Thursday, July 22, 2010

Riding Vacation.

I originally setup this blog to be able to chronicle my rides during the elite tour in May and June, but I was unable to do the elite tour and turned the blog into my race reports. Well, after the Saratoga 12 hour race I did a tour of sorts and found that it wouldn't have been practical to try to keep up the blog while doing the elite anyway. It takes more time and energy to write about what you did than to do what you did.

My plan was to try to integrate a family vacation and bike riding tour into one event. This plan had some epic fails and epic successes along the way, but mostly was a success and mostly due to Trisha keeping everything going.

To begin the epic journey to the northeast, we needed transportation and accommodations. Here is where all of my planning and energy were devoted for the week leading up to trip. I purchased a RoadTrek 210 which could carry up to 5 people and sleep Trish and I and Allen. I also recently purchased an Ultra Light Toy Hauler Trailer that would act as a bike hauler and could be transformed to sleep Katelyn and Rachel at night.

Day 1 of the Trip, (Wednesday), was traveling from Sheridan To Louisville with a stay at the KOA Campground. Here is where my daughters say my first Epic Fail of the trip occured. Basically I had two campers requiring 2 power plugs, but most campsites only have one place to plug in a 30 amp connection. We arrived at the campground around 9 at night just as it was getting dark. The temps were in the 90s so we decided to run the A/C in the Ultralite first and get it cold then switch it over to the RoadTrek for the night. My daughters were not happy by the time the morning rolled around.

Day 2 was a pretty uneventful travel day - during which time we stayed at a hotel for the night.

On Day 3 we arrived at the Schuyler Yacht Basin at noon on Friday. The husband and wife that owned the yatch basin were able to help me with my dilema regarding the power. They had a 50 amp to two 30 amp conversion cable so we had A/C in both units. The Yatch basin was a really cool place to camp.

Day 4 is covered in the race report is in a seperate blog post.

Day 5 was a travel day up to Ticonderoga to start section 11 of the Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier which runs from Ticonderoga, NY to Bar Habor, ME. After catching breakfast with the race director, we headed north for the 2 hour drive to Ticonderoga. Upon arriving in Ticonderoga we found that you had to cross to VT by Ferry and that the Ferry only operated from 8-5. Since I wanted to start riding by 6 in morning I decided that I needed to start on VT side of the water, so we drove to Middlebury and checked into a hotel around 3pm. I got my touring bike out and decided to go for a little ride around Middlebury and back to the State line.

The warmup ride from hell. I headed out of the hotel parking lot with the intention of riding the alternate route around Middlebury. I started out by missing the first turn on the map and got in about 5 bonus miles before getting back to my turn. Using the Adventure Cycle maps was going to prove to be a challenge, because the print is far too small to read without stopping. I'm used to using route sheets that are readable as you ride. After getting back on course for about 6 miles I missed another turn and hit a gravel road. I knew I was off course again so I turned around, but too late. I had flatted. This was not going to prove to be any ordinary flat changing experince. This was special. Tube 1 - I pumped up the tube with my frame pump and had it just about hard enought when, SNAP. I broke off the stem. Tube 2 - Ok, I'm going to use the inflator. Tube is changed, tire is pumped up and back on bike and I'm loading up the detritus. POP....the tube blows. TUBE 3- my last tube. I didn't know if there was a problem with the tire so I put on a new tire, put in the new tube and hand pump it up gently, because I'm out of inflators and tubes. It holds and I start riding back to the hotel. But the tire feels flat so I stop and pump in more air. Finally I make it back to the hotel. 17.2 miles.

Day 6 was the first long ride of the vacation. Trish and the kids were headed back to the Fort at Ticonderoga and I was up before 6 and headed to NH. Right out of the box I started with a 1600' climb upto Breadloaf and the SnowBowl which are at 2000'. This was a long steady steep climb topping out at 15% some places but usually 6 to 8% for about 10 miles. BreadLoaf is a really cool kind of resort with all of the buildings painted the same color. It was cool enough that I stopped and took pictures. After the SnowBowl was a 5 mile super fast down hill where I was topping 40 a couple of times but staying about 30 for the complete descent. The rest of the morning was a great ride into New Hamshire. A point of note would be Royalton which was neat and had the VT Law School. I had one other long climb in the morning at mile 55 to 60. Once I crossed the Connecticut River into New Hamshire I got the pleasure of riding some dirt back roads with covered bridges. The plan was that I would call Trisha when I got to North Haverhill, NH to see about stopping for the day. The only problem was that my phone was dead so my daughter gave me her phone to use. She neglected to give me the unlock code. Around 11:00 I stopped at an ice cream stand to get some ice cream. They were also kind enough to let me use their phone to call Trish. Problem - Trish didn't answer so I had to leave a message that I was continuing on and that I didn't have the unlock code for the phone. So I'm headed out of North Haverhill climbing away from the Connecticut river valley into white mtns. About 30 minutes outside of town my phone beeps at me telling me I have a message. I can't read the message, but since I got the message I know that my family is trying to contact me. I stopped at a greenhouse alongside the rode and they let me use the phone to call and get the unlock code. Back onto the bike and back to climbing. I climb past the appalachian trail and back up 2000'. Then I get a nice 5 mile descent into Lincoln. Its 2:30 in the afternoon and I have 118.6 miles and 10,000 climb done. With Kancamangus Pass in front of me I decide Lincoln is great place to stop for the night. I grab two rooms at the Comfort Inn and wait for Trish and the kids to show. They had some GPS difficulties which led to some gravel roads driving thru the mountains with the RV. Not Fun.

