Friday, April 29, 2011

Biking - Scouting an SWC Route

Next week, Holly is hosting the first Schenectady Wintersports Club (SWC) bike ride of the 2011 season, starting at her house in Burnt Hills. There are always three possible routes available, and every year before the ride, we like to look them over in terms of road conditions, possible construction/closures, and that sort of thing. So today, with a sunny morning and showery afternoon expected, we biked the easiest and shortest of the three routes, an 11.5 mile loop. A pesky west and northwest wind greeted us on those two legs, and then helped us as we headed for home. The sky was clouding over, the temperature dropping, and yet another afternoon may be pretty useless, but at least we got the morning ride in.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Disc Golf - A Rain-delayed Round

Today dawned cool and rainy, with no promise of things getting any better. But keeping an eye on the weather radar encouraged me to try to sneak in a round of disc golf in Central Park, since the day would not likely be good for anything else outdoors. It looked like there was a break in the rain for an hour or two, so I set off for the park and started throwing.

After 11 holes, I was having a very good round, and that's when the rains came. Any serious real golfer carries an umbrella, but I hadn't thought of that today. Since I was near the car, I bailed out temporarily, hoping this would be a short interruption. It wasn't. So I headed off to do a few other errands, stopped home to check the radar again, and picked up an umbrella. There was no way I was going to throw away the round I had going, and it looked like another break in the rain was imminent, so it was back to the park. I finished the round in a light drizzle in about 20 minutes, just in time for the resumption of the real rain.

Not a great day to be outside, but better than not being outside, and on top of that, it was my best round yet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Biking - Four towns ride

Today was the first nice morning in quite a while, 55 and sunny with very little wind. It finally felt like spring!

I managed to squeeze in a fairly easy flat/rolling 31-mile ride, taking in parts of Rotterdam, Colonie, Guilderland, and Princetown, before Easter dinner. It was a good time to ride, because there's rain coming in later this afternoon. Warmer weather is on tap for the coming week, but also scattered showers and t'storms, so riding will be catch-as-catch-can. Lots of catching up to do after a fairly dismal early spring.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hiking - Overlook Mountain (Catskills)

We've had a long string of one-nice-day-only weeks lately, and we've been trying to get out hiking when the weather is good. Today we hiked up Overlook Mountain, a 5-mile round trip up the old road to the summit and its restored fire tower. It's not a steep climb, but it is pretty relentless, with few flat areas to take a break. There were a lot of people out today doing the same thing, including two guys who kept passing us, walking up and running down. One was doing the mountain FIVE TIMES today, and the other only three. Made us feel kinda wimpy.

After two miles, we reached the ghostly ruins of the Overlook Mountain House. This was the fourth attempt to make a go of a summit hotel, the previous three having burned before 1900. This one was started in 1928, but never completed, and only the concrete shells of the hotel and other buildings remain. This would be a great place for a full moon or Halloween hike.

After another half mile, we were close to the summit and its fire tower.

We had a pleasant lunch at one of the several picnic tables on the park-like summit before climbing the tower. The cab of the tower wasn't open, but there were fine views from the stairway landings, especially of the Devil's Path peaks to the north.

The walk down was somewhat faster, but still fighting gravity all the way, albeit in the opposite direction. Somehow, it seemed to be a little steeper than it was 12 years ago when we were last here...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Disc Golf - Schenectady Central Park

Brisk and windy with spits of rain and snow. Worst round ever. Maybe it was the wind. Yeah, that's it, I'll blame the wind. And those stupid trees that kept jumping out and getting in the way. There ought to be a rule against that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Disc Golf - Schenectady Central Park

Another damp-ish dreary cool day, with rain coming in later. Not a good day for much of anything. I managed to squeeze in a quick round of disc golf this morning, which also amounts to about a mile of walking, so not a total loss. Like in real golf, there's always at least one hole that messes up a round, and today was no exception, except there were a few more than one. At least the overall trend seems to be somewhat in the right direction: 81-83-77-78 (par is only 57, so still a long way to go)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Biking - Same old river loop

It looked like this afternoon would be fairly nice, sunny and 50s. So after Stop 3 on my current "Bike the USA" speaking tour this morning, I grabbed a quick lunch and got ready to ride.

Somehow, over the weekend, I had inexplicably messed up a knee doing some very light yard work, and limped around ever since. So this would have to be an easy ride until I saw how things went. That usually means a flat loop ride along the Mohawk, so that's what I did. The newly de-littered (thanks to all!) Rotterdam section of the Mohawk River Bikeway had lots of walkers on this afternoon of school vacation week, it was windier than I had anticipated, clouds were moving in, and it was a bit cool and dreary, so I didn't do any of the usual add-ons. I just crossed the river at Lock 9 and headed back to Schenectady.

