Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out on Tour

For the love of the bike and for the love of Local Motion, I'll be out of town for a few days. I'll catch up with you next week...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crazy for Mixtes

The Trek Bellevile, photo used from bike hugger
I'm not sure where this came from, this lust for Mixtes. I saw two today out on our city streets: one was a white 10-speed Bianchi, another was one on someone's porch (sigh), unfortunately too far away for me to get a good look. There's something about that long sloping split top tube that extends all the way to the rear axle. It adds that bit of uniqueness, that extra strength, and it's increasingly the upright style of bike that I've been gravitating to these past couple years. The mixte is gorgeous.

Some Mixtes I love:
The Betty Foy
Let's go Ride a Bike has a nice video of her Betty
The Linus Mixte 3
Simply Bike's Peugeot
and Lovely Bicycle's Royal H. Mixte (scroll to 4th bike)

A Mixte blog:
The Mixte Gallery

And before I (or you also) get too crazed by buying the first old Mixte I (or you) see at a garage sale, there are some worthwhile factors to consider as presented by Lovely Bicycle.

I'm trying to reign in my excitement - though it's difficult - and I definitely do NOT need another bike, but it's sure fun to look!

What's your favorite Mixte?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Commuting to Work Redux

70 F, 20 mph headwind

Since my commute to work is varied, I wanted to point out more interesting features.
Mile 2
From home I pedal down the hill towards the lake and drop off a son at school. On the way back up that steep hill (too difficult for 8 am) I eventually get on a nice pathway by the university. There is major construction (to the right) to accommodate more students on campus.

Mile 2.5, South Burlington
The pathway continues for another mile beside a public golf course. It's a pleasant downhill grade.

Mile 2.5
I reconnect with a road heading south and go up another steep climb...

Mile 3
and pass through a nice neighborhood. I always glimpse eastward for a lovely view of the lake before heading in the opposite direction.

Mile 3
I like this connector to the next southern road. It's a spacious neighborhood linkage, complete with a pedestrian path, but I never use it, preferring to cruise faster. I wave to walkers as I pass by.

Mile 4
I sometimes stop at the old cider mill on the left.  As a child I would stop with my dad and sample the brew from conical paper cups while watching the wooden presses squeeze the apple mush. The building is now a deli and convenience store.

Mile 6, Shelburne
The road is a straight shot and fairly flat for the next 4 miles. I pass two farms, a small vineyard with 5 large solar panels, a massage place, and a bed & breakfast and numerous houses. Most driveways are long gravel entries. Traffic can be heavy at times, but fortunately in the opposite direction. There is a distinct quietness in the summertime - parents are no longer driving their children to school.

Ahh, plenty warm enough  today for bare legs and feet.

Mile 8
This rise by the horse farm is a killer hill. I always classify these as Vermont hills - steeper as they crest, much like a ski jump. I stand and pump up this one.

A man has been living in this camper on the property of an abandoned maple sugar shack. Very recently a "Hooters" sign was erected. I guess the occupant has a sense of humor.

Mile 9
He also tends to this fake bear. Sometimes its head is in a garbage pail. Sometimes it forages on the lawn.

Mile 10
I turn onto the dirt road for the last mile to my workplace. Angus beef cattle are being raised in a wetland. The whole pen is a dirty mess. I often observe the cows standing hoof deep in mud or huddle around and on  the bales of hay.
A bull took an interest in my camera. He was snorting at me, probably protecting his harem. I backed away.

Mile 10.5
The long driveway is surrounded by newly planted maples.

Mile 11
I have the best parking spot in this garage, complete with a rug.

Once in a while my husband gets to ride with me home from work. He dislikes the volume of traffic because his commute is much quieter. It's all relative. 

What is your commute like?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Scouting for VerMontreal Bike Trip

Saturday was a long day of adventurous travel in the van and on a bicycle. I met new friends and got to know some old ones even better.

Local Motion organizes 3 and 4 day tours from Vermont to Montreal which take place in early June. All rides converge in Montreal at the same hotel in time for Sunday's Tour de L'ile, a  30 mile loop around the island which attracts upwards of 20,000 people.

A renovated train station in Mooers, now a museum, northern New York
Since our purpose was to review the new 4 day route, we drove the first day's mileage, checking the cue sheets. Some of us were new to this course so we provided a fresh look and helpful feedback.

A preview of the route alerts the organizers to road washouts, streets under repair, and this bridge reconstruction, all of which cropped up in the past two weeks. They will revise the map and directions.

