Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Disc golf - back in the groove

After getting mostly caught up, sorted out, dried out, and cleaned up after being away last week, I got out  this morning for a couple of rounds of disc golf in Schenectady's Central Park.  It was a warm humid morning, but the day would get only worse later, so 8:30 seemed like a good time to get out.  I caught up with Todd part way through the first round, and we finished that unremarkable round together, me with a 68, and him near 80.  Todd left after that round, and I continued on for another, this time a very nice 59, only 2 over par and one off my best.  "Putting" continues to be my weakness, but I'm getting some considerable distance now off the tee, sailing one beyond #17 and nearly into the Rose Garden below.  It might be almost time to try the long tees.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Biking - Photos from the Bon Ton Roulet tour of the Finger Lakes

Last week's Bon Ton Roulet is over, and I've posted a few highlight pictures at the link below.  We had some serious heat, about 25 total miles of riding in the rain, and a couple of nights spent on the floor of the Watkins Glen HS gym because of potentially severe weather that eventually missed us.  But aside from all that, it was a great trip with friends, in honor of another friend lost.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Biking - Bon Ton Roulet bike tour

Starting this weekend, seven of us are riding in this year's Bon Ton Roulet in memory of Phil Fountain.  Here's a link to the tragic story from last year's tour.  Ride safe everybody.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Disc golf - One quick round on a pleasant morning

The fewer times you have to throw the disc, the faster the round goes.  And today was a good one, scoring a 28-31-59, only 2 over par and tying my best.  I decided to leave it at that, and not poison the day with a bad round to follow.  Many things to do at home, so I just savored this one and left it at that.

Biking - SWC Thursday night beer/pizza ride

Last night, Holly and I drove to Delmar for the weekly SWC ride.  The route choices were 12,19, or 22 miles, and amazingly, everybody, including the usual animals, chose the short 12-mile option.  We all set off together, and then our host, Dorie, had a flat a very short distance from the start.  Several of us stopped to try to help while others continued on.  When we decided her tire could not be repaired, Dorie and a friend started walking back to her house and our group of 7 that had stopped continued on.  By now, the original group of 18-20 was scattered all over the route, and we never saw the rest of them again until a mile or two from the end.

It was an easy relaxed ride through residential areas and on country roads, and our group stuck together to be sure nobody missed any of the numerous turns.  The skies threatened near the end, but delivered only a cooling breeze as we settled in for the usual beer, pizza, and socializing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Biking - 50 big ones on the hottest day of the year

Wow!  Glad we got out and finished up riding when we did!  2:30pm temperature at home.

A couple of friends and I had decided to get out for a long-ish ride today.  This was before the forecast for humid temperatures in the mid to upper 90s for the afternoon.  So we got an early start, beginning at 7:30am, drank prodigious amounts of fluids all day, stopped several times along the way, and got in our 50 miles by about 12:15pm.  By then it was already 92, and the ice cream stop at an air-conditioned Stewart's Shop near the finish made us very glad we were almost done.

Our route and elevation profile
We followed the former route of the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club's half-century (50 miles) ride.  It's no longer used for that purpose, but it's still one of our favorite rides, and we do it at least once every year.  The climbs are mostly short and not steep, but still add up to about 2,200 feet overall.

I had no cramping issues in today's heat, but another 10 miles may have taken me there, as I was getting the first faint hints of potential trouble by the time we finished.  I drank lots of OJ today, and the potassium fix seemed to do the trick.  And if it worked on a day like this, that's good news indeed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Biking - Thursday evening SWC beer and pizza ride

Tonight's SWC bike ride started on Crane's Hollow Road, east of Amsterdam and up a big hill from NY-5.  Thankfully, we mostly stayed atop the hill, although we did enjoy some nice ups and downs, for a total of 18.3 miles and 1,160 feet of climbing, the steepest of which only hit 5.3%.

After watching the last two Tour de France stages in the Alps, this seemed like a wimpy ride indeed.  But it was all about the beer and pizza and socializing afterwards, so it was all good.  I took it easy on this ride, pretending it was a 50-miler and pacing myself accordingly, not pushing up the hills and hammering home like last week.  Need to start riding more like this - it's much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hiking and paddling near Piseco

Yesterday, Holly and were invited to the camp of friends John and Diane, near Piseco Lake.  They have a place on Evergreen Lake, formerly Big Marsh, just west of the main lake.  The plan was for lunch, hiking, paddling, and dinner, and they were wonderful hosts.

