Monthly Archives: November 2015



Let the holidays begin, 2015

Let the holidays begin, 2015

You’re in it now. The holiday season. No matter how you treat it, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a holiday marathon that ends for some on January 2 and for others on February 14.

It’s Sunday morning and you’re reading the paper. What led you to this point? Perhaps on Wednesday you finished early at work and headed home or here to Vermont to visit and wrap up the final preparations for, most likely, one of the most glorious and gluttonous meals of the year.

Thanksgiving is the one holiday nearly everyone can agree on and celebrate. There’s no quarrel over the naming of it and no squabbling over the commercialism. (Of course there’s the struggle between Native Americans and Pilgrims and the Christmas – strike that – holiday – decorations, songs and sales that began just after Halloween, but …)

Thanksgiving is the warm up to the main events, the 5k that spikes your speed for the marathon. Hanukkah falls early in December this year, Christmas on the 25th, and for all others, school breaks, office parties and holiday events mark a period of merry-making as an occasion to prepare for, endure and ultimately recover from.

Sunrise Thanksgiving morning 2015, Harpswell, Maine. D.Bonito

Sunrise Thanksgiving morning 2015, Harpswell, Maine. D.Bonito

Thanksgiving. Hmmm. Let’s see. After Wednesday you may have jumped out of bed early Thursday morning to go run a Turkey Trot or Gobble Wobble, or you may have dashed to the kitchen to begin the final round of cooking for the feast to follow. After the travel, sports, football games and feast, you finally sink into bed exhausted from the sprint to the finish.

But can you recover? No. It’s up early (and I do mean early) to attack Black Friday with a vengeance. After an all out race on Thursday, you’re really not up for the endurance event on Friday. However, it happens, and you must draw on your tediously conditioned reserves, your base.

Saturday is the family’s opportunity to ski (several resorts are optimistically open and there are always the early season trails on which one can make his or her way down, albeit cautiously), explore and visit, in addition to the endless feeding of the multitudes that inevitably follows Thursday, though everyone declared they would never eat again. Saturday is a day of intervals, either dragging along or speeding forward, on a straight path or multiple detours.

Alas, post Thanksgiving Sunday dawns. The fourth day of this particular event signals one of two things. There might be a frantic effort to stuff in a few more non-working activities (or leftovers), or one last-ditch attempt to come home with a buck. Or, the day may demand recovery. Perhaps the only exercise for many will be handling the remote. Monday, a workday, looms as threat or relief, a return to schedule.

But will you return to what has become the usual? Most likely, the answer is no. First of all, your body has become accustomed to an abundance of holiday foods. Rather than being satiated, your appetite now demands more. And more often. You decide you want to bake cookies, or that your friends would just love a home-cooked something as a gift for the next gift-giving holiday. Very nice. But are you sure? Or is it just your need to hang out in the kitchen, pick up a spoon and stir something? And please, no fruitcakes.

If you celebrate Hanukkah, you’re on the fast track for your next extended event with barely a recovery period. You must be organized, honor your need for rest and recovery even as you push forward to the start line. For others, preparations for the Christmas holiday season begin on Thanksgiving evening. Perhaps you watch one of the versions of “Miracle on 34th Street” to put you in the mood. Maybe you drag out your boxes of decorations, write your gift list or organize cards, stamps and addresses.(Note: there continues to be some sort of practice of mailing greetings. The ready use of the internet has altered forever the face of correspondence and giving with electronically delivered holiday wishes and the ever useful last minute gift card.)

Somewhere in the intervening weeks professional obligations must be met while scrambling to put the finishing touches on the end-of-the-year fiscal records and social calendar. January 1st will arrive all too soon and you will begin another new year in whatever condition you may have brought upon yourself.

An athlete periodizes his or her annual training plan, as well as shorter blocks such as the holiday season. For many athletes, this last month waiting for snow conditions to cooperate or this first month of on snow activity marks the start of their peak season. For others, December is the off season, the month of play and early base building before January training picks up in earnest.

