Sunday, July 31, 2011

Biking - Warren County Bikeway

My Long Island friends Ted and Diane were at their Saratoga condo for the week, so we connected and decided to ride the Warren County Bikeway today, from Glens Falls to Lake George, along with their friend Jim who was staying with them. It's about a 19-mile round trip, with a few gently rolling hills to keep it interesting.

With a 10:00am start, the temps were comfortable, and Ted, Jim, and I took it easy, while the women set out for a walk in the same direction. We expected to all meet up again around noon somewhere. The bike path was fairly crowded on a sunny summer Sunday, and I ran into another friend, Dick, and a couple of his friends out for the same ride.

We got to Lake George around 11:15, and decided not to tarry, but to start the return ride to at least come close to our 12:00 rendezvous time. As it turned out, we all reached the Cooper's Cave ice cream stop at exactly the same time, right at noon. We lounged around there for a bit, and then rode/walked the 3-4 blocks back to the cars after a pleasant and relaxed outing.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Biking - A much-needed long day in the saddle

Today was still pretty warm, but the humidity of yesterday had dropped somewhat. I hadn't done many long rides this year, only once over 50 miles. And with the Ididaride coming up fast, I need to get out there and rack up some miles. I chose a riverside loop between Stillwater and Fort Edward, a 55-miler with about 1,579 feet of gentle climbing spread throughout. I like this ride, and usually do it at least once ever season.

Hudson River south of Schuylerville

Today, though the late morning was fairly cool, the northbound leg had a pretty strong northerly headwind, making it a lot tougher than it would normally have been. I was glad to arrive in Fort Edward and stop for a lunch break at the local Stewart's. It was getting warm out now, and I downed one Gatorade, and picked up another for the road, suspecting I might need it later.

The southbound leg was somewhat easier, without that infernal headwind. But somewhere around 35-40 miles, the legs had had enough. I stopped for an energy bar and half the Gatorade in Schuylerville, and then gingerly continued down East River Road back to the car. I was really ready to be finished, and was coasting whenever I could. This does not bode well for a 75-mile mountain loop only a few weeks away, especially with no more riding coming up until just a few days before. It might have been partly the extra work northbound because of the wind - at least I can hope. I also need to eat and drink more, a perennial problem. I've certainly lost a lot of endurance since last year, whatever the reason.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Disc golf and biking - back to the old grind

I planned to spend today catching up on things around the house before tonight's SWC Thursday evening bike ride. But first, I decided to hit the disc golf course in Central Park early, before the crowds arrived later. So I got in two quick 18-hole rounds before 10:00, and then headed back home. The first round was my best ever (65 - par 57), but I got a little sloppy on the next one, nearly losing a disc on several occasions (72). Overall, it was a good outing, and a nice morning walk in Central Park.

Tonight's bike ride started in Clifton Park, a tough place to get to from Schenectady in rush hour. It took me about an hour to drive what would normally take only half that, and I just made it on time for the start. We wound our way through residential areas and on back roads onto the Zim Smith Trail, following it to its northern terminus in Ballston Spa. Then it was back to our host's house for the usual beer and pizza on a pleasant night outside.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Home from Canandaigua

(CANANDAIGUA, NY) Last night, I was looking at the two other bike rides I wanted to do today, one around Conesus Lake, and the other around Keuka Lake. It turned out that each ride required a 45-minute one-way drive to the starting point. After yesterday's wanderings, and knowing I also had a 4-hour+ drive home later in the afternoon, I dropped those plans, and started thinking about a ride closer to home base.

When I woke up this morning much later than usual, I was having trouble getting excited about any biking at all. Just wasn't in the mood. So I went out for a big breakfast, and then spent several hours sitting in the lakefront park with a good book.

It was a pleasant spot, and the weather was cool, breezy, and delightful. It was a lazier day than planned, but well-spent nonetheless.

I'm home now, after a trip that was changed by weather and by roads differing from my expectations. It was a nice getaway and change of scene, but it's good to be home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Biking and golf - dodging the storms, sort of

(CANANDAIGUA, NY) On Day 3 of my Finger Lakes getaway, my brother Walt drove out from Syracuse and joined me for a day of fun in the sun. With storms centered over our planned biking destination around Honeoye Lake, we decided to head north first for some golf. Unfortunately, a league had the course tied up for the next several hours, and we couldn't get off the tee. So we headed back to the motel, checked the weather radar again, and decided to go with the original plan and bike around nearby Honeoye Lake.

