Thursday, July 30, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

After a longer ride earlier today, I wasn't interested in the 20+ mile offerings on tonight's SWC ride with lots of hills. And the 10-mile alternative was just too short. So a few of us made up our own 15-20 mile ride, mostly gently rolling or flat. We rolled along at a good pace, but never really worked very hard, and that was the right choice for tonight. Overall, I had about a 60-mile day, and that's been a long time.

Biking - Long River Loop and Lunch

Despite riding 30 miles yesterday, and there being an SWC ride this evening, I wasn't going to waste the first nice (aka "dry") day we've had in what seems like weeks. So I decided to get in a little longer saddle time, do an easy ride, and get some lunch at Karen's Produce and Ice Cream, near Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site on the Erie Canalway Trail. I did this ride back in April, and again in May, but it had been a while and it seemed to fit what I was looking for.

Starting at Schenectady County Community College, the round trip is 43-44 miles, nearly all flat. What I didn't realize was that there was a strong west headwind all the way to my destination. It was a bit of a struggle at times, but knowing the ride home would be like sailing made it all palatable. After a great pulled pork sandwich and lemonade at Karen's, I turned around and headed back east. It was much easier riding now, and I decided to make it even easier by crossing over to NY5 in Amsterdam and cruising home that way. NY5 is wide open to the wind and has good shoulders, and I was cranking 20mph or better much of the way back to Schenectady, with very little effort. All told, I put in about 43 miles, and will likely add another 15-20 this evening, if the legs last that long.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Biking - Another Wet Day Ahead

With the amount of rain we've been getting, both actual and threatened, it's become apparent that the best time to get out for a ride is in the mornings before the storms develop. And now that I'm no longer held captive every morning by the live Tour de France coverage, it was time to put that thought into action. It's a miserably humid day, but the other advantage of mornings is cooler temperatures. So I started out on my usual 20-mile circuit, fully expecting to add on as I went along if the weather held off. When all was said and done, I had covered slightly over 30 miles, but with under 500 feet of climbing. This was an excellent route, right from my driveway, and I will definitely use it again.

As long as I was moving, the breeze was quite comfortable, but not so when I stopped, with temps by then well over 80, with extreme humidity. Should be an interesting afternoon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canoeing - Henderson Lake

For several years now, Holly and I have talked about paddling on Henderson Lake, in the heart of the Adirondack High Peaks Wilderness. The views from the water were said to be stupendous, and we wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. With daily rain scuttling any camping plans, we decided to give this a try today as a day trip, since it was only about 2 hours from home.

From the parking area at the end of the Upper Works Road, it was only about a 0.3-0.4 mile carry on a gentle gravel road to the put-in on the eastern side of the lake. The views from the lake did not disappoint. The best views were from the northern end, where the cliffs of Wallface Mountain (3727') towered in the distance.

We had paddled north along the eastern shore and its rocky cliffs, so crossed over and paddled south along the western shore. As we distanced ourselves from Wallface, the views opened up to include a much wider panorama. McNaughton Mountain (4000') is on the left, Wallface in the middle, and the McIntyre Range on the right.

Continuing further south gave us a peek at Mount Colden (4714') to the east, through a gap in the terrain.

Always on the lookout for a sandy beach, we found one on a small promontory south of the put-in. Holly went in for a dip while I sat on a rock and watched a pair of loons. That's McNaughton Mountain (4000') in the background.

This a beautiful lake, it's not far from home, it's an easy carry, and there are at least 4 designated campsites at present, with more to be added in the future. I expect we'll be doing this one again sometime.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Golf - Whispering Pines GC

It's another warm sticky day, and more storms are expected this afternoon (what else is new?), so I headed to Whispering Pines early for some practice with irons and my short game. I just never seemed to get it going today, with errant tee shots, fluffed pitches, etc, etc. But finally, my putting on these greens was better than usual (but see below), and mostly my short game was also pretty good. I saved par or bogey many times after multiple bad tee shots.


