Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Adirondack Velo Club

 Primarily focused in the southern Adirondacks, meetings held in Johnstown, the club embraces all forms of cycling. The club is member driven and diverse. From group rides, competition and mountain biking. 

Group (road) rides on Tuesday night are fast and competitive.

Would like something a little more laid back? Wednesday evenings are for intermediate and novice groups led by experienced riders.

Thursday nights are MTB nights- typically on the Farm Trails in Johnstown or the Benson Trails near Northville.

Individual rides, other places, gravel rides, long distance rides etc... can be planned via the club's google group.

Recently the Adk Velo club entered into a trail stewardship agreement with DEC in the Wilcox Lake, Shaker Mtn, Ferris Lake and Peck's Hill Wild Forest.

Fitness, camaraderie, advocacy, or you just like to ride bikes.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Adirondack Trail Ride 2016- The TATR

A Multi-Day Mountain Bike (MTB) Race 

A self supported off road bike-packing race in and around the Adirondack Park of New York State has been a dream of a friend ever since 2012 when he competed in the Tour Divide  from Banff Alberta Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico. The inaugural TATR race was in 2015 when six riders showed up and only one person finished. This auspicious first event piqued the interest of local and regional riders, one from Ontario, Canada. Riders that failed, and the one to complete the ride, came back with stories of an extremely demanding route that not only required technical riding skill and endurance, but navigation challenges and terrain that involved significant hike-a-bike. Being an Adirondack native I am familiar with much of the route and it passes by my humble adobe. I cut my mountain biking teeth on portions of the route right here in the Southern Adirondacks so count me in.

Readers can find information on bike-packing and multi day self supported MTB racing on the inter-web. Here are a few links:

The race organizer and tour developer, Mikie, has done an amazing job at piecing together the route. The Adirondack Park has basically three land classifications for state/public land: Recreational, Wild Forest and Wilderness. MTB's are not allowed to be ridden in Wilderness areas. This presents a problem when trying to piece together a continuous off road route as the Wilderness areas essentially block out large tracts that must be rode around. Consequently there are stretches of pavement on the TATR, although Mikie has done his best to minimize time on the road. It's also interesting to point out that the route does not use any trails that were purpose built for MTBs. All dirt sections of the route are multi use for skiing, hiking, snowmobile, horses, ATVs although some sections are not suitable for horses and ATVs are restricted on others.

The Bike

 My ride: Salsa Horsethief. A great full suspension bike that could be set up for bike packing. Real estate is a little more scarce on a FS bike especially where the frame bag would go... if I had a frame bag. Everything was coming together but without a frame bag the weight was being carried high on the bike. I contacted a friend who does a "bit" of sewing and I asked her to make me a frame bag. She was excited for the challenge and after just one revision I had the bag that would work. And the bag worked AWESOME! (Thanks again Shirley!) Moving the heavier items down near the bottom bracket transformed the bike from a top heavy mule into a wild horse progeny. Prior I had converted the 2X10 drivetrain to 1X10 using a Wolftooth Component 40 tooth chainring.  More on gearing and tires later.
After going over my bike I took it to my LBS to have Neil give it a tune up. My final adjustment was to replace the Schwalbe Nobby Nic with 2.35 Racing Ralph front and rear set up tubeless.
Handlebars by Alpkit: A lot of people like the Jones Loop Bar but the backsweep is too severe for me. The Confucius bars worked out great, really like them!

