Thursday, December 1, 2016

Winter Riding is Here

"Bridges freeze before roads," something that becomes very evident once we experience the season's first snowfall. The pathway was snow free except for the two bridges on my commuting route.

Like signs of autumn commuting there comes a time when, unmistakably, winter commuting requires a different mindset. Now that snow has fallen and the thermometer hovers around 30F, it is not easy to get out the door, on time, and properly clothed. The transition, however, is only another hurdle, one that I will adjust to, with a few changes.

Consult the weather station
What are the daily highs and lows? Is it too slippery to safely ride or do I need to change my mode of transport?

Thicker tights are mandatory
I was using double layers, but once I mentioned that I wanted  my own pair of Performance's Triflex Tights for Christmas my husband gave me his. After borrowing his pair last winter, I swear by the warmth, windproof capabilities, and freedom of movement, especially in the knee area. Eventually, I will add another layer once the temps slip below 30F.

Headband is not quite adequate
Now where did I store my balaclava?

Add a scarf for extra neck warmth
A simple scarf bridges the transition from headband to balaclava.

I need to find alternative eye protection
My hardware store clear glasses don't fit well beneath my current helmet, especially with a helmet mounted light adding weight to the brim. I've unearthed a 25-year-old pair of amber snow goggles that I once used on Northwestern slopes that may work in colder temps.

Wearing boots is just around the corner
I'm glad I switched to platform pedals that will accommodate any type of footwear.

Allow extra time to navigate dicey paths and roadways
An obvious consideration, yet I often cut my commute times too close for comfort.
Windproof mittens are my go-to hand wear
I seldom use gloves any more. If it's below 40F, mittens are required. 

A down coat will keep me toasty
I haven't resorted to my down jacket quite yet, but I know it's available for instant warmth - the best kind of winter riding insurance.

A change of helmet?
For the first time ever, I've contemplated the switch to owning two helmets, one with less ventilation to keep my head warmer in colder temps. Helmets are discounted in late fall, easy justification to buy two helmets to replace my current leopard print-covered Bell helmet. So I went for it. I now own two different Giro commuter helmets - both styles I had admired for nearly a year.

After managing to commute through much of last winter, I have the confidence, experience, and desire to continue riding on days when it's cold and trails are snow and ice free. I know my limits, but I long for those dry path days and crisp, cold and quiet night rides home that provide me with a sense of peace.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail - Cambridge to Morrisville

Official Cambridge starting point on the LVRT.
Over two afternoons, a couple weekends apart, my husband and I completed a 17 mile section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT). This trail, when completed, will stretch 90+ miles across Vermont and link many small communities.

We had to check out the nearby covered bridge!
A couple miles east of where we parked our vehicle is the official Cambridge Jct., now a wonderfully designed parking area with maps, bathrooms, a caboose style covered picnic area, and a kid-friendly train that houses a slide, sand box, tunnels, and a place to pull the rope to ring the bell.


Step inside the caboose and choose a picnic table!


What a brilliant user friendly train! I had to ring the bell. The smooth gravel trail runs beside the train.

There was still a bit of autumn color as we made our way toward Johnson, turnaround point on the first day's ride.

Unlike the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail that frequently crosses a highway, The LVRT is more rural, passing farms, beside a lumber mill, over small bridges, across fields, over quiet dirt roads, through woods - distinctly altogether a different feel as the trail follows the Lamoille River. I can imagine riding during peak foliage, in the hot summer, taking breaks to cool off in the easily accessed river, or using the trail for a bike overnight.

The brewery provides bike racks or you can store your bike beside the outdoor beer garden in the warmer months..
On our second outing we stumbled across the trail side Lost Nation Brewery and split a pint, just because we could! The brewery, which also serves food, could easily be a destination in itself for a well deserved break before heading back to Cambridge.

An interesting slop roofed bridge.
Each community has a similar depot, bike racks, and map, unifying the trail and lending a unique flavor. I can't wait to ride the Danville to St. Johnsbury segment, which I imagine is just as nice.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016 Coffeeneuring Map

Using Google Maps and Paint, I easily labeled coffeeneuring stops.

For an interesting exercise I labeled my 2016 coffeeneuring stops. I live near the blue dot so all Champlain View, Coffee Shop Without Walls trips were started from home with the distance between #1 and #5 approximately 10 miles. I mixed up the miles traveled with loop trips or out and back excursions, plus I included company on 3 adventures.