Day 7's plan was for Trish and Kids to play some adventure golf then catch up with me some where in Maine. My day started off pretty much like the day before with a long extended climb over Kancamangus Pass. It was a 2000' climb over 15 miles. It was steady and not as steep as yesterdays climb and peaked out at 2800'. After reaching the summit I had a nice screaming down hill for 5 miles then a 20 mile long downhill ride into Conway. This section of the road was really great. The rest of the day was spent doing hill repeats to Brunswick, ME. Never anything over 200' at a time and usually only 50' but over 40 10% climbs and 5 15% climbs. Once I got to Brunswick I dropped onto a bike path along the river for awhile and continued on to Bath. 134.3 miles and 10800 climbing. We stayed at a Holiday Inn at Bath that had a resturaunt (The Bounty I think) attached. The resturaunt had a menu item called the Maine Shore Dinner - Clam Chowder, Salad, Lobster, Corn, Bread, and Pie which I enjoyed immensely with 4 of the local brews.

Day 8 started out in the rain. I left the hotel headed north to Bar Harbor. This was another death by a 1000 paper cuts day. Lots of up and down. Most of this ride was done on US1 and for the most part sucked. Too much Traffic and not very good road. The only parts of it that were nice were when you got off 1. For the most part it was a good ride, but I was glad when I arrived at the Bar Harbor Campground and Trish and the kids had camp setup. I finished the day with 127.2 miles and 9800' of climb. It was cool enought to camp without A/C. Campgrounds are always better than hotels. You get to meet cool peeps. We were parked next to a group of girls that were part of a bike tour/camp. One of the people working for the group was a MTB'er riding for NC - Jeremy. Jeremy saw my bike setup and came over and we spent a bunch of time talking.

Day 9 was hiking/site seeing/travel/recovery ride day. At 5 in the morning we were up with the sun to start our climb up Cadillac Mountain - the highest point on the eastern seaboard. The early start was Rachel's idea because she wanted to do the climb before it got hot. Trish jumped out of the RV and back into the trailer for some more sleep while the rest of us took off for the base of the mountain. We started our climb up the mountain about 6am. The climb was great. It felt good to be doing something not on a bike and the views from the trail looking out over the bay to the north were fantastic. The climb was very decieving, with alot of false tops as you are looking up. That was probably a good thing. The higher you climbed the better the views got. It took us over an hour to make the 2.2 mile 1500' climb up the mountain. Allen, Rachel and I left Katelyn at the top and hiked back down to the RV. Then we had to drive around the whole island (1 way road) to get back to where you can drive to the top of the mountain and pick up Katelyn. The views were great so we decided we needed to go back to camp and take Trish on the quickee island tour and up to the top of mountain in the afternoon. After being tourist for the afternoon we started the drive back to Brunswick. I wasn't a fan of riding hwy 1 back to there so they dropped me at Wiscasset on the way back and I did an early evening 23 mile recovery ride back to the hotel.

The plan for day 10 was that Trisha and the kids would go rope climbing and zip lining while I rode down to Derry NH. This was a much better ride than the ride up to Bar Harbor and got to do a little Seaside riding on the way. It was a long day with 150 miles and 11,500 of climbing.

Day 11 was my day to attempt a Boston Excursion. I did about 30 miles before I got to the Boston Extension, so I turned east and headed toward the city. It was Saturday and there were alot of riders out riding so I thought that I must be in a really good area to ride. It turned out that I was riding against the flow of the Mass MS100 ride. I continued east riding toward town. At about 11:00 I talked with Trish and decided there was too much traffic so I'd head back out to Concord to meet her and the kids for lunch. Epic Success. We ate at the Concord Grill and the food was awesome. After lunch I had to finish my ride down to Marlborough Mass. It was hot and took way too long, but I finished the day with 105.3 and 7800 climb.

Day 12 was the day I tried to do too much. I started out early - I had made a detour in the route so I could ride in Rhode Island and then get to Connecticut. The ride thru Massachusets and Rhode Island was pleasant with gentler sloping hills. More like my type of riding. Then I hit Connecticut and had 25 miles of serious climbing and descending. The ride ended with about 15 miles of gently sloping downhill to the Connecticut river and a finish around noon with 100.7 miles and 8600 climb. Then we loaded up in the RV and headed for Philly. I wanted to get a ride in NJ in the early evening and then hit 3 states (PA, DE, MD) the next day. On the trip to Philly we drove thru NYC. Not a place I'd ever want to stop. Timing for getting a ride didn't happen and by the time I got to my room I was exhausted.

Day 13 turned into a travel day. We had thought about riding and site seeing, but decided against it when it started to rain in the morning. So we drove 800 miles from Philly to Nashville.

Day 14 the last day. We had picked the hotel in Brentwood so that I could ride over to the Natchez Trace and then ride down to Alabama. I started out about 5:30 and rode to the trace. The Natchez Trace is probably one of the nicest places to ride you can find, but bring support. There is limited water supplies and no food on the trace. I rode down to HWY 72 in AL. 150.9 miles and 8800' climb. Then we drove home.

1 comment:

  1. There are lots of places to get food, water and gasoline near the Natchez Trace Parkway. has a Water/Markets list at Water and Markets along/near the Natchez Trace Parkway