Monday, October 31, 2022

Coffeeneuring 2022 - Third Cup at Leddy Park Beach

Beach weather in October? You betcha!

Sometimes it's nice to bring a favorite mug.

Loop Rides

I can't believe this streak of mild weather two weeks in a row! I pedaled beneath a gorgeous canopy to Leddy Beach. I left the stove behind, due to windy weather. No problem! I brought a thermos of tea, a sandwich and an apple, relaxed in the warm sand, and watched kite boarder's riding waves. Afterward, I did an errand while looping homeward.

The Place: Leddy Park Beach
Date: Sunday, October 22
Drink: Tazo Passion Tea
Observation: Blustery, nice to sit on the warm sand.
Total Miles: 9

Friday, October 28, 2022

A Special Ride on the Northern Rail Trail in New Hampshire

I've tried new bike trails this autumn, from the Hudson Valley to Ottawa. While those were specific bike destinations, other times we find ourselves choosing trails tangentially, attending events that happen to have bikeable trails nearby, like earlier in June. It was the later situation that drew us to West Lebanon, New Hampshire for a day in early October. My husband needed surgery (he's fine) so while he was at his procedure, I planned to check out the Northern Rail Trail, if the weather was agreeable. 

I brought my Dahon, mainly because it could be safely stowed in our vehicle if walking proved a better option. While my husband was in the hospital, I easily accessed a connector trail right from the hospital lot that brought me to one end of the Northern Rail Trail.

I started out in light rain (with improving forecast) and was worried that my small wheels might be dangerous on leaf-covered asphalt, but I kept a straight line and avoided quick turns, which lent confidence. After 3 miles, the surface turned to gravel, a bit rough in spots, but doable with better traction.

I was grinning, of course, because the autumn colors were stunning! And the trail is nearly 60 miles long!

Mascoma Lake - what a sight to behold!

I was also experimenting with a Klickfix type bag and adapter secured to the handle post. So far so good on a less than ideal gravel with periodic larger stones, often hidden beneath leaves. No jostling!

Sturdy bridges provided river views.

At 12 miles I turned around, realizing the grade descended somewhat so I arrived at the starting point a faster than expected. I went the other direction, exploring the connector trail, to it's terminus then doubled back to the hospital to check on the patient.

My bike was filthy! It took several minutes of cleanup before stowing it in the car, but wholly worth the great adventure. Northern Rail Trail, I'll be back!

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Coffeeneuring 2022 - Second Cup at the Colchester Overlook

Almost peak foliage!

Our mountain bikes: left, my son's, his girlfriend's, and mine in fall colors.

A favorite local overlook, accessed by foot or mountain bike.

Loop Rides

This is my favorite time of year, so I get out as often as possible. We've had two weekends with unusually high temperatures, 60s+, so I've enjoyed the stove routine! Riding with family also, makes these outings special. We played around on the dirt trails, brewed tea, then I parted ways and rode more trails until returning home. As mentioned before, because of this local "playground" I bought a mountain bike in 2020.

While I initially thought challenging myself on unique loop rides was lame, I've since realized it suits me this year - as long as weekend weather is agreeable. On weeknights when it's dark, I stick to riding out and back on a rail trail. I'm looking forward to pedaling a wider radius from home.

The Place: Colchester Point Overlook
Date: Sunday, October 16
Drink: Ginger Tea
Observation: It's nice to ride with others who are tolerant of coffeeneuring
Total Miles: 10

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Slow Rolling with Adele - Ottawa During Peak Foliage

After a pandemic hiatus, Adele and I are back at our annual Canadian cycling adventure, this time we visited Ottawa! 

The hotel allowed us to bring our bikes inside our room.

Like our previous adventure during Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, the foliage was spot on. We based ourselves at a downtown hotel for 3 nights, 3 minutes from the Parliament building and the Ottawa River Trail.

This photo says it all about our 4 days of riding - color everywhere.

Ottawa is one of the few places in Canada where I encounter black squirrels. Coming from grey squirrel country, it's a highlight of my visits to Ottawa. Sensing my excitement, Adele would often shout, "black squirrel alert!"

Ottawa (Ontario) and Gatineau (Quebec), divided by the Ottawa River, is bike path heaven. One path links to the next plus the Victoria Bridge provides segregated pedestrian and bike path lanes for easy crossing.

I chose a few loops - no more than 31K or 20 miles. Easy to accomplish, sightsee along the way, plus Adele had been slowing down in recent years. It was the perfect mileage for laughing, backtracking because we took the wrong turn...
...Or to gawk at the explosion of autumn colors.

More black squirrels, of course. Or an amazing stone stacking display along the Ottawa River.

We couldn't go wrong with any route.