My Kit

My bags are all Revelate Designs with the exception of the framebag and gas/saddle bag my friend Shirley crafted for me. The under saddle bag is a Vischa Bag, a little smaller volume that helped maintain clearance with a rear suspension. This carried my hammock, pad and rain fly. Ultra light capilene bottoms from Patagonia  and Gore Bike Wear rain shorts. Also my 500 ml cooking mug and a pack towel.
I started with a ghetto handlebar set up but switched to a Revelate Sweetroll I borrowed from Spa City Bike Works (thanks Tone!) This really worked out for the best as it was significantly faster packing and kept stuff drier. I carried my 40F down bag and a puff ball vest in the center part. The ends I stuffed with a rain jacket and two light weight long sleeve wool shirts from Ibex . An extra pair of socks.
In the frame bag: two tubes, 4oz fuel canister, stove, tools and repair stuff (wire, tape on my pump, zip ties etc...). In the gas, tank saddle bag I carried two freeze dried meals and an assortment of power bar type foods. Feed bags usually had an energy drink on one side (Coke) and other foods on the other side. (Note the saddle bags can hold two freeze dried meals on each side but my knees rubbed the bag when climbing out of the saddle.)

Game Time

The night before the grand depart about half of the field had a meet and greet at the local tavern in Northville. Everybody looked experienced, younger and fitter. "Ah well", I thought, "it will be a fun event and maybe I'll bring my fly rod and do some fishing on the way...." I'm just gonna ride my ride and enjoy myself (foreshadowing). So I went home, loaded up a small backpack with my tenkara fly rod, three flies and some extra leader... 5 oz max... plus a few other extra comfort items in my pack... maybe five pounds total including pack. I went to bed early the night before comfortable with my bike, kit and plan. I figured eight days of riding with two lay over days for some R&R. Even if it was a "race"....


I got up a little early because I had a four mile ride into town and the start line. It was a nice day. The ride in felt good- my well worn Brooks B17 was comfy. Reach was good and I stretched out as I cruised into the village of Northville. There was quite a crowd by the time I got there. Friends had come out to see us off and we spent a good bit of time checking out bikes and meeting our fellow riders. 
Mikie the race organizer gave us a pre race pep talk. It went something like "be safe, be respectful, low impact.... " but what I remember the most was the quote he attributed to Winston Churchill: 'When marching through hell, keep marching.' Now I'm not sure that's a direct quote from Mikie and upon return I could not verify that it's a quote from Winston Churchill. BUT what I can tell you is that on more than one of MY marches through hell, on this trip, it kept me going. Best advice you can have or give... essentially KEEP MOVING!!! And it started on day number one.

Go Time.

We rolled out as a group through town across the Great Sacandaga Lake and into the Sacandaga Park. Once we crossed RT 30 onto the Mountain Road we broke out into our respective pace. Quickly I was near the back in a pack of one. I watched Mikie take off on his quest of a four day finish. Most everyone else was out in front somewhere. This was an important moment for my ride because I wanted to be out there and it took considerable discipline to maintain my cadence with the thought that this was a 500 plus mile 'ride', and a ride with considerable off the bike challenges. Keep it steady. First big climb I caught two riders. Both did not look well and would later drop. I then came across two riders slowly riding back along the rock littered trail. They were looking for a Spot Tracker that had fallen of one of their bikes. Simple missteps could cost big in time.
We carried Spot Trackers to locate us on a map of the course. I had never used one and borrowed mine from a friend. Pretty simple to use but again- if you were not use to the technology it could prove to be an unnecessary time sink.
Soon a Steve, friend from town, caught up with me on his cyclocross bike and gave me some update on my wife Jody, also racing. We rode for a bit and as we approached the river crossing across the Sacandaga another friend, Jim from Saratoga, also joined me. It was really great to see people turning out to see us off.
I hoisted my bike onto my shoulder and made the crossing bidding farewell. From here the route climbs a steep section of Creek Road to the Bennett, Middle, Murphy lake trail. Rocky, steep and oh did I mention it was a wicked hot day? Oh yeh- it was sweltering. And humid. I was looking forward to ducking into the woods to get to where it was cooler. Wrong. Once in the woods it was still hot and the humidity was relentless. Ride- Push- Ride all the way to Pumpkin Hollow. The backside of Murphy Lake I ran into another friend and local rider, Dan. While it was great to have some cheering I already was fading into a dark place. I barely stopped except to carry over some logs, and push through some rock fields. Knowing what lay next was not an advantage. From Pine Orchard to Girard's Sugarbush and RT 8 is the most physically demanding. You're relatively 'fresh' so there is more to give and to try and ride very technical areas and steep climbs. I knew this! My plan was to just get off the bike and hike it. Eventually I made it to RT 8 and the next leg before I reached my planned stop in Speculator, about 70 miles. It will have taken me 13 hours to get there. As the sun set and the dirt road became too dark to see, I stopped to get my light out with coyotes howling in the distance. Mounted up and riding as I crested the next hill, there were eyes staring back at me, a fox! I cruised into Speculator dog tired, battered, dehydrated and hungry. First stop sub shop for dinner, then the Cedarhurst Motorlodge for the night. After talking to Bob, the owner, and his brothers, I made it to my room and reflected on the day. Was I going to "fast tour" or race? I ate my sandwich starring at my bike. My neck was throbbing from the "light" pack. Then the realization. If I was going to finish there would have to be some drastic changes. Race. The pack and fishing gear were the first to go and then I stripped down all the necessities: gerber saw? gone. Extra lightweight jacket? gone. Extra bike shorts? Gone. More stuff and more stuff until I had triaged my kit to what I thought I would absolutely need. A good 10 pounds of stuff I would leave with Bob and pick up later. Then some Ibuprofen, hot shower and to bed.

