Monday, September 29, 2008

Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Monroe - I Join the Hiking Pole People

For many years I’ve literally cursed the clickitty clackitty of hiking poles and those people who use them. The number of times I’ve been out enjoying the pristine quiet of the woods, or the desert only to be disturbed by the clicking of hiking poles striking against rock. And for what? I questioned. Really how much can two sticks really add to the hiker’s abilities?

Today I got some learning and some converting. It all began back there on Mount Hancock a few months ago. It was only fitting that the end would be the next 4000fters – Mt. Eisenhower, and Mt. Monroe. We left the trailhead at 8:00, and began the gentle climb up the first 1000 ft. When the climb got a little more serious I decided, “what the heck, I’m carrying the darn poles, why not use them?”

“But wait” you ask, “where did you, curser of hiking poles get hiking poles? And not just any poles – Contour Elliptic Shock Trekking Poles by Black Diamond

“Ah” I reply. “Good question. Back when I was climbing – or rather descending – Mt. Hancock. S. lent me his – just in time to save my knees. And so it came to pass that for my birthday S. bought me a pair, and not just any pair but Black Diamond Contour Elliptical Shock poles.

But back to Mt. Eisenhower which we climbed expecting the fog to lift after we cleared the tree line. It didn’t. At the peak, marked by a very nice, very large cairn, it still hadn’t. Walking the Crawford Trail north along the ridge to Mt. Monroe was nice, the trail nice. We assumed the view would have been fantastic – but honestly there were times when it was hard to see the next cairn. Still, it was our first 4000 fters since July.

And the question is raised – can you count a peak if you can’t see it, or anything from it?
(We’ll leave that for you – our valued reader and perhaps peak bagger, or another day – to decide)

Presidential Week

One month before what could be the biggest Presidential election in recent United States history I too spent the week talking about Presidents. But while the tv announcers babbled on about some guys named McCain, Obama, and Bush, I was dealing with Washington, Adams, Monroe, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Pierce and Jackson...and I added a new obsession to my list (1. Hike the AT. 2. Visit all the states) and now number 3. Hike all the New Hampshire 4000 fters.

The remaining question - how many peaks would I "bag" in the coming week?

Bon Ton Roulet: Roundup

...and now for a song. Pedaling along all those miles one song rotated through my mind - almost endlessly. As the miles rolled along, the lyrics evolved and now for your future riding enjoyment I present:

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin

(sung to the tune of Rawhide - (an old tv western)

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them feet a movin' Pedal On!
Don't try to understand it,
Just saddle up, click in and hammer it,
Soon we'll be riding high, decending wide.
Boy my heart's a calculatin'
The miles til my tents a waitin', be waiting at the end of my ride.

Move 'em on, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em out,
Move 'em on, head 'em out Pedal On!
Set 'em out, ride 'em in
Ride 'em in, let 'em out,
Cut 'em out, ride 'em in Pedal On.

Full Lyrics

Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Pedal On!

Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them feet a rollin'
Pedal On!
Rain and wind and weather
Hell-bent for lycra and leather
Pushing Cannondales and Specialized.
All the things I'm missin',
Clean pants, dry cloths, beer, and a kissin',
Are waiting at the end of my ride

Move 'em on, head 'em up
Head 'em up, move 'em on
Move 'em on, head 'em up
Pedal On!
Count 'em out, ride 'em in,
Ride 'em in, count 'em out,
Count 'em out, ride 'em in
Pedal On!

Keep movin', movin', movin'
Though they're disapprovin'
Keep them feet a movin'
Pedal On!
Don't try to understand it
Just saddle up, click in and hammer it
Soon we'll be living high and wide.
My hearts a calculatin'
The miles til my dinner's waitin',
It's waitin' at the end of this ride.

Pedal On!
Pedal On!

7/26 - Last Day of the Bon Ton Roulet

It was drizzling when we woke and that continued on and off on our last ride of the tour. The views along Cayuga Lake were still beautiful, and typical of the entire ride. Our final rest stop had all the fixings. From Gatoraide (whether green, orange, yellow or blue no longer mattered) to fig newtons, cheese, crackers, bologna, nuts, sugar wafers, etc. all the goodies we'd come to love were there.

After 50 miles we rode into the parking lot where it all began 7 days ago and greeted Angela, we were tired and dirty but triumphant.

Bon Ton Roulet: 7/25 There is a Bike Shop in Burdett

One of the really excellent features of the Bon Ton Roulet was it's mechanic. At the final night gathering everyone gave him a huge round of applause and he quietly tipped his beer back at us.

