for yourself, too!.
The annual International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec will take place Aug. 14-22. The sky of Haut-Richelieu will be filled with 115 hot air balloons from Canada, the United States, France and Brazil. Of the 16 specially shaped balloons on site, eight of them will be in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu for the first time. On Aug. 17 and 18, Laurentian Bank Night Glows will take place. With the coming of twilight, the grounded balloons will light up and transform into gigantic Chinese lanterns.
In its 27th year, the International Balloon Festival boasts the world’s largest inflatable theme park. “Balloon Planet: The Conquest” will now extend throughout the Festival grounds where festival goers can wander among a hundred artistic structures, more than 50 games, two immense domes, and a workshop village for children. Visitors will be able to learn all about the history of hot air balloons and get inside a balloon.
Bimana, the impressive Colombian band, return for an exclusive engagement with their gigantic puppets, octopuses and kites.
The Loto-Quebec Stage features American Idol superstar Adam Lambert, who will launch the festivities with his first visit to Quebec on Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. The guitar genius Orianthi, known for being the last concert guitarist for Michael Jackson, will perform to warm up the crowd. In an exclusive concert, Marjo et ses hommes (Eric Lapointe, Mario Pelchat, Daniel Lavoie, Jonathan Painchaud, Antoine Gratton and Les Respectables) will host the must-see International Balloon Festival Show du Ciel on Sunday Aug. 15.
The International Balloon Festival site will be transformed into a gigantic dance floor on August 18, when K-MARO and the popular Romanian DJ recognized for his world-wide success ‘Stereo Love’, Edward Maya, will thrill the crowd.
Saturday, Aug. 21, features internationally renowned artist Akon, and to close out the Festival on Aug. 22, comedic phenomenon Rachid Badouri and the new sensation, Eddy King, will make sure that the Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu finishes with laughter.
Bring the grandkids! Throughout the event, on the Family Stage, children will be able to attend various shows planned just for them including Arthur L’aventurier, Les Clowns du Carrousel, Sonia Yaya, Les Petites Tounes and magic shows. For more information and directions to St. Jean — a 75-minute drive from Burlington — visit www.ballooncanada.com.
Giving your window treatments a style makeover is one of the fastest and most budget-friendly ways to refresh any room in your home. Replacing furniture and flooring can cost thousands of dollars, after all, but a simple switch of curtains, swags, shades or blinds can be achieved for as low as $50. And when it’s done right, it can make it look as if you spent hundreds.
Many home remodeling projects take months to complete, so wouldn’t it be a nice change to get one big-impact project crossed off the to-do list in just a few hours?
Window makeovers can save you tons of money
Giving a room a fresh, summery style may be a major factor in your moving “window dressing” to the top of your wish list, but those new shades could deliver an extra benefit; window dressing can make your home more energy-efficient. Installing the new class of thermal pull-down shades, wooden blinds or curtains with sun-blocking liners can reduce your home cooling costs by 40 percent, according to Energy Star. Many of the most in-demand materials also deliver the gift of “greening” your home, such as natural wood blinds’ insulating and noise-reducing effects in your rooms. Wood blinds are called “hard treatments” — as opposed to fabric materials, which are called “soft treatments” — and they join thermal and lined shades and curtains in eliminating or reducing the damage the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays cause to your furniture and floors.
Your new window treatments could very well save enough on your home cooling costs to pay for themselves in just a few months.
Hot window-dressing trends
“We’re seeing a lot of ‘woven woods,’ such as Roman shades made from earth-friendly bamboo and other natural woods,” says Michele Dawson Kendall, interior decorator at Interior Visions.
Some brands of woven wood shades do move into the higher budget range of $200 or so per shade, but interior designer Marie Marzarella of Window Tailors (http://www.WindowTailors.net) says that leading brand “Hunter Douglas is always in demand, and they’ve now come out with a less expensive wood blind that fits most budgets.”
Keeping with the wood window treatment style, a hot new trend is the hard treatment of plantation shutters. “These wooden shutters are installed inside the window, opening inward,” Kendall says.
“Home redecorators love the design options afforded by plantation shutters because they become a part of and add to the value of the room, and you can have them in white or in stained wood colors to coordinate with your existing wood furniture.
In “soft treatments” of fabric window dressing, Kendall says lightweight linen, cotton and all-natural soft bamboo fabrics lead the way for airier looks, and Marzarella says silks are extremely popular and reasonably priced. “Look for a woven, gauzy look to your lightweight fabrics,” Marzarella says. “Earth tones are always popular, and right now we’re seeing more blues and teals used in home redecorating projects.”
