Home Commentary DOT'S DOWNTOWN BEAT: Montpelierites on the Move

DOT'S DOWNTOWN BEAT: Montpelierites on the Move


by Dot Helling

Members of the Montpelier Chapter of the Green Mountain Club dig in North Branch to remove invasives.
Members of the Montpelier Chapter of the Green Mountain Club dig in North Branch to remove invasives.

Now that you’ve enjoyed your Montpelier sweets, it’s time to work off some of those calories. Our city has a wide variety of social recreational groups that meet regularly to get fit, lose weight, study the environment, or simply enjoy the camaraderie and conversation with others while being outdoors.

This spring, epicurean fiddler Susan Reid started a walking group that meets in front of City Center Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7 a.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings at 6:30 p.m. The group walks about an hour down the bike path, through Hubbard Park, or around the city neighborhoods. Dogs are welcome on leashes. The group is diverse and out for a good walk and inspiring conversations — not a race.

Montpelier Tree Board member John Snell leads nature walks through the downtown and Hubbard Park and identifies and provides history on our local trees. These walks are part of a week of walks organized by the Montpelier Pedestrian Committee and are held in the fall and in the spring.

The North Branch Nature Center organizes bird walks. These tree and bird gatherings are publicized in the events sections of our local papers. Discussions include dangers to our local arboreal and avian cultures and how residents can assist in protection and maintenance. This fall’s bird walks will be held on Fridays beginning September 4 through October 2 meeting at 7:30 a.m. at the Nature Center. There is a small fee for non-members.

The Montpelier Senior Activity Center sponsors “Walks with Harris (Webster)” on Thursdays at 12:45 p.m. These walks depart from the senior center on Barre Street and are for healthy exercise and conversation. The senior center also sponsors some cycling events. For more information contact them at msac@montpelier-vt.org.

Onion River Sports hosts many cycling events, ranging from low-key pedestrian rides to elite racing events. On Tuesday nights, Onion River sponsors the Road Spokes. They meet seasonally at the Montpelier High School at 5:15 p.m. Three different group levels ride until dark and are supervised by Linda Freeman. On Wednesday nights ORS partners with the Stowe Bike Club to hold time trials in various locations throughout Central Vermont, including Middlesex, Waterbury, Worcester, and Stowe. Onion River Sports also publicizes and sponsors organized road cycling, mountain-bike and cross-bike races and events. Their most famous event is the Onion River Century which was held in August for the benefit of the Kellogg Hubbard Library. For more information check out www.onionriver.com.

A group of accomplished road cyclists meets on good weather days at noon, either in front of the State House or at the corner of Spring and Elm streets for a 20-mile or so lunch-hour spin. This group, affectionately called the “nooners,” was started by Bill Reynolds and his cronies in the attorney general’s office. The rides guarantee a good workout, fun chatter, lots of teasing and town line challenges. A favorite ride is Route 12 to and from the Wool Shed east of Worcester.

Central Vermont Runners at the start of a Fun Run.
Central Vermont Runners at the start of a Fun Run.

Central Vermont Runners is a longstanding active running club. From May through September, the club holds fun runs every Tuesday evening at 5:30 on the bike path near the Montpelier High School track. Distances range from one mile to six miles on a safe course including the bike path and dirt roads. Central Vermont Runners sponsors a full calendar of certified and fun Central Vermont races. In Montpelier they include the 41-year-old Paul Mailman Ten Miler, the 38-year-old Capitol City Stampede, the Kids Track Meet and the Fallen Leaves 5K Series. The club also puts on the Berlin Pond Five Miler, the Bear Swamp Run in Middlesex, the Leafpeepers Half Marathon in Waterbury and others. The Leafpeepers has been ranked one of the top half marathons in the country. The CVR schedule can be found at  www.cvrunners.org. Onion River Sports sponsors most Central Vermont Runners events, and, together with the Kiwanis Club, holds the increasingly popular and successful Montpelier Mile, which kicks off Montpelier’s Independence Day celebration each year on July 3.

Part of Susan Reid's walking group in Hubbard Park.
Part of Susan Reid’s walking group in Hubbard Park.

Montpelier dog owners regularly gather in Hubbard Park in the field at the parking lot above the intersection of Parkway Street and Corse Trail, above the Old Shelter, for after-work romps for their canines. If you want a workout goal with your pup, try the annual Mutt Strut sponsored by Central Vermont Runners at Little River State Park in the spring. See www.cvrunners.org .

Last but not least, the Montpelier Chapter of the Green Mountain Club has an active schedule with 400 members from Montpelier and surrounding towns. In addition to maintaining a section of and hiking the Long Trail, Green Mountain Club volunteers lead trips year round. Depending on the season, these trips may be hiking, biking, paddling, cross-country skiing, or snowshoe trips with varying published degrees of difficulty, from easy to moderate to difficult. There is no charge for such outings and you do not have to be a member, although membership support is encouraged. See www.gmcmontpelier.org.

Of course there are activities to keep you fit at home, such as gardening and wood stacking, although such activities may not be as social. Stay tuned for my next column on Montpelier’s secret gardens, shortcuts and hidden jewels. Don’t worry. I won’t give away too many “secrets.”