Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Home from Vermont on Friday. It was a great tour, and you can read about it at the link in the previous post.

Yesterday, I did a few local errands on the mountain bike just to keep the legs loose, and today, I biked to Holly's house and back to help her with some yard work. It sure feels different riding not loaded. Spent a lot of time today weighing EVERY item I packed, with an eye toward reducing the touring weight I was carrying. It was WAY over the top.

Annual mileage is now approaching 1,900, and with a possible metric century this weekend, 2,000 is well within reach in the next month or so. Best year ever!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Biking in Northern Vermont

I'll be away for about 8-9 days, doing a bicycle tour of northern Vermont. I'm riding alone, carrying everything, and mostly camping when available and feasible. My tentative route is shown below:

I'll also be updating an online journal during this trip, and you can follow my progress here:

Feel free to sign the guestbook!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another Test Ride - Steady As She Goes

Decided I needed at least one more fully loaded ride before I leave for Vermont on Wednesday. I did the Kings/Old State/West Lydius loop, for 16+ miles, and this time the bike felt rock-solid. A few days ago, I tightened up the headset and rear brakes, and maybe that's what did the trick. Whatever I did, the bike feels much better now, and I can just ride, without fighting the bike every step of the way. A butt break (standing on the pedals), a drink while riding, and riding on the top center of the bars are still a little dicey, but those are all easily avoidable.

Friday, August 15, 2008

River Loop, With a Twist

This afternoon's weather turned out better than expected, so I headed for the bike path to get in a quick flat 15 along the river. As I was heading westbound from SCCC, I realized I had a substantial tailwind, meaning a headwind on boring NY5 on the return. In a flash of brilliance, I decided to take the headwind out of play by climbing Rector Road to Ridge Road, and find my way back down through Scotia somehow. Rector starts out at over a 9% grade for the first .6 miles, and goes a total of 1.6 to Ridge, all of it uphill, so it's a good climb. Came down Closson to NY147 to Snake Hill to Spring, and back down to NY147, turning left on Vley, and ending up near Jumping Jacks, just before the bridge. It was a nice variation on a very common ride.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Fast SWC Ride

Tonight's SWC ride was in Clifton Park, and a lot of fast people showed up. These rides always make me ride faster than I really want to, but it's good training, so what the hey? We did 16-17 rolling miles at what felt like a pretty fast pace. Around the 12-mile mark, another person and I decided not to do some optional add-on miles that were mapped, and headed back to the start. Around 13 miles, a dog came after us, and I put the hammer down, and had to keep it down for a good quarter mile. This dog just wouldn't quit! Cruised to the finish after that, and the beer and pizza never tasted so good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grant Hill Loop - Loaded

A nice morning, so it was time to take a loaded ride with some hills and some distance. With 45-50 lbs on the bike, it really handles differently, and I needed to see if yesterday's shimmy issue was adequately resolved.

As I started down Kings Road, the shimmy actually seemed worse then yesterday's final attempt. I stopped at the school and adjusted the weight distribution a bit, and continued on. I started getting used to the feel of the bike, and heading down the hills on Siver Rd, I was over 25 mph and there was no shimmy at all. Continued on to the climb up Grant Hill Road, and had to use ALL of the gears this time. It was an easy spin, but many more pedal strokes than when not loaded and in a slightly higher gear. Continued through French's Hollow, and again all downhills were fine. I did notice that the shimmy is worst when coasting in the 14-16 mph range. Pedaling dampens most of it, and knees against the top tube also helps. Other speeds are much more smooth, so I'll just need to be aware of that. I may need to tweak the weight distribution a little further as I go along, but it seems good enough for now. I also noticed that the headset has a slight wiggle and needs to be tightened, and the rear brake could also be a little more firm. Will take care of those this weekend. Tightening the headset may also help the shimmy problem.

I actually added on a couple of miles by going out US20 to NY158 and back via County Line Rd, for 23 miles total.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pre-trip Test Ride

I finally got everything packed and loaded on the bike for next week's departure for Vermont, the point of which was to get out for a loaded test ride. Glad I did - details here...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Another Grant Hill Loop

50 miles yesterday weren't enough, so I got out for another 21 this morning before the weather went downhill yet again. I just did the same basic loop, and there's not a lot more to add, except to say that riding in the morning is really nice.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

A 50-Mile Day

Well, the SWC ride actually transpired tonight, despite a threat of imminent rain. That rain only materialized as a few drops here and there, and we did a hilly 17 miles, for a total of 50 today. I was glad I saved something by doing an easy morning ride, and I felt strong tonight even on the hills. Of course the 45-minute nap this afternoon probably didn't hurt either.

A Longer River Loop

With the weather looking questionable for tonight's SWC ride, I decided I needed to spend some time in the saddle and make up for several weeks' lost time. Not wanting to completely toast myself in case tonight's ride did come off, I opted for the 33-mile ride to Amsterdam and back along NY5S and NY5. There was a strong westerly breeze as I headed toward Amsterdam from SCCC, but not so bad that it was a struggle. Once near Amsterdam, I decided to ride up NY5S to the junction with NY30, instead of taking the root-riddled bike path that parallels it. The climb wasn't bad, and I discovered a convenience store, motel, laundromat, and RESTROOMS. Bought a Pop-Tart for breakfast, used the facilities, and crossed the river on 30 into Amsterdam. The ride back on NY5 was uneventful and quick, with a good tailwind. Soon after I got home, the first of the day's showers arrived. We'll see about tonight...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

B & B for a Day

I hosted this couple last evening, after they called me looking for accommodations from the Warm Showers List. I've been listed there for a couple of years now, and these were my first actual guests. They were biking from Oregon to their home in Connecticut, and were passing through Schenectady at the end of a 95-mile day. It was a very interesting visit, and it was fun hearing about their trip and their various other travels. I hope all future contacts turn out as well as this one did.

This afternoon, the weather turned out better than predicted, so I got out for a 21-mile ride up and down the river. I also did a little more packing for my Vermont trip, and am now even more psyched about that trip after hearing all the tales from the road last night. I'll be starting on August 20, and the trip journal will be here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Grant Hill Loop, Again

It's been a long stretch of wet weather and other commitments, and not a whole lot of riding. Today I finally got out for another ride, doing the basic 21-mile Grant Hill Road loop again. I didn't extend it today, both because of iffy afternoon weather and the fact that I have tomorrow free, and the weather looks good at the moment. I'm hoping to get in a 40-something ride with some climbing tomorrow. Fingers are crossed. It's less than 3 weeks until I start my Vermont trip, and I need to be doing some big miles and climbing. And now that I'm finished with various camping and hiking stuff until then, it's also time for some serious packing. I need to get out for a test ride fully loaded, and hopefully more than one.