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.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Helen Gets a New Bike, and We Take a Ride to Montauk!

We don't know exactly when it happened. Our garage doors had been funky for some time. An appointment had already been made to replace them. Sometime between when I went to the gym and came back, the garage door had been left open, and Helen's bike was gone!. We shopped around for a long while. Helen wanted a bike that was good for her on the road, but had rail trail and fire road capabilities. She settled on a Giant Anyroad model, which was expertly fit to her by Alex at Bicycle Playground in Huntington, New York. Yesterday, we visited our friend Scott in Montauk, and took a 20 mile round trip to Montauk Point, road testing Helen's new bike. For my part, I took a break from My Catrike Expedition, and celebrated the 30th anniversary of my fixed gear Pinarello, relishing the challenge of doing the hills to and from Montauk Point in a
68.4 gear inch ratio.
All went well for our excursion. Helen found that the Giant Anyroad had a smooth ride, was well fit to her body, and enjoyed the strong stopping power of the Avid disc brakes. We rested at Camp Hero, which has cliffs overlooking the ocean, and in my opinion, the best views in all of Montauk.I surprised myself in my fixed gear challenge, conquering all four of the hills in our route and dancing handily to power up them all. My winter regimen of incline leg presses when time, weather, or both prevent me from getting on the road, has helped my climbing efforts this Spring. Hopefully, it will translate to a successful Ride to Montauk on my Catrike expedition on May 31st.

Monday, April 28, 2014

1,000 Miles on my Catrike Expedition!

Just a short note that I have now travelled 1,000 miles on my Catrike CTE3385. Today was a perfect Spring afternoon, and I took advantage of it in Triker style. The Duranos have been excellent and fast, no complaints so far in the 250 miles that I have ridden them. My current goal is to have compiled 1,250 miles prior to the Ride to Montauk on May 31. Bring it on.
This looks very doable at this time. Right now, my riding has been 50% trike, and 50% split among road, fixed gear, and 'cross riding.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

First Day of Spring Training, and Some Trike Modifications

For my first true Spring ride, I chose the cyclist's paradise of Shelter Island. Located between the North and South Forks of Long Island, the island offers varied terrain, good roads, excellent scenery, and minimal traffic off season.
The above map gives a good idea of the type of riding to be done here. As there are no bridges, the only way onto the island is by boat or by air. I chose the South Ferry out of Sag Harbor, and enjoyed the 10 minute ride. 
I am often asked how I transport my Catrike Expedition trike. Extensive pre purchase research led me to believe that I would be able to fit it in my 2012 Subaru Outback with the seats folded down.
The fit has been so easy, that I can now routinely put the trike in and out of the Subaru much faster than using the roof rack for my traditional upright 2 wheeled bikes. Success! For the Spring season, I have made two modifications to the Catrike. The first is to replace the middle and large chainrings with Rotor chainrings. The are a bit finicky to set up, but smooth out the pedal stroke to allow maximum power transfer. This gives me a very usable 30-40-50 chainring range. The second modification has been to replace the stock Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires with Schwalbe Duranos all around. The new tires have a lower profile and seem to be about 2-3mph faster than the Marathons. The inflation range is 85-115 psi, an I chose the compromise of 100 psi all around. Of course, the ride is not as cushy as the Marathons, but is acceptable under the circumstances. I believe that the Duranos will give me a better edge in the upcoming 110 mile Ride to Montauk on May 31.
Shelter Island is a great place to view wildlife, including numerous wild turkeys. This Tom had a brood of 8 hens. What a ratio!
As usual, the day came to an end. The ferry back was crowded with cars, and sometimes riding a trike makes one feel a little bit small. With two 1 watt Planet Bike flashers, and a bright flag, trike visibility has been very good so far. More than any of my other bikes, including my now sold Volae Century two wheeled recumbent, drivers seem to give me lots of room. Of course, I am selective in the roads that I ride, and avoid heavy traffic areas.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Excellent Weekend in Vermont

We were able to take a four day weekend and go to Southern Vermont for some Cross Country skiing and relaxation. Helen and I drove up to West Dover Vermont on Friday afternoon in a significantly heavy rainstorm. We assumed that the conditions for cross country skiing would be miserable. Our friends from Boston, Ron and Phil, joined us for the weekend. Many thanks to Helen's cousins for the loan of their condo for our stay.
On Saturday, we chose to travel northward to Viking Nordic Center, in Londonderry, Vermont. At this venue, which is the oldest XC ski center in the USA, we found excellent skiing conditions and professionally groomed trails. The center provides about 40km of trails of varying types, and is a satisfying one day ski. 
Fortunately, Vermont has had a lot of snow lately, and base depths of 30"-45" are common. For our second day of skiing, we stayed locally at the Timber Creek Cross Country Ski area. The trails were a little icy to start, but warmed up in the afternoon, and became slow and soft with the temperature in the high 30's F. 
On Monday, Helen and I skied Prospect Mountain XC center, in Woodford, Vermont. Due to the elevation of this former Alpine ski mountain, the conditions are usually favorable, and there is almost always snow. The temperature fell to 19 degrees F, and the wind was blowing. We had a great ski on the wide open trails, although it was a little colder than out previous spring like experience.
For our return to Long Island, we took the slower but more scenic route back via Bennington Vermont. There, we had a late lunch at the Blue Benn Diner, long a fixture of the area. Ready at our table was a Seeburg 160 Wall-O-Matic. One quarter for two songs seems reasonable, and our meal was lit up by the sounds of oldies. All in all, it was a great weekend .

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Morning of Snowshoeing

Our winter weather and snowboundedness has continued for quite a few weeks now. Last night brought a few more inches on top of the top crusted foot of snow from earlier in the week. The snow crust will not support my body, and a lot of post-holing has been going on. Cycling has not been possible in these conditions for over a week, although I did get a good trike/bike weekend in last weekend. Since I hate going to the gym, I got out my original Vermont made Tubbs snowshoes for a few hours of shoeing in the crusty mess.
The stark beauty of our local winter scene has always fascinated me. From the time I was a small child, I loved to participate in winter sports. My first choice is XC skiing, but that was impossible on the unstable crust, even with my wider full metal edged backcountry skis. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Thinking of Spring

As I sit inside during our current snowstorm, I am thinking of the coming Spring. Riding time has been scarce over the past two months. Given our Long Island climate, Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities have been few and far between. During the past year, I almost died from serious medical problems and have come back stronger than ever. Although I only did one century ride in the 2013 season, I made up the mileage in shorter and more frequent rides. One big change is my return to recumbent cycling, with the purchase of a Catrike Expedition trike. This machine is a blast to ride. I often will not even get up out of the seat for an entire 30-40 mile ride,snacking or resting in place. I definitely agree with many others that the 37 degre riding position of this trike is ideal for the long distance haul. I was able to climb all the hills on Shelter Island, and have come to appreciate the beauty of the slow and steady climb. Do not assume that I have given up upright cycling, as I am active on my regular road, fixed gear, and cyclocross bikes. For the New Year, my immediate goal is to complete a century ride on the Catrike Expedition. To this end, I have been active in the gym, doing recumbent and incline leg press training.