Friday, March 6, 2015

An Afternoon of Snowshoeing

After our small 9" snowstorm yesterday, I decided to go out snowshoeing this afternoon. Most of the local trails have been previously skied, and I wanted a little different type of adventure. The layers of snow from the various storms have made skiing a crusty affair, with my back country skis sinking into a crusty layered surface frequently. Perfect day for the very flexible art of snowshoeing.
My older snowshoes were made in Vermont by the Tubbs Company. They have since moved their operations to California, and the snowshoe designs have evolved over the years. My old Tubbs' seem just right for our Eastern conditions, so I have had no need to replace them. 
The learning curve on snowshoes is very short, and almost anyone can learn quickly. This is not a fast sport, but is quite enjoyable, while giving a great cardiovascular workout. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We Go to Jackson New Hampshire for Some Cross Country Skiing Fun

Once per Winter season, we usually meet our long time friends from Boston, Ron and Phyllis, for some Cross Country skiing. This year, we decided to go to one of the best places around, Jackson, New Hampshire. The town is the center of a huge cross country network stretching into the surrounding hills and White Mountains. There is a large cross country lodge right in town. The ski touring foundation has made this area a significant destination for skiers of all levels of skill.

It was our luck to arrive when conditions were excellent. Our first day of skiing was blessed with extensive trails full of softly packed powder which was freshly groomed. We took off on the easier Ellis River Trail in the 23F temperature with clear blue skies. After a great sandwich lunch at the J Town Deli, we skied some more in the town environs. Dinner at the Wentworth Hotel was scrumptious.

That night, the snow fell for hours while we slept. We woke up to about 8" of fresh powder, and a beautiful landscape to boot. Our skiing experience at the Eagle Mountain House area, both in the fields and the more difficult trails, was superb. My favorite trail, The Wave, was in great condition for us all to enjoy. Luckily, I wore my gaiters, which protected me from the flying and abundant powder.

The Wave is a blue trail, which involves lots of climbing and then lots of descending. I have to say that Helen did a great job, never complaining about the climbs, and attacking the multiple descents which significant vigor. We all got lots of exercise.

Our stay at the ellis River Lodge was excellent. The accommodations were very comfortable. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Our breakfasts were especially yummy before a day outside skiing. All in all, our weekend cross country skiing with our friends was a great success. Where to next year?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lake Minnewaska

 I had been to Lake Minnewaska before on two occasions. Both times in a hiking mode. Once with Helen, and once with both Helen and Nina. I always thought that the carriage roads that ring the lake and surrounding areas would be great for off road cycling. The miles and miles of fine gravel carriage roads provide plenty of opportunity for great views and challenging riding. The opportunity came during my one Wednesday off per month schedule. I drove up to New Paltz, about two hours from my house, and then on to the lake, an additional 15 minute drive.

I took my cyclocross/off road touring bike for the ride. It has 32mm knobby 'cross tires, and plenty of gears with its 26-36-46/11-32 gear range. Even though this bike is designed for on/off road riding, the somewhat rocky nature of the roads made me feel that for the next visit, a mountain bike would have handled the terrain better.
One thing about this area is that there are lots of lookouts. It also means that handling the sharp turns is mandatory, lest one go over the edge, and that it a real danger here. Moderate speed and reasonable caution will suffice for all but the most acrophobic riders. By the way, I myself am moderately acrophobic!
For the first hour of the ride, it rained in a moderate to heavy fashion. After that, the rain moved off, and it was only basically raw, with wind in the 15-20mph range, and temps about 45F. There are a lot of carriageway trails in the area, and I choose a route that would connect both lakes Minnewaska and Awosting. The connector roads were loaded with scenic viewpoints. 
One of the nicest attractions of the area is the Awosting Falls, easily accessible, and a ten minute walk  from the entry parking lot. It is actually a series of smaller falls leading up to Awosting, located in a deep secluded gorge. All in all, this day trip to Minnewaska was a great success. I think that I will return sometime soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We Ride the Covered Bridges Ride, and Visit Philadelphia

Last weekend, Helen and I went to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for the Covered Bridges Ride, hosted by the Central Bucks Bike Club. There are a variety of distances available, and we selected the mostly fine gravel towpath and Delaware River path ride. It started in Tinicum Park, Pennsylvania, crossed the Frenchtown Bridge into New Jersey, and continued down the gravel path to Bull's Island, then returned via the same route. 
I chose my Jamis cyclocross bike for this ride, and Helen was riding her new Giant Anyroad with disc brakes. Both of our bikes had 32mm knobby tires, which proved to be the best choice for the fine gravel surface, both in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The rest stop at Bull's Island was well stocked with snacks, and we met lots of friendly riders there. 
We also visited close relatives in Warrington, Pennsylvania. Thanks a lot to Ira and Terry for putting us up for two nights! Our tour of Philadelphia included the River Walk, Omega Cheesesteak, and the new Barnes Museum.
One can't say too much about the scenery around New Hope. It is a riders paradise, with good country roads, an excellent gravel path along the Delaware River, and lots of restaurants/galleries/shopping in the towns of New Hope and Lambertville, NJ.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