Day 2: Ride Fast but Ride Smart

I was up fairly early (this would change) and was stretching outside when another TATR rider came out of his room. Jeff had decided to call it an early day and get a motel as well. Unfortunately for Jeff, and I didn't know this yet, but he was in extreme pain from saddle sores. Jeff is an experienced rider and many hikers in the Adirondacks know of him as the "guy from Vermont that bagged all 46 high peaks in two weeks!" (Self supported and riding his bike between trail heads!)
I suggested a place for breakfast but he wasn't ready yet, so we went our separate ways. I figured he would catch me soon enough. I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out to Fawn Lake and was halfway through Willis Vly when Jeff caught up to me. We rode a bit together then swapped leads back and forth all the way to Indian Lake. Indian Lake we both wound up at the Stewart's and had lunch, discussed our respective plans. We continued out to the Moose River Plains and I had mentioned I was stopping in Inlet for the night regardless of the time I got there, it would be a 75 mile day. At Cedar River Flow I stopped to stretch and Jeff pressed on. That was the only time I would get to ride with a fellow competitor, from here on out it would be a solo adventure. (Mostly)
Inlet was an early arrival... 5ish?... so I made the most of it. Checked out Pedal and Petal bike shop  where they let me use a shock pump and floor pump to check air pressures and resupply energy chews and stuff.  I got a big surprise when I ran into my friends Steve and Annette! It was nice to have dinner together and catch up but I really wanted to get to bed and get up early hopefully to beat some rain coming in, that didn't work out.

Day 3: Now get outside and play! (and hey buddy, can you spare a AA battery?)

Awoke at 0430 and it was pouring! Should I go or should I stay now? I stayed- be smart. Wait it out. Rain on and off till 0800... gotta go! Rain gear on and everything on the bike double sealed in plastic. I easily found the Tobie Trail and was cruising right along and... what the heck!!! Trees down! Climb over, climb under and go around. Really? Already it's starting? But it wasn't that bad. Cruising through the myriad of logging roads I was over to the Stillwater road in short order. That's when I noticed my GPS batteries were down to 1/4 ... yeh- extra batteries I had planned on getting in Star Lake today but I absolutely felt I need the GPS to get there... so first people I saw, the only people I saw! Hey buddy can you spare a couple AA's? And they came through for me! As it would turn out I wouldn't need them but the insurance was nice. Great ride over through Soft Maple, across an ATV trail to Long Pond Road and then climbing, dirt road, more climbing, Bryant's Bridge over the Oswegotchie, dirt road, hmmmm should be an ATV trail.... looking.... GPS shows route turns left... HERE! Here is a field of briars... chest deep. Can't be. I ride on up the road even though it looks like the leaders went the way of the briars. I ride on. I ride back. I ride back on further and then back again.... Reallllly? OK - I wade in. It's worse. Old slashing from a old logging site threaten to trip me with every step... I stop. Look at the GPS. The trail is to the right of me. I leave my bike and walk that way and then a little further. No trail... what the hec? Back to the bike I plow on and can see where other riders had spread out... or maybe they were deer. I go looking for the trail again and stumble upon it! WTH!!!! (Shake fist, words, words, words).
So I'm now on the ATV trail, which turns out to be a pretty good example of how ATV's can tear the dickens out of a trail until they get to bed rock. But it's short and pretty soon I'm rolling past Streeter Lake and onto a decent snowmobile trail and into Star Lake. Replenish and it's getting late so I head out looking to camp and eventually find a decent place to hang the hammock. So I try to hang my hammock where there is little green foliage. Hanging in pine areas limits the amount of condensation in the morning. Anyways I'm in bed by eight and out.

