Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ArtsRiot Bike Swap - Just the Beginning

I showed up for the first ArtsRiot bike parts swap/sale. The premise was good: bring bike related items to sell without prior sign-up or fee. Just show up and spread your wares on the ground—or if so inclined—bring along a table.

I like the event space. It's a rather private asphalt square, a parking lot between former industrial buildings, softened with potted plants and ivy tumbling down brick.

The bike resale part was sparsely attended. Only five people set up shop. Most folks came for the movie that would start at dusk, toting kids and blankets on bikes, wandering around, buying beer and food from two vendors. I hung out for a half hour, hoping for more bike items, then left.

Considering this is the first bike-related venue, attendance may pick up. Or not. I wanted to peruse lots of stuff, garage sale style, but I'm probably better off scrolling through Craigslist.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Simple Family Overnight - Use the Bike Ferry!

Two families meet up for an eight mile ride. Cross causeway. Ride ferry. Two miles later, arrive at campground. 

Relax. Share ipods, video games (jeesh, kid priorities!).

Parents bask in glory of thick grass, awesome lake and mountain views. Slowly set up 4 tents.

Swim. Throw flying discs. Wiffle ball practice.

Campfire, s'mores.

Gotta' poke sticks in fire!

Off on an evening stroll, I investigate rental cabins and motorhome section.

Marvel at fine weather. We reserved campsite a month ago.

Discover indoor recreation room. Ping pong and pool table. Comfy couch, place to read after dark.

Next morning, overcast sky. Wind whips, providing a mosquito-free breakfast. Truck run (other family shuttled vehicle earlier to tote gear) for island-made bagels and—egads—4 kinds of cream cheese. Slowly pack for first ferry crossing at 10 a.m.

Boys carry their personal belongings in backpacks.

My husband and I schlep everything else. Other dad returns home in truck.

Wide loads.

Heading towards open water.

Headwinds intensify. Granny gear slow.

Waiting for ferry.

Boy power.

Mom number two is always game for this adventure. Her family attended and helped plan this event two years ago.

Ferry shuttles 6 at a time. We wait for others while boys throw stones.

Taking a break with my oldest boy. He needs a snack and water. I shoulder his backpack and he perks up.

We catch up with the leaders. Boys will be boys—young ones anyway—occupying themselves, barreling down a grassy slope.

It turns out to be an S240—a simple overnight, approximately 24 hours. The campground is convenient and using the bike ferry makes it a safe, off-road adventure. Next year we plan to stay longer. This will allow more time to explore South Hero's back roads, trails, beaches, ice cream stands, and orchards.

For reference, see first Family Adventure Tour, organized by Local Motion.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Any Fence Will Do

I was slightly annoyed that all the bike racks were full at my son's new doctor's office. I had to remind myself that this is, actually, a good thing. More bike riders equals less cars, equals healthier patients and/or personnel. Besides, I spied the metal fence on the front lawn. This is just as good as any bike rack, much like the post office railing.

I let the doctor know about the parking situation. He turned out to be, thankfully, also a bike commuter.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Much Ado About Glens Falls Feeder Canal Trail

I was pleased to see restaurants pop up along the trail.
I brought my bike along on an overnight camping trip with our boys and my parents. I woke by 6:20 and was on the bike by 6:30, planning to re-explore a trail from Lake George to Glens Falls in New York, a place I haven't been to in 10 years. After a false start, grunting up and down a steep paved portion, which turned out to be a golf course motorway (watch out for the carts!), I got back on track. 

I headed towards Glens Falls, specifically to explore the more rustic Feeder Canal Trail. I'd run out of time years ago and had to turn back, just when I discovered this lovely oasis. 

The surface is smooth stone dust and, as it's name implies, follows a narrow canal.

I wished I could've captured all the "ducks in a row".
I spooked two rabbits, a grazing woodchuck, and several ducks all lined up along the canal wall, as if convening for a morning conference before swim time. One brave soul stood his ground while I snapped his photo and remained when I rode past.

The trail crosses some bridges.

Griffin Oil Tanks.
This historic canal was once constructed for the lime industry; to move cargo from processing plant to New York City. There are remnants of a huge lumber company's buildings also, plus coal storage tanks undergoing preservation. I imagine Glens Falls was once an industrial city and the canal a noisy, dirty waterway.