The prettiest new curtains or sheers lose a bit of their luster if they’re hung from those old-fashioned, out-of-date, white metal curtain rods or spring-tension mini rods. Dressing up your windows calls for new curtain rods, either in popular round wooden designs or trendy wrought-iron bars. “Wooden rods are more in-demand right now,” Kendall says, owing to the natural home look. “And I like to pair the finials to the style of the room. A more contemporary room will get chunky glass finials, whereas a formal dining room might call for decorative wrought-iron finishing ends.”
Decorative tiebacks for curtains often are made of the same or coordinating fabric, such as a 3-inch-wide length of bamboo, cotton or linen. If you’ve chosen the wrought-iron curtain rod and finials, your budget splurge might be decorative wrought-iron tieback hooks from Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.
An interior decorator’s trained eye can help you tailor your window dressing to the personality and tone of each room, and can direct you to well-priced window treatments and accessories. Don’t assume a decorator is going to cost you a fortune. Today’s design experts work with all budgets, and their design boards covered with swatches and sketches can bring extra inspiration to your rooms.
In the midst of a tight economy and in the wake of the new national healthcare reform bill, State and Federal regulators are warning about a surge in healthcare-related scams. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to do their research before signing up for insurance coverage because their personal and financial health is on the line.
According to an October 2009 survey conducted by the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, 57 percent of state fraud bureaus reported a higher incidence of health insurance fraud in 2009 compared to the previous year. The increase was largely attributed to “unauthorized entities selling fake coverage” and “the rise of medical discount plans.”
“Navigating the healthcare system can be a tricky maze and coordinating your physicians, prescriptions and insurance coverage isn’t always easy,” said Paula Fleming, BBB spokesperson. “One of the first steps to finding healthcare services that are a good personal fit is to start with a provider you can trust.”
Companies such as HealthcareOne/Elite Healthcare, Consolidated Workers Association, and Smart Data Solutions/American Trade Association, have all recently come under fire from state regulators for peddling worthless coverage or discount medical plans—instead of actual insurance—to thousands of consumers.
Additionally, the new healthcare reform bill quickly sparked new scams; shortly after it was signed into law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning to consumers to beware of health insurance offers claiming to be part of new federal regulations. For example in Missouri, the state Insurance Director warned that a door-to-door salesman was claiming to be a federal agent selling insurance under the new law.
BBB recommends taking the following steps when shopping for health insurance coverage to avoid getting ripped off:
• Research the company with BBB. Always check out the insurer’s BBB Reliability Report online at bbb.org. Reliability reports are available for free and will tell you how many complaints the business has received, whether there has been any government actions brought against the business, as well as BBB’s overall rating.
• Confirm the company is licensed with the state insurance commissioner. Each state has a department devoted to regulating insurance companies. Make sure the insurer is licensed to operate in your state. Visit bischa.state.vt.us for Vermont information.
• Read the fine print carefully. Make sure all verbal commitments are in the fine print. Don’t just take the company’s word for it. Also confirm with your pharmacist and doctor that they accept the plan you’re considering.
• Recognize the difference between insurance and discount medical cards. Some consumers purchased what they thought was health insurance but was actually a discount medical card which could only be used to get reduced rates at limited doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Make sure you’re purchasing insurance coverage and not just a discount medical card.
• Beware of copycats. Some phony insurers will go by a name that is similar to a trusted company. Confirm that you’re really dealing with the right company that has a good reputation.
• For more advice on finding healthcare companies and services you can trust, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-health.
My motto for weight management is simple – eat less, move more. What I’ve learned in 18 years of research, though, is that it’s easier said then done. Diet restriction can result in short-term weight loss, but sustainable, long-term weight loss is best achieved by conquering the everyday habits that hinder us from eating right and exercising.
How many of us mindlessly snack while watching TV? I’ll wager that you can think of five more unhealthy habits right now. For those who have retired and are spending more time around the house, the temptations are even closer – and no one sees you snacking on food with every pass by the pantry.
At the core of these behaviors are triggers, the events in daily life that set off responses that derail our best attempts at weight management. Being aware of triggers and developing healthy responses results in streamlined weight loss and helps you feel and look better. It’s never too late to get your health and weight back on track, especially when weight gain can affect blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and increase the risk for diseases such as Type II diabetes.
Let’s explore how behavior change can empower you to embrace habits that keep you healthy, satisfied and in control.
Understanding Behavior Change
Behavior change is the act of altering your reactions to stimuli—emotional or environmental—through positive and negative reinforcement of a new behavior, or reduction of an unhealthy behavior.
You have likely heard the term “emotional eater.” We learn to associate certain emotions with our habits: comfort, stress, happiness, boredom—you name it.
