Biking from Burlington
June 16, 2009 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Approximately how long would it take to ride a bicycle from Burlington to Vergennes, VT at a leisurely pace? Also, is it a hilly route?

I'm a pretty slow rider, but reasonably fit. I am thinking of bringing my bike along for a trip to Vermont next weekend. I have to get to a wedding in Vergennes after a couple of days in Burlington. How realistic is to plan on riding my bike out there? Any info on potential timing and terrain would be appreciated!
posted by thegreatfleecircus to Travel & Transportation around Burlington, VT (14 answers total)
Yeah, it will be hilly. All of Vermont is hilly. Depending on which route you take, it might be more or less hilly, but it will be hilly.

Hilly is a strange word.
posted by youcancallmeal at 11:20 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: It's entirely realistic and I strongly encourage it! About 10 years ago I rode from Plattsburgh, NY to Greenfield, MA over the course of two days (about 105mi/day). I did it in the middle of the summer and I was "reasonably fit" too :)

There's going to be a lot of up and down even though that's a relatively flatter section of Vermont. When I ran into hills that were too long or steep, I got off and pushed (I was loaded with panniers too). I rode/walked about 7-8 hours each day. It's about 23 miles, so I'm guessing it'll take you 2ish hours (figure 10mph).

posted by jdfan at 11:22 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: The out-of-towner reply: 22.3 miles would take 7 hours 20 minutes to walk, according to Google Maps. I thought they usually include a bicycle option for transportation, but not in this case. Google is assuming you'd walk a bit over 3 miles per hour.

Assuming that you can do a decent job of averaging the slower ascents with faster descents, plus assuming wind and weather aren't fighting you, you could probably do somewhere between 10-15 miles per hour, taking you between 2.25 and 1.5 hours (rounding).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:23 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Google Maps (set to "walking" to avoid car-only interstates, and with "terrain" turned on to see the hills.)

Biking, figure maybe a half to a third the travel time Google says, depending on how fast you usually ride. Doesn't look too hilly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:26 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Route 7 is somewhat hilly, really narrow, and people routinely go 50+ miles per hour. Probably a fun ride, but pretty dangerous. I can easily see somebody speeding around a corner or over a hill without knowing you're there before you get out of Charlotte, even. Be really careful if you do this.

(I'm not an experienced biker, but I used to be one of the nutty drivers on rt 7).
posted by txvtchick at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Biking, figure maybe a half to a third the travel time Google says, depending on how fast you usually ride. Doesn't look too hilly.

Half to a third of 7 hours 20 minutes? 2.5 to 3.75 hours? It will NOT take that long. MapMyRide's elevation feature shows a total of 500 feet of ascent in 22 miles. That's practically pancake. It'll take 2 hours tops, and likely closer to 1 hour 20 minutes.
posted by The Michael The at 11:47 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: I actually just rode my bike from Burlington to Ferrisburgh this past weekend. Route 7 is hilly and Shelburne/Charlotte are going to be tricky (50 mph speed limit and crazy turns). I think you are going to cut over to Vergennes before it flattens out, and you'll face some more hills. I guess it's somewhat challenging, but definitely do-able and not unrealistic by any means. Also, avoid rush hour, route 7 can be horrendous.
posted by pintapicasso at 11:48 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: mapmyride has an elevation key -- and it looks like it varies from 100ft to 400ft above sealevel, with a maximum of a 2% grade. It was before I watched roads for biking -- but I seem to remember RT7 being fairly flat (a 2%-3% grade isnt bad for a short run).

As for what txvtchick said -- RT7 is a high speed "highway" between Middlebury and Burlington. It also seems as though you can avoid 7 miles of RT7 via "mt philo road".

Feel free to mefimail me for my cell phone number as a emergency contact (with bike repair parts and a car) incase you need help -- I live 45 minutes away from Burlington.

I would assume I could ride that at a steady 14-15mph on a roadbike based on the terrain profile.
posted by SirStan at 11:54 AM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Take as many non-route 7 side roads as you can, but that part of the state is flattish as other people have already mentioned. You might want to look at the USGS maps [Vergennes here (download link for giant TIF), others at this site] for mind-numing details but except for traffic, which is a pretty big except, you'll be okay.
posted by jessamyn at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Here's the route avoiding almost all of Route 7.

I love me some Google Maps.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:47 PM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: I know that stretch of road very well.

the up-hill sections aren't steep, and there are actually a few really nice, drown-out downhill bits. that's a really good choice for a route to take by bike.
posted by candyhammer at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the helpful is definitely appreciated. Thanks especially for your emergency help offer, SirStan! I'll give an update about how it goes...
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:43 PM on June 16, 2009

Response by poster: Also, thanks Slap*Happy! That particular route seems like my best bet.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:49 PM on June 16, 2009

Best answer: Here's the route avoiding almost all of Route 7.

As somebody who lives in this area much of the year, and who has biked (on an old one-speed) in and out of Burlington, I think this discussion suffers from the idea that Rt. 7 = bad. The map is not the territory, and that road has several extremely different characteristics between Burlington and Vergennes.

When we moved to Shelburne four years ago, they were spending months and lots of money to widen Rt. 7 and put in, yes, a bike path along the edges. Agreed there is way too much traffic at certain times, and past Shelburne it would get much more dangerous, but from South Burlington to Shelburne Rt. 7 is flat, and straight, with bike lanes. By hopping on and off it at selected spots (less than 20% of the trip) I think you would have a much better cycling experience. My proposed route for you.

I would advise against heading out of town on Slap*Happy's route, first because you're only a few blocks from the busiest intersection in the entire state (Rt. 2 and Dorset Street), and Rt. 2 around the university there is terrible for bikes, much worse than 7. Then Spear Street is narrow, hilly, and full of many speeding cars coming around curves — people use it because they think Rt. 7 is overcrowded, so now it's usually crowded as well. You would be much safer in the bike lanes out on Rt. 7 at that point. From there you also can take a little side trip along the water on Bay Road, eventually going past Shelburne Farms, also a narrow road but with minimal traffic compared to Spear Street.

Route 7 is hilly and Shelburne/Charlotte [is] going to be tricky

To continue my contrarianism, this should be the best part of your trip. I drive between S and C almost every afternoon during the school year, car-pooling for my son's class, and the Bostwick/Greenbush Road stretch is also flat, straight, with little traffic and great scenery. (In general, land by the lake west of Rt. 7 is much less hilly than the roads to the east.) Mt. Philo Road is a good alternative route in that area, once you get to Shelburne, but I think the B/G route would be better.

Thanks especially for your emergency help offer, SirStan!

The people in that area are ridiculously nice. I once borrowed a bike with actual gears and was crossing the covered bridge just NW of Charlotte when one of the skinny tires blew. So I started walking for home (about six miles away), pausing every now and then to collapse in the grass.

I was about two-thirds there, resting, when a total stranger pulled up in a truck — he'd been out riding on his motorcycle, and when he saw me trudging along he turned around, went and got his truck, and came back to take me the rest of the way home. Haven't seen him before or since.
posted by LeLiLo at 4:40 PM on June 16, 2009

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