  • 8 pars, 5 bogeys
  • Chipping saved the day over and over again
  • Finally got the feel of these greens
  • 4-putted #18 from 18" away (!!) for a closing 6
  • One other 3-putt
  • 4 double bogeys
  • Only 4 greens in regulation, and this course is mostly par 3s
  • Humidity and mosquitoes

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Biking - Before the Rain - Yet Again!

Today was looking like it would be an all-day soaking rain, so I relegated myself to getting some indoor things done and watching the closing stage of the Tour de France. By 4pm, I was all caught up, and the promised t-storms were still a long ways off. So I got on the bike and cranked out another 20 miles, using the same relatively flat/rolling loop as the past few times out.

The way this weather is going, I don't know when I'll get a day to put in some more serious miles.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Canoeing - Kayaderosseras Creek

The Kayaderosseras (pronounced KAY-der-ross) Creek winds its way down from northern Saratoga County, passes though the Village of Ballston Spa, and eventually empties into Saratoga Lake. The lower reaches, below Ballston Spa, are mostly canoe-able, with some shallow spots and the occasional clog to portage around. Today, Holly and I paddled from the launch site at Gray's Crossing to a take-out at Driscoll Road. This map (see page 2) shows the creek and our route, about 3 miles, all downstream.

After some initial coordination issues, and making the transition from our usual pond paddling to moving water, we did OK and spent a couple of hours heading down the stream. We had left a car at Driscoll Road to get us back to Gray's Crossing, so there would be no upstream paddling today. That was a good thing, since there were a couple of quick spots. We also had to carry around one 50-foot section where fallen trees had collected all sorts of urban detritus, making the channel impassable.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Biking - Before the Rain (again)

I haven't been riding nearly enough lately, and the Tour de France is partially to blame. I've been glued to the live coverage most mornings and not getting out and doing any riding. Today was a meaningless stage in the overall scheme of things, and with rain expected later, I opted to ride instead of watch.

I made up the route as I went along, but did a clockwise loop that generally included Grant Hill Road, Voorheesville, Indian Ladder Farms for a pastry, Altamont, and then home through a new roundabout that I'll be getting VERY familiar with. It was a little over 34 miles with 700+ feet of climbing, so not a bad route.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Biking - Saratoga Battlefield

Holly's bike group was riding at Saratoga National Historic Park today, and given that the entire week after today looks wet, I decided to tag along. Knowing that I was missing a critical stage 17 of the Tour De France, I subscribed to a Twitter feed (@TdFblog)and sent it to my phone. During the ride, I kept getting text messages at ridiculously frequent intervals letting me know the status of the race. Kinda cool!

The ride itself was easy enough, despite riding the old 10-speed. The hills are relatively minor, and I had no trouble, even having gears to spare on that bike.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Golf - Hillcrest GC

Every Monday at Hillcrest is "rollback day", $12 instead of the usual $16. Today when I got there, it was obvious something was up, with many cars, and lots of golfers milling around the parking lot. It was suggested that I tee off ASAP and get ahead of this group outing, due to tee off in a half hour or so. Good plan.

Coming off the second green, I noticed golf carts scattering all over the course. Somebody had decided on a "shotgun start", where each foursome goes to a different tee and plays 9 holes from there. It makes the whole thing go a lot faster for the group, but now here I was, caught in the middle of it, and nobody had bothered to let me know it would be happening. Kinda pissed me off.

The foursome on #3 tee let me hit first to the empty hole ahead, and then a golf course guy told me to go play 7-8-9 from there, and come back to 4-5-6 after that. So away I went to 3 more empty holes. When I came back to #4, I had to continually wait for the obvious non-golfers ahead as I continued through #6 and finished my 9. For my trouble, the course gave me a card for a free 9 next time I play there. Not bad.

