Saturday, October 28, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017 - Fourth Cup at Lone Sailor Park

With breezy weather and a short time-frame, I gambled that I could find a sheltered spot to brew tea at Lone Sailor Park.

Squeezed between a working dock and ECHO science center/ UVM research facility, the statue and narrow strip of land has always attracted me to it's peaceful presence and heavenly views.

Erected in 2004, the naval statue is a replica of the original Lone Sailor in our nation's capital, and dedicated to naval battles past and present in our region. Circling the compass are plaques commemorating early naval admirals George Dewey and Henry Mayo, both naval commanders born in Vermont, Revolutionary Battle of Valcour and 1812 Battle of Plattsburgh Bay. The whole park was erected in honor of former governor Robert Stafford, a captain in the US Navy and first commanding officer of the Naval Reserve Center, site of current park.

Art depicting lake, plants, and fish.

Beyond Burlington's breakwater, foliage on the New York shoreline.

Miss Piggy tugboat.

ECHO Science Center (glass building) and UVM Lake Research building (brick).

Stove is somewhat sheltered behind a granite block.

A couple from Florida took my photo.
Who knew this area held so much history? I was pleasantly surprised that tourists eventually wandered around because the park is hidden. And I thought only locals knew about this gem!

The Place: Lone Sailor Park
Date: Friday, October 27
Drink: Bentley's Cranberry Blood Orange Rooibos Tea
Observation:  I had forgotten that this was a replica of a statue in Washington, DC. I had no idea the parklet attracted so many visitors.
Total Miles: 4 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Beauty of Bike Overnights at Camp

The sun has just risen, geese are honking, and I'm heading south along the waterfront trail. It is relatively quiet and peaceful, a world away from nearby busy North Avenue, with breathtaking views across Lake Champlain to New York.

I treasure this solitude, pedaling, observing glimpses of emerging fall color on the distant shoreline.

I come across hundreds of squawking geese, rousing, preparing for flight. I laugh at their rambunctiousness.

New, fashionable Dewalt protective eye wear. Get your own at a hardware store!
We are lucky to have a place on the lake, within cycling distance to my workplace. Come September, renters are gone, and most family members have abandoned staying overnight, mostly because the camp is unheated. However, I look at the months of September and October as prime-time before camp closes for the season. Summer visitors - and the commotion associated with it - are gone. The only noises are occasional raccoons or woodchucks squealing in the tight spaces below camp, an ongoing nature program we've become accustomed to all summer. Sunsets are still beautiful and with the aid of space heaters I enjoy peace and quiet and simple living. My mother-in-law sums up the experience nicely, "Camp is camp".

Commuting homeward during peak foliage.
And so, I enjoy bike overnights of a different flavor.

Last weekend my husband and youngest son mobilized and rode to camp for a balmy October evening, the grand finale, I imagine, as rains and cooler weather have returned.

An oak tree is ablaze in golden hues just before sunset on my ride home.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017 - Third Cup at Rossetti Natural Area Beach

Another warm 70F + weekend is a gift in late October. Time for another Coffee Shop Without Walls, Water View edition!

The scenery: can't beat peak foliage along the waterfront path. And the smooth repaved and wider lanes are spectacular. Oddly enough, I pedaled around a firetruck blocking the path. After smelling smoke and spying firemen and people on the beach, I presume a Saturday night bonfire had rekindled in the morning breeze.

I was pleased to see colorful young maples in vibrant hues along Colchester's Holy Cross Road bike path.

At Rossetti Natural Area, I biked through the gravel parking lot, down a wide path, then over a boardwalk, then declared a nearby log as official coffeenering base. Sheltered from the south wind, the entire beach was an extraordinairy, windless oasis. 

As an experiment, I swished coffee in a tea strainer until the brew was strong. Easy, peasy clean up, toss coffee soaked utensil in a plastic bag. I'm also considering buying a single cup coffee press that would satisfy my need for better brews on bike overnights.

Coffeeneuring to my heart's content!