The off season is never entirely sedentary. To give it all up in favor of a six-pack and the sofa is to invite an uncomfortable and discouraging return to training. A happy mix of activity is the key to maintaining enough fitness to move forward, but enough rest and relaxation to allow fatigued or damaged bodies to become whole.

Waning dedication to one’s sport, even to the extent of burn out, is always a risk and can be circumvented by deliberate time off. Better to choose alternative activities than be sidelined by overuse injury, don’t you think?

Traditional recommendations for athletes during their off season is to step away from their primary sport and focus attention and energy on other types of training. For example, a cyclist or runner should take advantage of the off season to further his or her core conditioning, strength training and even more intense yoga practice. Later, during peak season, whether competing, touring or adding miles, the pendulum will swing in the other direction and core, strength and other practices should moderate to balance the increased intensity of sport training.

Mentally a break is superb. Though reading and studying one’s sport or passion is motivating and educational, a good chunk of fiction might better relax the personality that self-disciplines.

The final piece of the off season pie is sweet. Take time to roll on the floor with your kids, meander through the woods (after rifle season and/or garbed in orange), slide recklessly down a hill, try some pond skating (when thoroughly frozen, please), roll a ball down an alley or try an old fashioned game of hide and seek.

Sunrise Barre Town Vermont late November 2015

Sunrise Barre Town Vermont late November 2015

Stop to notice spectacular sunrises and by all means plan to celebrate Winter Solstice. Do you remember last winter when I challenged you to find new and different outdoor ways to commemorate each full moon? Have you done so? Some of you have and keep in touch to let me know that you have had snow shoe adventures, hiked, paddled, enjoyed moonlight picnics, and more. I have heard of some good ones.The next full moon falls on December 25th. How will you celebrate?

Until then, it is Sunday, the fourth day of the initial holiday athletic event, Thanksgiving. You have done it. Now you are ready to look forward to the month of December and all that it means to you and yours.

May the habit of giving thanks be one you practice regularly. Whatever our situation in life may be, there is always something for which to be grateful. You know the old saying, “any day I wake up in the morning is a good day.”

The American author William Arthur Ward wrote: “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

There’s this, too: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy.

Pause for a glorious sunset as well. Barre Town, Vermont 2015

Pause for a glorious sunset as well.
Barre Town, Vermont 2015


We knew it was coming. Unless the powers that be decide to change the laws that govern the switch from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time and back to Standard Time, etc., the change is inevitable. It happened last weekend and some are still grousing about it. Are you making excuses for your fatigue or lateness or lack of focus? Well, the best thing we can do is tell ourselves to “get over it.” Are you one of those folks who like to shrug and say, “it is what it is?” If so, say it to yourself and move one.

Personally I dislike fall. I have usually seen autumn as the marker of kids going back to school (I always hated that) and the time when I must settle down and be more diligent about work.

True, during the summer months work does not go away. But it seems different. In the fall I am scattered, unfocused, missing my structured cycling training and subsequent events and competitions to anticipate. I feel adrift.

In my Yoga class, I learned about VATA. Oh man, that’s me. Now I must learn what to do about it.

When I set the clock back I know it’s time to get serious about winter. Because my day starts early, I do not lose an hour of light; I find it at the beginning of the day instead of the end. (Perhaps you, too, could rise an hour earlier. Trust me, the autumn sunrise is a sight worth getting up for. And pausing for.)

I once read about an ultra distance runner who knew she was going to hurt, that the miles and the hills would cause her pain. It was inevitable. So she turned the tables and looked forward to the onset of the discomfort. She embraced it when it arrived and ran with it, no longer needing to fear or anticipate it.

Perhaps we can do the same. We know each day will become shorter and shorter. Now there’s no denying it has arrived and we can stop worrying. We can embrace these days that are bookended by light and a frequently extraordinary sunset as well.

