Saturday, August 30, 2008

We reached our BHAG!!!

Last year we decided to set a goal to ride a century (100 miles in one day) by Aug 2007. We set up a training schedule to get us ready, stuck to it, and did it! In total we biked 1,000 miles for that summer. This year we decided to set a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of doubling last year’s mileage.

We started this three day weekend only 65 miles short of our summer goal and hoped to finish before going back to work on Tuesday.

This morning it rained and thunder showers were forecasted intermittently through out the day. When the sky cleared around Noon we decided to get at least 15 miles in. The weather held out and on mile 30 Trin looked at me and said, ”Want to make it a metric century and finish our goal today?" All I could think at the time was that I was hungry, but I did want to finish. We stopped at a nearby convenient store to get some food. I got a turkey sandwich, which for some reason I have been craving all year, and continued our ride. We climbed a few hills, got in a number of great downhill tucks - up to 50mph today, and completed our miles!

Tonight we CELEBRATE riding 2,000 miles for the summer of 2008!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Finishing our Ride around Lake Champlain

Day 5:

By early Tuesday morning our one man pup tent was sagging very close to us. Movement was a coordinated effort as it was, even more so now. Puddles had also collected along the sides of the tent, but did not soak the sleeping bag (yes, to save on weight on the bike we just brought one). The downpour started as soon as we got into the tent the night before and rain continued till morning, but we stayed dry. In the morning as soon as we heard the rain taper off we quickly took everything into the campgrounds laundromat so we would have room to roll up the sleeping bag, tent, and tarp, and get packed up and ready for a rainy day. Providence/Luck (I don’t know which to say these days) was with us, not another drop of rain fell during our ride. The trip turned out to be perfect, we had the excitement of a thunderstorm in a tent, while staying dry and not having to ride through a bit of rain the entire trip.

Our five day route ended on mile 244.

City Ride

Day 4:

Monday morning we headed out of Adult Camp through Burlington toward Shelburne camp. Burlington had some nice bike paths through town making travel through the city a bit more enjoyable and a lot safer. I could tell we were in a city by the demeanor of the other cyclists. Normally all cyclist wave, smile or nod to each other. On the city trails they all ignore each other, just like pedestrians in New York City. I guess I understand, after all it would be exhausting to acknowledge everyone you passed on the street in NY City. This is why I would rather be on back roads or in the woods any day.

Monday was hot as soon as we checked into the camp we rode our bikes out to the deserted pool and jumped it. It felt so good. I love to bike, and I love to swim, this is a perfect day.

The wind had been blowing hard all day; we thought it might be blowing in a storm. Soon after we were in our tent a huge thunderstorm ensued along with a torrential downpour. Thankfully we had a tarp over the bikes and tent, but torrential rain on a tarp is very loud. The rain continued all night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Peace by the Lake

Day 3:
Sunday morning, we headed out early. Our neighbor on the left, evidently noticing our bikes for the first time watched us pack up and seemed intrigued. He never said anything but seemed to enjoy watching, maybe remembering trips he had taken when he was young. To our right a boy emerged from a camper with his dog. He proceeded across the road to the lake looking for his raft. When he didn’t find it he proceeded to throw a fit, screaming at the world flaying his arms. His neglected dog then ran out into the road and nearly got hit, when the car slowed down the boy ran across the road as well. Trin said “Prime Time television.” The boy then called his dog stupid, Trin whispered, “nope, its not the dog” We looked at the neighbor to the left and we all rolled our eyes.

Today our destination was Champlain Adult Campground. When Trin first told me he booked a night at Adult camp I was a little concerned and asked what we would be expected to do there. I soon found out that “Adult camp” meant a camp ground only for Adults, no kids (no flailing kids) allowed. This would make a great mid-way stop, and hopefully a great night of sleep with little noise. Don’t get me wrong I like kids, and like this morning they can be very entertaining, but this would be a night off.

Sunday was supposed to be the shortest ride of our trip. After getting our camp site we decided to head out to the local store to get food for our next few meals. The friendly Frenchman who owned the camp directed us to a store “1 mile down the road.” Five miles later we found it, so we still ended up riding 50 miles just like the past two days.

The camp site was perfect, secluded and right next to the lake. We set up camp and went for a nice long swim in Lake Champlain. Our tent rested at the crest of a rock cliff and high winds drove the waves hard all night. So much for "quiet", but we really enjoyed the site; it was a great chance to relax.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We eat Spam, not dog

Day 2:
Saturday morning after loading up the bikes again we hung our laundry from the bungee cords that were securing our tent and sleeping bag hoping they would air dry during the day. Unfortunately they did come out a little musty smelling from the bit of rain Friday night, but at least they didn’t smell like skunk! We continued up the New York side of Lake Champlain crossing the Rt 2 bridge over to Vermont just before the Canadian border. Saturday evening we stayed at Goose Point Camp ground. I was concerned when we pedaled in as all the tents in the camp ground seemed to be very close together. When we got to our lot we found it might not be that bad. There was a nice weeping willows overhead that hopefully would shield our laundry that evening from the dew.