Day 4: Spaghetti Western when I really just wanted Spaghetti.

 0300 I'm awake and up, gear is packed and I head out down the dirt road under lights. Gorgeous night and pretty soon I'm at the Moore Trail and onto single track (hiking trail). Following the river there is a heavy fog and there is condensation with every with every exhalation. Until the trail disappears and I fall straight down about six feet to the river. Over the handlebars and bang, crunch, ouch. Nothing breaks, not on me, or the bike. But now I'm cautious, off the bike walking more, eventually to Wanakena at dawn. There is nothing open in Wanakena. I roll on out past the Ranger School and start out the Peavine Swamp Trail- good trail, rides nice. Over way too soon! After passing the sign that RT 3 is 0.3 miles the route makes a right and heads up onto part of the Cranberry Lake 50 trail- I didn't like this part much. Just me ? But it was my least favorite part for some reason and I had been through worse areas and eventually would go through more worse areas. FWIW?
So out and across RT 3 into the Tooley Pond Easement. Some big climbs (I walked) mostly dirt roads and logging roads and eventually out onto RT 56 for a short bit.
The time on RT 56 is short (thank goodness) before turning off onto some secondary, tertiary?, back roads. Nice riding. Lot's of good camping options calling out to me, but it's way too early and the tank is full. For about ten miles... then it's feeding time... tank is draining and the mental games start... stop, cook, camp... it's only 2pm... yeh... 11 hours of riding... stop- push on -stop- push on.. push on. Pretty soon I come across a camp with an older gentleman out front and I stop and ask: "Is there any place to eat nearby?".... long silence.... "there's nothing 'cept a hole in the wall bar 'bout a mile (turns out to be more like five) up the road and they make some great 12 oz. burgers."
The Cedarwood doesn't look like much from the outside. The small windows are filled with beer signs and the door is solid. If it wasn't for the lighted beer signs I wouldn't have known they were open, no cars or ATV's in the lot. This is rural Adirondacks. Repeal the Safe Act, Impeach Cuomo, rebel flags, Don't Tread on Me. Guys in spandex bike shorts stand out. I opened the door backlit by the sun, it was dark inside. Then I took off my sunglasses. It was still pretty dark. As I walked in a healthy young woman came from the kitchen, "Can I help you?" she asked. In my most charming way I announced that I had heard they made a 12 oz. burger. She got quiet. Then with comedic timing she stated, "You're no 12 oz burger.... you're more a 6 oz burger honey, trust me." I did, she was right, a 6 oz was more than enough, but I still got gravy on my fries in an attempt to get some street cred at the Cedarwood.
Refueled and with just a hint of humility to motivate me I was back on the road. It felt good to get back on the bike and before long I was making the turn down Lake Ozonia Road. Darkness came on fast and I found a camping spot.

