Friday, August 10, 2007


Well, I took a few. For this trip, I took my Aiptek Pencam, both because of its small size and the fact that it uses standard AAA batteries. I picked this up for about $10.00, and it does pretty well. My Canon digital is bigger and uses an expensive ($12.00) lithium battery that might be hard to find on the road. So the pencam seemed like a good idea.

Unfortunately, I neglected to confirm that the small focus ring on the front of the pencam was in the "distant" position for my walking tour of Crown Point Historic Site, and these pictures came out blurred. Too bad, because this was a very scenic place. I discovered my error on Day One, so that's where the pictures begin, aside from the loaded bike picture in the "Ready to Go" post. There are pictures in the posts for Days 1-3, but they're few and scattered.

Overall, this camera produced satisfactory results, and I would use it again for this purpose. There's no preview/review screen, so it's better to be careful, as with a film camera, to be sure about the shot beforehand, or take extras. Lesson learned.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


All is unpacked, cleaned up, and put away. Lots of miscellaneous trip-related paper to wade through, and lots of "what would I do differently?" to think about. I'm going to start by going through the entire packing list and checking off stuff that I never used, and that may not need to be carried next time. In general, I think I came pretty close in that respect, but I'm sure there must be room for improvement.

At this point, I can only say I'm pretty sure I want to do more of this bike touring thing, in similar small bites for now to gain more experience. On this trip, I camped 4 nights and moteled one, and that only because of the heat. On the camping nights, I cooked twice and ate out locally twice. There was plenty of heat, but no rain. I feel like maybe I didn't eat enough or often enough, since I started to drag a little as time went on. Though I had no problems with heat cramps as I did last year, and had no problems slogging up most of the long hills, the overall energy level seemed to drop over time, both daily and for the week as a whole. I probably just didn't take in enough calories, and that's supported by the 2-3 pound weight loss in 5 days. So, nutrition continues to be an issue I need to work on.

Stopped in Adirondack Bicycle yesterday and told Bill about my front-end noise problem. He didn't seem to think it was hub-related, but told me to just pull the wheel and turn the axle by hand. Any rough spots would be immediately obvious. Duh - should have thought of that myself. But his next suggestion was a new one on me. Spokes try to flex under load, and at the points where they cross, they sometimes stick and then release, causing the ping sound I'd been hearing. He suggested some ProLink or WD-40 on the crossing points to see if that cleared it up. That made sense, since it was only happening while riding, and not while spinning the unloaded wheel. Did that today, and in the process, discovered a very loose spoke, which I tightened. I'd be willing to bet that one was flexing more than the others, and was causing the problem. I'll try to get out for a short ride later today and make sure. He really needs to start charging me for advice - I always learn something new when I go in there!

More to come as hindsight provides perspective.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Day 5 - Shelburne, VT, to Crown Point Bridge

SCHENECTADY, NY - So much for a late start! Woke up way too early and had trouble getting back to sleep. Finally gave up, and wound up hitting the road at 6:45 am. Leaving VT7 was a pleasure when that time came, and the rest of the ride was mostly on back roads. There was a stiff and steady south headwind of about 15-20 mph, so I wound up spinning a lot in much lower gears than I would have otherwise. North of Charlotte, I decided not to take 3 sides of a rectangle as shown on the Champlain Bikeways route, but instead took the direct route, saving myself a couple of miles, but climbing an extra hill in the process. Good riding and good roads, aside from the wind, and the fact that my legs somehow felt like they didn't want to play today. On to Vergennes, where I grabbed an OJ and a breakfast sandwich, visited a park below a waterfall in town, as much for the rest rooms as the view, and then climbed up out of town. East of Vergennes, there's another inexplicable large rectangle that the route wants to do 3 sides of, while the direct route to Panton would save about 6-7 miles. Kind of a no-brainer there, since I wasn't interested in visiting the state park or museum on that longer loop anyway. Finally reached Lake St/Rd, and continued south to West Addison and VT17. I was only about 2 miles from the Crown Point Bridge at that point, but had stopped for a drink and a short standup break. A touring couple from Montreal came along, and we had a nice chat, comparing notes about many of the places we'd both been. They offered to pull me along and break the wind until the bridge, which was most welcome. They accidentally started climbing the bridge, until I brought to their attention that they wanted to stay in Vermont, turning before the bridge, if they were continuing to the Ticonderoga ferry to NY. We said our good-byes, and I finished climbing the bridge, fighting a crosswind but no traffic, and reached the car at the Visitors Center around 10am.