An abundance of sunlight can be taken for granted, while a few bright hours are treasured. Clear night skies remind us that darkness is not all that bad. Whether from a mountain top or out the kitchen window, the harvest moon is striking.

Outdoor activities become an adventure in the dark. (Reminder: always practice safety habits, use lights and wear reflective clothing. Preferably go out in groups of two or more and be sure to be alert and predictable.)

Last winter I challenged you and my friends and clients to a “full moon adventure” each full moon of the 2015 calendar year. Did you take the challenge? There’s time left, you know.

Somehow Standard Time (and in our case EST) triggers reorganization. How many of you visit your medical care provider for your annual physical in and around November? And if you have done so already, did you notice the positive effects that your active lifestyle and good nutrition have had on your physical exam and the test numbers that indicate a healthy body?

If not, let this year’s return to EST mark the beginning of reorganizing your days, weeks and months to promote your personal and individual well-being.

The big three: exercise, diet and sleep, must be in balance. An active life is not a hectic life; it is one with intentional exercise and a defined goal in mind. Such exercise would include strength, aerobic exercise, balance, coordination, flexibility, specific sports or training skills and an appropriate body composition.

Exercise is positive unless it tips the scales to compulsive behaviors and addiction.

An active lifestyle is also intuitive and ready to join in any fun that might present itself. It is a life capable of endurance, but needing the time to refuel and rest.

EST validates exploration of indoor hours as well; hours to read, to write and to spend quality time with family and friends.

So here we are. Next stop – Winter Solstice. If all else fails, just remember that in only 37 days daylight will be on the increase.

Seasonal Affective Disorder a Challenge to Northern Residents


Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is not a myth. It is not something to disregard. SAD, suffered in its most advanced stages is indeed dangerous. But for most, a moderate form of SAD is simply uncomfortable and discouraging.

SAD is rather simply defined as a form of sadness, despondency or depression related to changes in the seasons. Most people who experience this disorder first notice symptoms in the fall that last through the winter. Only a few have complained about the reverse, or spring into summer.

Those of us living and working in Vermont might be particularly susceptible to negative feelings as we progress through the vivid colors of fall into a bleak stick season and finally countryside of white. Those who embrace winter and choose to live here because of, not in spite of, winter conditions, will find it difficult to understand others who find the frozen landscape unpleasant.

Symptoms of the disorder include lack of energy, moodiness, irritability and hypersensitivity. It is common to sleep, or oversleep, more than usual, to experience food cravings particularly for foods high in carbohydrates and then, to add insult to injury, to gain weight, yet another cause of despondency.

Note that those few who are subject to spring and summer SAD also become depressed but have trouble sleeping and lose their appetites resulting in weight loss.

Norman Rosenthal, MD wrote in the journal “Psychiatry,” May 2008, that “6 percent of the US population, primarily in northern climates, is affected by SAD in its most marked form. Another 14 percent of the adult US population suffers from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes, known as winter blues.” Rosenthal also suggested that there is strong evidence of a genetic predisposition to suffer from this disorder.

SAD, untreated and left to increase in intensity includes serious symptoms of depression leading to thoughts of death or suicide. One who is in doubt about his or her condition should always seek medical advice.

Though there seems no known specific cause for SAD, what is known is that several factors often combine to produce this result. Short, cloudy or gray days with a decrease in sunlight can affect circadian rhythms, or one’s biological clock, and put us off balance and feeling scattered or unhappy.

Reduced sunlight can also cause a drop in the neurotransmitter serotonin resulting in depression while a change in the balance of melatonin plays havoc with sleep and mood. Interestingly it seems that females, and young people are more at risk than their seniors and those already suffering from clinical depression or bipolar disorder are possibly more vulnerable.

Bleak or a promise of Winter, Its all in the viewpoint. Photo Linda Freeman

Bleak or a promise of Winter, Its all in the viewpoint. Photo Linda Freeman

Treatment for all forms of SAD range from light therapy to psychotherapy and possibly even medication.