It wasn't all about cycling. We ate at a 5-course tasting menu restaurant, shared wine and dinner at an Italian restaurant, and burgers at a local brewpub-type place, all meticulously researched by Adele. Our typical symbiotic relationship with traveling: she picks out accommodation and foodie spots; I concentrate on where to pedal.

Of special note: we also went to see Leonard Cohen's movie, Hallelujah - wonderful, by the way. I had misgivings because the theater wasn't in the best part of town, but they made special accommodation to store bikes in the back of the theater.

Cycling in Gatineau Park had been on my must-see list. Beautiful colors, of course, and the cycling paths were hilly. We walked a couple hills, but generally the route was doable.

Purple asters were blooming everywhere, a highlight in Canada as well as in Vermont.

Last day, east of Ottawa as we left to travel home. We pedaled about 12 miles, a portion on the Prescott Russell Rail Trail, looping back on dirt roads, wine tasting at a vineyard. I'm always pedaling with bottles of wine in panniers on any adventure with Adele.

Interestingly, downtown Ottawa (capital of Canada) was eerily quiet. According to a local store owner, most government offices were closed during the pandemic and are slow to reopen. Though it also seemed to contradict the amount of construction going on almost everywhere - some of it vast like new highways, commuter rail lines, and multistory buildings. 

I know our adventurous cycle touring days are most likely over, but we've found a meaningful solution, basing ourselves in one place for fun exploration. We are still adventurous, whether that's eating, slow rolling, walking, or stopping to watch black squirrel antics.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Coffeeneuring 2022 - First Cup Riverside

A beautiful spot near the boat access ramp on the Winooski River.

First time using my new stove. Wow, boiled a cup in 2 minutes. A balmy 60F.

Ginger tea - only non-caffeinated tea in the pantry.

I rode my Rachel, initially to have the local shop refit a much loved old rack. 

They added an extension, that worked quite well. I'm pleased.

Loop Rides

This is my Tenth year of the Coffeeneuring Challenge! I'm dedicating this year's miles to loop rides because I normally ride an out and back route (at sunset these days), escaping the drudgery of a home office. I'm also using Strava to learn the app and more accurately record mileage.
I'm not feeling the love, sadly, this year for coffeeneuring. I have family obligations that are weighing on me, so we'll see how it goes. Here's hoping great weekend weather awaits! Maybe that and dedicated daylight loop rides can pull me out of a funk.

It's been years since I brought a stove and made tea/or coffee, but balmy weather made it easier.

The Place: Riverside at the Ethan Allen Homestead
Date: Saturday, October 15
Drink: Ginger Tea
Observation: Flocks of birds were singing!
Total Miles: 15

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Walkway Over the Hudson and the Empire State Trail

Pedaling the 1.25 mile Walkway Over the Hudson, a former train trestle spanning the Hudson River.

Inspired by the Empire State Trail system, I keyed in on the Walkway Over the Hudson portion and it's proximity to New Palz and FDR's Hyde Park Mansion, all sites I had wanted to visit. 

Interestingly, this Empire State Trail signboard represents the trails I explored by bike.

Initially, I intended to arrive by Amtrak, but the lengthy ride and train transfer in Albany, NY meant I'd miss an entire day of cycling on both ends of the journey. In addition, I planned to camp, but lack of central campgrounds and September's waning daylight upended that idea. I wisely drove the 4.5 hour travel time and stayed at a conveniently located hotel in Highland, NY for 3 nights so I'd feel safe and ideally pedal everywhere!

The first sighting of the Empire State Trail sign on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail.

The motel was located on a busy highway, but with Google Maps, I discovered two back roads, North Road and Upper Grand Road, that easily connected directly from the motel to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (a segment of the Empire State Trail). The route served me well for the remainder of my stay.

The first afternoon, I headed for the Walkway Over the Hudson. Oh my, what a spectacular spot! Very wide, very straight, very high. It would be a great place to view peak foliage.

The span is managed by the New York State park system and is the longest pedestrian walkway in the world. Both ends are linked to paved rail trail - halleluiah! - with entrances providing picnic tables, bath rooms, water fountain, and wonderful educational signs. Each end has access for parking, so walkers - I saw runners too - can easily experience the Walkway. It's free to enter and the park closes at 7 pm.

Because of it's straightness, rising slightly in the middle, I never had a view of it's structure. One would need to see it from a different angle - something I never did!

The afternoon lighting on the rounded landscape reminded me of the Hudson River School style of paintings - another attraction of the region.

Late afternoon I reversed direction and took the Hudson River Greenway into New Paltz and picked up groceries before heading back to the motel. Ms. Peugeot is tucked nicely into a corner, while I eat dinner and watch a movie on my tablet - much more comfortable than camping!

Coordinated attire, even lipstick, ha ha.