The good news is that the formerly bum knee seems magically cured! Now if the weather would just improve - where is spring anyway?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Disc Golf - Schenectady Central Park

Today I returned to Schenectady's Central Park and its disc golf course. It's great to have this course only 5 minutes from home, and it only takes about an hour to play 18 "holes", so I can see myself possibly doing a lot more of this. Today, I played the back 9 first, because of a couple of other players just starting out on #1, and did not do well. Nine holes later, back on #1, I decided to try the sidearm throw that I've been afraid to try in these woods, and surprised myself. I've never really used that method, so expected the worst as I figured it out. But today it flew farther and straighter than my backhand, and I scored much better than ever before. The next time out should be a lot more fun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Golf yesterday, hiking today

Yesterday was nearly 80 degrees here, and I couldn't resist the urge to get out and hit a bucket o' balls at the local driving range. I should have stayed home. Lots of work will be needed before I even consider struggling around a golf course anywhere. So, I next headed to Schenectady's Central Park and its disc golf course. I'd played a round here once before, back in January before we had any snow, and yesterday was a good day to try it again. I guess I can blame the wind, but I did worse than the first time. Both of the day's experiences were so forgettable I even forgot to blog about them.

Today was cooler, but still sunny and nice. Holly and I headed to the Adirondacks for some more early spring hiking near Lake George. Sleeping Beauty Mountain is about a 6.4 mile round trip hike from the Hogtown Trailhead. When the road to Dacy Clearing is open and driveable, that distance can be halved, but that was not the case today. There was still occasional snow and ice on the road, and some really deep snow at higher elevations in shaded areas, much of it with meltwater running underneath it. We saw some curious footprints that looked like somebody was hiking barefoot, but then we met the hiker, wearing these shoes.

He admitted that, though the shoes were comfortable, they were not either warm or waterproof, and he and his group of other lightly clad and shod hikers were turning around because of the deep snow they found higher up the mountain.

It was pretty sloppy going at times, but we finally made it to the summit, where the views were spectacular.

View southeast

Lake George

Some of the summit rocks

Gore Mountain Ski Area across Lake George

It was very pleasant on the summit, and we lingered in the warm sun after finishing lunch. Then it was time to start down, where the snow was continuing to melt as spring still struggles to arrive.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Biking - Schenectady/Amsterdam Loop

Today, we finally hit 60 degrees, with lots of sun, a perfect day for a ride. I wanted a slightly longer ride today than I've been doing so far this season, so opted for a generally flat loop along the Mohawk River, crossing over in Amsterdam and returning to Schenectady. It's about 32 total miles with very little climbing.

The Mohawk River Bikeway was pretty crowded with mostly walkers on this beautiful day, but then I hit NY-5S and left them all behind. There was a little more of a headwind than I expected, but not as bad as some earlier days this year. After making the turn and starting back on NY-5 on the north side of the river, I saw another cyclist ahead of me at some distance. The legs wanted to go, so they did, and I caught him, passed, and left him far behind. I've never been a racer in any sense of the word, so it must be just a guy thing, but it felt good. I kept up a pretty good pace, and the legs felt strong. Time for some climbing and a longer ride...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hiking - Burnt Knob (Catskills)

Today was a fairly nice spring-ish day, partly sunny and near 50 promised. So Holly and I headed off to the Catskills, to climb a little bump called Burnt Knob. It's a relatively short hike with a great view south across the valley to the massive Blackhead Range, which we can usually see from Albany, over 30 miles to the north.

We took the red Blackhead Trail up from the valley, and then turned west on the blue Escarpment Trail. There was patchy snow, and a few icy spots, but since this was a south-facing slope, much of the winter's heavy snowfall here was already gone. Since the Escarpment Trail bypasses the actual summit, we bushwhacked up there just for fun, and found the expected lack of a view from deep in the trees. Dropping back down to the trail, we headed back east to an open ledge with a great view of the aptly named Blackhead Range, a perfect lunch spot.

These mountains are all between 3,900 and 4,000 feet high, capped by a dense forest of balsam and spruce that gives them their name. Their north slopes, seen here, still appeared to have plenty of snow visible through the hardwoods at lower elevations.

It didn't take long to chill, so we packed up and headed back down to the car. There's still winter to be found out there, but plenty of warm days lie ahead.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Biking - Grant Hill and French's Hollow

Today's weather started out much better than expected, and it looked t like the rain would hold off until later in the afternoon. After a couple of very easy, and flat, early season rides, today I decided to test my climbing legs just a little. Grant Hill Road in Guilderland is a fairly short climb, only about 0.6 miles, but it does kick up to 12.5% at one point. I use this climb a lot during the season to see how the legs are doing. It also makes a nice 21-mile loop from home.

It was fairly cool and breezy, with the wind gusting over 20 mph, but still much better than the last time I was out. And since I was riding more of a circular loop, it was never from the same direction for very long.

The good news is that I easily made it up the climb with a couple of gears to spare, and the legs felt pretty strong for that short distance. It probably helped a lot to not be carrying 50+ pounds of gear, and also be riding higher pressure tires than on last year's tour. Endurance on climbs has always been my weakness, so there will be some longer ones in the cards as the season progresses, in preparation for ADK's long hilly Ididaride in August.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Biking - What a difference a wind makes!

"Breezy". Right. Sunny and in the 50s, so I got out for a ride, despite the "breeze". I headed northwest from Schenectady on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail, as far as Lock 9, then crossed the Mohawk River and returned southeast on NY5.

On the outbound leg, it was a dead-on northwest headwind, gusting over 35 mph. It was a struggle to maintain 10-11 mph forward progress, riding in the drops. At least it was all relatively flat. But once I crossed the river and reversed direction, 18-20+ mph was almost effortless all the way back to the start. Still taking baby steps after a long winter, and the legs have a long way to go. Maybe someday the warmer weather will arrive.