After lunch, we headed for the trailhead to Echo Cliffs, a short hike to a great view over southern Piseco Lake.  The trailhead was much more crowded than expected, but we met many descenders on the way up, and hoped the summit wasn't too crazy.  Many of those on top actually started leaving as we arrived, so we had much of our summit time to ourselves.

Piseco Lake, with Spy Lake in the left background
After descending back to the now-empty trailhead, we noticed some very black clouds in the northern sky, and as we pulled away, the rain and winds began.  After a drive around the north end of the lake, we scouted out a private right-of-way allowing access to a nice canoe put-in on Spy Lake, our next proposed destination.

Back at the camp, we waited a short time for the storms to pass, and then drove back to Spy Lake for some paddling.  This was a very nice lake, with 3 waterfront camps on one side, but mostly surrounded by state land, complete with designated campsites.

Spy Lake
A trio of loons showed a fair amount of interest as we paddled around the north end of the lake, and watched closely as Holly, John, and Diane went for a swim back at the put-in beach.  I'm not a big swimmer myself, so passed on that experience.

After a great dinner back at the camp, we headed home after a long pleasant day outdoors with friends.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Biking, mini-golf, and more biking

Yesterday, after helping Holly with some pruning, we biked a short distance to a mini-golf and ice cream place near her house.  We do this several times a year just for a quick easy outing.

Today, with a big drop in humidity and much more comfortable weather, I got out for a more serious ride, a CCW loop from the Exit 26 Park and Ride in Scotia to Galway and back.

I knew that the 15 miles from the bottom of Spring Road to Galway would be a long gradual uphill grind, but what made it worse today was a pretty strong northwesterly breeze.  I was really ready for lunch when I reached the Galway Market at 17 miles.  They make great sandwiches here, and there are shady picnic tables in the small park across NY-147, a nice place for a break.

The climbing wasn't over yet, Right after lunch, westbound on Perth Road, there's another short pitch to the high point of the day's ride.  At least the wind was now across instead of in my face.  Turning south, it was a rolling downhill with a tailwind that helped on a couple of short steep uphills.  Then I reached the bottom of Ridge Road, at West Glenville Road.  I had thrown in this one last climb, the worst of the day, at the 31-mile point to test legs that I knew would be tired.  And they were.  I spun up this one in a low gear and just took it easy, but was glad to reach the top.  From there, it was downhill to the car, including a steep drop down Rector Road.  I'd only ever been up this one, and was a little surprised by just how steep it got toward the bottom.

All in all, it was about 37 miles with just under 2,000 feet of climbing.  It felt like a longer ride because of that initial long grind, and I was ready to be done.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Inflatable boating, and another bike ride

On a hot summer day when the wind is right, Holly and I sometimes pack up my inflatable 2-man boat and head for an Adirondack pond to just float the afternoon away.  We've learned that this thing is pretty hard to steer, or even to make forward progress without spinning in circles, so the wind direction is a crucial factor.  In the past, we've gone to Nine-Corner Lake, north of Caroga Lake, which is basically oriented west-east, and offers a nice long float when the wind is from the west.  The idea is to somehow get to the west end of the lake, inflate the boat, put in, and relax and let the wind do the work.  So that was yesterday's plan.

When we arrived at Nine-Corner Lake's parking areas, we found 20-30 carloads of people with that same destination in mind.  Not appealing at all.  So, just up NY-10 a mile or two is a trailhead for Broomstick Lake, a much smaller body of water, but also oriented correctly for the day's winds.  

Nine-Corner and Broomstick Lakes
While Nine-Corner has a snowmobile trail running along almost its entire length, providing easy access to the far end of the lake from the hiking trail, Broomstick has no such luxury.  But we were the only car in the parking area!  We just had to give this a try, since at worst it would be a short bushwhack along the lake from the end of the 0.7-mile trail at its east end.

Arriving at the end of the trail, we were fortunate to find an unofficial path along the south shore.  Most of Broomstick's shoreline is marshy, but we saw a reasonable put-in off in the distance, at exactly the right place, at the west end of the lake.  As the path petered out, we continued along the shore until we found our spot.  15 minutes later, the boat was inflated and ready to go.

After drifting back and forth across the lake a couple of time, on more of a southwesterly wind, we saw what looked like a sandy bottom on the northern shore.  Holly tried it, but sunk in up to her knees in mushy mud, taking a while to extricate not only her water shoe but her leg.  After that, she swam across the lake while I manned the oars and tried to keep up.  After that, we stayed in the boat and just drifted with the wind on a hot afternoon.  Two people and a dry bag in this boat is a somewhat tight squeeze, but having the entire lake to ourselves more than made up for it.

