Thursday, September 28, 2017

New Shoes and Generosity

Gotta love these Nashbar sandals! They look great with socks.
Because of a relative's kindness, I put a lot of thought into spending designated birthday money. It's too easy to pocket the gift, forget the money was intended to be spent on oneself, plus ignore the loved one who has generously given. This year I treated myself to a new pair of Nashbar sandals plus new tires for an upcoming winter bike project.

These shoes replace a 6 year old pair.
It's difficult enough living in a 91 year old body, much less knowing what to buy for family birthdays. My mother-in-law's simple acting of giving has never wavered throughout the 34 years I have known her. And so, I will do what I've always done to show my appreciation. I will stop by for a visit and show her my new shoes and describe the new chunky tires that will grace my winter bike, and she will once again, say how she always loves that I tell her what I bought, because seldom does anyone else remember to.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Autumnal Equinox - A Changing Landscape

After a wondrous hiking vacation it's taken me a few surreal days to acclimatize back into my biking routine. And what a beautiful time of year! There are purple, magenta, and deep red wild asters lining the bike trail...

Contrasting with goldenrod...

and sumac trees turning orange and red.
There's even early color in a maple grove, appropriately gracing the Maple Research facility's front lawn.

My wheels roll over leaves, the crunch and crackle welcome sounds.

I glide past a storm water pond where a menagerie of plants and trees were planted a year ago, but are already an established, colorful part of the fall landscape.

As the days grow sadly shorter, a kind of special, if fleeting, beauty has replaced the heat of summer.

This is my time of year!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two Loops North of the Border - Along the Richelieu & Saint-Armand

Riding the farm roads on the return trip to Auberge Harris.
On the heels of riding with Adele near Sherbrooke, my husband and I staged a bike getaway from Auberge Harris in Saint Jean sur Richelieu. Most of the rain showers had passed by the time we made it through a 30 minute wait at the border and arrived in St. Jean and checked into a cramped hotel room (next time we'll spring for the suite). Auberge Harris is familiar from years passed, riding VerMontreal trips, plus the hotel welcomes cyclists, has safe bicycle storage, and provides maps of potential riding loops.

My husband wanted to ride on the Chambly Canal path again, a beautiful, crushed stone dust towpath beside a canal that once saw barges, but now allows pleasure craft, run by Parcs Canada. It had been several years for both of us but the scenery was still lovely as waterfowl from both canal and river nearby squawk and flap wings. We were even privy to a large fish leaping beside us, creating a big splash.

In Chambly we sat outside a health food store, enjoying panini and salad then began our return journey on the other side of the Richelieu River on new roads to us, through flat farming country, a nice loop mapped for us on Auberge Harris's free map.

By late afternoon we returned to the hotel and enjoyed the outdoor, warm, salt-water pool as showers sprinkled our heads, the sky clearing to reveal a rainbow.

We checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning and headed south, close to the Vermont border to explore the region around Saint Armand. We began our ride from the village green in a parking lot, surprisingly beside two other Canadian groups who were also setting off on bikes.

The horizontal line is the border with Vermont. The dark mass is Lake Champlain's extension into Canada.
We followed back roads on a vineyard map, eventually passing through Bedford then looping southward by Dumaine du Ridge where my husband snagged a vineyard map for a neighbor. We also paused for an extensive exploration of the same cemetery I stopped at a few years ago because of Corey family graves that were relocated to the Ridge Cemetery. I had no idea there were 50+/- stones with the Corey surname. 

We took a side road to ride through a covered bridge, the Guthrie Covered Bridge, built in the 1880's. I never thought about Quebec having covered bridges, but I realize Vermont doesn't hold a monopoly on this architecture and living so close to the border, we have lots of things in common, like maple syrup production and beautiful foliage season.

