Sunday, June 21, 2015

Time Slips Away

Incredible panoramic view from Tug Hill Rd
I can't believe that it has been so long since I've written anything. Cathy and I have been doing far less racing and far more riding, for fun and adventure. We've spent many a weekend planning and then exploring new corners of gravel road here in the NEK of VT and the mountains of Western Maine and Coos NH.

Lone Pine Farm view
I finally got to the East Haven Radar Base on East Mountain last week, which was an adventure and an upcoming story in and of itself. After a long day working, I headed out from camp toward where I thought the base was, having no definitive idea how far it was. This was at 5:30PM. About 24 miles and a wrong turn or two later it was 7:30PM, the sun was really, really low and I was at the summit. A flat tire on the way back and dropping temps that were not that high to start made for a chilly ride home. The final climb up over Kirby Mountain was nearly dark and just plain cold. A great adventure and some stellar gravel though.

Evening Clouds

I've also been working on the camp quite a bit as well, trying to get projects checked off. A post of that status is also in the works complete with images. Excavation, drainage, 20 tons of crushed rock, landscaping, retaining walls and a slick new staircase have all been on tap so far. Many long days working resulting in some very tired evening rides.

Lunenburg Church
In the mean time, here are some images that we took last night on a recon drive, trying to find out where we missed a turn in Granby. Turns out, the "road" that we missed was actually the access road for the Hydro Quebec high tension powerlines that run through this part of the state on their way south from Canada. That was an interesting drive last night in the truck. Good thing I had the truck.

Neil Pond
Anyhow, lots of fun explorations, lots of wrong turns, dead ends and very ClassIV roads. Excellent times spent with Cathy as well as friends George and Becca, who are very patient with my navigational challenges and exploration, at times. I've also started doing the Village Sport Shop Thursday evening MTB ride at KT. I've met some great folks like Collin and Matt and am having fun trying to follow them on the descents. Add to that the folks from Coos Cycling Club and the Bethel Bicycle/Western Maine Velo crew and Cathy and I have had lots of like minded folks to play with. Last weekend in fact I dragged Jamie and Jeremiah on a great ride through the Mahoosuc Range from Bethel up through Grafton Notch via Success Pond. Super fun stuff for which I am genuinely grateful to have friends with whom to share the explorations.

Illusive Tug Hill Rd
We have also done a little bit of racing. For the first time in nearly a decade, I've done no road racing at all. In fact, I have not even been riding the road, save for gravel rides. I think that I've gotten no more than a few hundred miles on the road bike this year, an all time low since first I owned a road bike and I truly don't foresee myself racing road in the future. Time to get rid of it I think since I'm not using it? The racing we've done has consisted of a couple of fat bike races this winter, the Rasputitsa gravel race early spring and a few MTB races. I decided that the only series I would do would be the Kenda Cup East MTB series.

So far, so good as my luck has held for the first three of five races in the series, despite some mechanical issues, resulting in a slightly more challenging race at the last event. The reality is that components wear out and my bike, at least the core drivetrain components, are a few seasons old now. Sure, I replaced the wear items as needed but the shifters, derailleurs and cranks have a fair amount of use also. I can't justify a new bike as the one that I have, a Cannondale Scalpel Team, is in great shape overall but the replacement costs on higher end components are brutal, thus I tend to let things go a little too long. And subsequently, pay the price. Last race this resulted in a broken shifter internal, translating to a single speed bike. It was not really a problem though as the bike settled in a good usable gear that I was able to .

In the grand scheme though, racing bikes really isn't all that important or it least it doesn't seem so at the moment. Living life, making and then enjoying adventure and all the twists and turns, right or wrong, that it brings is what is important.

This pretty much sums it up (Photo by Cathy)
So far this year, Cathy and I have had some great adventures and we are no where near the end.


Michele said...

Do you have a Garmin with maps yet? My 800 with OSM (Open Street Maps) has really reduced my navigational challenges. It might be a good investment for your gravel explorations.

mkr said...

Two issues, one, the maps are often/usually incorrect when it comes to ClassIV and ClassV roads in rural areas. They are still on the books as the towns want the funding but in many cases, they are long abandoned. Many are still on the books but no longer maintained. Some are snowmobile trail, some are ATV trail, some are fields and some still connect. Locals are not always friendly when you show up in their yard trying to cut through the bushes where the road used to be, even though technically you are in the right. Part of the fun is the exploration and finding the good as well as the bad and making the discoveries. If you live by GPS rather than primal navigation skills in rural areas you will eventually find yourself lost, or stuck, or both :) The road we missed was actually the powerline maintenance access road. Good fun though and the missed road will make for a crazy hard ride.