Northwest of Salaberry de Valleyfield
After a stop at the accommodations for the first night, we got on our bikes to ride part of the second day's route of lovely bike paths along the canals. The sun lifted spirits and lilacs perfumed the air.

The Route Verte system of bike trails is a myriad of off road bike paths, on-road separated lanes, and rides through low trafficked neighborhoods. Our day's ride showcased all of these plus one dangerous intersection. At that point we split into two groups: some went ahead while two riders explored a safer alternative and eventually caught up with the lead riders.

Entering Point-Claire, Montreal. The corkscrew bike path.
We whooped it up on the descending corkscrew bike path to street level. This is the second such circular trail that I've ridden in Montreal. In past years, the one in Longueuil that spans eight railroad tracks has always been a big hit.

I was delighted to attend the preview of this 4 day bike adventure. In two weeks I will be riding sweep, advising with directions, performing minor repairs, and providing lots of encouragement. Let's hope the weather is wonderful.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

60 F, sunny, very windy

On Monday morning the winds gusted to 30 mph as I pedaled north along the shoreline. I admit to a fascination with weather. I love storms, big waves, and especially thunder and lightening. Today, the cherry blossoms and dust swirled in front of my tires.

Our beautiful waterfront path has become a liability this year as we continue to watch - somewhat horrified - it's slow and steady destruction during a month of ongoing flood waters. And now the winds have come...

The fishing pier is battered by the waves. I love this area and the fact that the pier is handicapped accessible. In the summer I often see many people with a pole in the water, young and old. It's a good place to strike up a conversation.

The pier is sandbagged against further flooding,
but water and debris washes over the concrete.
I was prompted to pedal further to check out a section of the waterfront path that an acquaintance described as "collapsed". Fortunately, that particular cemented area was fine - it's constructed on supports because it passes through a wetland. I turned around and went south, bypassing the low section that is still under water. I came upon this scene.

Barge canal
Driftwood battered the shore. A couple of tall trees, waterlogged for too long, had fallen into the lake and were bobbing in the waves. Besides the Causeway, this area of the bike path bears the brunt of weather. I like pedaling here in the heat of summer. With the right mix of wind, the water sprays a refreshing shower.

The crashing waves are undermining the asphalt. I went to the top of the bridge for a glimpse ahead. Fortunately there were no more orange cones so I turned around. But the path ahead is still dangerously exposed to whatever mother nature has in store. I worry about its future.

Note the low lying bike path beyond the bridge.

By midsummer there is normally a sandy beach that attracts picnickers. Gulls hang out on the sand bars. Beside the path, train engines shift back and forth to redistribute cars, always an attraction to children and the young at heart.

Soon we ( I hope) can begin the immense cleanup. The Vermont City Marathon begins in one week. Thousands run this section of the bike path and the course will be rerouted. I'm sure the officials are closely monitoring the lake.

In the meantime, get out and pedal, take advantage of this beautiful sunshine. Tulips are giving way to cherry blossoms. Spring peepers trill at night. And life begins anew.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Walk and Roll Week

At our local elementary school we celebrated Walk and Roll Week with a fun party on Friday morning. Children munched on fruit and bagels, signed cards for the crossing guards, and entered a raffle for free pizza. One child proudly exclaimed that this was his first time walking to school. He said he joined the walking school bus (a parent leads a group).

Students logged in each day.

The bike racks began to fill. Scooters were folded.

And, of course, mayhem with 200 students. The strawberries disappeared fast.

The event culminated with the principal announcing his thanks to the children, the crossing guards, and all volunteers for their participation. Children handed cards, a plant, and several drawings to each of the crossing guards.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I See Bikes!

These bikes caught my eye. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.

Balloon whitewall tires, light system, a back rack, and a bottle holder up front.

Very stylish with whitewall tires, loop frame, spring seat, and front basket.
This one I see quite a bit and always in the same spot. It looks a bit Dutchy with the chain guard, fenders and swept back rack. It's labeled "green bike".

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Miyata's Front Rack

I'm proud of the new rack for the Miyata. This bike is now tour-ready. I can distribute up to 15 lbs. of my load in the front or add a heavy handlebar bag. I like the simple connection to the cantilever brake mounts, as mentioned in last years post.
It is very lightweight and quite adaptable to a number of bikes. But because of this, I believe everyone who buys this rack will require lots of patience getting it to fit. It took me 1.5 hours to get it fine-tuned to the Miyata. I bent the stabilizer bracket around the cantilever brake wire, leaving just enough room for the brakes to function and clear the bolt on the brake pads.

