Thursday, May 22, 2014

Productive Day

I know that I have spoken of how the time gets away from me with all of the fun things that I have going. Yes, nothing major but lots of little things that keep me going and keep it all fun. Yesterday was one of those days that was simply jam packed with stuff.

It started out with the simple task of changing the water filter in the refridgerator before I headed to camp to spend the day working. What should have taken two seconds turned into a mess of flooded kitchen and wasted filters. The new filter that I replaced the old one with had a defective lip that didn't fully lock in place and seal. When I removed that, a small chunk of the depective lip stuck the tab on the water supply open. Not ideal. Much cursing and debug time as well as one more trashed new filter and it was finally operational. This meant a much later than anticipated start to the trip to camp but still, plenty of daylight.

Brushing out to make space for the apple trees at camp.
The drive up was good save construction on I93 in Concord and then at then the last 15 miles of NH including a long, slow detour off the highway. I finally rolled into camp at about 11:30AM. The first order of business was to crank up the water pump and see what we had. When last we left the camp, after the Rasputitsa ride a month and a half ago, the water was frozen. It had frozen during a cold night during that visit, just before the race when I had turned it on because we were going to be there. I'd hoped against hope that nothing had split. Fortunately, I got lucky and it was fine.
I'd brought the lawn tractor with plans of mowing. The grass wasn't that bad but I did do some moving before hitting the planned task of attacking the massively overgrown property. It looks like the previous owners hadn't trimmed any overgrowth back in the past ten or so years. As such, we have unbelievable numbers of maple, cherry, pine and fir saplings as well as many mature trees that are encroaching on other, more desirable trees, such as the old grizzly looking apple trees. My plan is to hack it all back and prune the apples out with the hopes that we can get some health trees going. These are not prize apple trees but still would be a nice focal point for the property.

Scenic Victory Road.
I cut for a couple of hours and then dragged slash into a couple more large brush piles. We are going to need to get a big wood chipper in at some point to deal with the piles. That said, I still have days worth of cutting still ahead. After that, I did a little ditching and repair on the driveway up to the camp. We'd had some washout of the gravel and crushed rock that needed attention. At some point in the very near future we need to get an excavator in to re-do the road as well as ditch and put in some better drainage. I'm going to attack it with some light machinery first to try and get by for a bit, hopefully until later in the summer.

The next project in the list is to level the camp. At present, it slopes pretty badly, side to side and front to back. The support beams that sit on the cement tube peers have seen better days and are also underbuilt at 4x6". My plan is to jack and crib with a small, 20 ton hydraulic bottle jack and then put new 6x6" PT beams in place one at a time. There are three beams that sit on nine peers. Then I level it up and should be golden. There is crawl space underneath to work in. When I have it set I think I will sister PT 2x10" onto the sides of the beams in order to help add more rigidity over the course of the maximum, 11' spans. Then I start gutting the inside. Should be a fun summer for sure. I love this sort of stuff.

The neighbors pay a visit.
Speaking of fun, I finished up working yesterday and left enough time for a ride. The day was absolutely spectacular so I headed out for a local loop from the camp that was 90% gravel road and made it's way around Burke Mountain via one of the nicest gravel roads in existence, River Road in Victory. This is the main route through Victory Basin conservation area. The road is in incredible shape and follows the river up through the valley basin. Great views, incredibly remote and little traffic makes this a favorite. Of course, to get there I had to spend the first four miles climbing and then the next few descending. Once there however, the road is very gently up and very fast. That is, until it starts to kick up, and then a little more, and then a little more.

The speed goes from above 20mph down to 17mph and finally a hard 15mph as you make the turn in Victory proper and start the next ascent. This one is paved at first because it is so steep. When gravel roads are paved it is never a good sign. The climb lasts for just over three miles and is pretty steep in places. You are rewarded after with some high speed descents on loose gravel and eventually hit the paved descent down to RT114 in East Burke. A few miles of road bring you down town but alas, I turned left and then crossed the river for the very steep initial part of Kirby/Ridge Rd. The climb flattens a bit after the first half mile but continues up for a few miles. After that the rolling gravel rewards with stellar views of the back side of Burke Mountain as well as the other side of the valley and Willoughby Gap.

Camp dog came to greet me upon return.
The ride back to camp finishes up with the toughest climb of the day. This climb is about 1.7 miles in total but the first 3/4 of a mile with an 8% average overall but starts out very gently. The steep section, which is also very loose gravel, has pitches that are above 15%. This makes for tough traction and a brutal finish. Ironically enough, I ran into another cyclist on a MTB starting the same climb. I said "hello" and smiled, glad to see another like individual. He didn't seem quite as happy at the impending challenge as I and was not exactly talkative so I pressed on ahead. The climb was tough but as I crested I knew that I had a little more than a mile all downhill, before I hit the driveway up to camp (which gains 55' in .1 miles and is now, a Strava segment). The neighbors all came out to visit as I arrived back as well. First I had the pair of horses from next door come down and then Sage, the camp dog came and greeted me.

A quick shower and then it was off to Maine to meet Cathy, who was just gettign ready to leave home herself after a long day of work. I'm glad that summer is here and look very forward to it.

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