At least I had a decent round, even bogeys for a 46 (2 pars, 2 double bogeys, 5 bogeys)


  • Driving well with a 3-wood, straight and free from trouble
  • Putting was excellent with only 14 putts and a few longer ones dropped
  • Short game was good, with a couple of nice scrambles
  • Finished with 2 pars
  • The "shotgun" mess
  • 2 double bogeys
  • 1 3-putt
On the way home, I stopped in at Briar Creek GC, just down the road. It's 18 holes, but they have a 9-hole rate ($16), and it might be more interesting than Hillcrest. I seem to be playing well enough now to take on something a little less like an open field.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Biking - Easy Relaxed 20

After watching the first Alps stage of the Tour de France with old man biker Lance Armstrong, and then watching fellow old man golfer Tom Watson almost win the British Open, the day was pretty well shot. It was a nice day, and I had to get off the sofa and get out and do something. So I got on the bike and cranked out another 20 miles, mostly on relatively flat roads around home. For the first time in awhile, I made a conscious effort to ride in relaxed (touring) mode - shift early and often, coast when you can, and try to use as little energy as possible. That certainly hasn't been the case the past few times out, and I need to get back to that mode and take on some longer rides.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Canoeing, Camping, Loon Census - Sand Lake

Every year, the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation conducts a census of common loons on numerous Adirondack Lakes. The census takers are all volunteers, and Holly and I have adopted Sand Lake, in Arietta, NY, as the lake that we visit each year. Everyone on every lake counts loons between 8am and 9am on the same July Saturday, and the results are sent in and tabulated. This morning was the second or third time we've participated.

Normally, the plan is to drive up the night before, carry canoe and gear the .5 mile to the lake, paddle across to a campsite, set up, have dinner, and go to sleep. Then we wake up in the morning, have breakfast, count loons from 8 to 9, pack up, and paddle/hike/drive home. Yesterday when we arrived at the trailhead, the forecast rain had already arrived, and showed no signs of stopping. So we did the sensible thing and set up the tent on a designated legal campsite at the trailhead parking area, had dinner, and settled in for a long wet night.

This morning, we carried only the canoe and paddling necessities to the lake and put in just before 8am. After the rain overnight, it was a sloppy muddy trek. We were rewarded by seeing 2 loons, both adults and presumably a pair, and they regaled us with their wonderful call.

The rain had stopped, and after paddling most of the lake, we headed back out and home to dry everything out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

After an extremely heavy thunderstorm, with 1" hail, high winds, frequent lightning, and one hell of a downpour, the skies cleared in time for tonight's SWC ride. Fearing flooded roads, I took the most heavily travelled, and highest, route to Colonie Town Park in Latham. As I headed east on NY7, there was a double rainbow ahead of me, with occasional lightning below it in the distance. Pretty cool.

Given the amount of rain we got and many reports of flooded roads, we decided to stick to the bike path going west toward Niskayuna, and turn around at some undetermined point to go back. I rode with Holly for the first 5 miles, and then she turned around. Meanwhile, the rest of the group had surged ahead. It took me 4+ miles at 17-18mph to catch them, at the top of the Blatnick Park hill, where we all turned around.

On the way back, at one point I put the hammer down and got a brief jump at 23-24mph. I rode alone for a while, until a much younger rider caught and passed me, and I hung on her wheel for a ways at 18-19mph. It was a pretty intense ride. Then, I hit the gas again a few miles from the end, and finished alone. I just wanted to see if I could pull away, and it was kinda fun, riding hard on my heavy-duty touring bike. All told, I got 18+ miles in, and that puts me at 1,200 for the season. Not bad for an old guy on his 58th birthday, and I'm actually a few miles ahead of last year's pace.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hiking - Nun-da-ga-o Ridge

The Nun-da-ga-o Ridge, formerly known as the "Soda Range", lies just east of the village of Keene, NY, and just west of the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. The "trail" is unmarked and unmaintained, but is easy to follow, and provides nearly continuous views from open rocks back toward the High Peaks.

