Friday, June 22, 2012

Lake Sojourn - Part Three & Equipment Review

Front rack stuff: ground pad, blue tarp for under tent, rain gear, handlebar bag (close to stem).
The morning was crisp again and because I would only pedal another twenty miles to the ferry I lingered in the campsite, leisurely drinking tea. Breakfast consisted of a banana and small packaged blueberry pie. My hunger was beginning to increase though; I hoped to locate a restaurant en route.

As I pedaled through downtown Plattsburgh, I noted the nice 1812 bicentennial signs. I learned later it was the battle of Plattsburgh, during this war, that turn the tide over to the Americans.

Officers Row and old military housing.
Actually it's difficult to miss all the historical signs in this part of New York state. I started reading a few of the placards, many of which are metal, but it gets ridiculous and mind numbing after a while.

I cruised on a pathway squeezed between the railroad tracks and old military barracks.

I dried my toe-dampened flats on my rear bags. 

A quick zip through a tunnel.

I liked this park because of it's solitary figure looking out to water.

And it's incredible view.

I assumed it was Samuel Champlain, the lake's namesake, and I was correct. But the native Americans lived here long before as acknowledged by the stone sculpture crouched at the base of the monument.

The edifice was erected over 100 years ago, on the 300th anniversary.

Leaving the Pllattsburgh environs, I easily was swept along, the northern wind once again picking up. I had to stop at the Stoneledge Sculpture Garden. Actually it's hard to miss the array of farm implements and wacky metallic abstracts. It's weirdly appealing, all the more so by the manicured lawn. There is a bench beside the sign; all are welcome to sit and ponder.

Afterwards I stopped in at a lakeside restaurant, all excited because the parking lot was full. But I was disappointed by the sign on the door "Open Father's Day Weekend". Rats, two days later! The cars probably belonged to the patrons of the marina below the restaurant. Thankfully, I still had gorp and I gobbled a couple handfuls before setting off.

A few miles later I was at the ferry dock. I called ahead to discover my dad was grilling burgers in our backyard. Hallelujah! He'd save me one for lunch.

Ah, home is in sight. After a journey about 5 years ago from Burlington to the canal at the southern outlet and up the New York side to Port Kent, now I can claim that I've completely circumnavigated Lake Champlain. Viva le bike camping!

Equipment Review:

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight - A lightweight backpacking/bike camping tent. At 3.5 pounds it's best as a one person shelter, but can hold two. The clip system (fastening plastic hooks to poles rather than inserting poles through nylon sleeves) means easy set-up. Mesh light colored screen keeps the weight down and the inside is bright and airy. Perfect for summer. Tested on four multi-day trips, I'm sold on this product.

Inflation time: 5 long minutes.
Big Agnes Groundpad - Needing more cushion than my old standby Thermarest, last year I invested in a lighter, but lung-testing 3.5" cushion of air. Though it's not as insulating as my former camp bed, it's packability is one half in volume. I don't intend to camp on snow. It's comfort is tried and tested, better on my hips. It's a keeper.

EMS Stainless Steel Mug - Though not a necessity (we have other pots) I spent birthday money on an ample-sized mug/bowl. With flip-out pot-type handle is means you can heat the cup on the stove, then use it to eat or drink from. Simple, one pot, one person cooking and clean up. Great for my bike overnights. Bonus: stove top fits inside.

I like this simple stove with fold out burner plates. (There are numerous manufacturers.) We stumbled on this style years ago while in Europe and purchased the current one on a trip in Colorado. No need to have separate fuel bottle; stove base is fuel canister and separates when not in use. No pumping required. Turn dial and light - perfect for stove phobics like me.

Northface Cat's Meow - You can't beat the quality of this sleeping bag. After 28 years, two of which were hard on the bag (across U.S. and world trip), it still works and has been in the washing machine more times than I can count. Zippers are top-notch. It's lost its loft and only good to about 45F (initially rated to 20F.) I'm eyeballing other designs, but it would have to weigh less than 3 pounds, be synthetic, and pack smaller. (Hint-bring on the birthday money!) For frosty camping I rely on a to-die-for thick mummy bag. Off hand I don't recall the brand. It's screaming purple - that's all I care about.

I found this simple synthetic towel at the Goodwill for two dollars. It's proven invaluable. It's absorbent, wrings out well, and dries quickly. I'll bring this on other adventures.

The small panniers worked well. They have a tendency to pop off on low rider front racks, but cinched in beneath the tent and sleeping bag it became a non-issue. I came home with one pannier nearly empty. I've yet to do an overnight on the girly bike, but now that it's rack system is the same, I now know it's possible.


  1. This has been an enjoyable short series of posts....


  2. Love reading your posts. Great to see you went on your own. Women so often are scared to cycle camp alone.
    Brenda in the Boro UK

    1. I've had years of touring experience so it's not difficult for me. I also will camp in a designated campground as opposed to free camping. This fits my comfort zone and allows me the freedom to enjoy the ride.

  3. Awesome!!! I always particularly love pics of the bike loaded and gear setup (eg: Lovely tent shots) :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

  4. What great weather for what looks like a fun trip. And there was a ferry ride! We have those in NC too when you get close to the outer banks. Nice photos and dig the ponytails.

    1. Yes, I've used those ferries in the Outer Banks. That's a lovely place to tour. As for the pigtails, well, years ago I discovered that my head is cooler if I part my hair in the middle. My husband hates them, but he also likes my hair longer as I do too.

  5. Hmm. . . I'm getting to the stage where lung capacity maybe worth testing for the sake of comfort. I've used a 3/4 Thermarest for years,but, I'm eyeballing that inflatable mattress. Interested in it's longevity and whether it packs as small as a Thermarest? Congrats on the circumnavigation!

    1. This baby packs to 4" by 8". That's the attraction, plus it's 1.5 lbs.

    2. I've found that the Big Agnes "test your lung capacity" styled pads are much more comfortable for sleeping, especially if you are a side sleeper. Of course, like any inflatable pad, they eventually leak. I went through many a BA pad. Now I'm on a REI Stratus, let's see how long this one lasts.

  6. It looks like a great trip and nice to do it on your own. I have never done cycle touring and probably never will at this stage of my life, but if I were younger and healthier, I'd certainly have a go at it.

  7. Glad you enjoyed your bicycle trip and tour of Plattsburgh area. You should come back in Sept. 2014 for the Bicentennial of the Battle of Plattsburgh.
    Big parade, lots of music, reenactment camping and battles, etc. Jack


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