If you find yourself struggling with the return to standard time, the darker drive on your way home from work or the lack of sunshine during your morning and afternoon, consider taking steps to cheer yourself up and “don’t be SAD.” Here are a few that have helped many before you.

Yes, living here in Vermont can be a risk factor in and of itself. However, making a few changes in your home and workspace could brighten the atmosphere in which you live and work.

For example, when the sun shines, it is bright and beautiful. Always take advantage of sunny days by removing obstacles such as blinds or curtains that can be opened or pulled back. Sit or work closer to the windows and, if possible, add skylights to your home. Healthy house plants are known to boost mood.

While some of those might be unattainable, getting outside should be a possibility. Take every opportunity to be outdoors. Some research shows that walking, running or spending time out of the house within two hours of getting up in the morning is beneficial all day. (Those early morning runners among you are onto something.)

And, of course, there’s exercise. As usual we of Active Vermont are strong proponents of exercise. Exercise regularly. Exercise is proven to help combat stress and brighten your spirits as it helps you become the fit and energetic person you are meant to be.

If you suspect that you or someone you know suffers from SAD, give them a helping hand. If symptoms appear dangerous, recommend a visit to their medical care provider or mental health practitioner.

If, on the other hand, symptoms are simply a personal annoyance, an obstacle to one’s normal well-being, find a way get up, get out, and brighten the day physically, mentally and emotionally.

This story first appeared in the Rutland Herald and Times Argus Sunday Edition, ACTIVE VERMONT, by Linda Freeman, 11-8-2015.




Cross Training is the name of the Game.


Variety is more than the spice of life; it’s good for you. It happens to just about everyone. Exercise finally becomes a habit and you regularly go to the gym, walk or run your loop, take the same exercise class three times a week or make it through some sort of exercise plan at home before you drop into bed at night. You get the job done. You feel better afterwards (usually) and you can check off another day on your calendar. It’s routine.

Or you are hooked. You love your sport. You can’t get enough of it. You put thousands of miles on your bike outdoors and then come indoors to ride more intensely all winter. You run more and more outside and when the Vermont winter comes along, you run some more (if you must, on a treadmill). You’ve dropped your other exercise to focus on “your” sport, be it golf, tennis, swimming, basketball or whatever activity has appealed to you.

Outdoor sports have their indoor equivalent so that, heaven forbid, you should miss any training. You may have already marked races or events on your 2016 calendar and are stressing over how to continue your current level of fitness. Or you may be closing in on your winter snow season and eager to do nothing but ski or board or climb or whatever.

If you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios, congratulations. You have already reached a level of health and fitness that is admirable. You have made exercise or your sport an important piece of your life.

But let’s take this a step farther. In an age of specialization, it is important to keep breadth and depth in exercise and training. It is important to cross-train.

Simply put, cross-training is participating in more than one sport or training activity. Cross-training helps to prevent overuse injury, burnout and accommodation that diminishes performance. Playing a variety of sports or training in a variety of ways keeps the program fresh, bolsters lagging motivation and enhances skills, strength and performance while building confidence. Cross-training often means trying something new and moving beyond one’s comfort zone. Cross-training is better than good for you.

So much is about balance. Physical balance is both about centering and making certain that opposing muscle groups are strengthened similarly. Playing only one sport can cause imbalance in muscular strength or joint stability that often leads to injury.

A recent report on youth sports speaks to all ages.

“With the increased emphasis on competitive success, specialization in one sport and greater propensity for specialty sports camps, weight training programs or speed schools, risks are on the rise related to overuse injuries. Researchers for the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) found an excessive focus on early intensive training and competition rather than skill development can lead to overuse injuries and burnout in young athletes.” (Posted on September 8, 2015 by Train for the Game LI in Sports Performance No Comments)

Baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball and swimming are sports that can lead to overuse injury to the shoulders or elbows. (Similarly, excessive computer use can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome).