We left the car in a park on the northwest side of the lake near the town of Honeoye, and set off in a CCW direction. This was a relatively flat and relaxed 18-mile ride. There was some wind funneling up and down the valley that was annoying at times. but it was a nice ride. Near the finish, back in Honeoye at the head of the lake, the skies opened up and we got soaked. Taking shelter a couple of times, we eventually made it back to the park and the car, pretty wet but none the worse for wear.

On the drive back to the motel in Canandaigua, we decided that the weather had improved enough for 9 holes of golf, after drying off and changing clothes. So we confirmed availability with the golf course, and headed back to Parkview Fairways, where I'd played yesterday. The wind had come up, and I'm sure that was the cause of our high scores. At least it's a good excuse. Dinner at Appleby's finished off the day, and Walt headed home.

Better weather expected tomorrow, so I may get in a longer ride. Will wait and see what the morning brings.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Golf - Parkview Fairways, Victor, NY

(CANANDAIGUA, NY) The morning's forecast called for a 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly after 10am. That about kills the day. After breakfast, I took a drive down to Naples, NY, searching for a disc golf course there, which I failed to find. But I did get to see the roads for the Canandaigua Lake loop that I was thinking about biking. Very glad I saw it before just setting out to do it. Lots of long steep climbs on busy roads - it wouldn't have been a lot of fun, and might have been quite a struggle in my current condition.

Back in the motel, I found some better directions for the disc golf course, but also discovered it's only 9 holes, and didn't exactly get glowing reviews. Not going to try again, for a 40-mile drive R/T. Read for a while, waited for t'storms to pass, went out for lunch.

Here it comes...

It looked like the worst of the rain threat had passed, so I decided to sneak in 9 holes before the next round arrived. Parkview Fairways is about 10 miles from here, and looked like the sort of wide-open course I need. I went out and played 9 holes, as the heat and humidity returned. It wasn't a great round, but not much worse than usual. Soaking wet when I finished, it was back to the motel, shower, and a beer before dinner.

After a pub dinner, went for another walk along the waterfront and City Pier, this time with camera in hand.

Thunderstorms exiting south

Old boathouses along City Pier

Brother Walt will be coming tomorrow, but the forecast has deteriorated somewhat, with a 50% chance of wetness. Will wait til morning to see what the new day will bring.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Biking - Canandaigua, NY

(CANANDAIGUA, NY) Holly's in Canandaigua for a church conference for a few days, so I tagged along hoping to get in some Finger Lakes biking. There are several reasonable lake circuits around here, and if the weather holds (iffy), I hope to ride around a few of these lakes. My brother Walt may also join me for a day, if some other things work out along with the weather.

I arrived at the motel around 2-3 pm today after dropping Holly off, and after hanging out for a bit, got in a short ride up Main Street and out onto some country roads to the northeast of town. It wasn't much, but the weather was still pretty warm, and I'd been off the bike for a week, so the 11-12 miles was enough for today.

After dinner, I walked around the lakeside park and the city pier, which was pretty interesting with its old boathouses. This is a pretty cool town, aside from the main commercial strip along US20/NY5.

Planning on biking, golf, and disc golf over the next few days, depending on the weather. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Golf - Hillcrest GC

Despite forecasts to the contrary, today felt like another warm humid day, so I got out for an early 9 holes of golf at Hillcrest. Things started out pretty well, bogey-bogey-bogey, which for me is like par. Then came #4 and a series of bad shots, and up went the score. After that, I settled down and played pretty well, with a couple of real pars, and even a birdie on a short par 4. If not for that one hole, I would have beaten my previous best here, but instead had to settle for an even-bogey round. Such is golf...

Tonight, I'd half-planned on joining a Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club ride in nearby Glenville. But, having awakened at 5:00 after some reading on the sofa, hustling to make the 6:00 ride had lost its appeal. Staying home, having a few beers, and watching a Yankees game seemed like a better choice.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Biking - A hilly ride on a hot day

Today, some friends and I set off on a ride in the hills between Schenectady and the Schoharie Valley. We didn't get the earliest of starts, but the heat of the day would mostly be hitting us on the latter more downhill part of the ride.

