Monday, May 28, 2012


Yesterday was day 151 in a row on the bike, not that I'm keeping track or anything. That really isn't that big a deal of course as it's not like I'm hammering each and every day. Not really sure where the mini-adventure in itself is going to end up or how far I will get. We'll just have to see I guess. I'm to the point where it doesn't really matter and I could stop at any point, really, I could :)

The day was a very good day on the bike, with stellar weather and excellent conditions. It was a much better day I must say, than day 150 the previous day. We opted for a local ride vs. a big notch ride as I've been pretty beat lately. A couple of big rides this week on top of some increased intensity the past few weeks has let me in a rut and pretty flat. Time to take it a little easier and recover is really what is needed so a big huge ride didn't seem the hot setup. That ride was a road ride that was to incorporate pieces of routes that we had done in the past along with some new sections that we had not only never ridden before but had never been on before. They were located in very rural Maine, the town of Byron, quite literally in the middle of nowhere in one of thew great many blocks of the state that have very few roads at all. In the past we'd ridden snowmobiles through the area but didn't know it terribly well, so this would be an adventure.

The ride out was uneventful, starting out cool, overcast and comfortable. Within an hour the sun broke and it started to really warm up. We got in some new climbing up to Black Mountain in Rumford, which does a neat bypass of much of the less scenic part of town and also has one good steep wall to get up and over. We then started north on the long steady climb up RT17 toward Rangeley. Unfortunately, that is when the head/cross wind started. As Roxbury Gap came into view, the slightly shorter route which we decided against in favor of this route, the neat new high power windmill farm came into view. The though occurred to me that intentionally riding bikes in placed sought out to erect wind farms probably isn't the best choice. It proved to be a good assertion as we fought the wind for the next 20 miles on a steady uphill grade, most of which was in the direct sun.

To make a long story shorter, thew road we were supposed to turn onto, Easter Hill Rd., never appeared. We rode almost to the height of the land overlooking the lakes region but turned around slightly before, at mile 50 of what now would have to be an out and back. On the way down we stopped at the one obvious side road that looked like it might be the right turn. It was clearly signed something other that Easter Hill Rd. and it was seasonal use only. A short bit of consideration as to the consequences of a dead end or getting lost when at present we were at mile 55 and still had 40 miles to go, and we decided to commit to the dreaded out and back. And with that we tucked our tails and slunk home in defeat, shame and misery.

In contrast, yesterday we chose to ride offroad and traveled over to the Kingdom Trails for some fun and low key riding.We invited my nephew Tyler to join us, who is a very active and athletic young man but hasn't ever really done much of any cycling or specifically mountain biking. Earlier this year I gave him a bike that I'd cobbled together from parts that I had in my bin coupled with some parts and an excellent vintage annodized purple and made in the USA GT Zaskar frame that my buddy Rich gave me last year. Not a modern bike but riddled with good quality parts and a solid ride for someone who has never owned a real bicycle. Between that and the other gear I had lying around I was able to fully outfit him for real.

Cathy and I arrived first and snagged passes and hit the lower part of the east side of Darling Hill. We typically don't spend a ton of time on those trails but hit a bunch of them. I've got to say that we have been missing out. Good flowy singletrack was in abundance. Cathy was riding incredibly well thanks I'm sure in part to the new bike karma.

Last Thursday we picked up the bike of all bikes for her, a Cannondale Scalpel 29er 1, from my buddy Chris at the Bikeway Source in Bedford. He really helped us out big time and pulled a ton of strings to get it for us. Apparently these rigs are nearly impossible to get and they are pretty much sold out for the year. This model was a long awaited and anticipated new design, announced last summer but late in delivery. Anyhow, I see a trip to Kane's in my near future for some well deserved payback. Thank you so much for your help and support. We really need to get to work on putting that team together. Maybe I can get off my lazy butt and try and get it squared away for the upcoming cyclocross season.

I spent the AM Thursday over at the shop putting the new rig together for a shakedown ride Cathy was doing in the PR that evening. After the bike was completely done with SPD pedals and setuf tubeless with Stan's sealant it weighed a scant 23.55 lbs for a size large. They don't get much lighter than that. The only change after the shakedown was to cut the massive 700mm wide bars down to 640mm, making the handling much more comfortable.

Anyhow, we had an excellent ride going with some intermittent cell phone/text message tag trying to coordinate Tyler's arrival. I didn't hear the arrival message so it took us a little while to get back out to meet him but after a pedal swap we hit the road. The road being Kirby Road, a mountainside road that has a brutal paved climbed followed by a steady gravel climb ultimately leading to the Kirby Connector trail. This will then traverse back to the mountain and bring you out on trails to the base lodge. I like it as a starter ride.

The only problem is that they logged part of it last year and made a mess. Otherwise good stuff. Ty was quickly suffering but held strong. He did great and quickly got into it. We made our way over to and down Burnham Down, where they've added massive amounts of board walk. The trails were great and we rode across the road and back to the van for a few modifications.

You see, Tyler brought his backpack, which was full of stuff he didn't need, like shoes and a water jug and tools that don't really work and pedals. We ditched that as we had tools, got him a water bottle to put on his bike, adjusted the cleats on his shoes so he could clip in easier and then snagged some lunch. Top off the drinks and we were back on the trail on the west side of Darling Hill. Super fun stuff. Cathy was flying and Tyler was doing great as well. The KTA folks have been super busy and the trails were great with some neat new additions like Eager Beaver. Very fun alternate to the sand pits. Troll Stroll was in awesome shape as well.

By that point at least one person was getting tired which meant he was getting sloppy. A couple spills told us it was time to head back. Cathy and I made one run for Sidewinder while Tyler waited at the top. I made my way down most of the way and stopped to snag a picture of Cathy. Unfortunately she was nowhere to be seen. I waited an eternity and started calling back the trail. At first, nothing. I grabbed the bike and started running up the slope through the woods. Finally I heard a call back and soon after saw her. She had crashed but was all right.

I guess Tyler wasn't the only one tired. We made our way out and back to the van, packed up and headed out. I stopped at my folks to pick up our old canoe which they had borrowed and my brother Chad showed up to get Tyler. My other brother Jeremy was there as well so we visited for a bit and then made out way for Bethel, back home to some hungry kittens. Top it with an excellent chat with some really, really nice folks that we met at the pizza shop in town and it really was a most excellent day, indeed.

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