BENNINGTON — In an effort to promote economic development, American heritage, tourism and a healthy lifestyle, the Bicycle Tour Company invites the public to travel from Ethan Allen's birthplace to his burial site on Aug. 21.
The ride is 211 miles and should take about 15 hours, said Sal Lilienthal, owner of the Bicycle Tour Company and author of "Revolutionary Battles, Experience America's Roads to Independence." The journey begins at 4 a.m. on Sunday in Litchfield, Conn., and ends around 8 p.m. in Burlington. Lilienthal has a few participants that will travel the entire length, but said he expects people to join in along the way.
Lilienthal used to live in Vermont across from where Allen was laid to rest. He realized there was a pattern of Connecticut entrepreneurs moving to Vermont. After publishing the Revolutionary Battles book, he linked up with a professor from Central Connecticut State University to write a book on tours related to all of the revolutionary war heroes in Connecticut; "Connecticut's Revolutionary War Trail."
The upcoming tour is part of the promotion of the National Heritage Corridor Congressional Initiative to prepare for America's 250th anniversary in 2026, Lilienthal said. A series of 'bucket list' items were put together to achieve before the anniversary and the organizer said the Allen ride is high priority.
"Part of this has to do with patriotism and trying to support that in our own way," Lilienthal said. "All things we should be doing to move in the positive direction for our country right now."
Lilienthal has led several bike tours on the East Coast. The important component for this particular one is that each participant has a support car parallel to the trip with their own supplies, food, etc. He is also the founder of the Western New England Greenway, which is part of the path the ride will take going through the most western parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. It stretches from New York City to Montreal.
The National Corridor acknowledges Allen and the Green Mountain Boys' battle against British oppression at Ticonderoga, Crown Point, and Saratoga in New York and Bennington. The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail honors southern state patriots who fought at the Battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens and the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail revisits the trail of French and American soldiers from Newport, R.I., to Yorktown, Va., both of which Lilienthal has rode on.
U.S. Route 7, 308 miles from Connecticut to the Canadian border, is listed as the Ethan Allen Highway, according to Manchester Historical Society board member Shawn Harrington. On Sept. 30, 1930 there was an unveiling parade of the paved highway from Bennington to Manchester.
The Green Mountain Boys was an armed militia force that consisted of Allen, his brother Ira and their cousins Seth Warner and Remember Baker, as well as men from Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut who held land titles from New Hampshire. At the time, the British gave land, modern day Vermont, to New York instead of honoring the New Hampshire land grants and the Green Mountain Boys was formed to claim the land.
Various gatherings were held at the Catamount Tavern located in Bennington. Tyler Resch, the Bennington Museum research librarian, said he lived at the site of the McCullough mausoleum at the Old First Church cemetery. Even though writer Robert Frost's gravestone is in that cemetery, Resch said more people inquire about Allen.
"There's lots to know about him. I've got about 13 biographies on my shelf," Resch said. "He's an important guy. Without Ethan Allen there would be no state of Vermont, let's just say that."
He also said Allen moved to Sunderland at one point and lived in the Ira Allen Inn.
The Green Mountain Boys are known as patriots in the National Corridor because they protected Vermont land from the British, especially from an invasion through Canada. The state became an independent nation in 1777 and was declared the 14th state in 1791. Allen was the oldest member of the group and became a Lieutenant Colonel of the Continental Army after the land seizure.
The Bicycle Touring Company, based in Kent, Conn., offers other services such as romantic getaways, events, scenic route tours, fall foliage tours and camp and school classes.
"Fifty is the new 25, it's a stretch," Lilienthal said. "There might be some people joining us for a section of the ride."
Lilienthal cited a moment during a guided tour across New Jersey and seeing the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware river. He said he thought it didn't resemble the famous painting that depicts the scene and this drove him to want people to see the sites for themselves.
For more information on the Ethan Allen 211 mile ride, visit http://ctamericanrevolution.com or email Explore@RevolutionaryBattles.com
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-490-6471.