Likewise, certain environments trigger us to take certain actions. If your morning routine is to order a large latte from the coffee shop you pass by every day, then it’s become a habit. Environmentally triggered eating behaviors like seeing food, smelling food, or getting together with family or friends may also cause you to eat more.
The good news is that, though eating behaviors are learned and ingrained over time, they can be un-learned by developing an awareness of your emotions and environment – and understanding how they influence your eating.
Break the Chain
The cornerstone of behavior change is self-monitoring—a clinical term meaning journaling, or simply writing down the foods you eat, how much exercise you do, and noting triggers that trip you up. By journaling, you become accountable for it, and you have evidence of your behavior.
Journaling helps you uncover unconscious eating and why you do it and what’s tripping you up so you can create a plan of sustainable action. Recognizing your eating cues—the “when,” “why” and “how” you eat—is the first step to figuring out how to break the unhealthy habits.
I see participants in my Vtrim Online program struggle, yet ultimately succeed, with these changes all the time. Consider Cyndy. In the early evening, she would start snacking while she waited for her family to come home for dinner. She snacked on almonds, cheese, and crackers – anything in the kitchen, adding 300 to 500 calories to her daily intake. Then, a light bulb went off in her head. She wasn’t craving a snack per se; she was bored, frustrated or tired. Now, instead of eating a calorie-heavy snack, she goes for a short walk, reads an article, or finds another constructive use of her time, like emailing or calling a friend.
When it comes to problem-solving, remember this: it’s not about eating carrots instead of buttery popcorn in front of the TV; it’s about not eating in front of the TV. Don’t replace one food choice with another. Learn to choose an alternative activity to eating, unless you truly are physically hungry.
Stay on Track
Slip-ups happen. You’ll eat too much at a wedding. You’ll sneak one of your friend’s French fries while she’s in the restroom only to realize you’ve finished them all before she makes it back. The most important thing is learning to get back on track quickly when you lapse into old behaviors. The sooner you react, the easier it is to recover. Do nothing and you may relapse (fall into a pattern of old behaviors) or even collapse.
Behavior change takes time and practice. Though it may seem tough at first and there will be moments when you don’t think you can do it, the long-term results will be well-worth the effort.
Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD, is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont. She is also the lead researcher and founder of Vtrim Online, a behavioral weight loss program, available at www.uvm.edu/vtrim.
Nancy Condit admits she never gave much thought to brain cancer until her business partner and best friend, Wendy Pierson, was stricken. The two women were co-owners of the Women’s Source for Sports and Personal Fitness Interiors, two South Burlington business establishments. Pierson was diagnosed in December 2007 with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. She passed away in June 2009.
Condit stayed with her friend throughout the process. “Going through that with her and watching all the faces in the doctors’ offices and treatment centers told me I had to do something,” Condit said. “I couldn’t lose my partner and just walk away from it. I couldn’t not try to have something positive come out of it.”
Condit believes that research for brain cancer is underfunded. She said only one new drug has been approved by the FDA in the last 25 years and the survival rate hasn’t changed in over a century. “You have a better chance of surviving breast cancer than a benign brain tumor,” Condit said. “It’s overtaken leukemia as the number one cancer killer for those under the age of 20.”
In order to increase funding for research, Condit founded Gray Matters, also known as the Wendy J. Pierson Foundation for Brain Cancer Research. Her first foray into fundraising was the Vermont City Marathon through which she raised over $18,000. When Pierson was alive, the two women put together a team from their combined businesses with Condit running the first leg and Pierson the second. Condit was also teaching at the time. When she retired from teaching, she vowed to run the last leg, but Pierson’s cancer took her out of the marathon that year. This year, Condit ran the last leg as they had planned before Pierson took ill as part of Wendy’s Team, which included Wendy’s niece and Condit’s niece. A second team, Wendy’s Team Too, was comprised of employees of Condit’s businesses.
In addition to the marathon, Condit has organized the first annual Wendy J. Pierson Memorial Golf Tournament, scheduled for Aug. 2 at the Rocky Ridge Golf Club in St. George. The scramble format tournament is open to male, female and mixed teams. The entry fee of $75 includes access to a golf cart, a post-tournament fundraiser, prizes and a raffle. Other fundraising events may follow. Condit continues to run her two businesses, but she devotes as much time to Gray Matters as possible. “It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning,” she said.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2008 (the last year for which statistics are available) there were 21,810 new cases of brain cancer and 13,070 deaths from the disease. Miles for Hope, a non-profit devoted to finding a cure for the disease says that every day, 482 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Statistics compiled by the National Cancer Institute show the highest incidence of brain cancer in Vermont for the years 2002 to 2006 in Washington County, followed by Windsor, Rutland and Chittenden counties. The mortality rate was highest in Chittenden County, followed by Washington and Rutland. Mortality rates have risen slightly across the state since 1975.
