Sometimes you just need to get to where you're going. But why do it on a bike? It's fun; convenient in the spring, summer and fall; and if you're headed to Bristol from Middlebury or visa-versa, it only adds about 20 minutes to your trip. Both my colleague Brian King and I regularly ride this route. He rides from Bristol to Middlebury and back everyday, and I frequently ride to Bristol for an interview, meeting or my favorite beer around — the Bobcat's Chewy.
Since I'd rather ride than drive, here's my preferred Bristol-Middlebury commute.
Length: 23 miles (11.5 each way)
Duration: 40 minutes - 1 hour 20 minutes (one way only)
In terms of riding routes, there are certainly better loops around Addison County. But if you live in Bristol and want to grab something that you need in Middlebury or if you live in Middlebury and need to meet up with someone in Bristol, this is an easy and enjoyable way to do it.
Beginning in Middlebury, head North on Washington Street past the co-op. When you get to the fork between Washington Street Extension and Seminary Street Extension, bear left on Washington Street Extension.
Pedal past the old Middlebury cemetery and when you get to Halpin Road keep going straight onto Painter Road. Follow Painter to the end and hang a left on Munger Street. Pedal up a little hill and coast the rest of the way until you cross the New Haven River and hit the stop sign at River Road.
Once at River Road take a right, climb the hill and pedal on over to Route 116. At 116 take a left and ride to the four-way light where Routes 17 and 116 meet up. Turn right and head east up Stoney Hill Road and find yourself in beautiful Bristol — "the gateway to the green mountains."
Grab some ice cream, a beer, a sandwich or whatever else you need to do. If it's hot out don't forget to stop by Bartlett Falls or any of the adjacent swimming holes.
When you're all done, head back west on Main Street, down Stoney Hill Road and take a left on Route 116 at the four-way light. Pedal south and bear right on River Road. Head up a little hill and enjoy a nice coast down that hill you already road up. Pass the turn off to Munger Street and keeping heading west on River Road. Follow the New Haven River to your last hill and head on up to Lincoln Peak Vineyard.
You'll find yourself on Route 7, and you'll want to take a left and head south back to Middlebury. Watch out because big trucks and cars fly on Route 7, but thanks to extra wide shoulders the only serious concern is broken glass and torn tires that will bite you like an alligator if rolled over the wrong way. Take Route 7 to Exchange Street and head on down past Otter Creek Brewery and Cabot — hey, it's better than Route 7 at a single lane.
Roll down through the industrial park and you'll find yourself next to Greg's Meat Market. From here you can catch a show at the Town Hall Theater, pick up some food at any number of groceries or enjoy this weekend's Midd Summer Festival.