Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Weekly Whirlwind

BSBL 45+ Team
Wow, the past week has so has been crazy busy. We have a ton of stuff going on and between projects here and projects in Maine coupled with the normal chores of the summer, we have been flat out. The week, last week that is, started out with a road race.

Why a road race when neither Cathy nor I really dig road racing that much? Well, in case you haven't been keeping track of the weather of recent, the region has surpassed Seattle in terms of rainfall. Unless it stops raining all together for the remainder of the month, it is likely that we may set some all time records as well. In the past couple of weeks we have gotten nearly double digit inches of rain. Keeping up with the lawn is a challenge not to mention that we have two of them we are trying to wrangle. Anyhow, the road race was hard and as always I was amazed how fit people are. Ultimately, a slew of guys were fitter and faster up the final climb than I. That said, it was legit racing with a bunch of folks from the team, including Cathy, so that was good and my bike wasn't wrecked after the race requiring an hour of washing and a hundred dollars worth of parts to fix. Such was the case with the Scalpel after the last race I did on it. The PF30 BB was toast and needed to be replaced along with the brake pads.

Current state of the garden
The garden has also needed some tending, not much but a bit. The tomato are going nuts and taking everything over as are the peas for which I finally built a trellis for them to climb. Hopefully that takes them up rather than out. I also needed to thin out the beets, which are doing great. Planning to throw the greens into a salad and see what happens there. More than tending though was the addition to the garden that we put in last week. Basically, we doubled the number of raised beds which meant more lawn prep, more soil needed and of course, more beds needed to be constructed. Now with all of the rain, the new beds are basically floating. Hopefully the seed will germinate rather than rot.

Desk space in Maine
In addition to those projects I've also been going nuts trying to get the Maine based projects squared away. Last time that we were there we realized that Cathy really needed some desk space if she was going to work from home. Sitting on a stool at the bar didn't work for an extended period. Problem is that space was at a premium so I decided a wall mounted desk that mirrored the bar but was normal desk height would look OK and work fine. I built it the same as I built the bar, using hardwood flooring banded by maple and supported by 4x4 fir legs. It went in easy, looks fine and works great.

Shed progression
The other big Maine based project is the shed conversion. I managed to get a bunch of work done on it even though I am slightly behind where I'd hoped to be. The project is getting rid of a bunch of junk I had lying around though such as an old exterior door and vinyl window. Hopefully I can finish the final end up easily during the next trip. It is all framed and I just need to side it but first need to finishing rebuilding the shed doors that I'm reusing off the other part of the shed. They need to be slightly re-sized to fit the size limitations of the end. Getting those doors meant tearing them out of their previous home in the end of the old shed, re-framing that hole and then re-siding that end with the materials I'd removed from the back side of the shed, which will now be the inside wall of the new portion of the shed.

Before the ride, all smiles
Along with the work I also took a day off and did a monster ride with Kyle and Ben, who came up Wednesday evening and stayed over. I planned out a few different loops but decided on one that did many aspects of loops we had done in the past, taking us out Intervale Road to RT232 and then to Rumford, up bu Black Mountain which is a nasty little climb, then to RT120 and over Roxbury Notch. Though I'd climbed it a bunch of times in the past, this time it hurt. We were hauling. I blame it on Strava. From there we went into Andover and up over East B Hill Road into Grafton Notch. That was the killer. Those climbs just did me in. From the notch we headed to Errol on RT26, which had more rollers to add. From Errol we headed back RT16 to Gorham and to RT2 to North Road and back to Bethel.

View from atop East B Hill Rd
On paper the loop was big, but not all that terribly bad. The truth would reveal a slightly different composition than evidenced by the map, the elevation plot, or my experience. Of course we also moved along pretty well and hit the climbs, which in some cases were pretty brutal, with some vigor. By the time we were half way in I could tell the second half was going to hurt. By the time we hit 90 miles I was digging for answers to the simple question of how I was going to finish the next nearly 40 miles. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. Kyle who had remained strong and sure all day was starting to wear and starting to go for the granny as well as make some interesting noises. Meanwhile, Ben who had hung back all day and gone a bit easier was starting to perk up a bit. Of course we ended up making it home safe and sound but we were all pretty tired, well, except for Ben who won the hill sprint back to the house uncontested.