The Numbers:

Distance: 32.89 miles
Rolling time: 2:36:50
Elapsed time: 3:15
Avg speed: 12.5 mph
Max speed: 28.0 mph

TOTAL DISTANCE: 237.95 miles

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Day 4 - Grande Isle, VT, to Shelburne, VT

SHELBURNE, VT - Up at 6:30 as usual, and on the road by 7:30. It was already warm and very humid, with a strong headwind from the south. At first I had some doubts about making this a long day.

I also noticed a metallic clink coming from the front end with every revolution of the wheel. It's as if the speedometer sensor is misaligned, but that's not it. I'm concerned that it may be inside the hub and bearings. Interestingly, if I lift the front end and spin the wheel, there's no sound at all, only when I'm actually riding it. Will need to have that looked at after I get home. I almost had it checked in Burlington, but I'm getting ahead of myself...

The ride down South Hero Island was into that strong wind. The ride across the causeway on US2 was with that strong wind blowing across, and it was hard to keep a straight line. Early morning rush hour traffic was heading to Burlington, and that was its route. Finally got off US2/NY7 and wound back through residential streets and occasional bike path segments through the Colchester area. These were not always clearly marked, and they definitely did not agree with the Champlain Bikeways cue sheets. I wasn't always sure where I was or if I was headed in the right direction. Finally reached downtown Burlington and the waterfront, after about 30 miles. Stopped in Local Motion and asked some questions about motel accomodations in the Shelburne area, and used their rest room. Got recommendations on bike shops close by, but when I couldn't spin the front wheel and cause the noise, I was less worried than before, so let it go. Also had lunch at a nearby hot dog stand. Called Karl and told him thanks very much for the offer of a place to stay, but that I really wanted to crank out some more miles before stopping. I would stop early at a motel with A/C and pool to beat today's heat, and that would also shorten tomorow's ride and let me possibly beat any late-day storms. He agreed that was a sensible plan, and we left it at that.

Wound my way through South Burlington on bike path and residential streets, and reached a detour that forced me to ride on the busiest section of Shelburne Road, near the I-89 exit. Very little shoulder and a LOT of noontime traffic. Not fun. Eventually a bike lane appeared and then all was well. Tried to push the mileage toward 40, while also watching for possible motels. An Econo-Lodge had a room for the night, but not ready for a couple of hours. Called T-Bird Motor Inn, from Champlain Bikeways list of bike-friendly accomodations, and grabbed a room there, with both A/C and pool. Restaurants nearby. This should leave me about 40 miles tomorrow to finish at Crown Point, and I expect to be there by noon or so, barring any problems. Now, back to that A/C, after a stiff climb back to the motel!

(LATER) Cleaned up and organized for tomorrow, and generally relaxed. Walked about a mile to La Villa Mediterranean and had a good Italian dinner and a couple of beers, but should have skipped the canoli... It was a longer walk than I remembered, having passed it earlier, but it was well worth it. I saw the group of 5 from Hartford pull into the Shelburne Camping Area, which is immediately adjacent to this motel. May see them again tomorrow as we all head back to Crown Point. I probably won't get going until 8:30 or so, since the free continental breakfast doesn't start until 7:30. Or I may skip it and hit the road earlier - not much of a freebie anyway. Hot again tomorrow (92), with 60% chance of mainly afternoon storms, so will want to be done well before that possibility.

The Numbers

Distance 38.62 miles
Rolling time 3:13:30
Elapsed time 5:15
Max speed 26.0 mph
Avg speed 11.9 mph

Stopping for night in Shelburne, VT ...

HOT!! Motel, A/C, pool. More later...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Day 3, cont'd

GRANDE ISLE, VT - Arrived Grande Isle State Park around 1:40pm, and got a shaded site near the entrance. Bugs are around but very minimal, a much better site and situation than last night. Eating in tonight, but at least I can do it on my own site!

Set everything up and headed for the showers, bringing some laundry to do along with myself. Shirts cleaned up fine and don't even smell anymore! Not sure about me... Cooked dinner, a Knorr rice/pasta thing, 2.5 servings worth, and wolfed it down. Walked around the entire park, read for a while on the beach, listened to music.

Called Karl, but his plans have unexpectedly changed and he will not be around on Thursday. Generously offered me the use of the house and a place to sleep, but I'm still thinking I may want to crank out a few more miles on Thursday to shorten the day on Friday, with t-storms expected late. Will see how the day goes.

The Numbers

Distance 46.51 miles
Rolling time 3:28:42
Elapsed time 6:20
Avg speed 13.3 mph
Max speed 29.0 mph

Day 3 - North Hero SP to Grande Isle SP

Last night, after a noisy start, things quieted down at 10pm sharp, and I went out pretty quickly. Up at 6:30, after the best sleep so far. Packed up everything inside the tent, so I could make a hasty exit later and avoid the bugs as much as possible. Headed out toward Isle La Motte around 7:30. Stopped for an apple pie at a corner store, then off to the Isle. Nice cycling around the island, nice waterfront views, but nothing in particular of interest. Stopped at St Ann Shrine, where nothing was open yet (travel info, restrooms, cafeteria, etc).

Saw Champlain Memorial, where Sam first landed in 1609, then back to North Hero SP.

Cooling down sitting at the beach and getting organized in my head for what's going to happen next. 28 miles so far today, then another 17 or so to Grande Isle. Hope to find a laundromat somewhere today. Will also call Karl and see what the chances are of getting together on Thursday in Burlington. Back to Crown Point and home now on Friday.

(LATER) Stopped here in North Hero for a big sandwich and a break. Met a group of 16 AYH bikers heading north from NYC to Montreal - 13th day on the road, with 3 more to go. No laundromats on the islands in the direction I'm headed, unless I go further to South Hero and a private campground. Will let it go for today, and see what Thursday brings. Will try to update again from South Hero tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 2 - Ausable Chasm, NY, to North Hero SP, VT

NORTH HERO, VT - Had dinner last night at McLean's Family Restaurant in Keeseville, a typical local diner sort of place. Stopped on the NY9 bridge over Ausable Chasm on the way back and got a picture, the usual postcard shot of the upper falls into the beginning of the chasm.

Back to the tent, listened to music, read for a while, to bed by 10pm.

Slept reasonably well and got up around 6:30, packed up, and on the road by 7:30. Flat easy ride, much of it in the large chainring, a big change from yesterday. Many lakeside views, but otherwise not much to see. Had breakfast sandwich at Stewart's south of Plattsburg, then picked up a bike path that paralleled NY9 for a ways. The Champlain Bikeways map was wrong about this one, showing it adjacent to the lake and well away from NY9, so that was a bit confusing. Plattsburgh traffic mildly annoying, but then out of town and continued north.

Hard to find a piece of public shoreline to take a break anywhere. Finally stopped around 30 miles at a boat launch, had a snack, and rested in the shade. Then, on to Rouse's Point and a slice of pizza for lunch. The long bridge crossing was uneventful, since the shoulder was as wide as the driving lane. Arrived in Alburg, the only library option for the day, to find all but Google OK, but Google inaccessible. No email, no Blogger. So, on to North Hero State Park.

Campsites are very nice, with excellent separation. But this place is built on a swamp, and the mosquitoes are unbelievable, the worst I've ever seen, no exaggeration. So bad, in fact, that I'm reconsidering my plans. At the moment, I'm sitting at the "beach", which has several tables and a rocky shore. No bugs here. I think I'm going to have to cook and eat here tonight, since there's really no other establishment within easy reach. That means dragging everything to the beach, because the campsite itself would be an unbearable place to try and do that. Then either swim or shower, and hide in the tent for the rest of the night.

(LATER) Showered, put on long pants and long-sleeved t-shirt. Stuffed everything in the tent except the pannier that had the food and cooking stuff, and headed for the beach. Cooked a batch of Ramen noodles, real haute cuisine. Looks like big storms just north of here, hopefully moving west to east. Back in the tent by 5:30, and will probably be in for the night - not much else to do, and nowhere to go. Early to bed - tired from yesterday.

Re: that change of plans I hinted at: I'm thinking I might go out and ride Isle La Motte tomorrow, not loaded, and then pack up and head for Grande Isle SP, only about 17 miles away.

The Numbers

Distance 57.75 miles
Rolling time 4:11:46
Elapssed time 6:45
Max speed 32.5 mph
Avg speed 14.0 mph

Stopping for night at North Hero SP

Bugs miserable. May leave tomorrow... More when I find a library...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day One, (cont'd)

KEESEVILLE, NY - After I left the Willsboro library, it was close enough to lunchtime (11am), so I went to the Sportsman's Diner, a local institution, and had a nice salty cheeseburger, chips, and lemonade. Then I went to the local IGA and picked up another quart of Gatorade, thinking I might need it with all the climbing ahead and temps already over 80. Sat in the shade of a nearby tree for a short while, then decided it was time to just do it. The climb out of Willsboro to Highlands Road was nowhere near as bad as I'd been fearing, and the unpaved part of Highlands Road was a delight, a very good gravel road. Thanks, TourPro! But the later hills on Highlands Road did me in. These were either steep or long, and one that was both which actually saw me walking for a ways. I just didn't have the legs left, and couldn't stop halfway because I wouldn't be able to get back on the bike and get started again. Continued on and reached the Ausable Chasm Campground around 2pm. This one is not so nice, and really beat up, but I'm here and it will do. It has a pool, if being used by more than one person, and it has showers. One way or the other I need a good rinse!

(LATER) Got cleaned up, had a giant Pepsi, and lay down for a while, just to relax and do nothing. Now I've biked about 3-4 miles into Keeseville for dinner, and to update this at the library. Not sure I'll do any Ausable Chasm tours today/tonight - I'm just beat. The day was everything I expected it to be, and more. Much easier day tomorrow into North Hero.

The Numbers:
Distance: 50.56 miles
Elevation: 3550 feet
Rolling time: 4:28:09
Elapsed time: About 8 hours
Average speed: 11.3 mph
Max speed: 35.0 mph

Day One - Crown Point to Ausable Chasm

WILLSBORO, NY - Slept off and on last night, but probably got 5-6 hours of pretty good sleep. Up with the light and the birds at 5am, figuring it would take me an hour to pack up and be on the road by 6. It really would have been too dark to start any earlier than that, but I really NEEDED to get up anyway. Dropped the car at the Visitors Center, packed up and got going. At first I was surprised at how "rolling" the road was - there never seemed to be a flat stretch. And it's been that way pretty much all morning to this point. I'll never whine about hills at home again.

After about 18 miles, I stopped in Westport, at the cafe of the "Inn on the Library Lawn", and had pancakes and sausage, both for fuel and for salt. Then came the second long climb of the day. The first, out of Port Henry, hadn't been that bad, but I'm expecting a cumulative effect before the day is out. The second climb also went by without a hitch, and provided some good westward views of the High Peaks as I cruised across the top of the hill I had just climbed.

In Essex, I stopped at a small park just off the main street, and just relaxed for 15 minutes or so, reviewed the map, watched the boats, etc.

And at 10:15, I reached Willsboro, 33 miles into a 49-mile day. So here I am, at the library. I've decided to try and kill some time in Willsboro, eat lunch and relax, before starting the biggest climb of the day. It isn't really much bigger than the climb out of Westport, but I'm waaaaay early, and a break seems like a good idea.

I'll try to update this later when I actually arrive in Keeseville. I no longer have much doubt of that.