Sunday, March 30, 2008

Walk - Vischer Ferry Preserve

The roads were still a little too wet from melting snow for biking, and any walk in the woods would have been sloppy and wet, so we went to the Vischer Ferry Preserve along the Mohawk River in Saratoga County. There's a stretch of old Erie Canal towpath downstream from the Lock 7 dam and power facility that's fairly scenic along the river, and also catches the sun from the south and wasn't too much of a mess. Leisurely hour-long stroll of a couple of miles on a nice afternoon.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

5k Run - Mohawk River Bike Path

While I was working, running was the exercise I did when there wasn't time for anything else. Winter saw sort of the same thing, when the snow was no good for skiing. And now, even though it's spring, we had 4" of snow over the past few days, and biking is out for a while, until things melt off and dry out. So I went for a run. There were still snowy patches on the bike path, but it was passable on foot and melting rapidly. Doing 5k wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, having not been running much, but I'll probably be sore tomorrow anyway. It was just nice to find out that I could still do it that easily, and I may do more of it, in addition to biking, once the weather improves.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Biking - Local Roads

Sunny and near 50 today, surprisingly, but with a miserable wind. Needed to get the Gitane out for a test ride after all the maintenance, so did the Kings/Old State/East Lydius loop, for 13.4 miles. Eastbound was great, with a 20-30 mph tailwind, but oh, the ride back! Rode in the drops in a low 40s gear all the way home. Fortunately, the drops on this bike put me lower down than the drops on the Trek (which I'll need to look into further), but it was still a struggle. The bike itself was smooth and quiet, and the only problem was that the uncomfortable Bontrager seat I'd swapped from the MTB (originally from the Trek) was not quite tight, and every bump I hit was changing the tilt angle. Once I got it right, it wasn't all that uncomfortable, so I tightened it when I got home, and hopefully next time will be better.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Biking - Mohawk River Bike Path and Beyond

Another nice day, possibly the last for a while, so I went for another ride. I considered US20 to Duanesburg, returning via NY7 for a 30-mile hilly day. I also considered NY5S to Amsterdam returning via NY5, for a flat 33-mile river loop from SCCC, several miles longer from home. Ultimately, I decided to ride from home, not use the car, and do a shorter river loop with some add-ons.

Biked down Crane Street to Broadway to Edison to Erie to Washington, and thence to SCCC and the bike path. Rode out tot he railway dead end in Rotterdam Junction, then back to 5S and the outer section of the bike path. Returned via 5S to 103, crossed the river to 5, and turned on Vley Road to make a stop at Adirondack Bicycle. Bill will order me a bell that should fit the Trek 520's larger handlebars. Asked him about my Shimano chain issue. Turns out there's a replacement pin available to be used when breaking the chain for cleaning. It's slightly bigger and fits snugly in the larger hole made in the outer plate when the old pin is removed. Failure to do this could eventually lead to the chain breaking at an inopportune moment, as the smaller original pin slips out of the new larger hole. Will need to inspect the chain carefully, and see what I turn up.

Cut back via side streets through Scotia to NY5, and returned through Schenectady up State Street to Brandywine, without incident. During the time I was out, a stiff easterly breeze had come up, making the return home on NY5 a bit more challenging. But I covered 26.8 miles in 2 hours flat, so not a bad ride.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Biking - Local Roads

Sunny, 40ish, and relatively calm - good day for a ride. Kings/Old State/Siver/Willow/Foundry, then up Grant Hill to Ostrander/146/French's Hollow/Fuller Station. Grant Hill was easier than I expected, though I probably used lower gears than I would later in the season. When I got to US20, I didn't feel like I was ready to quit yet, so I headed west to NY158 and came back County Line to West Lydius to Hamburg and home. Just under 23 miles total, and I felt pretty good. The seat was comfortable, my legs were strong, and it was just nice to be out there for a while. I could tell that was about enough, though, when my legs complained a bit climbing the short uphill over the bridge on Hamburg as I got close to home.

Meanwhile, the Gitane now has new cables all around, the wheels are mounted and trued, the chain is cleaned, and about the only thing left is to wipe off last year's grit and lube the chain. Need to get it out for a 15-ish test ride sometime this week, weather permitting.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Walk - Mohawk River Bike Path

I'd hoped I might get in a bike ride today, but it turned out cold and very windy, so I bagged that idea. Didn't feel like running either, so decided on another walk to check out the rideability of the bike path toward the west. Started at the Rice Road parking area, and went out beyond the Thruway Exit 26 ramp, and found the entire length now clear of snow and ice. There was a good bit of gravelly pebbly debris from the winter, but no longer any reason not to ride. That opens up the usual river loops of 15 and 33 miles, mostly flat, that are so good early in the season. Walked about 4 miles, passing though the old Erie Canal Lock 23 chamber on the way back.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Geocaching - Colonie

Sunny and fairly calm day today after some rains and high winds, so we went looking for some more geocaches. The first two, a 3-part multi and a single, were in a local park that consists mostly of athletic fields, surrounded by woods. The third was another multi in a small local nature preserve. For once, we found all of them, the first time in quite a while. That was a total of 6 hidden containers for the day, and probably a mile or two of walking.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hiking - Sugarloaf Mt.