Day 5: Hallucinations

Up and on the road again at zero dark thirty with the road lit up with the lights. It wasn't long before the rush hour commute started. Cars and trucks came barreling up the road on there way to Potsdam I presumed. It's a narrow road and the center lane seamed to be the lane of choice. Pretty soon though I was on the gravel of Blue Ridge Road where I only had to deal with the logging trucks and town workers raking the road. I was just in time as there was still a center strip on the crown of the road that hadn't been dug up. I had fallen into an easy cadence when I looked up and saw a rider coming towards me. This was the first cyclist I had seen since Cedar River Flow. It didn't register at first and I lazily raised my arm to signal a hello when I recognized my friend Bob from Saranac. Whoa! He circled back around and pulled abreast. I must have had a puzzled look. What a surprise! Bob rode with me into Paul Smiths and then he shuttled his car up to Meachum Lake Campground. After a roadside lunch we rode together through the Debar trail where he turned back and I kept going. My goal was Wilmington and I new there were a few stout climbs... there is always climbing. (From the 2015 route there is 47,000 feet of climbing...)
With the climbing behind me I made the descent into Wilmington and found a motel for the night.

Day 6: More Climbing, More Lessons

So there is a pattern developing, that I noticed and started to wonder about more and more, everyday there was at least one test of sanity, one hurdle to jump, one something that just made it not a normal ride. Often it was the route, the challenge of multi day self supported, but sometimes you just make rookie mistakes or a simple mistake that is amplified by circumstances out of your control. What I learned was to roll with it. Can't control the weather.
From Wilmington I had set a goal to reach Westport south of Essex. I new of a little motel and wanted to crash there for the night. Lots of climbing between here and there but I figured after Styles Brook Road the climbing was done and it would be a mellow cruise on back roads alllll the way to Westport.
Mistake of the Day: Don't presume to know the course if you haven't ridden the course. Somewhere there is a couple miles of near continuous thwacking. I vaguely remember coming to a "T" and looking at my paper map. The route DID continue somewhat straight into the woods on the other side confirming the GPS route. But there was no trail. Search right , search left... this looks like it could have been a trail? So I start in and yes there were remnants of a trail. But for the most part- thwack, thwack, thwack. Time sink. I was still picking spiders off me when I got to Essex. The ride into Westport uneventful and I found the motel. The next day would be a big day. If that little foray into thwacking was fun? Disneyland thwacking was in store tomorrow! The Irishtown Snowmobile Trail and Hoffman Road....

Day 7: Let the Good Times Roll

A 3:30 AM start, but what a gorgeous morning! Full moon, sky lit up with stars, I barely needed lights. The air temp was crisp, perfect riding. Then I was out of the farmland and climbing- climbing up a gravel road that seamed to go on and on. Gravel turned to stone, stone turned to large rocks. Dripping in sweat I topped out. That's when I noticed the temperature was a little cooler than "crisp." It was down right cold. I re layered with everything I had. Light weight LS wool jersey, cycling jersey, puff ball vest and rain coat. My other shirt was drenched. I started the descent. It was not long until my fingers throbbed and I started shaking. I was chilled, neck gaiter and fleece hat came on next. I continued the descent into Moriah and by that time I was mildly hypothermic. It was 5:30 AM when I went past a side road and out of the corner of my eye spotted a lit 'Open' sign. I made a U turn and went down the road to the little country store and diner. What a lifesaver. Warmth, hot food and drink. I savored the time but had to keep moving. Blue Ridge Road lay ahead and I really wanted some buffalo jerky!
10AM I was at the buffalo farm, right as they opened! Much to my dismay they no longer sold buffalo jerky. I settled for a homemade danish and coffee and then continued on to the Lester Flow trail head. I was down and across the Boreas river by 12:30 and stopped for lunch. According to the sign it was 5 miles to Hoffman Road. I got motivated and made the trek, riding a little, pushing a lot, leaving my bike to navigate and then pushing on. Finally I broke out and hit Hoffman Road. What a disappointment. Hoffman road is a washed out, ATV torn up, hell road. Unloaded it could be fun, rain slick and loaded? Not so much fun. But you keep moving. I kept moving, and pretty soon I was in Olmsteadville. I planned to ride to North Creek and get a bed at the hostel "Heads in Beds." (Highly recommend it)
But before I could get there a friend of mine from Minerva pulls up in his truck and shouts: "We've been watching you on the computer, you're doing GREAT!"... and now I'm all fired up. I'm like calculating battery life, food, water... heck- I'm gonna make a push for the finish tonight!
So I ride right through North Creek- push over Oven Mountain Road- through Johnsburg and make the first climb up the side of Crane Mountain. Yeh- It's dark, I'm cold, I'm hungry and worn out... I camped right there...