The Run Down - Links to blog posts and documentation

#1 Leddy Park
The Place: Leddy Park
Date: Saturday, October 8.
Drink: Vermont Coffee dark roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Tourists tend not to visit Leddy Park because the beach is hidden from the bike path by an indoor ice rink. 
Total Miles: 10

#2 Bayside Park
The Place: Bayside Park
Date: Saturday, October 15.
Drink: Yorkshire Gold English Breakfast Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: The beachfront park has a beautiful grassy lawn overlooking Malletts Bay. 
Total Miles: 21

#3 Second Overlook Beach
The Place: Second Overlook Public Beach
Date: Saturday, October 22.
Drink: Celestial Seasoning's Wild Berry Zinger Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Plenty of places to lock a bike to the railing. Coffee Shop Without Walls outings are better with a partner. This is the only beach that is sheltered from both north and south winds.
Total Miles: 14

#4 Starr Farm Beach
The Place: Starr Farm Beach
Date: Sunday, October 30
Drink: Yorkshire Gold English Breakfast Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: This is a private beach community where my husband's family owns a camp, so we had free reign to pick the best beach spot. I need to wear warmer clothing the next time I venture out. 
Total Miles: 14

#5 Rail Yard Park
The Place: Rail Yard Park
Date: Saturday, November 5
Drink: Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: The waterfront trail passes by this tiny, but well situated peninsular park.
Total Miles: 5

#6 Bank Near the Fishing Pier
The Place: Near the Fishing Pier
Date: Saturday, November 12
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: There is a bike rack, should anyone require it to use the fishing pier. I love this relatively secluded spot behind the water department building.
Total Miles: 17

#7 Battery Park
The Place: Battery Park
Date: Saturday, November 19
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Family friendly park. A sweeping view of waterfront where American troops once defended attack by British during War of 1812.
Total Miles: 4

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2016 - Seventh Cup at Battery Park

The stars aligned for the last two Coffee Shop Without Walls adventures! So much for failing and spilling milk - now a minor hiccup on my coffeeneuring 2016 experience - because I've more than made up for my carelessness. I've learned to store milk in a mason jar, pack the stove in a baggy, put matches and a lighter in separate containers - in short - relearn my kitchen camping skills.

With temperatures climbing into the 60's on Saturday and plummeting to the 30s on Sunday, I planned ahead to take advantage of a spectacular morning at nearby Battery Park, a wonderful spot overlooking the Burlington harbor. Like the exquisite Ethan Allen Tower coffeeneuring experience with my husband in 2015, its nice to remind myself that not all Lake Champlain vistas have to be located on the beach.

There were lots of people strolling, relaxing on benches, likewise enjoying what could be our last warm fall day.

A flock of geese flew overhead, my stove provided hot water in record time, and I unzipped my jacket - all indications of a spectacular morning. I became fascinated with the large tree in the foreground, admiring its toothy trunk.

And so, my coffeeneuring challenge is complete. Along the way I've learned that I do not need the complications of including my camping chair, I may need to replace my stove, and I have a long list of additional lakeside brew up spots - enough to finish out a third year without repeating a venue.

Long Live Coffeeneuring!

The Place: Battery Park
Date: Saturday, November 19
Drink: Vermont Coffee Company, Dark Roast 
Observation, Bike Friendliness: Family friendly park. A sweeping view of waterfront where American troops once defended attack by British during War of 1812.
Total Miles: 4

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sometimes You Gotta Take the Closed Bike Path

Sometimes You need to explore what's on the other side...my husband leads the way.
With an integral section of our waterfront path closed since mid-September - and the detour involved: a grunting ascent up the steepest street in the city, along a busy corridor, then braking descent back to the path through a public campground - the arduous detour has grown old. By mid-November it's no wonder that commuters and runners are circumventing the fencing, taking their chances with encountering workers and construction vehicles to save time and effort.

For a while I went through this routine twice a day when I was living at our family's camp in northern Burlington. However, once I moved home I tended to bypass the closed section, entering the waterfront path on either end and avoided the detour altogether. But on a coffeeneuring run with my husband we returned, heading south and stopped at the fenced perimeter and looked longingly at the newly paved path. We contemplated getting around the fence because I'd been watching groups of runners easily scooting around and barely breaking stride. Before I knew it my husband had pushed his bike through the woods, said it was pretty easy, so I followed, my pots and stove clattering in the basket on my rear rack.

And what a smooth ride, indeed! After a quarter mile the pavement gave way to packed gravel with a new cement sidewalk spur leading to Texaco Beach.

There has been much earth work: shoring up an eroding bank, toxic soil removed or covered over because this section of the waterfront used to be an oil port, relocating path close to the lake, plus many new trees planted. There will be pause places with information signage and exercise equipment. In short, it will be an amazing improvement, but a long time coming!

It is difficult to be patient when construction seems to take forever, all this on the heels of last year's 2-3 month closure in a similar location, with the very same awful detour! But wait, we will, because , there isn't another choice...except for the times when we can't stand it, to take a peak at the progress.