Holly and I hiked the 6-mile loop in the clockwise direction starting at the "P" shown above. The unmarked ridge path begins a short distance up the shoulder of Big Crow Mountain, which we did not climb. Almost immediately, we savored our first views, a wide-open look back at Cascade and Pitchoff Mountains to the west.

The views continued as we worked our way up and down rock outcroppings and progressed eastward along the ridge. This shot shows Big Crow in the immediate foreground, and the ridge we've followed to the right. And always the High Peaks, in nearly every view.

A little further along, we caught a nice view toward the towering Jay Range to the east. That's another untrailed gem we've been meaning to explore.

After several hours, we reached the summit of Weston Mountain, the highest point on this ridge at just under 3000'. The views were about the same, except they now included little Lost Pond, high on the ridge below.

After a well-earned break, we descended the half-mile to Lost Pond, and got a nice view of Hurricane Mountain and its fire tower across the pond.

Continuing to the south end of the pond, we could now see Weston rising above us in the distance. It didn't look very high, because the pond is still high on the ridge, and we had a good deal of descent left to do.

Leaving the pond, we headed down along its outlet to the junction with the trail to Hurricane, which starts from the same parking area. From here, it was an easy walk out on a very good trail. On the way home, we made the traditional stop at the Noonmark Diner for ice cream.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Biking - MHCC Tuesday Night Ride

It was a nice evening for the weekly MHCC Tuesday casual ride, this time again from nearby Guilderland.

A faster group broke away very near the start, and I got trapped in the main pack for too long to be interested in trying to reel them in. Too much energy too early. So I just bided my time until we reached the first minor hills on Becker Road and Dunnsville Road, heading toward Altamont. I was first over the top, and never looked back, until I stopped to wait at French's Hollow, at about 1.5 miles from the finish. It was a strong ride on a relatively flat route.

Biking, Yard Work, and Mini-Golf

Holly needed some help with things around the yard, so I threw the old mountain bike in the car and headed up to her house. After about an hour of spreading topsoil and mulch, we biked over to the nearby mini-golf course, about 4 miles each way, and got in a round, followed, as always, by ice cream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Golf - Hillcrest GC

It's another nice Monday, which is the best golf day to avoid leagues, and even to get a discount at Hillcrest. I headed out early, and was surprised to find 8-10 cars already in the parking lot, very unusual for this course. I wound up doubling with Don, who was riding in a cart driven by his granddaughter Nicole. It was a good round, my best ever at Hillcrest, a 45 (par 37).


  • dropped a 20-foot putt from off the fringe for par on #2
  • 4 pars, 2 bogeys
  • short irons were dead on, thanks to lots of practice at Whispering Pines
  • short game was also very good
  • 2 3-putts
  • 3 double bogeys
  • treated a 1-footer as a tap-in and missed
On the 9th tee, I tried Don's driver, one of the very large lightweight modern ones, with a huge sweet spot. I hit it about 280 yards, dead straight, just 30 yards from the green. On the way home, I realized that my clubs (really made of wood!) are approaching 25-30 years old - it may be time to see what's out there at a reasonable price if I'm going to keep playing this game. Apparently, the newer clubs are said to be much easier and more forgiving to hit with.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Biking - Before the Deluge

With Holly's family picnic this afternoon, and big thunderstorms also looming later, I snuck in an early 20-miler this morning. Starting from my driveway, I did a variation on the Kings/Old State loop, throwing in a bit of US20 and NY158 to bump up the mileage. It was a windy morning, but it didn't seem to matter. It just felt good to be out on the bike. Morning rides are the best!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

The SWC ride tonight was a 19-miler up in the Rotterdam hills, beginning with a 6-mile climb of some 900 feet. Here's a link to the ride route and profile.

After yesterday's 42 miles, my legs were a little less than 100%, and the climb seemed tougher than usual, as I do this ride several times every year. But the great thing about this ride is the next 10-mile rolling downhill from the top of the climb. Ordinarily, I'd be coasting most of this stretch, but tonight I felt compelled, for some reason, to pedal hard and enjoy the speed. I hit 40mph at one point coming down Currybush Road in a tuck, and it felt good.

