Big day today as I left Ticonderoga for the Adirondacks. I’ve never been to the “Dacks” as they say around here so I had no idea what to expect. And for some reason, the Adventure cycling maps don’t have an elevation guide this time so I’ll take it as it comes I guess.
I started out when one long climb out of Ticonderoga. With all the pounds on board you really feel it on the hills. The added weight is no big deal on the flats but you pay for the elevation. And today I did a lot of climbing (over 5000 ft according to Strava) so my legs are pretty sore tonight.
I’m not using headphones or music while I ride. Instead I like to use my ears for hearing oncoming cars and trucks. And also there’s something about letting your brain go where it wants that feels cleansing. Today my brain went to Steely Dan’s “Reelin in the Years” for a couple of hours. If you’re going to get an “ear worm” stuck in your head it’s a good one and I didn’t mind at all. In fact I was enjoying that great fuzz guitar solo when it occurred to me “how the hell does that work?” I’m out here miles from anything and I swear I can hear ever note of that solo. The brain is an incredible thing. Or I guess I should say the body-mind, eh Megan? Somehow it seems unfair though that some other part of my body mind contains all the words to the Big Mac song (if you’re less than 40, ask someone older) and the music to Take on Me (yuck). So can I trade in some of that brain space and get more good music?
Now I’m retired to this funky little Inn that was built in the 1780s. It’s a little worse for wear but has a lot of charm. It’s a frequent stop for folks on the Northern Tier but I’m their first cyclist this year.
I’m starting to feel in the swing of things – I’ve developed my routine and am getting comfortable with the whole setup. That means less time fiddling with bike stuff and adjusting cables and bags and more time to see what’s around me.
My body, however, has developed something of an objection to the plan. I’ve noticed this thing that happens when I stop and get “cold” i.e. not really cold but not warmed up anymore. After I get back on, after about 15 seconds of real exertion I get this wave of ache and heat that surges through both legs. And then it passes and I’m good as new. Hey coach Matt are you tuned in? Is that 4 days of lactic acid reminding me I need to do something with it? Sorry I forgot my foam roller at home. But probably more stretching wouldn’t hurt. That would be any stretching in this case.
I had a beautiful start from the Swiss Farm Inn where I stayed last night.
Even had a tailwind for awhile. Though I also had about 10 miles of serious headwind to which I was thinking is WAY to early to be complaining about headwind. That’s saved for Kansas, right? The reasoning for my Westbound course sounded a little like romantic folly as I had to drive my feet at the pedals and hunker down. WAY to early for this. Just do not say the four letter word that starts with W ever again.
I struggled with the Middlebury Gap today. That was steep and made the Kanc look easy. 2+ miles of 12% grade had me in my grandpa gear for the whole way. While on my way up I was noticing how you need to be careful when cars go by the other way. Usually I hear cars coming up behind me and check them in my mirror to make sure they’re giving me room (and the VT drivers have been super polite BTW – even the big trucks give me the whole lane when they can). But when cars pass you the other way, you don’t hear the ones coming up behind you so i always check then too. So in my exhausted climb I was thinking – hey I’m kind of “sound blind” when cars go the other way, which I thought was a pretty cool phrase until I remembered that we have a perfectly good word for that already. Low blood sugar + endorphins = epiphany. Some are real, but some remind me of stoner logic.
Holy crap. Why do you need a yard even close to that big? So you need a tractor to mow it, probably herbicide to keep the weeds out. It could be helping capture CO2 instead of being a point source for emissions. Something tells me this isn’t the last one I see this big as I hit the Midwest. At least here the mowing season is short.
Darren used to be the head Chef at several of the big country clubs down in Sarasota Springs FL. He’s cooked for three presidents, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino… (although he didn’t which presidents, Billy Bragg ref, get it? 🎶🎵🎶)
Anyway, this hotel has been in his family for 68 years and he’s come home to run it because his Mom’s too old to. Though it sounds like she’s not too old to tell him what he’s doing wrong. Something to think about as we parents get older eh…
Hey, you know what I’m gonna do tomorrow? Get up and start pedaling!
So I made it into Vermont last night – though just across the Connecticut river. But today was all Vermont and it’s so beautiful. I think you could do an amazing bike tour and never leave Maine, NH and VT. I’ve never really been to them except only briefly last year and that was part of the reason I chose this route. No regrets!
I walked into the Fairlee Diner this morning and I swear that every single person in there looked at me at once. I grew up in a small town and I know that’s just curiosity but it’s a little startling to be on the recieving end. Needless to say I was the only one there wearing a day glow vest.
I don’t usually do food pictures but I was so overwhelmed with joy when I saw my breakfast that I couldn’t help it. I’ve been told by touring cyclists that you get to be a bottomless pit for food and I get it. Seems like I’m hungry all the time.
Oh and today it actually hurt to start out. The last two days really caught up with me and all morning I felt like I was pedaling through molasses. [yum – we’ll save that fantasy for later, we are in Vermont after all, there is ample Maple goodness to be had].
My route took me back over to NH for a bit, and then along the river. I came unexpectedly on a wooden covered bridge (not even marked on the map). I guess they’re so common here it’s no big deal. I crossed over two today.
I saw two huge solar installs today – both in pretty small towns. VT is definitely down with being green. I saw a lot of solar rooftops as well and even a solar mobile home.
OK kids now in an amazing adaptation of natural forms (aka biomimicry) these electric line stabilizers are actually based on the bone structure of prehistoric ducks.
Wait am I the only one that sees that? I blame low blood sugar and excess endorphins. This trip really is a big endorphin binge in disguise as climate fundraising.
I had to post this one late due to the crummy wifi at the crummy hotel I stayed at last night. But I’ll lay off of that rant and talk about the great ride I had.
I felt really strong so went probably farther than I should 77 miles total with one big pass thrown in for good measure.
I started in Conway NH at this cool little hostel. It’s been so long since I stayed in a hostel I forgot how easy it is to meet folks there.
The “Kanc” is the Kancamagus Pass – a 2800 foot pass where on one side the water flows into Maine and the Saco River, and on the other side it flows into New Hampshire and eventually the Merrimack River. This next pic is the Swift River, which flows into the Saco (which comes out close to where I started).
Kind cloudy all day but comfortable and the rain held off.
I about froze on the way down the back side – About 15 miles all downhill to Lincoln.
After this I was getting tired, the rain was coming in and so I bee-lined for the crummy motel. It sounded like such a cool spot – a drive-in that still shows movies on weekends, converted into a motel. But the owner was incredible unwelcoming so I won’t dwell further on that.
I was so excited when I got up this morning I couldn’t wait to get on the bike. I was packed, caffeinated and ready to go before 9:00. Kind of gloomy day out but the forecast said no rain until late in the day so I saddled up.
Mostly smooth sailing today through back roads with little traffic. The last 10 miles was more trafficked than I like but I had a good shoulder and folks here seem respectful of bikes. No sweat!
Just like that and I’m already in my second state. Maine we hardly knew ye. I will definitely be back though – what a gorgeous state.
I’d planned to camp tonight but no go – it’s raining and I have a rule about not setting up a tent in the rain. But I found a hostel that is lightly occupied – Samara and Tim who run it are super accommodating.
Great day 1! I’m left feeling so lucky to have the opportunity to do this. Thanks, Babe!
"If I had my druthers, I'd ride a bike" Jim's low CO2 trans-am cycling trip