Monday, September 28, 2020

Cycling in the Northeast Kingdom

Happily aboard Miss Clementine, climbing and descending mostly dirt roads around East Charleston.
In early September, my husband and I escaped from busy Chittenden County and his full-time basement office drudgery, fueled by the promise of 4 days of idyllic, traffic-free, Vermont's Northeast Kingdom roads. 

A favorite pastime: inspecting tiny cemeteries.
We spent 3 nights in a cozy lean-to, serenaded by loons, owls, and breezy solitude. Not all campsites were open, which lent comfortable space between campers. Brighton State Park also has a series of hiking trails that came in handy to further stretch our legs.

By day we cruised paved roads that danced near the closed Canadian border.

Funny sign at a crossroad to greet Canadian's heading into Vermont (in normal times).

In Canaan's town square, fall foliage was just beginning.

Canaan's lovely library - open for business!

We stumbled on a very interesting monument!
Most afternoons we had time to also drive and explore some more. The extreme northeastern part of Vermont has always intrigued us. It's remote small towns are often reliant on tourism, and connections with New Hampshire and Canadian towns are important for commerce or family ties. Needless to say, lack of travel across the border has devastated summer tourism.

The entire Connecticut River is within New Hampshire, which means New Hampshire is responsible for upkeep of all bridges spanning the river.

The Connecticut River originates from small lakes in Canada (another area to someday explore) and runs the eastern border between Vermont and New Hampshire. As we were driving a winding, lovely Vermont-side road I offered to drive so my husband could enjoy some more carefree cycling miles. 

At Columbia Bridge, my husband starts his trek further south. I pick him up 10 miles later.

Home away from home for a few nights.

After a few morning showers on the fourth day, we traversed the Saint Johnsbury to Danville section (out and back) of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Even on a Friday morning, the trail, which we thought was remote, was seeing frequent use. However, we all had plenty of space.

The renovated Danville station was a nice place for lunch.

A pedestrian and 4 wheeler/snowmobile bridge in Danville.

The western terminus of the section ends at Joe's Pond. It was nice to see that at least the tracks are gone for future LVRT connections. Someday the trail will run across Vermont.

It was a most welcome 4 day getaway, inspired by my husband's one week vacation. I'm glad we were able to choose the best weather days. Sleeping long hours on a camping mattress was tough on our bodies, especially with lack of daylight in September (and nowhere to hang out after hours because of you know what) but we thoroughly enjoyed our time away and got to explore more of our home state. What's not to like about that?

Monday, September 21, 2020

Dimension Arc Bar - A Curvy Option for a Commuter Bike

Dimension Arc Bar
Above, first image: the Dimension Arc Bar has added stylish curves and a more comfortable hand position to my
commuter bike, compared with old style mountain bike riser bars (second image).

As I age I realize a once comfortable handlebar is no longer, um, comfortable. A more neutral wrist position is required. Thankfully, they're endless options in the marketplace to fit a growing number of bicycle styles, and indeed trying to choose the perfect bar can be a daunting task. It can also become an expensive search, if the right style takes several tries. However, by asking readers, researching online, and using, zeroing in on the best bar is an easier task. 

In my case, I needed a change - but not necessarily a perfect replacement - because commuter miles are limited, say up to 20 miles per day. Any handlebar with more curves would do the trick.

Enter the Dimension Arc Bar. A reader suggested this option, it's aluminum, in correct stem clamp and width. I'd always admired this style and it was the perfect opportunity to add more comfort to daily rides.

I'm continually fascinated how changing handlebars, a seat, or tires can drastically alter how a bicycle feels and performs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I Need a Mountain Bike, No Really!

Our youngest son led a fun outdoor adventure in nearby wooded trails that culminated in this jaw-dropping view.
I also tried out his fancy schmancy mountain bike.

Let me rephrase that: I need a modern 1X hard tail mountain bike. 

I happily ride old style mountain bikes for commuting because, really, they make the best stable machines to haul just about anything you'd ever want within a certain radius from home (insert your preferred mileage here). But when it comes to riding rooty, rocky, steep trails, well... a mountain bike would make these older bones much more comfortable.

It's no surprise that I'm gravitating towards the modern mountain bike direction. I had a blast last summer on a rented mountain bike at Kingdom Trails. The kicker? We now live within a 15 minute ride from access to a town trail network, which means after work getaways winding through the woods! 

But, with uptick in bike sales, it may be a while before I locate the right bicycle. In the meantime, I won't let the lack of a preferred bicycle prevent me from exploring!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Burlington Parks Challenge

Potvin Park

On the heels of completing Burlington's Little Free Libraries quest, I vowed to visit all 31 designated Burlington city parks. Nothing like a prepared list to follow! The adventure sparked interest in our family: my son and his girlfriend are nearing completion. My husband also wanted to join so we began our own quest together, took a breather in June-July while we moved, and finished in late August.

Our first day, I took the opportunity to also test recently installed albatross handle bars on my Clementine (keepers!). We visited 10 parks. Highlights included tiny Potvin Park with it's local art and colorful Adirondack chair, Quarry Natural Area with very vocal frogs, and Crescent Woods, a ravine type park - never knew this park existed!

Crescent Woods

Quarry Natural Area.

Quarry Natural Area frogs.

For a while, because I had the inclination to keep moving, I visited a few parks on my own. Thankfully, my husband found renewed interest in early August, as we rode together, revisiting places I had soloed. I was delighted to be pedaling together again, carrying on meaningful conversation that only cycling or outdoor exercise lends itself to.

Recently renovated Roundhouse Park.

Ledge Road Overlook, an odd underused space tucked between neighborhoods. I can't locate any historical info online.

Our last day was comprised of strategic planning to finish visiting the last 7 of 31 total city parks. From lake shore to hillside visits, to river bottom land, I was pretty tired later when we arrived home at dusk. Of special note, Ledge Road Overlook Park appeared to be an old homestead with remaining standing fireplace. A tucked away plot - maybe donated to the city once upon a time - but I cannot locate any information online. 

Now that this challenge is behind me, my husband asked me what my next goal is. Would I now ride to all Cochester's parks? Truth is, it seems I'm content with this limbo we've found ourselves in for the foreseeable future. Stasis in any other time could be a recipe for unhappiness -  I used to scheme vacations a year ahead. Now it feels okay to live in the present: I'm looking forward to a upcoming in-state adventure with my husband, to creating another bicycle bag, to refurbishing some furniture for our new home, all the while slowly looking for a new work position. And, before we know it, coffeeneuring will be upon us, so there's that outdoor adventure to look forward to.

It never ends...
And why oh why am I searching Craigslist, drawn to find a pink/purple Specialized Hardrock Ultra or a GT frame of the same era? I've certainly gravitated to step through bicycles, but on some level I miss the utility and lightness of my Trek Antelope, or is it because I want another bike to fix up to keep my unemployed self busier?