The Place: Rossetti Natural Area Beach
Date: Sunday, October 22
Drink: Speeder & Earls classic
Observation:  A tea strainer makes an acceptable cup of joe.
Total Miles: 8.5

Friday, October 20, 2017

Colchester Streets Challenge - Challenging Motivation

A nice view from Water Tower Hill in Colchester.
I've decided to put the Colchester Streets Challenge on hold for the remainder of 2017. While I could devote weekends towards this goal, I've lost the motivation to get to roads that are a fair distance from home. While a challenge should be difficult to some degree, otherwise it's not a challenge, but especially a self-imposed one - at least the way I understand it - should be a source of inspiration...and frankly, I've lost interest. While I may finish a few more Colchester streets before the year's out, it's no longer my primary focus.

Other exciting events and projects have taken precedence:

I'm also looking forward to gearing up for winter riding, more Burlington Bicycle Club rides, and weather dependent Cranksgiving and Winter Solstice events - all short term goals that I can easily get behind!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017 - Second Cup at Texaco Beach

On Sunday the weather is still sublime, sunny and in the 60's. I pack up my new toy bicycle - it's hard to take the Dahon seriously - but I'm tickled that my coffeeneuring basket fits well with ample clearance for my heels. I pressed an old versatile Eastsport pack into service as a handle bar bag.

Texaco Beach is easily accessed from the waterfront trail. A wide, sandy beach invites one and all. Two people with bikes made tracks in the sand and are huddled against rocks and trees in their own private oasis.

The wind howls from the south, but I've found an inviting clump of trees to hide behind. Sunshine. Warmth.

I fire up my 20 year old Coleman stove. It hisses.

I make herbal tea. yet again, because I didn't venture on my bike until mid-afternoon. One of these days coffee will be welcome.

For now, I sit on the log, sipping tea, admiring the lake. That's what I've come for. Calm. Water views. Foliage.

The Place: Texaco Beach
Date: Sunday, October 15.
Drink: Celestial Seasoning's Red Zinger Tea
Observation: The warm weather won't last and soon I'll be brewing coffee! 
Total Miles: 13

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Coffeeneuring 2017 - First Cup on the Long Trail Bridge

View from Long Trail Bridge above the Winooski River.

My husband challenged me to expand my Coffee Shop Without Walls horizons this year to include tributaries to Lake Champlain. For two years I've brewed coffee and tea on the shores of our beautiful lake, which has been great fun and is close to home, should I need to keep brew ups short and sweet on a frigid morning. I have a few more scenic spots in mind. My husband, however, is bored with my usual coffeeneuring routine and he wants to accompany me on more outings further afield, which, I am over-the-moon about, plus I will have a built in photographer, making documentation easier.

Or should make photography easier...except I made a coffeeneur's faux pas: at the car park as we assembled our bikes, I realized I'd left my camera and phone at home!

So, readers, use your imagination. Here's Miss Clementine loaded with my usual basket of goodies: camp stove, cup, tea, table cloth, chair, water bottle, and lock.

A coffeeneaur's bike set up reenactment, sans bungee cord tie downs. I collected the bunch of red clover on the return to the car as treats for our animals!

I snagged these photos the following day, returning with our family as part of a driving foliage tour.
Our boys are walking on the bridge.
Two years ago the Green Mountain Club built a suspension bridge over the Winooski River to aid Long Trail through hikers over a major river in their quest to hike the length of Vermont. It's easy to access each end of the bridge either by car or bicycle.

In fact, we rolled our bicycles onto the bridge where I brewed tea while observing spectacular water views. Rivaling a momentous Ethan Allen Tower adventure, the Long Trail Bridge brew up was my husband's idea as our first coffeeneuring stop. Way to go husband!

The Place: Long Trail Bridge
Date: Saturday, October 14.
Drink: Celestial Seasoning's Wild Berry Zinger Tea
Observation: Epic fail, forgetting a camera or phone, but we recovered by returning later to take photos and introduced our boys to the bridge.
Total Miles: 14

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Dahon Boardwalk 6-Speed - An Opportune Purchase

Adding a Dahon Boardwalk to my bicycle quiver.
A folding bicycle has been on my radar for sometime, not because I need one, but because I've long admired their simplicity, lightness, and of course their utility. I'm the last person who could benefit from owning a folder: I fly infrequently, have ample workplace parking, sport bike racks on both our vehicles or otherwise have a specific need for folder, but I've been intrigued by the design. And, I freely admit, I think folding bicycles are cute!