And because of the tight spacing on the fenders, I readjusted the rack, leaving scant clearance for the stabilizer to also allow the headset to pivot freely. I was nearly at my wits end (my back isn't what it used to be) when I had finally finished. Phew!

Bike Nashbar doesn't sell the silver version of this rack. I found it on eBay, though I'm sure it's the same one. As the reviews state on the Nashbar site, the hardware is junk, so I purchased longer brake mount bolts at my favorite bike shop and utilized other hardware from our household stash. Who wouldn't like the Velo Orange classically styled version? It's out of my price range and looks like it's not as adaptable too.

So far, I've hauled a 5lb. bag of bunny hay on it, strapped with bungy cord. It was ridiculously large for the front area, but it worked. I also ordered the black version of this rack for the Ross bike.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Causeway in the Rain

60 F, light rain

On Saturday we pedaled out as far as we could on the Colchester Causeway section of the Island Line. We knew that the flooding had washed away a lot of gravel. It was a bit surreal in the rain and mist.

Oops, there's a hole.

Oh my, a bigger one. A tire was sunk in the depression, filled with debris. It appeared that the wind and waves pushed anything and everything onto the path. It's a driftwood seeker's dream ride. The water has only retreated one foot, but with more rain who knows what else will happen.

Egads, it's pretty bad out here. Even the trees are "swimming" in the lake.

That's the bridge up ahead.

Sure enough. Closed, washouts ahead.
We talked with the fly fisherman. He showed us his dinner - a 16" salmon. He was a chatty fellow, but we we're getting chilled. Time to turn around.

It's hard to digest this destruction to the Island Line. Some consider it the crown jewel of this area because of it's unique designation as the only marble-lined (former) railway. Riding on it feels like you are riding on water.

Photo by Paul O. Boisvert, courtesy of Local Motion
Coincidentally, I recently received a local bike shop's catalog. The cover displays the classic aerial view of the Causeway (shown left) - in its better days. The caption stated that "if you've never ridden the Island Line...THIS IS THE YEAR. " It was the shop's intent to gear up for the cycling season and the presses couldn't be stopped, yet it's still ironic. It's a reminder that we can't control mother nature, so go out and carefully enjoy the remaining pathway, in rain or shine. Be thankful for what we still have, and be empathetic toward those folks living along the Mississippi delta.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Coffee Shop

I love Burlington's Church Street pedestrian mall. At 8:30 in the morning it's a lively mix of bus riders, moms like me who've just dropped their children off at school, and people stopping by for their favorite beverage before heading into a downtown office.

As the weather warms there are more and more people out early on bikes and scooters. I like to sit in the window of Uncommon Grounds with a latte and a novel or my netbook.

Mother's Day Flowers

65 F, Sunny
Flowers everywhere. Flowers for my mother. Flowers for me. Rhododendrons blooming along the lakefront.
 Trillium along the bike path. Another sign of spring.

Ah, the bliss of relaxing on the deck at camp with a good book. This view is the best in the world. And my sweetie made  brownies. Now that's what I call a wonderful Mother's Day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Bike Date

65 F, Sunny, Spring is here

Sometimes the stars, or in this instance - kids' birthday parties - align simultaneously to allow my husband and me to go for a ride. I call them bike dates. It's funny how we've come to call them dates, but with children it becomes a necessity if you want free time as a couple. Simply Bike expands upon this idea.

We headed out for a 17 mile loop, primarily to check Colchester's flooding. At the mouth of the Winooski River, houses were under several feet of water and sadly the occupants have evacuated. City officials monitor the homes, allowing only the owners to return by way of ramps from the bike path.
My bike date.
We were stopped by water in the Colchester neighborhood.
Sign is under three feet of water.

The Winooski River entirely flooded a fishing access parking lot and spilled over onto the road and designated bike path.
Annie in the foreground.

A sign detoured us to circle around the closed section, but still we got a bit wet. Nearby, houses were sandbagged. Pumps were rumbling around the clock at some homes. A neighborhood sign warned automobiles "Your wake is our worry". And aptly so. The water is high enough without adding more!

The rest of the ride was a pleasant mix of listening to birds, looking for garage sales, checking out a campground for a summer family bike adventure, and stopping at a softball game to chat with an acquaintance. When I realized how late it was we hammered the pedals to arrive to pick up one son - amazingly only 1 minute late. Bike date or not, it's a reminder that my husband and I can still pour on the speed when we have to.