Friday was a work day so I got after the shed work and the only ride that we did was a short local loop. Unfortunately, the big news Friday was a tragic accident just outside of Bethel on RT2 where a young man from Watertown, MA taking part in the Trek Across Maine was struck and killed by a transport truck. It put a really sad note on the day and in all honesty, really hit me pretty hard given that we both ride those same roads all the time. Our hearts go out to the friends, family and loved ones. who it turns out, we actually know some of. The cycling community really is a small family.

Ascending Kirby Mtn Rd
Saturday Cathy and I planned a sampling of some of the dirt roads in VT from my folks place, many of which we had ridden in the past. We also coordinated this with checking out some property in the area. Our ride included some stellar roads with great views, a Thanksgiving sandwich for lunch from the East Burke general store and some stout climbs as well as a wonderful gently flowing downhill from Victory to North Concord through the heart of the bog and the wildlife preservation area. We dug into some new sections not only in East Burke but in East Haven, Granby and Victory which we'd never done before. As a result we took a few wrong turns, mostly thanks to the infinite optimism of the Google maps road recognition algorithm. It seemed to think that there were connector roads in a number of places where said roads did not actually exist, or were in fact old snowmobile trails.

Ridge Rd in Kirby
This was most evident after starting the climb to the old radar base in East Haven. The reality is that the public roadway does not go through to Victory. We discovered this after exhausting all of the possible alternatives. We also found a few sweet dead ends near the tail of the ride, in North Concord. Other than that though a great day on the cross bikes. For most of the ride we were above the coveted 100 feet of elevation gain per mile mark, a mark used as a quality of legitimacy gauge for a ride by at least some of our friends. I was feeling remarkably good so was OK with it but Cathy wasn't as fond of the ratio.

We rode the Cannondale SuperX disc bikes with clincher wheels and file tread cross tires for the first time outside of a cross race. Excellent, excellent choice as they rolled well but still stood up to some of the rocky, rutted gravel roads of the depths of the Northeast Kingdom. I'm thinking that they may become a staple bike for us for this type of riding, of which I'd really like to start doing more of. Will see how that property turns out as it may be an enabler.

Much of Sunday was spent working on the shed again but later in the day we tried to salvage a shorter ride. I'd been thinking of dirt roads in Maine and the reality is, there really aren't as many as in VT. I did know of some that we could try for my days of snowmobile trail grooming, located in Milton Township. Most folks probably haven't heard of Milton, for good reason. Not much (anything) there save a couple of ponds, Concord and Shagg. So again we headed out Intervale to RT232 but took a new road to get to Milton. It was paved for a long time but then turned to dirt. Almost as soon as it turned to dirt, the threatening skies gave way to rain. I toyed with turning back but pressed on.

I'd never been on this route and was heading to places that I'd never been at all, save dirt biking years before. It was raining with a chance of thunder and there were no short cuts home. I was a little anxious. Actually, I was a lot anxious. When I get anxious on the bike, I tend to go faster like that will somehow fix things. So from there Cathy and I basically hammered for what seemed like an eternity on roads we hoped connected to where Google maps said they connected and would eventually lead us home. The rain got harder, the roads we often excellent but often really poor. I misjudged multiple segments which turned out to be longer than expected but eventually we made it to know territory. In the end it was a good ride, though stressful in more ways than one.

It also seems to have fried my Garmin Edge 500 which recorded just fine but would no longer communicate with my PC. No incarnation of fix helped it but the nice folks at Garmin offered me a warranty replacement, which is on the way. Many thanks.

Another excellent adventure and another great week. This could be the best summer ever. Actually, I'm pretty sure that it already is.

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