Day 7.5:  Final Push

Day 7 had taken a toll, it was a slow start and a struggle. Climbing up West Stony Creek road I picked up some awful drive train noise. The bike didn't feel right, I didn't feel right, it was a slog. I was off the bike a few times troubleshooting the drive train when finally I found a stone lodged in the suspension. That seemed to get the bike and head right and soon I was rolling again. Onto the Arrow Trail- Harrisburg Lake Road- to East Stony Creek. I was in my hood now. Following the East Stony Creek soon I was over the last log. Over Tennant Creek and in Hope Falls. I rolled through the country side and past a friends house just as he was pulling out of his parent's driveway. "Hey!", he shouted, "you want a beer?" You bet I do! "I'll see you at the finish" and he was gone.
after 580 some odd miles there was a surge of energy and I rolled into Northville excited to be done. Friends and family met me at the finish. My well earned brew awaited me. My mind was a bit foggy. And it was over. The official times have not been released but 7 days 8 hours and 6 minutes.

Developing Thoughts

I would like to thank all my friends and family for their unconditional support that made this possible. THANK YOU!

After recovering from my ride I went back and spent four days from just south of Moriah to the finish with my wife, who also finished TATR 2016. I got to observe her navigate the Boreas, thwack through the Irishtown Snowmobile trail, and navigate the route. She achieved what few people have by never giving up. Who ever said it, when she was marching through hell, she kept marching!

Mikie has done a phenomenal job putting together the route and race. He has invested a significant portion of his life to accomplish this event. My hat is off to him.

Now that the TATR is a memory... the price for admission was a donation to your cause of choice. I chose the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. So many of my friends and relatives have fought cancer that it boggles my mind. I can't begin to comprehend the battles they have fought and some have lost. I dedicated my ride to them. When I hurt, my thought was, 'it can't hurt worse than cancer.' When I was tired, I wasn't post chemo tired... my head was cold, but my hair wasn't falling out. It was easy getting up and facing another day in the saddle.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tell us a story about paddling Sprite Creek Grandpa....

This is a story from a few years ago. If you know Sprite Creek, or have paddled it, the locations and rapids will make sense.  If you've just stumbled across these ramblings and are unfamiliar with Sprite Creek and whitewater boating then a quick search around here should give some clues... and there's always you tube.  True story>