We started by doing the long climb from the Mohawk Valley up to Mariaville, where we stopped for a rest and refreshment break at the local store. From there, we headed west and mostly downhill to rolling on nice country roads with great views of the Schoharie Valley further west. Then we reached the road on our route that had been freshly coated with oil and stones. This was not an option, so we crafted a detour that would take us down to Amsterdam, back in the Mohawk Valley. The route back to the car from there would follow NY-5S, which is also NY Bike Route 5, and is a nice flattish ride with good shoulders.

After a few more hills, we got back to NY-5S, and took another refreshment break at a mini-mart, with temps now around 90. We'd all been drinking a lot, and needed to replenish. The ride back to Rotterdam was flat and fast, with a nice tailwind, but we were all glad to be finished, after 42.5 miles and 2,200+ feet of climbing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Canoeing - Annual Adirondack Loon Census

Every year, Holly and I participate in the annual Adirondack Loon Census. Over 300 different lakes are covered by volunteers on the same Saturday in July, and always between 8 and 9 am. This ensures that no loons are double-counted if they fly from one lake to another.

The lake we always cover is Sand Lake, near Piseco, NY. It's completely surrounded by state land, and involves a 2-mile drive down a gravel road followed by a half-mile muddy carry to the put-in. In some years, we've arrived the night before and camped, but today we just got up early and got there in time for the start. Both the drive and the carry went faster than we expected, so we got to the put-in about a half-hour early.

There wasn't even a whisper of a breeze, and the lake was like glass, reflecting the small mountains in the background.

As is usually the case, we counted one pair of loons and no offspring. We've seen some immature young loons with them in the past, but usually we only see the pair.

We watched them until 9:00 per the instructions, and then headed back to the put-in and the uphill carry to the car. And after all this, we were still home in time for lunch.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Biking - SWC Thursday evening ride

Tonight was the weekly Schenectady Wintersports Club beer and pizza ride. I had decided earlier in the day that I was going to ride this one my way, and not get caught up in the hammerfest that often ensues. I'd ride at my own pace, even if that meant riding alone.

It was a long uphill for the first 8 miles, and then lots of downhill back to the start.

The usually fast group left early, and I decided not to go with them, and wait until the normal starting time. One other woman was also going to ride this 20-miler, so I waited for her and we stuck together. I was much faster climbing the hills, so I'd wait and get back together to be sure we made the same turns. It was a pleasant ride on nice roads, and at a comfortable pace.

The downhill on Westfall Road from mile 18 to 19.5 was a real screamer, reaching over 14% at one point. Even riding the brakes, I hit almost 40 mph, but was extremely lucky. Reaching the stop sign at the bottom, my rear tire suddenly went pfffffffffft and flatted. A few minutes earlier, and the outcome would have been very different. I fixed the flat and limped back to the start for beer and pizza, the last one to arrive.

Tires on both bikes, from the flats of the past two weeks, will be replaced this weekend with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that were so good to me on the tour last year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer fun - Kayaking, swimming, hiking, and biking

Yesterday, Holly and I spent the day at the summer home of some friends on Lake George. Their home is on Gull Bay, far up the eastern shore, on a quiet cove. It was a hot day at home, and only somewhat cooler here, as we kayaked, swam, had lunch, hiked to a nearby pond, swam, looked at Iceland photos, and had a wonderful dinner. Many thanks to Ken and Jane for a great day outdoors!

Lake George

Mud Pond

Sunset over Lake George

This morning, I went for a casual bike ride with some other friends. Once every year, we like to visit the goat farm on Crane Road in Charlton. Many of the goats all tend to cluster atop a small rockpile in the shade next to the road. It makes a pretty interesting stop, especially if they're in noisy mode.

A stop at the Charlton General Store for ice cream topped off the morning, as scattered showers began to move in for the afternoon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Golf - Whispering Pines GC

Lots of heat and humidity expected later today, so I got out for an early round of golf at Whispering Pines, an 18-hole par 3 course. Though I started out well, the early morning mosquitoes proved a huge distraction on the next few holes, and I hit some truly horrible shots. Once I settled down again, I finished up tying my best round there ever, only 11 over par, with 3 birdies. I even flopped a wedge into the hole from about 30 yards for one of those birdies, and made a 30-foot putt for another. If not for the mosquitoes, it would have been a record-breaking outing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Disc golf and biking - a nice summer's day

(Meant to post this on Thursday, but am still working through a massive computer crash.)

