Monday, July 28, 2008

Bon Ton Roulet: And so it came to pass

At 7:45 the rain started.

At 8:00 the Bon Ton Roulet (2008) started. 499 bicyclists hit the road from Auburn, NY to Courtland, NY. And what a group of bikes it was! In addition to hundreds of 'regular' bikes there were several recumbents, lots of tandems, I think I even saw a recumbent tandem! Brandwise there were Lemonds, Fujis, Scotts, Lightspeeds, Treks, Specialized, Cannondales and lots of others - hardly two of the same brand. Some as old as a week (that's me!) and some nice bikes with down tube shifters (could have been me).

The people also came in all shapes, sizes, speeds and characters. From 3 to 82 years old, from sprinters to "what the heck we have all day" types. People from the area, and riders from just about every state in the country.

I soon learned however, that riding with a large group means there are some things we all had to share - skill, teamwork and communication. "Car up", "Car back", "on your left", "You okay?" all day long. Lots of conversation too. Since every bike was required to display a 'license plate' stating our name and hometown there was also lots of talk about towns, especially Mystic. Everyone has been to Mystic.

The folks on the sides of the road were pretty nice also. Curious about us too. "Where are you from?", "How many of you are there?", "Where are you going?", "Where?!"

The highlight of today's ride, apart from the riding and the excellent company, was an unexpected stop at Frog Pond Farm A gallery featuring sculptures made from recycled steel.

After another downpour we arrived at the fields of SUNY Courtland. After riding through two good storms, and setting up the tent in a thunderstorm, stringing a clothes line from the bikes to the fence and hanging up the gloves to dry, it's now time to kick back, and listen to the Travis Rocco Band. Good night!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bon Ton Roulet: Foreshadowing?

On the last night party of the Bon Ton Roulet they read off the entries for the 6 word stories. Try as I might during the tour and after I cannot fit the "Bon Ton experience" into 6 words. While entries such as "Crotch on fire, not heart's desire", and "Sleep, eat, pedal, shower, eat, repeat" do capture some of the essenence, I will try, and maybe not even succeed to do it in 6, or maybe 8 posts.

Sunday 7/26

While on the way to the Bon Ton Roulet, just east of Syracuse, NY we drove through a line of thunderstorms. Rain so hard you couldn't see the road. Of course we also had to stop for gas and in the run to the rest area got completely soaked. Later at the camp site however, the tent held up well against the next line of showers and we stayed dry. According to the weather report there is only a 20% chance of rain today. With tomorrow's forecast for a 60% chance of rain - looks like we're going to doing some wet camping and riding in the upcoming week.

Dinner was on our own at the Green Shutter diner. Definitely a local restaurant with a little vegetable/herb garden out back and curbside service (if you honk) out front.

Now, 499 other people and myself are settling down for the night in the field behind the Auburn High School. Can't say I've ever camped at a high school before but thats where this soon to be mobile camp is tenting tonight. Looking out over tent city there are distinct neighborhoods. Located closest to the bathrooms, staked, corner to corner is the high end neighborhood. For between $385.00 and $500, In Motion Events - Camptel services supply, set up and break down your tent every night. Mostly Eurekas. Radiating out from this upscale tent Levittown is an interesting mixture of tents randing from single person TNF bivy tents to 6 person L. L. Bean palaces. One guy, has a Kelty 4-person sun shade set up with numerous chairs. Lots of his friends, and people's he's ridden with on these types of rides before are stopping by to say hello. These supported rides seem to be the way a lot of people spend their vacations.

From this vantage point, inside a palatial L. L. Bean tent complete with blow up mattress, chairs, standing room etc. I'm guessing the upcoming week will be:

1. Wet
2. Full of lots of different people, tents and bikes.
3. Covering more than a few miles.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Adieu - for now

Well - today's the day I must say goodbye to the Tour as tomorrow I leave for the tour. It all begs the existential question - Is it better to live The Big One vicariously or do you own little tour realistically?

Obviously I vote on the side of real life. Tomorrow we leave for Auburn, NY and Sunday we Ride the Bon Ton Roulet. (Hey at least the name is still french).

Unlike most other trips there will be no blogging on this one. Hauling a laptop from campground to campground just seems a bit extreme. I'll post pictures on my return and hopefully even write up some of the day to day adventures. I am looking forward to spending time in the Finger Lakes, including a layover day in Watkins Glen, 28 years after living there. Only six hours, but another world away.

As for the Tour de France - I don't care who wins - just let it be a fair win, and a good ride. For instance check out this post of the Lanterne Rouge (French phrase meaning “red lantern” refers to the racer who is dead last when the race rolls into Paris.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today's Ride

This morning I clicked into the six13, and it felt like home. In only a few days I've adjusted to the gearing, the weight (or lack), the comfort of the ride, and the feel of the turns.

Oh, the turns! With this lovely, little, comfortable, quick bike, I swooped down Dean's Mill without braking once. Just sweeping along.

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 14th

Today is little Lys's 21st birthday. Technically not my adventure but certainly one I've been honored to be closely associated with.

Today is also Bastille Day, as well as Stage 10 of the Tour de France. It's been a nice race so far. It's funny I've realized that I'm not so much interested in who wins or looses, I just like the company of the commentary. Like to hear about new bike components, training things, cute towns along the route, the go-ings on in the peleton. (Did you hear that "The Cobra" is really called "Goat Boy"?)

Today is also the day I really, really, really indulged myself. Today I brough home an adorable little Carbon fibre Cannondale six13 5. Wonderful all by itself but Cannondale also upgraded the rims to the Mavic Aksium Race.

But specs are all well and good - How does it ride?

Oooh. Sooo smooth. The Carbon fibre is tight but so much smoother than the Panosonic. Don't get me wrong - she's probably going to be the quickest little bike I've ever ridden but the Cannondale is quick and smooth. She's a little lighter in the front so turning takes a great deal less effort. (I suspect looking in the direction will do it most times) And while I haven't got the lean down yet the few times I took a sharp corner she went without a wobble. Took a much nicer line.

The fit is amazing too. Over the 18 or so years I've ridden the Panosonic I have tried other bikes - (hmmm even owned a few) but this Cannondale is so close its almost perfect.

And now for the reveal. - cept the photo won't load. Maybe another time

Mt Hancock - North and South

So...July 5 I climbed another 4000fter. Still not going after all them but it is funny to realize there aren't too many left unclimbed. One thing I do keep forgetting however are batteries. It's a cute little camera but it eats batteries so really - this is the best photo from the weekend. Trust me however - the view to the South was very nice.