A cement factory still hummed nearby. I crossed under a web of pipes.

I took care when cruising near the unprotected canal edge.

Historical signs line the trail.

A cement factory in the distance, busy on a Saturday morning.

New housing is nearly complete, signifying renewed appreciation for the area.

I passed several locks then a pretty park-like region, complete with man-made cataracts.

The falls are accessible by car for picnics or strolls along the trail.

The canal is overgrown in places, leaving foliage tunnels.

I crossed a cement bridge and ended my foray at a T-junction, approximately 3-miles along the Feeder Canal Trail. I turned around here, hungry for breakfast with 7-8 miles to cover back to the campground.

Turn right to continue to Fort Edward.
However, there are more miles to explore; connectors right and left lead to other communities. So many trails, so little time!

For information and map, visit the Feeder Canal Alliance website

Monday, July 22, 2013

Italy - Logistics and a Friendly Dog

Follow New Posts in the Around The World series on Mondays.
Click here for the Introduction.

Pompeii train station. Photo credit: Wikipedia
Friday, October 21

With an overcast sky, threatening rain, we put off visiting Pompeii's old city and hop on a train for  25 kilometers to Naples Central train station. We want to depart from Brindisi or Bari on the east coast where ferries leave for Greece. How to get there weighs on our minds. We must find out train requirements from Naples, in case locating a bike box is required, which means allowing ample time for bike disassembly, packing, and taping before loading. If we can roll bikes onto the train, it's much easier. However, with bribes a way of life in southern regions – and recent train attendant hassles in Florence where each employee provided a different answer – we don't know what to expect. But we're also prepared for major disappointment: bikes not accepted at all. In that instance we'll pedal 4 or 5 days across the mountainous interior to arrive at either port. After a month in Italy, we're hoping the train travel is a viable alternative.

The Naples baggage guru says we won't need a box. Hopefully, the story remains the same on Sunday. At least logistics are clearer now. Fingers crossed, we'll celebrate Andy's birthday on the 27th in Greece.

Shopping in Pompei (spelling of new city). Photo credit: Wikipedia

We return to Pompei and shop for a couple days of stationary tenting. Busloads of foreigners invade the streets and by early afternoon rain falls. It's dismal as drenching showers continue for the rest of the day – our first true soaking since pedaling in Switzerland. We cook dinner under the wash house block eaves, then retreat to the tent. We resort to reading by candle lantern light. I'm involved with The Girl in the Swing by Richard Adams while Andy devours the International Herald Tribune for his dose of current events. I think of my father, who turns a year older today. Happy Birthday Dad.

Pompeii's stray dogs abound. Photo credit: Bela Lugosi's Dead, Jim
A new friend keeps us company. Along with stray cats, small dogs roam the Naples region. Since our arrival in the campground the previous day, a black and white short-haired mutt has adopted us. He remains loyal, laying beside our tent all night, even in the rain. He only barks to warn of approaching people or canines. Whitey – our name for him – neither begs nor ransacks our food cache. In turn we offer bits of food and loving caresses. He is small enough to fit in our panniers though we cannot imagine the hassle of bike touring with a pet. I know other travelers will adore Whitey's manners and keep him alive.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fan Me!

I love this stylish little fan. It has USB and AC powered capabilities.
After a 3 mile jaunt to drop off a son at school, I'm dripping wet at 9:30 a.m. Even with air conditioning set at 73F in our home, it takes me a half hour to cool down. I tend to run hot. To help with cooldown, I use a USB powered mini-fan when I'm typing. Marked down on clearance—before the blast furnace descended upon the Northeast—it's the best 6.00 I've spent in a long time.

83F and 73% humidity at 9:30 in the morning.
Egads, what's this? They're forecasting 97F today with heat index over 100F? Holy moly! On the bright side, a storm tomorrow should wipe out high temperatures for several days.

Read Bikeyface for her humorous take on Boston's heatwave.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Did You Know...Early Racers Went to Such Lengths?

