Erin Hanczyk makes road cycling look easy, as though you simply clip in to your pedals and effortlessly glide through the world. Road cycling really isn't easy, but Hanczyk's love for cycling makes all the challenges and the effort and the summer heat seem totally insignificant. Hanczyk has had rides in the rain, blown tires, blown spokes. She's found herself with bike problems in the middle of nowhere without cell service. But still, she loves to ride. "Every time time I get on my bike it’s such a refreshing feeling, it’s like a new start."
Cycling first really came into Hanczyk's life when she moved to the Lake Placid area. She'd used a bike to commute earlier in her life, but in Lake Placid she met some road cyclists and came to see cycling not as a way to commute — hard to do in the Adirondacks — but as a way to stretch out the distances pedaled, and as a sport to dig in to. She bought a road bike and it became quite simply part of who she is. Witnessing her first Ironman in Lake Placid motivated her to bike more, and farther. "I really pushed that little bike as far as I could." Today, Hanczyk has two half Ironmans under her pedals.
After a few years in the Lake Placid area, Hanczyk and her husband moved to Westport, where the wide roads of the Lake Champlain Region offer views that are stunning and great rides. Hanczyk has plenty of room to ride wide shoulders past farmers' fields, the broad stretch of Lake Champlain, and old forests. Plus there isn't much traffic, a boon for a solitary cyclist. It's just Hanczyk, her bike, and, because she rides early, a world just starting to wake up.
"Every route is different, every ride is different." Of the perfect ride, Hanczyk says, "it’s just the kind of ride that makes you feel free. You just drop into that zone, and everything around you is in sync, the light is perfect, nature is calling, everything around you is brighter and you get to see so many sights and so many beautiful views and so many things - wildlife, you name it - on these roads. It’s just an unbelievable feeling for me.”
Hanczyk wasn't always a morning person, but finding it was the best time to get her training in, she adapted and soon fell deeply in love with her early, golden rides. She's also a great advocate for enjoying the beauty of a sunrise here. "You get to come up with the sun...get to watch the sun come up the Vermont mountains and over Lake Champlain...you hear the farms waking up and watch the hay blowing across the field as the sun rose. That golden hour that came across the hay, came across the fields, was breathtaking." For Hanczyk, mornings such as these are so beautiful, so striking, that they are not to be missed. They're part of what makes the region so appealing to artists, long-time residents, and visitors and keeps people coming back and rising early just for a glimpse of this special beauty.
“Biking has just become a part of me, it’s something that I absolutely love to do...growing that distance, and getting that fitness under my belt, getting used to these roads really opened up a whole new world for me in this sport that I never thought or never saw myself doing. Now I feel like every ride is kind of the perfect ride.”
Explore the beautiful roads of the Lake Champlain Region, along with historic sites, charming inns, and relaxing local restaurants. Bring your bike, too! I can't promise the rides will be easy, but they will be beautifully scenic and you'll adore the adventure.
The Dawn Patrol series: