Thursday, June 30, 2011

Biking - SWC Thursday Night Ride

Tonight was the weekly Schenectady Wintersports Club beer and pizza ride, this time hosted by a couple in Gallupville, NY. This area straddles the Albany/Schoharie County line, and is very hilly. We did a 15-mile route, some on rough gravel roads, and with some significant hills. I almost feel worse tonight than I did yesterday after riding 50 miles. Of course, the pace on these rides also tends to be faster than I normally ride.

Afterwards, we all regrouped for pizza, beer, and conversation on our hosts' back porch, overlooking the hills across the valley as the sun set behind them on a beautifully clear and comfortable evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Biking - First 50-mile day of the season

Today, some friends and I rode the route used by the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club for their half-century ride every September. There are also 100, 62, and 25 mile routes that weekend, but for today, we chose the 50. It's a rolling route with many short hills, but no real killers, and lots of places to stop for snacks and rest breaks. I hadn't done a ride like this yet this year, and was a little concerned about my fitness level after the dearth of good riding this spring. But the ride went well, at a comfortable pace, with several stops, including a light lunch at PJ's BBQ south of Saratoga. I'm feeling none the worse for wear, so will start doing more longer rides like this now that I know I'm again up to it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Golf - An early start at Hillcrest, and a late round at Central Park

With possible rain forecast this afternoon, I got out early this morning for 9 holes at Hillcrest, on one of their Monday/Tuesday "roll-back days", with cheaper rates. I scored the same as last time, but the excess strokes were distributed throughout the 9 holes, instead of a mammoth score on just one. Overall, I was hitting it solidly and relatively straight. My short game needs some work, and that's what cost me the most, so I may try Whispering Pines, an 18-hole par 3 course, next time out, and get in some practice in that area.

Came home and mowed the lawn, had lunch, and ran some errands, then settled in for some reading until a batch of rain showers passed by. Then I headed over to Central Park for an afternoon round of disc golf. I wasn't sure what to expect this time of day, especially with schools now out for the summer. I got in one fairly mediocre round, and then noticed a couple of middle school boys about to start on #1 as I was finishing on #18. They had big bags of multiple discs, and looked very professional, so rather than humiliate myself by playing another round, I called it a day and headed home.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hiking - Mountain laurel extravaganza on the AT in Massachusetts

Every year, Holly and I hike someplace where the ground is thick with mountain laurel, but not yet in bloom. And every year, we swear to return to whatever place that was and catch the blooming laurel. It's never happened. This weekend, we got a report from a friend that the Appalachian Trail in southwestern Massachusetts was alive with blooming laurel, so today, we headed over there to finally fulfill that promise. And it was amazing, and everywhere.

We started at the parking area on Mount Everett Reservation, and headed north along the AT as far as Mount Bushnell, which the map promised had a view. And a view there was, making a great lunch spot.

But the real show today was the laurel. Once we got back to the car, we started driving out the entrance road, but couldn't pass up an opportunity to catch the view over Gilder Pond. The laurel here was even more striking, reflected in the water, and creating a scene that almost doesn't look real.

It was a short hike, but served the purpose extremely well. We'd never seen laurel quite like this before, and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Of course, there was also ice cream on the way home.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Biking and mini-golf on a somewhat dreary day

I haven't been riding much this year, what with the rainy spring, time off for a trip to Iceland, and a generally lower level of motivation than usual. That spells trouble if I truly plan to ride ADK's Ididaride in August, 75 miles and a lot of climbing. Today, despite gloomy morning skies, I got out for a relaxed rolling 30-miler just to get in some saddle time. I rode this in "touring mode", downshifting and spinning easily, and coasting whenever possible. The idea is to save the finite energy for the later miles and be able to go farther as a result. It's different from the other sorts of rides I often do, pushing a bigger gear than necessary to build leg strength, or climbing big hills just for the sake of doing it. It was as much about "saddle time" (aka butt training) as it was about the legs. I rode my touring bike, and once again realized how much I love its smoothness, silence, comfort, and effortlessness, despite its relatively heavy weight. It was a good ride, and I need to start doing more like it.

Later, I drove to Holly's house, where I helped her with a few things, and then we biked an 8-9 mile round trip from there to a nearby mini-golf place, where we played a round and had some ice cream. I rode my recently acquired Lotus Excelle this trip, since I wanted to check out the results of a few tweaks I'd made to the bike's fit since the last ride. I'd also swapped out the pedals for some SPD pedals, so I can ride it clipped in with my same shoes. The bike felt pretty good now, and I'm tempted to get it out for a longer ride.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Disc golf - Schenectady Central Park

In between some errands this morning and more yard work this afternoon, I squeezed in a couple of rounds of disc golf. Not two of my better rounds, but it got pretty windy, so I can use that as an excuse. Big storms possible later, so no more outdoor fun this afternoon. Time for some reading and a nap.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Golf - Return to Hillcrest GC

After a busy day in the yard yesterday, and an inspiring US Open over the weekend, I decided to give real golf another try. A couple of years ago, I'd found something of a groove, and then last year I hardly got out at all, being away all summer. The first time out this year was less than encouraging, so I hadn't been back yet, until today. Aside from an unmentionable number on the first hole, probably attributable to rust, I played much better than last time, with a couple of pars, and even a birdie on a mishit shot to within 10" of the hole. In fact, a "normal" first hole could have tied my best score here ever. Time to start getting out more!

After lunch and some more hedge trimming, I felt like throwing in a short bike ride while the weather stayed nice. So, I did the usual Rotterdam river loop, on the bike path and NY-5S from SCCC to Lock 9, and returned via NY-5 through Scotia. It was too warm to push it, and I was feeling the lack of recent riding, so just took it easy. Time now for some reading and a nap.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Disc golf and a whole lot of catch-up yard work

My yard has turned into quite a jungle over the past month, and the grass needed mowing badly after two weeks away. I was up early this morning, but couldn't really get out and mow right away, so went to Central Park to while away an hour or two on a couple rounds of disc golf. My scoring is getting more consistent, and so are the holes that are continuing to give me problems round after round. Whacked a lot of trees today, but came in just above average for both rounds.

Came home and mowed the lawn before lunch, then trimmed several hedges that were out of control, and hadn't been trimmed at all last year either, because of that other trip. One more day of serious shrub trimming, and then I can move on to some outside household repairs that have also been getting deferred. At least the weather is dry and pleasant for a change, and I can get caught up on some of this stuff.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Biking - Back in the saddle after 3 weeks off

After getting mostly caught up following our return from Iceland, today I got out for a short bike ride. Having been off the bike for a full three weeks now, I really felt it. I rode the 1987 Lotus that I'd rescued from the trash a few weeks ago, and that made up for some of the lethargy. This bike is a full 10 pounds lighter than my other bikes, and when I give it a kick, it definitely responds. I covered the 16 miles in under an hour, which is quite a bit faster than my usual, despite the long layoff. Then it was off to the sofa for this amazing US Open golf tournament.

Iceland photos

Of the hundreds of pictures I took, I've posted a few of the highlights at this link. Iceland is a spectacular place to visit, both the scenery and the people.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Today, Holly and I are on our way to Iceland. We'll be doing some light hiking, lots of driving, and some of the usual tourist stuff. We're looking forward to seeing lots of waterfalls, glaciers, fjords, volcanoes, and other geologic wonders, along with whatever wildlife and history this unusual country has to offer. I'll try to post a few pictures here when we return.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Disc golf - Schenectady Central Park

A couple of hot days are on tap, but this morning was comfortably cool. With lots to do later today, I decided to take advantage of the nice morning and get out and do something. Central Park was bustling as it is on weekday mornings, and the bugs were thicker than usual, but it was a nice morning for a couple rounds of disc golf.

The first nine was less than spectacular, but then I shot my best back nine ever, followed by tying my best front nine on the second time around. The last nine was the worst of the four, but overall today, I had 5 birdies in the two rounds, which was pretty satisfying.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Biking - Trying out the new Lotus Excelle

No, it's not a new spreadsheet. :-)

Today I wanted to take the new old Lotus Excelle that I rescued from the trash for a test ride. I found a web site dedicated to vintage Lotus bikes, and determined that this one dates to about 1987. That makes it 14 years newer than the old Gitane 10-speed I've been riding. It's also about 8-10 pounds lighter, has 14 speeds, and has indexed shifting. Definitely worth a try to see if I want to keep it.

First I had to swap out the Look pedals for some toe-strap pedals so I could at least ride it. Then came the issue of how to carry a spare tube, wallet, keys, etc. I picked up a cheap under-seat bag to cover that problem, and I was off to the bike path for a test drive. Remembering too late that I'd left the pump at home, I kept this one short, not wanting to be stranded.

It turned out that the frame size is wrong for me, but not by much. I think it's a 23", and I really need a 25". I raised the seat as far as I dared, and it's close to being OK. It's got a 53/39 crankset, and a fairly small cluster in the rear, so not a hill-climber. But when I gave it a kick, it definitely jumped. This would be a fun bike for relatively short flat rides where I don't need to carry anything. And great for an SWC Thursday evening hammer-fest, with the right route.

It needs a few things, pedals and bottle cage for starters, but I think I'll probably keep it! That's 4 operable bikes now in the stable.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Biking - Finally, a beautiful day!

Today, three of us took a leisurely ride along the Mohawk, between the Rexford and Crescent Bridges, starting at the Niskayuna Railroad Station.

There wasn't a lot of climbing, but I made it interesting by riding my old 10-speed and pushing a bigger gear than I normally would have up the hills. We stopped for lunch at the Stewart's on NY-9 at the Crescent Bridge, and then followed the bike path back to the start. I do this loop several times each year because of its scenery, variety, and relative flatness. It's a nice way to get in 28 miles without any killer uphills, and is a very popular route for local bikers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Disc golf and biking - 30 degrees cooler than yesterday?!?!!?

A cold front went through overnight and got rid of the oppressively warm humid air that's been plaguing us for the past several days. But now, instead of 90s, we struggled today to reach 60! It was nice to air out the house and mow the lawn in relative comfort, but another 10 degrees of heat, and much less wind, would be most welcome!

With winds gusting near 30mph, I decided to give disc golf a try this morning. As can be imagined, wind is quite a complicating factor when trying to throw a Frisbee with any sort of accuracy. Fortunately, many of the holes in Schenectady's Central Park are wooded and sheltered somewhat from the wind. I played two relatively average rounds, with the usual holes messing up any possibility of better scores. I really can't blame the wind.

Tonight was our weekly SWC Thursday evening bike ride. It followed a mostly east-west oriented loop, and the wind was again a big factor. Several of us cut it short and headed back to the host's house to get an early start on the beer and snacks before the pizza arrived. I was lucky tonight to snag a new (old) bike! Our host was about to put it out for the trash, and I decided to give it a new home, either mine or to Albany Bike Rescue. I hate to see a good bike thrown out! It's a '70s or '80s vintage Lotus Excelle, 14 speeds, my size, and lighter than either of my other two active bikes. I'm willing to put a few bucks into it and take it out for a spin before deciding to keep it or donate it. It's impossible to have too many bikes!