We stopped at the store to see what we could get for dinner. The woman running the store had a group of visitor sitting around at the entrance making it very difficult to get to the actual isles and their kids were running all over screaming – not just making noise, but actually coming close to splitting the ear drums. When we found a few items we had to interrupt to purchase them. If there were any other stores in the vicinity they would not have gotten our business.

With no stove (we had decided to keep our load as light as possible,) we ended up with spam, after getting frustrated with the peal back lid doubling as a spoon we decided to use our fingers. With the close quarters we could hear the entire conversation of our neighbors that seemingly recently came out of a box. One of the kids had been reading a book during their time at this camp and was amazed at things she was finding out. The statements like “did you know Filipinos eat dogs?!” kept intruding our slumber. Trin of course was raised in the Philippines, and he has never eaten dog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Preparation Aches

I learned about the Lake Champlain Bikeways when I was looking for some Vermont biking. It seemed like a good choice for a first bike tour so I ordered up the maps from their website and could not wait to surprise Bonnie about my excellent find. As it turned out she of course had already ordered a set of maps several days before I did. Which came as no surprise to me.
A quick google search yielded a cue sheet that begins from the bottom of the lake, goes up through the New York side to Canada then goes down through Vermont. I mapped it out in Mapsource and modified it so that it began from Crown Point state park and then crossed over to Vermont right before reaching the Canadian border.
Bonnie gave me a list of camgrounds in the general Lake Champlain area and I waymarked them in with the route map. We then chose the campgrounds based on a 50-mile max daily mileage. We ended up charting rides just below 50 miles for each day.
The first campground I called to make reservations was Crown Point. We were told that the park was flooded due to several days of continuous rain. This was unwelcome news and we worried that it may be a preview of how the tour would come down.
Undettered, I proceeded to check the other campgrounds and found out that they did not share Crown Point's predicament. I simply rotated the route and found a different starting point near Port Henry. We decided to make reservations on campgrounds for each night to ensure we would not be riding around looking for another campground should the one we chose was full.
For the first night we decided we'd stay in a motel since we would be driving to the lake right off from work and would arrive at a late hour, way past quiet time in most campgrounds. We found a mom-and-pop motel called Family Fun Cabins and Motel. The owner sounded very pleasant over the phone and was very accommodating about us leaving the car at their place for five days.
All the campgrounds we chose had available sites and we had no problems placing reservations.
Another tool that helped in choosing daily mileages was the terrain view of Google Maps. If the terrain showed a hilly profile, we reduced some miles from it.

Five Days with the bike and tent

Getting Ready:
Trin and I took a 5 day bike tour around Lake Champlain, so I’m very behind on blogging. We are currently on our way home and internet connection is slow from the road so I’ll post a bit and attempt to catch up over the next few days.

We prepared and over prepared over the last few weeks. Trin mapped out the route and printed the cue sheets. I started packing then rethinking everything that was packed since we would have to carry it all on our bikes. Maybe we over prepared, but this was going to be our first “real” bike tour. We left our office building around 5PM Thursday night but I continued to work on the way to Lake Champlain, till around 10PM when we lost all cell coverage. It’s the time of year budget for 2009 need to set up, this means many late nights to be able to take a few days off. Our first night we stayed in a cabin where we would park our car during the 5 days that we would be biking.

Day 1

Friday morning we loaded up the panniers and said goodbye to work and all other electrical devices. No Google for 5 days!! Well, we did take our cell phones in case of emergency, but left them powered off the entire time so that we would have batteries if we did need them, OK so I turned mine on 3 times to check the time. The first mile was all decent and a bit chilly but as soon as we started climbing the next mountain we warmed up and the weather stayed beautiful. Friday evening we stayed at Au Sable Camp grounds. We rode around the area for a bit to view the Au Sable Chasm and bought a “stuffed crust pizza” from the local store, but I think it was stuffed with particle board instead of cheese. After we got in our tents it rained a bit giving our clothes no chance to dry. To save on luggage we only brought two sets of clothes, washing them out each evening. The camp was quiet except for occasional noises from nearby camps. The honking of the camp near us as someone blew their nose a number of times and a nasal Wanka Wanka Wanka from a kid on the other side of the grounds. The only other disturbance was a skunk that kept coming over and making lots of noise near us. At one point he came right over to my side of the tent. I yelled at him to “GET”, surprisingly and thankfully he did. We slept till dawn woke us up.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Downhill Tuck

Being on a bike is freedom. Sure I could see some of the same scenery from my car window, but on a bike all the senses are engaged, the world is experienced. I love to bike, most of all the downhill tuck. Hugging the core of my bike as close as possible minimizing wind resistance, racing down a hill till the wind pushes all moisture out of the eyes as tear drops straight back to the ears. This never fails to make me smile big enough to get bugs in my teeth.