“When Beavers Walk”
Steve B@%9*z wanted to paddle Sprite Creek one day after some torrential rain. I was all set to walk away… or drive away over to East Canada Creek. Steve was persistent. I looked at the creek, looked at Steve, looked back at the creek. There was a huge amount of water, higher than I had ever paddled it. It just looked like a big flush with water well up the banks and flowing into the woods. Even though I had been paddling it everyday for the past several days at progressively higher levels, it didn’t make me feel anymore comfortable jumping in at the present flow.
I was completely serious when I turned back to Steve and said I didn’t think he knew what we would be getting into. To put it into context, I was explicit when I said we would be on our own once we slid into the water. I wasn’t expecting him to rescue me and I wouldn’t be able to promise him the level of support I would normally afford a paddling partner.
We slid into the water and it was full on guerilla boating all the way down to the beaver flow. The next few rapids were all straightforward wave trains down to the 119 bridge. The “boof” rock was gone and there was no evidence of a ledge; just a big wave that fed into the right tunnel. We had neglected to scout the exit of the tunnel and the hole there was formidable. I was able to just barely claw my way out and I turned to see Steve in his “Y” get nearly backendered back into the hole. The next drop was completely washed out and it was textbook Nealy through the “doldrums” all the way to Triple Drop. We got out left, well above the first diagonal ledge and hiked down through the woods. The ledge was not even there; it was just a wave with water flowing into the woods on river right. Looking downstream it was a maelstrom of white all the way to the horizon lines. Okay, I announced, I’m walking on river left all the way to below the falls and started hiking. I wasn’t about to discuss lines or what ifs, and Steve, reluctantly (?), followed me as I grabbed my boat and started walking. I remember Steve being quiet as we stumbled through the swamp and entered the woods above the falls. But then I looked down and saw a beaver walking along the creek bank parallel with us. He didn’t even bolt, just kept walking downstream and I said to Steve, “See!? If the beavers are walking, so should we!”
We put in below the falls and paddled down stream; you can imagine how fast we were at the lead-in to Wildchild. There was no eddy on the left so we pulled over on the right, which turned out to be all swamp. Looking downstream the only viable eddy was the one just above the footbridge drop on river right. The water was big, but just big waves down a steep gradient until it went under the bridge and then made that abrupt left turn and over the falls. I peeled out and started down. Immediately I realized that this was not good… it did not feel right. I started cranking hard with every stroke and fortunately I hit every stroke with full power. I was completely focused on that eddy and I just barely made it. My nerves were frazzled once I was safely in the eddy and I turned around to look for Steve as I watched him go by the eddy and under the bridge. His eyes were the size of saucers.
Expletives. I was scrambling to get out of my boat. Grabbing my rope, I ran up the bank and across the trail to where I found Steve clutching the rock outcropping on the right with the stern of his boat still in the current. He had just narrowly avoided being funneled into the overflow creek that was now making the height of land between Wildchild and the Slide an island. Water piled up on the rock ledge and boiled over the falls. Steve clambered out of his boat and we hung out a bit scouting the falls and slide. Eventually we decided this would be a good place to end the day.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lake Champlain Sept. Paddle~ Near end of summer

It has been nearly a year since my last entry.  So without a long winded and boring excuse, (cough, facebook) I would like to write about a recent paddle trip I took on Lake Champlain.
Photo by Mike K.

Mike K. hanging out.
I was prepared to go it alone. Running rivers it's common to set a shuttle and frequently I use my bike to self shuttle. The route I had planned for day 1 was from Westport, NY to Beggs Park in Essex, NY. There is a road that parallels the lake around Split Rock Mountain, about a 14 mile leg. However it wasn't required as Mike K. joined me on what turned out to be a fantastic day of paddling.

The forecast called for five to ten knot winds out of the south. Winds out of the south can produce some very good sized waves and the long fetch can build some long troughs ideal in a 17' sea kayak. So for me the moderate wind was a plus as it would mean some surfing and some added boost as we were traveling south to north.

There are three criteria that make a trip for me: scenery, challenging water, and a committed passage. This trip had all that. Split Rock Mountain drops off into the lake dramatically off cliffs known as the Palisades. There is limited spots to land and where there are, it can be difficult. Reflective waves off the shear rocks where 'confused' water make it even more... interesting.  Unlike a wave with a long trough, these waves are short, steep and nonuniform.

With the wind to our back we launched and headed north along the west shore. We pushed further out into the main body of the lake to take advantage of the waves and made excellent time. We played in and out of the coves of the Palisades and watched sailboats haul with the wind. Rounding the point to Essex there was a large Osprey nest and a light house. Mike K.'s camera had been stowed away since lunch as the wind was gusting into the 15 knot range at times. So no pictures.
Sail boat headed for a cove. Photo by Mike K.