After dancing near another border crossing, Morses Line, we ended our ride back in Saint Armand, picnicking near a Pentaque court (that I later discovered is what we call Bocce). It was a lovely two days away from home and a chance to reconnect with my wonderful and favorite travelling companion.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Riding with Paula to Kamp Kill Kare State Park

I reconnected with Paula (an old friend from long ago book group) just before we set off on a wonderful overnight ride earlier this summer. With that success we kept in contact, and after running into her once again at Terry's tent sale (great minds think alike), we set up a time to meet, and start a ride from her country home 30 miles north of Burlington.

I invited my husband along, who's always looking for new places to ride. I didn't know it at the time but Paula and I had bought the same style of Terry saddle. Hers was the leather and white version, which was rather becoming on her blue Trek 520 touring bike. (sorry, no pictures)

Paula took us on paved country roads, eventually descending to Saint Albans Bay, a region my husband and I are somewhat familiar with, having ridden around the lake in recent years. The day was perfect: a light breeze and warming temperatures, and spectacular lake vistas.

But I'd never pedaled completely around the bay, which we did together, climbing rolling hills, coasting down the other side to delightful snippets of kayakers, people gardening, views of tiny islands, all the while taking in bayside cottages and farmsteads among mature oak and maple trees. I was pleased with my new saddle, Paula also.

We stopped at Kill Kare State Park, surrounded by three sides of Lake Champlain (weird I know, but that's what the website says) on the grounds of an old boys camp. The house still stands, turned into offices, a visitor's center, and bathrooms. A delightful respite on sweeping lawns in the shade and we returned on the same road until looping back on another hill to Paula's place for a total of 20 miles. My Clementine and I climbed efficiently, keeping up with my husband - I still marvel at her low gears - and now with a proper saddle I feel confident she'll handle loaded ascents with ease.

On the ride back I schemed with Paula about doing an overnight from her house, staying at Lake Carmi, a park she hasn't visited. If our luck holds we'll squeeze in this adventure before the snow flies and/or the state park closes. It's a slim window, due mostly to my September vacation, but who knows? If we're lucky the ride might occur on her birthday and during foliage season. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bargains at Terry's Tent Sale

Several years ago Terry Bicycle company relocated to Burlington, Vermont. I've admired their saddles for close to 20 years, but as with many seats, I find the cost prohibitive to take a chance on a saddle that might not provide long-term comfort.

Terry holds an annual tent sale, and after buying a black wrapper skirt (a leftover from the sale) at Goodwill and loving the style, I made sure to attend Terry's sale this year. I was immediately drawn to a basket of touring saddles and picked out a 20.00 Butterfly. There were beautiful leather versions also (for twice the price), but I generally avoid them because of the care involved and the need to cover leather saddles in inclement weather.

I'm fond of cut-out saddles.
The new saddle adorns Miss Clementine and is a big improvement over the stock saddle!

I like the two front slits lined with reflective tape plus hidden zipper pocket.
The fun was just beginning! I found a blue/grey version of my favorite wrap skirt. My shorts selection is getting threadbare so these skirts provide coverage and style, and come in handy wearing into my workplace or doing errands. I've also worn them on pleasure rides, really, almost anywhere. On longer jaunts I hike the skirt up in back so there's no bunching or extra seams to cause discomfort.

These skort wrappers are constructed of nylon and polyester.
I left with two items, but on the last day - in fact the last hour -  of the sale I cruised by on my bike, turning in to take a second look. It was my lucky day! The remaining merchandise was marked down 50%. I left there with a green wrap skirt plus a pretty, grey-patterned fleece skirt.

The wrap skirts have side zips with two-snap fasteners to secure a wide, comfortable waistband.

The black and blue versions have adjustable rear closures, which I like. The green style in the same size has some flexibility in the back elastic, but is a bit snug and is slightly shorter in length - the difference in yearly models.

 I'm pleased to have a fleece skirt, if only to wear walking in winter or over tights for office wear.

Easy to wear.

Provide ample coverage over shorts or a flattering look over tights.
I'll be sure to check out Terry's tent sale in 2018.