Friday, July 27, 2012

Anniversary Bike Overnight

Waiting at the ferry dock.
I had an idea for our anniversary. Usually we get away for a 4-day pedal sometime in September, but with my European plans eating up weeks we weren't sure it would happen this year. I'd miss that time alone as a couple, so I suggested a simple bike overnight. This means more to us than any restaurant celebration.

Lightweight packing on my Trek 830 Antelope. 
It all came together pretty fast. We planned to be away about 24 hours. Rummage through closets and cardboard boxes. Each pack a pad and sleeping bag. I hauled the tent; my husband the stove, necessities, tools, first aid. Keep the peace between our boys while we pack. Run them to their grandparents. Roll the bikes from the garage, then downhill to catch the 1:00 ferry to New York.

Bridgestone MB-3 with larger panniers. Cushy Thermarest pad
 and rolled up fleece blanket strapped to rear rack.

We changed course late in the planning, opting for a quick jaunt across the lake into the Adirondacks. I have all these maps from a ride years ago—one I cherished as it brought me deep into New York hills. Both my hub and I value the Lake Champlain Bikeways map as it not only shows the lake route, but a myriad of loops associated with it. I taped up our battered copy after my last ride.

I keyed on a campground about thirty miles away—perfect for the later start.

Enjoying the cool breeze and view from the upper deck.
After all, we were celebrating 23 wonderful years of marriage. No need to make this a strenuous adventure; the point was to just get away.

We cruised beside the Ausable River. With lower rainfall this summer the normally rushing, soothing sounds of water were merely stagnant pools. But no matter. We pedaled together.

At one point the unmistakable thwack-thwack noise meant I picked up something on the rear tire. I stopped and extracted a .25" piece of glass from the new rubber I'd replaced that very morning. Amazingly, the air remained. Yikes! That Nimbus tire I'd made fun of really did the trick. I'm now convinced that I will further spend good dough on puncture resistant tires.

We encountered a few smaller climbs and then one whopping mile-long pull, but I expected this. I'd done this route before and knew that I'd eventually return with my favorite riding partner. There's something special about this high plateau, with fragrant pines and aspen edging the road, even an escarpment of cliffs in the distance. With nary an automobile on these back roads in New York state, and the incredible network of smooth paved lanes, it's a bike rider's paradise. Sadly, hardly any route in Vermont can compare.

The North Face tent that we still love for its roomy interior and freestanding capabilities.
Around 6 p.m. we pulled into Taylor Pond and snagged the last campsite. Our anniversary weekend seems to coincide with Lake Placid's Ironman Triathlon. After calling ahead, but unable to make a last minute reservation, we expected to free camp on the state land should all sites be occupied, but miraculously we got lucky.

It's a rustic campground with pit toilets and no showers, but it's also hugs a 4 mile long lake. We went for a swim. The water was much warmer than Lake Champlain. Later, I washed my hair at the site.

As we discovered, Steve is also an avid non-motorized bike rider.
Our dinner of pesto and noodles was combined with biker Steve's amazing spread. My husband had earlier befriended this Minnesotan, who toured from his home to the Maine coast and was on the return ride. I presumed the attraction was because of the grey beards (just kidding), but learned that they shared the love of travel,hitchhiking in their younger years to some of the same places.

With our pot of noodles in tow we shared dinner at his table. A bottle of wine was open. Steve pulled out salad, his wife's homemade blue cheese dressing, croutons, and lobster pieces for topping, fresh from Maine. Egads, that was for starters! I helped myself to wine while he roasted a whole onion with butter in aluminum foil in the fire along with a baked potato. When that was done, he grilled a fresh piece of salmon in a square two-sided rack over the open flames. Yuuummmmy! Steve responded to our marveling at his accouterments and fine fare, "I've had a lot of practice. I aim to eat well."

It was quiet evening for me because I use ear plugs, but the Hub was awakened at 3 a.m. by party goers and couldn't get back to sleep. I didn't expect a warm night either, especially at nearly 1500 feet in elevation, wanting to test the lightweight down bag I'd borrowed from a friend. Instead I used it as a blanket. I'm preoccupied with lessening the weight and volume of camping gear. With a lighter, compressible bag, I was able to stow that, my pad, raincoat, cup, and utensils in one small pannier. That's pretty amazing.

The following morning, with a less than exciting bowl of oatmeal, we mapped a similar length, alternate route back to the ferry.

Rocky hillside in background.
This way brought us closer to the rock ledges and was mostly downhill—any way would've been descending back to the lake. The road conditions were sublime, smooth, and we didn't see a car for 30 minutes.

Even on the more heavily traveled route with road markings, the traffic was nil. It was a Sunday morning so it was also devoid of commuters.

We dropped in altitude until we were among the wide open Peru apple orchards. I hadn't seen this style of farming: pruned trees and spaced closely, since traveling in the Netherlands.
It also appeared that there was some type of irrigation.

My main squeeze, enjoying the beautiful day.

Typical style of large, old apple trees with barns filled with tractors and wooden boxes.

We'd underestimated the oatmeal breakfast providing enough calories to get us going. I was famished soon after we left the campsite and gobbled a breakfast sandwich at a convenience store. Andy's diet and stomach though, could wait for a healthier meal. Two hours after we set out we found a nice grocery. It was growing hot and we refueled, then stocked up on ferry ride munchies.

The boat ride back was wilder. Waves crashed over the bow, sometimes splashing our bikes. We kept an eye on them. I was concerned about the down bag getting soaked, but only a spray hit that pannier. It was mostly sheltered against the rail.

Homeward bound.

The route displayed in Map My Ride. Note the elevation change. We camped at the high point.


  1. Hi Annie, I enjoyed your blog on this overnighter. I wish I could persuade my DH to do these but he thinks it's too much effort for one night. It's nice to see what others do.
    Brenda in the Boro using her sons sign in

    1. This type of adventure could be daunting to some. Since we are regular bike commuters and have camped and toured in the past, it comes pretty natural to us. It also helps to have all the camping gear organized in your residence. I work from a list and pull from our collection.

  2. Nice trip. I did a bike camping trip for the 4th. Drove part of the way up into NH, then set off on the bike with gear. It was great.

  3. So cool. "But no matter. We pedaled together". I really like knowing couples that have spent a lot of time together still dig each other. Ride on.

  4. Happy Anniversary! That sounds much more fun than a meal out. I'm beginning to wish I lived on the shores of a lake :-)

  5. Congratulations and happy anniversary! I totally second what Scott said. What you two share seems truly rare. Awesome pics, ride and descriptions.

    We sell a lot of those Specialized Armadillo tires at the shop. The Nimbus is a favorite. I'm a big fan of the Roubaix armadillo 23/25's.

  6. That sounds like a great trip to celebrate your anniversary, and I agree regarding puncture proof tyres - worth every penny.

  7. Congratulations on your anniversary. What a nice way to spend it.


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