102.74 Miles on my Trike. Another Sea Gull Century

I had not been down to the DelMarVa peninsula in a couple of years. For my 54th century I decided to return this year for the Sea Gull Century out of Salisbury, Maryland. This is a flat century over good roads in farmland. The traffic volume is very low, and the excellent Maryland State Troopers are at every major intersection, stopping traffic for the about 6,000 riders registered for this event. The weather cooperated brilliantly, with great cloudless skies, lots of sunshine, and a maximum temperature of 80F with low humidity.
There is a choice of two century routes, and a 100km also. I chose the Snow Hill Century, which is more scenic and less crowded than the original Assateague Century. We started off at 7AM, with the sun just rising. The starting temperature was 51F and clear.
Thie was my second recumbent trike century, and I was well trained from a good summer of riding both upright bikes and my trike. Compared with my LOOK KG381i road bike, the Catrike expedition is slower by about 3mph, but much more comfortable during the last 50 miles of the ride. As I was not in a hurry and the weather was fabulous, the trike was the best choice. I met up with several other trike riders on the road and at the rest stops. I met Dirk from the DC area. He had Catrike Expedition #880, while mine is #3385. About six years of production separates the two frames. Fortunately, they are still made in America.
The ride is largely rural, and passes through many small towns of the Eastern shore of Maryland. I would have to say that all of the people and automobile drivers that I came across were quite friendly, in contrast to the drivers of Suffolk County, who can be quite hostile at times. I felt safe.
The last rest stop was at the Nassawango golf club. Of course, they had pie and ice cream for the eager riders to consume. Due to the amount of exercise during the ride, which comes to about 5,000 calories, I felt justified in having a big piece of cherry pie. The power curve of the trike and most recumbents is different than an upright bike. Due to the fact that general body fatigue is low, my average speed actually increased during the last half of the ride. I have found this to be true with my two wheel recumbent also. All in all, this years Sea Gull Century was a great ride.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

TFCE 2014. A Great Day and a Great 102 mile Ride

It could have been hot, humid, or rainy, but it wasn't. The weather was absolutely perfect for the 2014 " The Flattest Century in the East " ride, out of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The day before, Helen and I took the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient Point on Long Island to New London, Connecticut. We then drove to Dartmouth Massachusetts, the home of UMASS Dartmouth, where we stayed overnight. The trip through the North Fork of Long Island was scenic, with flowers in abundance.
Our friends from Boston, Ron and Phyllis, met us at the starting area. From there, the girls went to Newport, Rhode Island for the day, and Ron and I tackled the Century with 2,000 of our closest friends. I have to let everybody know that this century is flattish to rolling, but NOT FLAT! There is about 2,800 feet of vertical climbing overall. Lots of it was long and gentle, with no serious steep climbs. 
Ron was riding his new Trek Domaine 2, and I was riding my trusty 12 year old LOOK KG 381i. The coastal scenery was often spectacular. We had lunch at the 50 mile mark at a local deli/bakery, and the sandwiches were delicious, lots better than the general century PB&J. 
One problem that I had was that all along the route, there were lots of great beaches and swimming opportunities. It took a great amount of concentration to keep on the route at times.
At the end of the day, Ron and I got our commerative T shirts, and drove to Newport, Rhode Island, where we met the girls for a terrific seafood dinner at The Moorings. The Newport Storm Amber Ale was quite tasty, and went well with local clams on the half shell.  All in all, the day was perfect.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Ride to Montauk on a Trike. My First Century Ride with my Catrike Expedition

From my first recumbent trike ride in 2007, I had wanted to do a century ride on one of these fantastic machines. With the purchase of Catrike Expedition CTE3385 in November of 2013, a goal was to do my yearly Ride to Montauk on a trike. With 1,250 practice miles under my belt, I felt confident for the May 31, 2014 annual ride. I had swapped out the stock Marathon Racers for Duranos, and that brought some needed extra speed. The Rotor chainrings that I installed smoothed out my pedaling stroke and went a long way towards virtual elimination of the pedal steer that is characteristic of recumbents.
Although the power output is about the same as riding on a regular two wheeled bike, there is a great increase in comfort, making this an excellent long distance machine.
In fact, this is the ride that almost wasn't. The governing executives of both Southampton and Easthampton towns tried to legally cancel the ride, leaving the 1500 registered riders out in the cold. Thank heavens that a compromise was worked out, but it left the 30 and 70 mile riders cancelled, although my 112.76mile ride from Babylon to Montauk Point was preserved. SHAME ON YOU TOWNS OF SOUTHAMPTON AND EASTHAMPTON!!. Fortunately, I got off on time for my 12th ride to Montauk, and my 52nd century ride overall. The weather cooperated, going from the upper 50's to the low 60's in Montauk. The threatened scattered showers never materialized, and lots of fun was had by all.
As usual, the crowd at the rest stops was a mix of people, with a significant showing from residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Thanks to Helen who left me off at Babylon train station and picked me up at Camp Hero, the end of the ride. Funny thing, but I feel that my love of fixed gear cycling on my 1984 Pinarello has helped my recumbent cycling. Although it seems paradoxical, but the fixed gear cycling technique which is known to develop " soupless, " or suppleness in the legs, translates well to recumbent cycling, especially while sprinting and climbing. I had no trouble climbing the major hills to Montauk Point of my recumbent trike. My 112.76 total miles did not exhaust me, and only caused some mild soreness the next morning. Not bad for 63 next week!
The above photo is my Catrike in front of the Windmill in Watermill, the third of four scheduled rest stops. It is on a green in the middle of town, and is quite picturesque. I skipped the last rest stop for a quick bite at the Napeague Clam Bar before tackling the hills to Montauk Point. 
All in all, I would say that it was a terrific day. The trike did its job admirably under the circumstances. The condition of the roads in Suffolk County is currently deplorable. Potholes, rough roads, patches, sand, perpetual construction abound. I would not do this ride again on Duranos, as they do not have the shock absorbing capacity to prevent significant jarring to the body in this situation. If I did this ride again on a trike, Big Apples might be a better choice, although they would slow me down some. Next time, I just may do this ride again on fixed gear, utilizing my 28mm Continental GP 4 season tires. In any event, being in Montauk is always special. Not even the evil town politicians can take that away from me.