Sugarloaf, at 3800 feet, is the 13th highest peak in New York's Catskills. Some friends have been winter peak-bagging in the Catskills, and were going today, so I tagged along, having already climbed it 3 other times. Conditions varied from icy to a few inches of new snow on a deep firm base, so the choice of footwear varied all day. I went from instep crampons to snowshoes to full-boot crampons and back to instep crampons before we were through. It pays to be prepared.

We walked without snowshoes up to Pecoy Notch, between Sugarloaf and its neighbor Twin, then set off steeply up Sugarloaf from the notch. I snapped this first shot on the way up, showing Twin Mountain and its cliffs across the notch.

We continued climbing steeply, with snowshoes now, zigzagging up through various icy cracks between large boulders and small cliffs. The view from Sugarloaf is just west of the summit, so we continued over the summit and stopped for lunch at the overlook. It was about 25 and breezy here, so we didn't tarry long.

When we reached the top of the steep section on our descent, we switched to full-boot crampons for added safety on the ice hidden beneath the snow. This section went slowly, but safely, and we found our way back to the notch. On the way down the Pecoy Notch Trail back to the car, we stopped at an old stone quarry where various people, both hikers and locals, had constructed a group of large stone chairs that overlooked the valley below and Kaaterskill High Peak beyond.

Overall, the trip was about 6.6 miles, with about 1900 feet of elevation gain. Even with a 90-minute drive each way, we made it home well in time for dinner.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Biking - Local Roads

Today was sunny and cool - only about 40 - and a little breezy, but it's bike season, the roads are dry, and it's time to take advantage of days like this. I rode the 16-mile Kings/Old State/West Lydius loop again, since options from my driveway are somewhat limited. With a fairly strenuous hike coming up tomorrow, I decided NOT to challenge Grant Hill Road and that 20-mile trip today, though I was tempted, and need to do that soon.

The bike was almost flawless today, with the exception of the same minor tweak needed to the rear indexing. It's only off by a hair, and fixing it would require reconnecting the cable a little less tight to allow further adjustment, so I'm going to let it go for now. The chain problem is now gone, since I removed the offending link altogether. The shorter chain length won't matter, since I downsized the chainrings last year, and the chain probably should have been shortened anyway.

Touched up some paint on the Gitane yesterday, and replaced both brake cables today, so I'm slowly picking away at it. Next I need to replace both derailleur cables, retape the handlebars, and clean it up a bit. That will be good enough for this year.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Snowshoeing - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

I have another ADK moonlight snowshoe trip tentatively scheduled for this week, so I needed to do a pre-trip scouting trip to see if there was still enough snow to let it happen.

What I found was about 8" of fairly crusty snow, with numerous washouts, lots of debris, and even a few dicey non-bridged water crossings. Those weren't bad in daylight, but I'm not sure I'd want to lead a bunch of novices through them in the dark. I also broke through the crust into puddles several times. I walked the main ski loop in about an hour, ending by following a curious unofficial "trail" marked by purple duct tape, which led directly back to the parking spot on Tidball Road.

I think I'm going to call this week's moonlight trip a no-go. Featherstonehaugh is beginning to take on its non-winter messy wet personality. Spring is here, and it's time to move on.

Friday, March 14, 2008

XC Skiing - Londonderry, VT

2-day trip Thurs/Fri. Stayed at the Landgrove Inn, in southern Vermont. Though there was virtually no snow at all in Manchester at lower elevations, there was still several feet on the ground in this area. Windows were nearly hidden on many houses by snow that had slid off roofs.

On Thursday, we skied for almost 3 hours at Viking Nordic Center in nearby Londonderry. Temps were above freezing, and there was about 2-3" of new snow on top of a VERY firm and crunchy base. Snow temperature and speed varied widely when passing from sun to shade to sun, leading to some interesting contortions trying to remain upright on the steeper downhills.

Snowshoed for about an hour in the woods behind the Inn on Friday morning, then paid our annual visit to the Vermont Country Store in Weston before driving home.