Until the tire episode(s) I had only watched the going on at the green van from afar. Seeing the folks gathered round while picking up the bags, going to the head, or checking on the route. The Van was usually parked near the center of things, with a bike stand, or two, set up and a lost riders flocking around. When the time came to ask if he carried kevlar tires I waited while he spun a hapless derailer, clicking it through the gears and trying to determine the problem while a man, seated in a chair asked him how he got into the business. Politely (although distracted by trying to do his job) he replied that he had intended to be a finish carpenter and had set up his shop in Burdett, NY. When business was slow, and it often was, he'd sit on his front porch and work on this bike. Being on the main drag, and there being no other bike shops short of Ithica, people would stop, ask his advise, or ask him to work on their bikes...and so it came to pass...there is now a bike shop in Burdett.

Burdett, NY was the first town where I ever say a dead deer hanging from a front porch. It's a small town and it could well have been on that porch that the mechanic now repaired bikes. Things do change in 2o something years, I do not believe that in the entire year I lived there I never once even saw a bike, let alone a bike shop.

To be honest - I didn't even ride while I lived there. Have you seen the hills? Huge! Mile long climbs, followed by brake burning descents. And apparently - the need for armored tires which coincidentally the mechanic was out of. He did however have these 'tuffy stips' which he could put inside the tire, and those should protect the tube and save us from another 3 flat day.

And so it came to pass that on 7/25 I headed up, up, up and out of Watkins on a 75 mile ride. We took rt 14 south through Montour Falls and up. I'd seen the route before we left, and I knew the 'hill'. I knew I would be walking. I was wrong! As I rode up the monster, admittedly slower than, hmmm, a mountain goat, I couldn't believe it was happening, just pedaling along, climbing the mile and half long beast. Yeah!!!! After that the route turned North along the ridge, than down then up, then down, then up, then down. I was hurting but pedaling. The reststop at Wagner Vineyards was welcome and extremely hard to leave.

Crossing over to Cayuga Lake we stopped for some ice cream. Very good ice cream, then climbed an agonizingly steep road to the top of Trumansburg Falls. Looked at the Falls then crawled into camp where we commenced the nightime routine, rather sentimentally, for this was the last night.

Bon Ton Roulet: 7/24 Layover Deja Vu

Today is the layover day and it's morning in Watkins Glenn. Sleeping in a tent at the High School below the ridge where I first saw a real live pig roast, and walking down streets that look pretty much the same as they did 20 something years ago, its hard not to feel like I'm in some sort of time warp where the 22 year old and the 46 year old meet.

Watkins Glenn is a very nice town. Between the Falls, the Race Track and being at the edge of the biggest Finger Lake, there is a lot going on but somehow it stays relaxed. Still a bit of a farm town. Back when I lived here and now that I'm visiting, it always strikes me that it is at once 'backwards' and also way ahead of the curve. For instance, I was in desperate need (again) of good coffee and we went into a coffee shop. The little shop was on the main street and also, very modernly, doubled as a book shop. Once again, we were not the only people on the tour in need of coffee and waited patiently inline with other bike rides to place our order. The attendants carefully and in a rather relaxed manner filled the orders. The person behind me grunted, and I got a bit anxious. Not like I had anywhere to go or that the atmosphere in the shop wasn't nice, I just felt like we should all be in a hurry somehow. At the very least you'd think that the shop owner, knowing there was a huge influx of people in town (and we were hard to miss) would put a few more people on. But then I remembered, this was Watkins. It didn't work that way here. Money was not the bottom line. I never really figured out what was but people would repeatedly close shops on Sundays, or for little league games, or weddings or whatever and opportunities to make the big bucks, or rather that extra buck, would pass away. Kinda an interesting way to live.

After that we walked some more around town, hiked the falls, took the group charted boat tour around the Lake (OH- saw a Bald Eagle) and generally relaxed. There was a century option but considering the only way out of town was up, up, up, and we would have to do that tomorrow - we opted out. Also it was time to deal with the tires!

Bon Ton Roulet: 7/23 Three Flats and Still Rolling

Have I mentioned that I love my new bike? I do. More and more every day. I am, however a bit pissed at my tires. In all fairness, it's not the only bike suffering from these road, but 3 flats in 50 miles is a bit much to bear, even more to repair!

Luckily for this trip my personal mechanic can also patch a tube and we've perfected the 5 minute flat change and repair routine. (Changing the tube while repairing the old one, or...repairing the tube without even taking it off the rim).

Meanwhile I'm looking to either modify the tires, either with entirely new kevlar ones, or with the addition of "Tuffy strips". It appears that the type of stone dust on the roads here has a tendancy to work into the tires, especially when they are wet. And have I mentioned that it's been wet on this ride?

Today we rode/flat fixed our way from Canandagua to Watkins Glen. Lots of farm land, and vineyards.

Monday, September 15, 2008