The worst thing about this ride is the final 2 miles, and especially the final half-mile, which features a nasty little climb, with a short stretch that approaches 20%, according to Nobody needed that at the end of this ride, but since it led to the awaiting beer and pizza, we all gritted our teeth and grunted up it, now at a scant 4mph. I was pretty much spent when I reached the car.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Biking - MHCC Half-Century Route...

...or so we thought. With more rotten weather the past few days, and today looking promising, I wanted to get in a big ride. SWC friend Judy and I had once talked about riding the route of last year's MHCC half-century (50 miles), so I got in touch and we set it up. The weather looked like rain gear would be prudent, so I promptly forgot to pack mine, but we set off for the ride anyway.

Before we got too far, we realized that we were not riding the 50-mile route, but a loop that formed part of the 100-mile ride. This loop still came out to about 53 miles, so no big deal. We detoured once from that route because of fresh paving, and again for a nice lunch stop at the store in Galway, and then continued on. The store gladly supplied me with a free trash bag as emergency rain gear, which I hoped I wouldn't need.

Shortly thereafter, around 25 miles, we got the first drops of rain. By 30 miles, it was coming down harder, and we pulled into the refuge of a ubiquitous Stewart's Shop in Middle Grove to wait it out. Things improved shortly, and we decided to skip an additional stop at the Town of Greenfield Park very nearby. Just as we passed the park entrance, KABOOM! A thunderstorm had crept up from behind, and we scurried back to the picnic pavilion just as the skies opened up. Heavy rain, lightning, and gusty winds followed, and we crafted arm and head holes in the trash bag so I could cover up. Much hilarity ensued, as you can imagine from the shots below. (thanks to Judy's cell phone)

"How am I going to ride in this thing?"

"I know - I'll tie the extra up into a knot...oops!"

Once the rain stopped and skies cleared, we headed back to the cars by the most direct route, rather than try to finish the original loop. More storms were around, but we finished up mostly dry, without having to actually ride wearing "the bag". Overall, we covered a little over 42 miles, so it was a good day's ride anyway.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Golf - Whispering Pines GC

No golf last week with the rotten weather, so today I headed back to Whispering Pines, scene of a really good previous round two weeks back. But today it was not to be. All told, I was hitting it pretty well. Even the long irons were going straight and true, but I did fluff several other shots off the tee. The real problem was putting. These greens are fast and rolling, a tough combination. My long putts generally left me with the next one makeable, but the short ones killed me, with at least 5 of them lipping out. Score was 38/33/71, five worse than last time out. Par is 55.


  • 9 greens in regulation
  • 6 pars
  • Short game and long putts fairly accurate
  • All shots went relatively straight, even if short
  • 5 lip-outs on short putts
  • 5 3-putts and 41 total putts
  • Two double bogeys and one triple bogey
  • Several tee shots hit fat/fluffy

Friday, July 3, 2009

Biking - Grant Hill Loop

It's been a week of rotten weather - thunderstorms, deluges, high winds, street flooding - and I've been doing next to nothing since Monday's ride. More of the same is due later today, but the morning dawned partly sunny, and no radar blips were headed this way for a while, so I headed out for a ride. The Grant Hill Road climb and loop is one of my favorites, 20-25 miles right from my door, so away I went.

With 4-5" of rain this week, the Normanskill was running very high, brown, and muddy as I crossed it before starting the main climb. But the view from French's Hollow was even more impressive. Water was cascading over the dam that forms Watervliet Reservoir, and the water churned beneath the bridge and over the rock ledges downstream. No room for local teens to be sunning on the rocks today!

By now, the sky was growing steadily darker, so I opted for the short version of the ride and hightailed it toward home. The first drops were falling as I finished the last mile, but now the sun is out again, only to heat things up for the afternoon show.