Condit bemoans the lack of interest in brain cancer research. While breast cancer clearly strikes more people, it is relatively (though not completely) gender specific. “Brain cancer doesn’t discriminate,” said Condit. “It can strike anyone.”
She notes that other cancers benefit from celebrities who speak out on their behalf: Lance Armstrong for testicular cancer and Katie Couric for colon cancer. There is no similar spokesperson for brain cancer, despite the recent death of Senator Edward Kennedy from the disease.
Condit is still conducting her own research to determine the best place to send the money she is raising through Gray Matters. She is looking into hospitals in Massachusetts, Oregon and Texas as possible recipients. In addition to raising money, Condit hopes to create a website which is a repository of information for those wishing to learn about clinical trials and other options for people suffering from the disease and those who love them. “I would like to take my foundation to the national level,” she said. “I’d like gray to be the new pink.”
My 80-year-old mother lives alone about an hour from me and I worry about her health and safety. Outside of the telephone, what types of care giving devices can you recommend that can help me keep tabs on her?
There are many different tools and technologies available today that can help adult children keep tabs on aging parents when they can’t be there. Here are some popular options and new products to check into.
Senior Help Line
One of the biggest concerns among families that have an elderly parent or relative living alone is them falling and needing help. For this, a “personal emergency response system” or PERS is the most affordable solution. For about $1 a day (available through companies like lifelinesys.com, lifealert.com and lifefone.com) you can rent the equipment which includes a small transmitter (SOS button) that your mom would wear, giving her the ability to call for help any time she needs to. The drawbacks, however, are that many seniors forget to wear their SOS buttons regularly, and if they do have it on and fall, they still have to be alert enough to actually push the button.
If you’re willing to spend a little more (around $50 a month), there are several more sophisticated PERS on the market. One of them is Wellcore (wellcore.com), a new device that has fall detection sensors in the SOS button that can automatically summon help without the user having to press a button. Plus, it will beep to remind your mom to put it on, and if she doesn’t, it will notify you. And, when paired with a compatible cell phone, it can even be used outside the home. Halo Monitoring (halomonitoring.com) also offers fall detection products, as does Philips (lifelinesys.com), maker of the popular Lifeline Medical Alert Service.
Another more expensive option for keeping tabs on your mom is with a “home monitoring system.” These systems come with sensors, placed in key areas of your mom’s home that learn her daily patterns and notify you if something out of the ordinary is happening. The great thing about this type of system is it requires no input from your mom, and you can check in on her anytime through a password-protected website. You can find these systems at companies like GrandCare (grandcare.com), Healthsense (healthsense.com), and CloseBy (closebynetwork.com), with prices ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the options you choose.
If you’re worried your mom is not keeping up with her medications, there are a wide variety of pill organizers, medication dispensing and alarm systems (see epill.com) that can help. One of the best new systems on the market is TabSafe (tabsafe.com). A home-based device that dispenses medicine on schedule, providing reminders to ensure she takes it on time, and will notify you or other caregivers if her pills aren’t taken.
Medication reminding services like OnTimeRx (ontimerx.com) or Check-in Friends (checkinfriends.com) can also be helpful. For a small fee, these services will call your mom to remind her to take her medication. Pillphone.com offers a similar service for wireless phones only.
Videophones have become an increasingly popular tool for keeping in touch with older loved ones from afar. If you’re not familiar with them, videophones are like a telephone with a built-in camera and video screen that gives you the ability to see the person you’re talking to in real time. Two of the best on the market today are the “ASUS Videophone Touch” that works with Skype (skype.com), and the “ACN IRIS 3000” (myacn.com). Both require a high speed Internet connection and are simple to use. Or, if your mom and you, both have a computer and a Webcam you can video chat online.
Learning to ride a bike is… well, is as easy as learning to ride a bike. And it’s never too late to start.
At Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness in South Burlington, owner Roger Frey believes there is nothing more important than having a comfortable bike. For those just starting out, or returning to the sport after a long absence, he recommends hybrid bikes which have upright seating. For those who are more nervous about the sport, there is a subsection of hybrids known as Townies. The advantage to the Townie is that the seat is positioned so riders can have both feet flat on the ground while sitting. Frey praised the Townie as “evolutionary and revolutionary” for allowing cyclists to start pedaling from a standing position without feeling unsteady.