After the storms of Wednesday, Thursday dawned cooler and more comfortable. I discovered a few days ago that trying to get in a round of disc golf in the afternoon can be problematic now that school's out. I've become spoiled about having the course to myself, and don't enjoy having to wait or play through other groups. So I got out earlier, and got two rounds in virtually unimpeded. Both rounds tied my previous second-best score, so it was a satisfying outing, with the usual holes being the exceptions.

Then, after washing some windows and reading for a while, it was time for the weekly SWC Thursday night bike ride, this time starting in Clifton Park. I rode the old Lotus for this ride, and everything went well until about 2-3 miles into the ride. There, I flatted, with a cut in the sidewall, rendering the tire unusable in the long run. I booted it with a $1 bill, put in a new tube, and limped back to the starting point where I got an early start on the evening's beers. I don't know how old, or degraded, these tires are, but I'll be replacing them before riding this bike again.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Golf - Whispering Pines GC

So far this year, I've only been playing at Hillcrest GC, a wide-open layout where I can't get into much trouble with wayward shots. But my short game needed some work, so today, I went to Whispering Pines GC, an 18-hole par 55 course close to home in Rotterdam. There isn't as much room for error here, but since most of the holes are par 3s, it's a good place for practice with the irons.

My first 6 holes were pretty ragged, with many mishit shots. But I finished the front 9 with 3 pars, and then birdied #10 with a long putt. I continued burning up the back nine, finishing with my second-best score here ever, a 67. That back nine was a lot of fun, with many tee shots hitting the greens, which were fast and rolling. I don't usually putt well here because of that, but somehow today I found the touch, and it all came together.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Biking - MHCC Tuesday Evening Ride

Tonight, I joined a Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club Tuesday night casual ride. It started close to home, and that was a major selling point, as well as the fact that some friends would also be there.

It was a bit of an odd route, in that it crossed itself several times, forming three smaller loops outside the main loop. These were all roads I've biked many times, and I knew exactly how to ride the hills. Though the pace was advertised as "casual, 11-13 mph", things never quite work out that way. There was a fast group, which I did not join, a slow group, and some of us scattered about in between. I rode at a comfortable pace, and enjoyed the evening as it cooled off from today's hot afternoon.

Afterwards, we stopped for dinner at Chef's Take Out, an Italian restaurant near the meeting point for the ride. It was a pleasant group, and a nice ride.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Biking - A lumpy Burnt Hills/Charlton loop

After a couple of days away at my mother's house, catching up on some yard work, today we spent a little time setting up Holly's pool for the summer. The people below didn't come with it. Setup is pretty fast and easy, and at 12' x 30", it provides a nice place for a quick dip on a hot summer day.

I had taken a bike along in the car, and after we had the pool under control, I set off for a 24-mile loop around Burnt Hills and Charlton.

I was riding my Lotus Excelle with its not-so-low gearing (53/39, 13/23), and though this route was mostly flat to rolling, there were several short nasty uphills, several of which I needed to pedal standing to reach the top. But on the flat, this bike just sailed, and I finished in good time, averaging 15.6 mph.

Hoping for another longish ride later this week, depending on the heat and other assorted weather.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Biking - Lunch at Lakeside Farms

It was another relatively cool day, another perfect day to get out for a ride. One of my favorite things to do is to come up with about a 30-mile loop that involves lunch at a local farm stand, general store, or other unique local business. Lakeside Farms is such a place, and has a great lunch menu. So I set out from Schenectady Community College for a 30-mile ride on country roads that took me to that lunch stop.

Most of the climbing, and 20 of the miles, were before lunch, and I was feeling a little slow today, after a couple of rides the past two days. There was a good crowd in the restaurant for lunch, but service was quick and I managed to find a table.

After lunch, it was mostly downhill back to Schenectady, where I picked up the bike path off of Aqueduct Road. This took me to Nott Street, and then I zigzagged through the Stockade and back to the car.

No riding the next couple of days, but they look hot anyway. Back in the saddle next week.