Central Vermont's velvety green meadows, dramatic mountains, and freshly painted white steeples are all best seen at a cyclist's pace and in the fall, as leaves are changing (though spring and summer aren't bad, either). Drive up on a Friday evening, choose an affordable B & B as your home base, and get out on the spider web of back-country roads linking one Vermont village to the next.
For a moderate day ride, start at the Barsen House Inn in Addison (888-819-6103, barsenhouseinn.com, from $105), just off the shores of Lake Champlain. Turn left out of the parking lot onto Lake Street. To the east you'll see cows, cornfields, and the Green Mountains. To the west, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.
Continue north as the road becomes Arnold Bay Road, then Button Bay Road. (Pull off at Button Bay State Park for lake views.) From Button Bay Road, turn right (east) onto Basin Harbor Road, then take two slight lefts, the first onto Panton Road and the second onto Route 22A. Cross Otter Creek and head into the town of Vergennes for lunch.
Pedal south out of town on the Maple Street Extension, which becomes Hallock Road, and then Quaker Village Road. This stretch is neither flat nor dauntingly vertiginous, just a good ride up and down the hillsides past a patchwork of farms spiced with Vermont's version of aromatherapy: fresh manure. There's a challenging climb as you close in on the block-long town of Weybridge. Then turn right onto Route 23 for a sweeping downhill run. Turn left (west) onto Route 17 and take a slight jog onto Atherton Road and back to the inn.
Innkeepers at many smaller B & Bs in Vermont can point riders on similar loops. In Taftsville, stay at Shepherd's Hill Farm (802-457-3087, shepherdshillfarm.com, from $135) along with 160 sheep. Just across the Connecticut River is Plainfield, New Hampshire, where Home Hill Inn (603-675-6165, homehillinn.com, from $235, dinner for two from $100) is an unlikely outpost of French gastronomy run by chef Victoria du Roure, also an avid cyclist. Between bites of her pumpkin risotto (served in a pumpkin), ask du Roure about the loop to the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the longest covered bridge in America. If you can't do all three in one weekend, you'll just have to make another trip.