Heading back over the Walkway on the second day - twist my arm! - I exited the trail to head north a few miles to visit and the tour the FDR Mansion in Hyde Park.

Franklin and Annie.

I enjoy history, and after seeing Hyde Park on Hudson movie with my father years ago, we both wanted to visit Hyde Park. My father never got to see the mansion, but I did for both of us.

Franklin bequeathed his estate, which included extensive grounds, to the National Park Service. After touring the interior, what struck me the most was how the park service preserved everything - they estimate 97% is authentic. Well worth a visit if you find yourself in the region.

Crossing Dibble Road, the only snaky portion of the Dutchess Trail.

After returning back to the Dutchess Rail Trail, the eastern trail extension from the Walkway Over the Hudson, heading through Poughkeepsie and beyond, I was feeling pretty good and high 70's temperatures for late September encouraged me to continue.  

Interesting signage.

At 12 miles, Hopewell Junction was my target and turnaround point. Heading south from there, the Empire State Trail continues for another 100 miles (I think) ending at Battery Park in New York City, nearly all of it on rail trail. I met a father and son who live in the city and were heading to Albany. 

The station house and depot are well preserved!

I zipped back for several miles before restocking at a nearby grocery store, then having a second trailside lunch. By now, I felt like a seasoned bike traveler, consuming more than normal.

A jar of salsa works wonders on dinner sandwiches, with chips, and on breakfast tacos.

With a refrigerator in my motel room, dinner and breakfasts were grand affairs, not comfortable eating at restaurants quite yet, which suited me just fine. The skimpy motel breakfast, packaged sweets, were best for on the road snacks. I love a hearty egg-laced hot breakfast. My son had left behind a tiny waffle maker (in red) which cooked eggs perfectly! Add leftover coldcuts, avocado, and reheat with tortillas - yummy! I'm resourceful, to say the least - check out my plate, an egg carton top!

Interesting bridge on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail: elevated siding that had benches and potted plants plus angled floorboards.

A cold front with heavy rain moved through on the third morning. By noon, I was bored so I set off in light rain, knowing the weather would eventually clear to sunny skies. I pedaled west on the Hudson River Greenway, skirting downtown New Paltz, to where it intersected with the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail - another extension of the overall Empire State Trail.  

After an exhilarating ride high on a trestle, I retraced my steps to pedal along a reasonably busy, winding, paved road then turned south on the quieter Mohonk Road. The more I ride rail trails the more I dislike sharing roads with cars. 

An interesting building at the base of Lenape carriage road.

I decided to continue climbing on a very narrow, winding road that would crest the Mohonk Ridge in the Preserve, then hopefully descend a carriage road towards New Paltz. The road steepened considerably and I barely kept a pace, but realized I couldn't walk without a shoulder and traffic rounding the curves. My 1X gearing commuter bike did fine though, my flatlander legs tolerated the climb and eventually I crested the ridge and coasted into the guard station at the access road to the Mohonk Mountain House. As expected, I came unprepared, and unwilling to pay the $35 daily fee to see the spectacular resort and grounds (not on my agenda, but I was so close), but the guard kindly let me freely descend the Lenape carriage road.

The sun was shining by then and I smiled as I descended further into open fields, connected with the local River to Ridge Trail through open meadows, skirting farm fields, along a river to arrive on a pedestrian bridge smack in the middle of downtown New Paltz!

River to Ridge Trail

From the River to Ridge Trail looking back on the ridgeline that I had crossed.

River to Ridge Trail looking towards New Paltz.
I took a spin down historic Huguenot Street, full of interesting old stone structures then decided to brave the main street to get a flavor of New Paltz. As one resident described their community, "It's a little hippy trippy eclectic mix" which seemed appropriate. The Wallkill Valley Trail heading south also look interesting, but alas, so many rail trails, so little time! After 35+ miles, I briefly considered one last 6 mile diversion to the Walkway Over the Hudson for one last hurrah, but I was tired, satisfied I had had already completed an interesting route.

Rougher gravel on the  Delaware and Hudson rail trail, but doable.

The next morning I started heading home and stopped to relieve driving legs in southern Vermont on the Delaware and Hudson rail trail segment from Castleton to Poultney.

I'd always been curious, but figured the trail wasn't a destination in itself. The trail is little used, so much so, that I had a standoff with a deer before it eventually lunged off trail.

However, the brilliant sunshine and crisp fall day lent magic...

Two 9-10 mile Vermont segments are open to the public, but the middle portion in New York remains unrenovated.

And there were glimpses of farm fields and nearby slate quarries.

Poultney Slate Quarry.

Before returning to Castleton, I easily spotted Analog Cycles from the trail intersection in Poultney, so I had a chat, a look around and purchased a larger sized snack bag - my way of supporting their business for their thoughtful email correspondence last spring.

I got home just before dark.