Using pitchers as an example, the report suggests that a player “Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher, avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons, not pitch with any elbow or shoulder pain and never use a radar gun, as it encourages over-throwing.” Furthermore the report states “Prior injury is a strong predictor of future overuse injury.”

New runners often complain of shin splints. Increasing training too quickly, running on a hard surface or inadequate flexibility are cited causes.

On the other side of the leg, Achilles injuries are again attributed to the strain of too much, too quickly.

“Hip injuries may be common among gymnasts and runners, due to the repetitive motions and large amounts of training in a single sport, which leads to strength and flexibility imbalances.”

You get the idea. Just as a budget, schedule or diet needs to be balanced to function at the highest level, so must your exercise or training. Besides, it’s much more fun.

Have you noticed that you can become adept with one set of skills and fitness level and then move to a different sport and need to begin again? If you have been running long distances or cycling steep hills, or maybe playing baseball or soccer in adult leagues several times a week all summer, did you perhaps choose to hike one of Vermont’s excellent trails and find yourself more challenged than you had anticipated?

Do you remember the beginning of last ski season when your quads and hips burned on your first run and caught you off-guard? Did your first swim in open water last spring, or your first paddle, leave you with unexpected soreness?

There is no argument that training specifically for one sport can be efficient, but if that efficiency is not balanced, it can lead to over-training, a reduction in performance and lagging motivation, not to mention pleasure. While excellence is desirable, it should not be bought at a cost to mental, physical or emotional well being.

While it is important to balance the workload on muscles, it is equally important to move in a variety of directions, speeds and intensity. If your sport emphasizes quadriceps strength, (large muscles in the front of the upper leg), you must be sure to balance hamstring and gluteal strength (muscles in the back). If your sport always moves you in the sagittal plane, (moving front to back as in running, walking, classic skiing or cycling), it is important to find a sport that will move you side to side like skating or skate skiing. If your sport is earthbound, include plyometrics or jumping exercises in your practice.

Then there’s the matter of speed and intensity. Within your week of exercise you should have hard days and easy days, long days and short days. Include hills and sprints to shake it up and remind your muscles that they need to perform in a variety of situations.

One thought is to let the season dictate your cross training. Some like to focus on hiking in the fall, snow sports in the winter, an early jump on the outdoors in the spring with walking, running and cycling, and perhaps paddling, swimming or team sports in the summer.

Sometimes simply changing the venue provides cross-training benefits. If you typically ride or run on paved surfaces, get out on the trails to find new challenges. If you are normally in the lake or pool, be sure to cross-train with weight bearing exercises on terra firma. If you pound the ground with one sport, glide on snow or ice with another. If you spend hours in a boat in the summer, spend more hours going vertical. If your exercise is rhythmic and measured, choose cross training that requires quickness and agility such as team sports like soccer, basketball or ice hockey.

Another thought is to cross train within a given week by combining or alternating sports, gym workouts, classes and family time.

Balancing strength and cardiovascular or aerobic training is always the way to go. Never get into a rut.

In the gym lift weights, step or jump on a Bosu, use your own body weight on a TRX suspension system, or practice core exercises on a stability ball, wobble board or Aerex pad. Work equally the upper and lower body, but spend extra time on the core.

To add interest to your core and flexibility workouts, join a yoga or Pilates class. Guidance and good form are always essential.

And, of course, if your sport, training or exercise is solo, try joining a team. It is difficult to focus on an endurance sport for hours on end. Share the responsibilities with teammates and friends.

In recent years triathlons have become increasingly popular. Once the sport of only the “iron” men and women of the athletic community, triathlons now come in several distances offering training and competitive opportunities to a range of individuals. Because the three sports of the triathlon integrate so well, (swim, bike and run), triathlons may be the perfect example of cross training with the additional benefits of balanced conditioning and the happy stimulus of competition.