When two multi-speed Dahons were advertised on Craigslist for 75.00 each, I followed up, test rode one of the 6 speeds, impressed with their impeccable condition, despite their 15 year old age, and bought it. My only prerequisites for a folder were multiple gears, 20" wheels, a reputable brand, and inexpensive cost. That the Boardwalk model came with fenders and a rack, a clean drive-train, and came with Dahon canvas bag and documentation, was like cream in my coffee! How could I pass up this opportunity? Interestingly, after talking with the owners, I'd seen their bikes before (scroll to end of post).

Of course, when my husband saw what I'd done, he rolled his eyes!

There are worse habits I countered...and he followed up with wondering if it would fit inside his Miata's trunk...

I test rode the bike on a Queen City Bicycle Club ride, a perfect low key stroll around the city. I'm impressed at the comfortable ride, low enough gearing, and frankly, how well the wheels roll!

What happens next?

Longterm, I'm unsure how this bicycle will fit in my life, though I'm  currently dreaming of taking it on Amtrak for an overnight, or pedal around New York City, or Montreal, etc. Then there's hauling gear, which poses it's own set of challenges, which when I think about it, why not pay the extra baggage fee to bring a normal sized bike?

For now, it's an unforeseen but welcome addition to our varied fleet and takes up little space in our garage. If the novelty wears off, I can easily sell it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Looking Forward to Coffeeneuring!

Stellar views from Railyard Park.
As I cruised by a small lakefront parklet at sunrise this morning, I thought of past Coffee Without Walls spots - of which Railyard Park was one - and how I have accumulated a list of 7+ waterside brew up locations ahead of me - without repeating the past 2 years of coffee outings!

Nancy has pledged a similar theme, but with tea.

Rock on, coffeeneurs! Let the challenge begin...

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Good Bye Ross Mount Saint Helens

I've said so long to the Ross Mt. Saint Helens. Between stripping her of fenders, racks, and a front wheel to build the Peugeot into my current commuter, there wasn't much left. However, I've saved the rear wheel, seat, and seat post for spare parts, but replaced the distinctive green handlebars back on the Ross for it's next recipient.

I donated what's left to Bike Recycle, leaving the frame hooked on their outside rack, because the shop wasn't open. Coincidentally, our youngest son happened to volunteer his time with a friend, repairing flat tires, etc. in their work space and saw someone working on the Ross.

I haven't been emotionally invested in this bike like my others, but because this was my first step through, and one I've ridden throughout the winter, the Ross has been instrumental in expanding my cycling horizons. It's time for this bike to help other folks less fortunate experience what it's like to ride a stable, strong commuter bike.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Thoughts on 1980's Mountain Bike Fit and the Trek Antelope as a Winter Bike

I find it interesting how one bicycle can have multiple lives. The Trek Antelope's early life was as a versatile commuter/dirt road rider/sport bicycle. In the mid 90s it functioned beautifully as a world tourer, climbing steep inclines and holding it's own on rough, third world roads. Since 2000, this do-it-all machine morphed into a daily commuter again with an occasional multi-day tour thrown in for good measure. But, it some respects, I've moved on, mostly, to riding step through bicycles, so the Trek has lately served as a loan to relatives or our youngest son has ridden it to a mowing job when his bike has a flat.

What I find particularly interesting, is the suggested fit for bikes of this era. I went from riding a 20-21" touring bike to the recommended 19" mountain bike. I believe the rationale went like this: ride a smaller frame so you'd have clearance on rough trails, making it easier to dismount or put a foot on the ground.

In hindsight, and from the wisdom of age, a 20" mountain bike suits me better. The reach is perfect without the need for bar ends, which, on the Trek has become a necessity for optimal comfort.

So, what to do with the Trek Antelope?

Now that I've found a perfect-sized Peugeot step through for commuting - a size that's proven difficult to locate - it occurred to me (after Ryan suggested I use the Ross as a winter bike) that I should press the Trek into cold weather duty, small or not, and keep the Peugeot for the long haul and not subject it to salt-crusted roads.

The Plan - Transform the Trek into a lean, functional machine*
  • remove front rack
  • add wider gumwall tires
  • beef up the worn hand grips, perhaps with a funky wrap job
  • replace toe clip pedals with simple platform type

*Of course, the added benefit here is I don't have to get rid of a bicycle that has memories up the wazoo...