I would have had some pictures, but the batteries I put in the camera before leaving home turned out to be dead.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Biking - Local Roads

I think I've had enough XC skiing. I'm ready for biking season. Today was in the mid-30s and sunny, and I passed up an opportunity for some good skiing to get out the bike instead. That about says it all.

Took out the Trek 520 for the first time since I finished its winter maintenance. Noticed a few minor indexing adjustments that might be needed, but otherwise, everything seemed very smooth and quiet. At least for the first 8 miles or so. Then I started hearing a clunk every few pedal revolutions. It had to be one of two things - either I needed to snug the right crank on tighter, since I'd had it off; or the chain link that I had trouble with when breaking it for cleaning wasn't back together quite right. Those were the only two areas where I had done anything that could have possibly caused it. The noise was still there after tightening the crank, so I just continued home, doing a total of 16.1 miles on the Kings/Old State/West Lydius loop. It felt good, and the difference between this bike and the old MTB I'd been riding was extremely obvious.

After I got home, I put the bike on the trainer and reproduced the noise. It's a bad chain link alright. The one I separated and reattached is not quite straight, and the inner surface and rivet ride up on the rear sprocket when under load, causing the periodic clunk. I'll try to straighten it, but may need to spring for a new chain.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Another walk - Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path

A slower-paced walk today on a different section of the bike path, in Niskayuna this time. We walked from Lions Park to the Niska Isle bridge and back, about 45 minutes. Niskayuna plows this section of the path in winter, so it was clear and dry. Every so often we'd hear the sound of a plate of ice dropping from a reed or tree, from the high water point of yesterday where it was stranded back down to the frozen surface of today. Looks like the river is down a couple of feet from its crest early yesterday.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Walk - Mohawk River Bike Path

After back-to-back 3" rainstorms, rivers are running high, and the Mohawk is no exception.

Sunny day with temps in the 30s, and I wanted to see the river, so I decided to walk along the bike path. An ulterior motive was to see just what condition the bike path was in, as in rideable or not.

Parked at Schenectady County Community College, and headed west, not knowing for sure just how far I'd go. Finally settled on going to Lock 8, about 2.7 miles away. Strong west wind in my face, and numerous snowy/icy stretches to negotiate, so that question was answered. Not quite ready for bicycles yet. Reached the lock, and noted that the water was at least 5' higher during the June 2006 flooding (on right), actually rolling over the lock doors. Today, it was almost up to the bollards along the wall where boats ties up while waiting to pass through the lock.

On the way back, I walked along the road for a ways to avoid some of the ice. I covered the 5.4 or so miles in under an hour and a half, including the icy patches, pushing a pace of almost 4 mph, so this was a brisk walk and a good workout.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Biking - local roads

Partly sunny and upper 40s today, which called for another ride. Figured out a mostly residential 7-mile loop around Coldbrook and Carman, and set off on the mountain bike again. Not much to add to that, except to say I realized how easy it would be for me to run errands and get to almost anything in the immediate area, including the Altamont Avenue strip, using all back roads. Spent about 35 minutes riding the loop. Let it rain...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Local walk and bike

Took a 45-minute walk in Schenectady's Central Park this morning, including the Amy LeMaire Woods loop. After 2" of rain and lots of snowmelt yesterday, we thought it would be too wet anywhere else, and that this seemed like a safe idea. This afternoon, I got out the old mountain bike and took a roundabout 6+ mile loop to pick up a few groceries. Temps in the mid-40s today, and possibly even higher tomorrow, then more heavy rains. Argggghhh.......

Monday, March 3, 2008

XC Skiing - Camp Saratoga

Camp Saratoga is a former Boy Scout camp, now part of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, just a few exits up the Northway. It has 4+ miles of groomed cross-country trails, and just got about a foot of new snow late last week. Today was sunny and mid-40s, and just begged for some skiing. Conditions were kinda soft, mushy, and slow, but the grooming was excellent, as was the weather. Skied all of the available trails in under 90 minutes, but it took more effort than it would have on a colder day. Now we're expecting rain and mixed crap for the next two days, so it's hard to know when the next skiing will be.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

XC Skiing - Featherstonehaugh State Forest

After another snowstorm that didn't quite materialize in the city, leaving a mere 3", we headed for the hills again, and found more snow there. The loop on the south side of Lake Road had only been skied by one skier, and the snow was heavy and dense, so it was almost still like breaking trail. Once we crossed the road and got to the main loop, things were much better, and we met several other skiers as we spent an hour going around it. This was the first skiing this year that resembled backcountry skiing, with lots of little dips and turns, and opportunities for quick step turns to keep moving. Temps were dropping as we finished after about 2 hours total, and things were getting a little crunchy. One more day before the big thaw, and possibly even some rain. Bummer.