Finally reaching the east end of the lake and the trail we'd come in on. we got the boat deflated pretty quickly and headed back to the car.  Next up - ice cream at Udderly Delicious in Johnstown/Gloversville to cap off the day.

This morning, I got out for another bike ride, before the poor excuse for rain showed up later in the morning.  I only did 21 miles, and it was a relatively easy ride, aside from throwing in the short climb up Grant Hill Road to keep it interesting.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Biking, disc golf, and more biking

Got a little behind here again, so...

Yesterday, I joined Holly's Wed/Fri biking group for a relaxed social ride of just 15 miles, with an ice cream stop at Karen's in Fort Hunter in the middle.  It was going to be another hot afternoon, so a short easy outing in the morning was just the right thing.

This morning, again before the afternoon heat, I got in two rounds of disc golf, throwing a +6 and a +7, both slightly better than average.  The better front nine with the better back nine would have been only +2, so a pretty good morning.

Tonight was our weekly beer and pizza ride with the Schenectady Wintersports Club, the so-called "eating club with a biking disorder".  The ride tonight was up in the hills east of Saratoga Lake, an 18-mile roller coaster affair with about 1,000 feet of total climbing.

As usual on these rides, the testosterone kicked in, and away we went, much faster than I usually like to ride.  For that short distance, it's kinda fun, but normally I'd pace myself much better for longer distances.  But, oh, that first beer is always heavenly after a ride like this.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Biking - Northbound to Desolation

Today, some friends and I were planning a ride from Charlton, in Saratoga County, north to Middle Grove and return, about a 30-miler.  There was an optional 9-mile add-on, the climb to Lake Desolation and back.  Since I had enticed my friend Ted to join us on this ride by stressing the "optional-ness" of that add-on, I doubted we'd be doing that climb.  If we had, the center peak in the profile below would be much higher and steeper.  Lake Desolation is just off the top center of the map.

Once we reached Middle Grove and its Stewarts Shop, we had a slight change of plan.  Some of the group would indeed be doing the full climb to Lake Desolation.  Ted and I decided to start up the climb, and then watch for a road on the map that seemed to parallel NY-29 headed west, which, if it worked out, would give us a better way back to Charlton.  As it turned out, the road changed to a seasonal dirt road after a little over a mile, all uphill, so we turned around and headed back toward Charlton by a slightly different route.  In the end, we'd covered a little over 37 miles, with about 2,000 feet of total lumpy climbing, and were finished by noon before the heat and possible storms later on.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Biking - Tour de Duanesburg

In honor of the opening road stage of the Tour de France, I got out today for a long ride of my own.  Of course, my 46-mile total was much less than the racers' 123 miles, and my 2,547 feet of total climbing paled in comparison to their 9,900 feet.  But I had several good climbs on a warm morning, and no cramping issues, so it was a good ride.

After I rode the flat streets out of Schenectady, I came to the bottom of the 7-mile climb up NY-159 to Mariaville.  I know this one pretty well, having climbed it dozens of times over the years.  The key is to just keep spinning along in a comfortable gear, and enjoy the brief respites in gradient whenever they appear. 

In Mariaville, I picked up a potassium-rich bottle of OJ at the store before continuing on my way (each bottle = 2 bananas).  The gentle downhill to NY-30 was somewhat nullified by a westerly headwind, but was pleasant nonetheless.  Then came the next climb, a shorter but steeper one-miler that was over before I knew it.  The long 3-mile cruise down into Esperance made it well worth the effort. 

At the Stewarts at NY-30 and US-20, I downed another OJ and half of an energy bar, and then started the last big climb out of Esperance, about 2.4 miles in two parts.  The legs were still feeling good, with no signs of any cramping.  Turning off of US-20 onto Suits Road east of Duanesburg, it was a screaming 40mph downhill down Darrow Rd. to Pangburn Rd., and a relatively flat ride the rest of the way.

I think I finally have the perennial cramping issues figured out.  It's the potassium.  I've never eaten enough fruit, so I'm probably always starting the day at a disadvantage, and it degenerates from there.  On my cross-country trip in 2010, I drank many OJs every morning as I stopped at stores biking through small towns, and never cramped once.  By pure dumb luck, I was managing the potassium and didn't even realize it.  Now I do.