So, mix it up. Play the field. Compete. Relax. Keep it sharp. Challenge. Have fun.

From the Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday Magazine, Active Vermont, by Linda Freeman, October 18, 2015.


All Terrain Vehicles Assume a New Role – ATVs offer opportunities for sport, work and play.

It is often customary to run a line through outdoor activities dividing them between motorized and non-motorized. Paddling/motor boats, cycling/motorcycles, walking, running, hiking, cross country skiing/snowmobiles and ATVs. But the line blurs.

Shared passion involves a love of the outdoors, that visceral need to be outside on water or on the trail; appreciation of the land and loyalty to Vermont.

The landscape is changing. As users grow in number and respect, boots, mountain bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs segue from foe to friend replacing damage with care. New generations are repeating the admonition to be “good stewards of the land.”

What is an ATV?

A Google search offers a formal definition: “An all-terrain vehicle (ATV), also known as a quad, quad bike, three-wheeler, or four-wheeler, is defined by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a vehicle that travels on low-pressure tires, with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control.”

There are single rider models for, obviously, one person, and there are two-ups that accommodate an operator and one passenger. The latter seem to dominate the market today. There are ATVs for racing, touring and utility. As the price escalates, versatility broadens and the population of users grows exponentially.

To ride off-road, young and old alike are starting their engines on Arctic Cats, Kawasakis, Hondas, Yamahas, Rangers, Gators and even Slingshots. At this year’s Tunbridge World’s Fair two leaders in the field were represented: John Deere and Polaris.

Tom Trottier of South Royalton has known ATVs “my whole life,” currently working for the John Deere business his dad owns in Hartland.

“When we first started selling,” he said, “they were primarily work machines. Now they’re for recreation and hunting as well as work.”

People at the Fair who stop to look “come from all walks of life,” Trottier said. “Some have barely seen one before.”

Once a potential customer identifies the way in which he or she plans to use the ATV, there are decisions to be made and options to choose. “A customer needs the ATV to qualify for work, play or both,” Trottier said.

An ATV is an investment, starting about $8,000 and up to $18,000 or so. There’s more horsepower to be had, better shocks, maybe more speed. Safety features include seat belts, doors or nets. Gas or diesel, power steering, brush guards, winches ….

Mike Stone

Mike Stone, who lives in Orange and owns Stone’s Service Station in Barre, is passionate about both his sport and the state in which he lives. An energetic advocate of shared responsibility and community, he exudes enthusiasm for his ATV club, the maintenance of the roads and trails on which he rides, and the community in which he lives.

Stone has been involved with ATVs “for a lot of years,” he said. He began riding in the late 80s when there were no organized trail systems and he participated in what he calls “renegade riding.”

His interest began at around age 9 but quickly fanned into something more. Stone was that “kid that sat on the corner drooling,” watching Joey Laquerre on snow machines and bursting to get out there himself.

For Stone, an ATV offered a way to get out and see the backcountry. Today that means seeing the backcountry by means of a trail network designated for ATV use. Stone is a key player when it comes to trails. In fact, named as VASA “Trail Master of the Year,” Stone oversees and maintains trails, always with an eye on the future.

VASA, Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association, initiated in 1998 by the West Rutland ATV Sportsman’s Club, operates similarly to VAST, the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. Both organizations coordinate leadership, recreational use, trail design, education, events and community relationships in order to grow their sport safely and responsibly.

Old-school renegade riding is out. Today’s operators must know and obey clearly defined laws, register their ATVs and provide proof of insurance. As in other Vermont recreational activities, ATV users study, test and consequently earn certification of their successful completion safety education. (The safety education course is mandated for riders 12-18.)

Membership in one of the 18 clubs throughout the state offers further guidance regarding laws, safety and, of course, plenty of events to bring together like users to share the trails and have fun.