We cut across the bay headed to Begg's Park and played in the waves, surfing our way in. After a short break we went back out to surf and headed further north watching for the ferry crossing. We surfed some nice swells out in the deeper water and some breaking waves closer to shore. On the return trip we could see the west bound ferry departing the Charlotte terminal.  As we headed south into the wind we kicked up the pace in an attempt to beat the ferry. With a football field to go the ferry Captain sounded his horn and we backed down. Rule of tonnage and all that...

and a little video of playing in the waves:
Thanks Mike! Great trip!                    

Monday, October 1, 2012

First Annual Mediocre Benson MTB Rally

Three Laps and a Finish Line yet to be marked by the 'Officials' was the race course for the inaugural epic MTB race in Southern Benson. AVC was well represented making up three out of the four entrants. 

The numbers were not in their favor come the movable finish line as Sven from the North Country took top honors. Sven's Moonlander and big fat larrys hummed around the course... (really… they hum, even on dirt.) Single Speed Badger got the hole shot off the line with the pack close behind. 

He boggled the second bridge and lost the lead to Redcoat, Sven and Old Crow. OC went wide and lost time in the under forest. The lead pack pulled away as SS Badger drafted OC into the lower turns above the future pump track. OC went wide and SS Badger dove to the inside muttering something about 'move Danica'. With OC drafting SS Badger they closed back in on the leaders. At the end of lap one there was confusion as the referees and judge (recently released from the NFL) were screaming and throwing yellow flags. Lap two was uneventful. (OK lap two SS badger was NOT caught skitching on Sven). 

The refs were still yelling as lap three started. Sven and Redcoat opened their lead once again and OC and SS Badger struggled to stay in the race. End of lap three, confusion reigned as Sven and Redcoat crossed the line (which had yet not been moved) and thought the race was over. 

Seeing the confusion with Sven and Redcoat, SS Badger got off his butt and on the pedals. The race was not over. Sven and Redcoat lost some ground and SS Badger was able to get into the mix. Out of Rio's Ramble into the BMX turns Redcoat blew off a berm and SS BAdger moved into first loser place. Sven had a bridge length lead going into the Fireswamp and the finish line was not in sight. Coming off the second bridge exiting the fire swamp the finish line was clearly marked. 

Sven coasted across finishing the race- what a winner. SS Badger finished first loser followed by Redcoat and OC. The judge and her refs awarded Sven the winner and shock rang out when Redcoat was named first loser. OC was second loser and SS Badger was DQ'd for PCK and riding with his elbows elevated. SS Badger protested the results. Stamping of feet was not well received and the results stood.
No hand holding next year- best know your way around....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dawn Patrol

Broke out of the work place at 0600 and bee lined for home. The air is heavy and rain, as some to the southwest already knew, is imminent. 

 It is still dark and cold at 0645 and I turn out the driveway and head out River Road to my trails. By the time I reach the pond there is a mist and I'm warm. 

I wheel up through the old meadows and into the woods to the "Bushwhack Trail." I cross the old stone wall and find "Kreb's." Kreb's from the top, soon I'm under the dense canopy with rain falling but not yet making it to the ground. A quick turn onto "Up Dog" brings me to the "Newt" trail. 
Halfway across Newt the rain is heavier and the rocks slick. I rail on through the berms and pause at the creek bridges. The rain is not going to let up so I turn onto the "Porch" and head home. At the bottom of Porch I'm out from under the canopy of the forest and into the heavy rain. By the time I'm at the top of the "Power Line Climb" I'm drenched but with burning legs. Without pausing I turn down on to the short approach of the logging road and skid up onto the "Ridge" trail. I ride down into the "Fire Swamp" and into the back yard and home. 
The only witness to the screaming from across the pond, that's the Dawn Patrol.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

HRG 6.72 K1 H2 255 R4 R2

Wednesday March, 21st Two Thousand and Twelve

There is no snow left. Gore Mountain and Lapland Lake have closed for the winter. It's 79 degrees F and sunny. The Hudson River is cresting at 6.72 feet on the USGS Gauge in North Creek.