Buffalo Velodrome, France's first cycle track in Paris. It holds 8,000 spectators. Henri Desgrange
(Tour de France founder) holds first world record. in this venue. Photo credit: Wikipedia
In the early 1890s, long before the start of the Tour de France, France adopted long distance racing from Britain and built a plethora of cycle tracks to cater to fans. The Buffalo Velodrome was one of three venues opened in Paris in 1893 alone.

Left: Charles Terront, France's famous rider in the 1890s. He also won the first
 Paris-Brest-Paris. Photo credit: Wikipedia Right: Constant Huret, a professional
 from 1894 to 1902. Photo credit: Wikipedia.
Constant Huret and Charles Terront ruled the top endurance events, but it was Charles who later set himself apart by winning one 1,000km race—2,500 laps of the Velodrome D'Hiver—by bypassing toilet breaks. Instead, he urinated into an inner tube.

Compare that with today's Tour de France riders who stop en mass to relieve themselves on the roadside. If they're caught by officials in a highly populated area they are fined.

*Information garnered from William Fotheringham's Cyclopedia.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flip Flop Rides

I'd like to say we're in the dog days of summer, but that would be an understatement. Vermont's heatwave is tropical in nature, with high humidity and abundant thunderstorms—for weeks on end. It's most uncomfortable and has warped my bicycle brain.

I'm in survival mode fugue. I'm eschewing my favorite bike sandals for flip flops, avoiding toe clips altogether—I can't be bothered to flick the pedal. I wear as little clothing as propriety allows. I keep riding to a minimum.

With renewed interest in the Peugeot, but lacking energy to tackle anything just yet, I ordered tires and a few other items in air conditioned comfort. Clicking and browsing, I stumbled onto Grant Peterson's take on bike specific footwear. (More power to you if you understand his mumbo jumbo on efficiency.) However, his general thoughts on simplicity make sense to me: get on bike, ride in normal clothing. Basically, Just Ride. With these thoughts in mind, I've decided to forego toe clips on the Peugeot's revival—a first for me. It will be a simple utility bicycle, one with a front rack, wire basket, upright bars and—since the Ross will find a new home—this rendition will neither replicate the Trek mountain bike or the Miyata tourer.

It's all clear now, even in this sultry weather.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rockin' Purple Columbia

Purple bikes are unusual so when I spot one I take a second look. There's something mystical about the color, perhaps even regal. This old Columbia even had purple fenders with a chrome knob protruding from the front fender like a maiden on a ship's prow.

And who could overlook those Mardi Gras beads draped around its handlebars like pearls on a queen? Yes, I believe this bicycle oozes royalty.

Friday, July 12, 2013

1983 Peugeot UO 14

My brother handed his bicycle to me a couple years ago. I was sad that he didn't plan on riding anymore, yet thankful to be the lucky recipient. The bike's been in dry storage since day one, had a tune up 5 years ago, and has minimal miles. How lucky can I be?

I like the square fork crown and  "S" marked shift levers. Dig those lugs!
After three years of searching for the perfect step through bike that fits, I'm ready to move on from my current Ross iteration. It's time I reassess the Peugeot. With cursory clean up: rinsing dirty tires, wiping dusty parts, oiling steel frame, I've fallen in love with the Peugeot's classic looks. But, of course, I'm partial to 1980's bikes. Like my other rides, this one has clearance for fenders. And, I happen to like downtube shifters. My Miyata is the same.

These brakes are new territory. But, like everything else on this bike, the brakes look easy to adjust, easy to replace worn pads.

The plastic head badge came off in my hands. It's chintzy, but the lion logo must be reattached, for better or for worse, once I discover the proper way to do it.

Weinmann square-edge rims. They remind me of Araya MB rims that I've had on many
of my bikes. Beautiful. Derailleur isn't original, nor the ugly gel seat missing
 its lycra cover.
I know a quality middle of the road bike when I see one. I have plans for this 12-speed: fenders, upright bar, rack. However, before I get ahead of myself, I will explore the fit. I've learned that much from riding the too small Ross. The Peugeot is a 20" frame compared to my 21" Miyata and—while I don't see this as a deal breaker—the ability to raise the stem is critical.

This bike is in great condition. The frame has nary a scratch—Thanks, bro!

For original specs, visit the catalog. See a reconditioned UO 14 on Ten Speed Gallery.