Stone, a member of the Central Vermont ATV club, moved to his 80 acres in Orange nine years ago. “How lovely, right in my back yard I can be legal,” he said of his easy access to a marked trail system.

Though to some the image of an ATV rider is young and reckless, like Stone, many contemporary users are mature. With a wide spectrum of ages represented, Stone estimates that the average age is 40, but with quite a few riders in their 60s-80s as touring and group rides increase in popularity.

What about the young and reckless? Of course, they’re still out there. Just the other day on one short drive home I watched a kid on an ATV speed along the shoreline of the Winooski, get tossed free when he rolled his machine, then jump back on and tear off.

On that same drive I was passed by more than one muddy ATV being transported on a trailer. Are these activities wrong? Wrong may be the wrong word. They are simply not the activities that I am discussing here. “Mud will ruin an ATV,” Stone said, and as a mechanic, he should know. “Brakes, bushings, bearings – gone in 3 years. Mud is for the greenhorns.” Responsible users would like to break that reputation.

Though certain designated Class 4 roads are appropriate for use, not all are. “To interconnect trails is do-able,” Stone said, but challenging and work-intensive. A legally integrated statewide trail system offers solutions and enticements to this growing sport.

Most often ATVs need to be trailered to a trailhead. A more extensive network with approved feeder trails would be helpful to a sport that encourages families and provides for young and old, fit and disabled.

Much relies on the cooperation of landowners. This is a common theme when it comes to building land or water trails of any kind and, as is always the case, those involved with the trails express their debt of gratitude to the landowners.

Stone has spent many hours talking with landowners, obtaining permission from most to use their land for trails. There are benefits to all parties. For example, building water bars makes a big difference as water is responsible for much damage. The landowner benefits; the user benefits.

“We’re all together,” Stone said, “snow machines, bikers, skiers, horseback riders. We all need to work together. It’s about us all taking pride, using our resources, all working together.” This is a recurring theme for Stone who is a compelling campaigner for the partnership of land and ATV use.

Is it a sense of ownership that encourages stewardship? Stone points to a recently built parking lot at a trailhead. “Everything was donated. It is a community trail. Anyone who wants to park there and support the trail is welcomed. Each user is expected to add to the upkeep.” Clean, functioning trails improve property. “It’s about people taking personal responsibility,” Stone said.

Vermont needs to play catch-up with neighboring states that are enjoying increased revenue from ATV tourist dollars. This year Stone rode 90 miles in Rangely, Maine, where he noted that the large trail system included access to towns, restaurants and stores. Woodsville and Gorham, New Hampshire, two other New England ATV destinations, offer long, well-groomed or surfaced trails that attract visitors.

Clubs run a full calendar of activities, some simply for fun but many for a purpose. Stone won this season’s big event, the Poker Run sponsored by VASA out of Danville. He also speaks proudly of the good being done by the Washington Club where the annual March spaghetti dinner and silent auction raise enough money to give to each fire department in W Topsham, Orange and Washington as well as send two kids a year to summer camp.

But it is that special time on the trail that Stone describes that intrigues and beckons. “It is a low-speed sport,” he said, “with an average of 15-20 mph. Over 20-25 mph and the machines don’t handle well. They’re not designed for it.”

Quieter than a snow machine and noisier than a car, what Stone likes to do is “stop and park and listen.” There are sights and sounds that can only be experienced away from traffic, in the woods, or on top of that distant, inaccessible hill. An ATV can take you there.

“My biggest thing,” Stone said, “is not what the state of Vermont can do for us. It’s what we can do for the state. It’s not all about money. We need to take responsibility for where we’re living. There’s a lot of good feeling out there.”

And Stone, a charismatic speaker for the ATV community, liberally shares “a lot of good feeling” about his sport and his state. He makes you want to get out there on the trails as much as you can; and then to take care of that privilege.

From the Rutland Herald & Times Argus Sunday Magazine section, ACTIVE VERMONT, by Linda Freeman, 10/4/2015.