Townie riders still have proper leg extension, but there is greater “mental comfort” when starting to pedal.
Frey recommends two items to increase rider safety: a helmet and a mirror. For comfort, he suggests that riders purchase cycling gloves and shorts. While some may be self-conscious in tight lycra pants, Frey said one option is baggy shorts which have suitable padding. “You can’t expect the seat to do it all,” he said. Frey also strongly recommends that people buy a roof rack for their car so they can experience new scenery and lightly trafficked roads. Many new riders think they’ll just tool around their neighborhoods but find themselves getting spooked by the traffic. With a roof rack, they can visit scenic roads with fewer automobiles all across the state. “To quote Lance Armstrong,” said Frey “‘it’s not about the bike’; it’s about having the right gear to make sure you enjoy the activity.”
New cyclists should also take advantage of Traffic Skills 101, a course provided by Local Motion, a Burlington-based non-profit which promotes safe bicycling, walking, and other non-motorized forms of transportation. The four day, nine hour course, which is sanctioned by the League of American Cyclists, is designed to give cyclists confidence to ride both safely and legally in traffic or on trails. The course teaches basic bike maintenance, safety skills such as proper signaling and crash avoidance techniques, and includes a student manual for riders to take home. One of the instructors, David Jacobowitz, estimated that half the riders who took the most recent iteration of the course were over the age of forty.
Jacobowitz said that typically older riders are nervous about riding in traffic so the course is designed to teach them the skills to coexist with cars. He noted that older riders also have a greater fear of falling off their bikes and, therefore, tend to have their seats set too low. The course explains proper pedaling motion, as well as how to brake effectively, and mount and dismount a bike. There are no state-specific statistics on bicycle accidents, but Jacobowitz said that nationally, roughly half are the fault of the cyclist and half the fault of cars. The majority of accidents caused by cars occur when vehicles turn in front of cyclists. Riding the wrong way on the road is the major cause of accidents where the cyclist is at fault.
Jacobowitz recommends that all riders carry a water bottle and either a pump or a CO2 cartridge in the event of a flat tire. Those planning to use bike paths may want a bell, but he stressed that bells are not effective in automobile traffic. In addition to recreational riding, Jacobowitz recommends that you can get exercise doing some of your errands by bicycle, simply by adding a basket to the front of the bike or panniers to the back.
Lou Bresee of Lake Champlain Bikeways recommends that new riders start with short, flat routes before trying anything too strenuous. A good starting place is local bike paths. Bresee said that even though the South Burlington bike path which starts at Dorset Park is relatively short, cyclists can head off the path and explore some of the neighborhoods along the way including roads and paths around the Vermont National Golf Course and Butler Farms. The Burlington bike path is seven miles long, but can be extended by taking the bridge over the Winooski River and heading through Colchester and up the Causeway. From July through Labor Day, Local Motion runs a bike ferry over the cut in the Causeway so riders can continue all the way to Grand Isle, but wide tires are required since the Causeway is gravel, not pavement. Bresee also mentioned the 5.5 mile Stowe bike path, but noted that this tends to be more crowded.
For riders who would like a bit more challenge, Bresee recommends the Missisquoi Rail Trail, also for those with wider tires. The 26.4 mile gravel path is almost completely flat and travels from St. Albans to Richford. Bresee cautions that the trail is being repaired this summer so portions of it may be closed for resurfacing.
When cyclists are ready to graduate from trails to roads, Bresee recommends some relatively flat loops in Grand Isle County. A 15 mile loop called “Stone Castles” starts and ends at the Grand Isle Ferry Dock and passes several castles built by a Swiss immigrant. “A Trail to Two Beaches” is a 17 mile ride that starts in North Hero and travels west to make a loop through Alburgh. A more ambitious loop is the 29 mile “Covered Bridges” loop which passes three covered bridges as it heads through southern Chittenden County. Across the lake, Bresee suggests a 21 mile route called “The Flatlander” on lightly travelled roads near Plattsburgh and the 24 mile “Acres of Apples” which starts in Fort Kent.
Bresee strongly recommends that newcomers to the sport find others to ride with. Aside from the social aspect, there is safety in numbers since two cyclists are more visible than one. It’s also easier to handle mechanical problems when there is more than one person to lend a hand. In addition to the Green Mountain Bicycle Club, there are several smaller, less formal groups in the area made up of older riders. Bresee should know. Riding in groups as well as solo, the 70-year-old pedaled over 5,000 miles last year and is hoping to do the same this year.
For maps and guidebooks, visit www.champlainbikeways.org
For Traffic Skills 101, visit www.localmotion.org/education/bikeskillstraining/adult