Friday, March 29, 2013

Disc golf and biking - Could this finally be spring?

Temperatures this week seem to be edging toward 50F and beyond, and it's about time.  Coming home from another errand this morning, I noticed that Central Park and the disc golf course were completely clear of snow, and also of people playing the game.  So I got home, did a quick turnaround, and got out for a quick round sans afternoon crowds.  It was a pretty average round overall, except for the hole-in-one on #9, my first ever.  I'd hit the chains here once before, but that one dropped out.  This time, a 160-foot curving bullet slammed in and stayed there.  Couldn't quite believe it.

After that one round, I decided to quit while I was ahead, and get out for a bike ride after lunch.  But then, getting home, I skipped lunch, and just went ahead and did it.  I'd tweaked a couple of things on the bike since the last ride a few days ago (rear shifting, handlebar angle), and today everything seemed much better, including my legs, despite a stronger wind (NW 17 G 26 mph).  I did the same 16+ miles as before, but it seemed like less of a struggle, so that's a good sign.  If the weather stays good next week, I can start bumping up the mileage and/or doing some climbs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Walk - Christman Sanctuary

Today was more windy than I would have liked, though the temps were approaching 50F, so I didn't bike again today.  Instead, I paid a return visit to one of my favorite local places, the Christman Sanctuary in nearby Duanesburg.  I was curious about how much snow remained at these higher elevations, and also looked forward to seeing a lot of ice in this narrow gorge.  I wasn't disappointed.

Walking along the stream was hard-packed and occasionally icy, but I kept the microspikes in my pocket for most of this walk.  The water was running fast beneath the ice and over the many cascades here.

Farther upstream, where the gorge narrowed and the trail steepened, I did put on the microspikes for an otherwise slippery descent.  Near the main falls was this beautiful wall of bluish ice.

The main 30-foot waterfall was running pretty well too, though it wasn't as photogenic today as on some previous visits.

Though the calendar says "spring", it wasn't quite spring here yet, though the rapidly melting snow and rushing water are both good signs of things to come.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Walk - 5 miles at 14:00/mile

After yesterday's brief bike suffer-fest, I was planning to get back in the saddle today and do it again.  Then came the excuses, and before I knew it, I was approaching the school bus time of day (another excuse?), and just couldn't get excited about doing it.  So I didn't.

Last winter, when we rarely had snow but it was too cold to bike, I discovered that a fast walk on the snow-free bike path was a good alternative form of exercise.  I've been throwing in a few of these ever since, especially in colder weather.  So today that's what I did, walking from SCCC to Lock 8 and back along the Mohawk River Bike Path in Rotterdam.  I'd never really timed one of these before, but today's 5 miles in about 1:10 saw me moving right along at better than 4mph.

I don't get quite the same calorie burn from these walks as from the same length of time bicycling, but I'll just chalk it up to cross-training and it's all good.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Biking - First road ride of the season

It's spring, dammit!  And despite the piles of snow along the sides of the roads, the pavement is dry, it's over 40F, and it's time to start riding.  Until it snows again.

I've been out a few times on the bike path this winter on an old mountain bike, but today I got my good bike back on the road.  This was as much a test of the bike as of my legs and winter-softened butt, having completed my annual down-to-the-ball-bearings overhaul and cleaning a few weeks ago.  Aside from some funky rear shifting, the bike was smooth, silent, and like new again.  I tweaked that problem when I got home.  But for my body, this was more of a struggle than it should have been.  What a wake-up call!  It was only a little over 16 miles with only one minor climb, and I've ridden on much windier days.  But I was definitely ready to be done when I got home.  I can see I have some serious work to do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A gathering of friends, more XC skiing, a rest day, and a local walk

On Wednesday evening, after XC skiing 2 hours at Rockwood State Forest with Holly, we got together with most of the other riders in my group from last year's Bon Ton Roulet bike tour in the Finger Lakes for a potluck dinner and reunion.  It was good to see everybody again, and the food was fantastic.  While there, Holly and I convinced some others that Rockwood was currently the best skiing around, and the seeds of another outing were planted.

On Thursday, a couple of of those friends, one other friend, and I all headed back to Rockwood for more skiing.  Holly couldn't make it this time, but 4 skiers gave us enough to break some new trails.  The snow was getting a little sticky by the time we were finishing up, and with warmer days and cold nights headed our way, the snow there won't stay nice much longer.  This time, we were out for 3 hours, and on top of the day before, I was toast when we were done. 

Friday was a lazy rest and catch-up day, with lots of reading, local errands, and a short nap.  But those days can get boring, and I didn't want another one today.  So this afternoon, I got out for a long walk in the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve in Clifton Park.  There was still a little snow here, but it was soft and easily walkable, with patches of spring mud here and there as well.  There were lots of Canada geese, and I even saw a group of deer, but not another human for the 90 minutes I was out.

Warmer weather looks to be on the way, and this next snowstorm will miss us to the south, so fingers are crossed that spring may soon make an appearance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

XC Skiing - Rockwood State Forest scores again!

If you live in this area, you have two choices when it comes to winter.  You can either grumble about it, or you can get out and enjoy it.  Usually, I do pretty well with the latter, but when it comes to March and late-season snowstorms, I've been grumbling a lot this year.  I'm ready for spring.

But today, Holly and I got out for one more XC ski trip, again to Rockwood State Forest.  The snow at home was crunchy, having had some rain and sleet mixing in at times, and wasn't very nice.  But at Rockwood, we found fully 12" of fresh new fluffy snow, and no sign of any crunch at all.  It was one of our best ski outings of the year.

Our favorite loop, with the biggest hills, had already been broken, much to our delight, and we had a great time skiing it  in the new snow.  At the end, we broke out a few other trails, with the objective of getting to the top of a couple of our favorite downhills, near the parking area.  I did a crazy steep one that I hadn't braved in a while, but it was very tame today in the deep unbroken snow.  Holly did a different descent, also unbroken, and it was a somewhat new experience for both of us getting first tracks on the downhills here.

I'm still ready for spring, but I wouldn't have missed this day for anything.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hiking - Discovering the Levine Preserve

Today, I joined a weekly gathering of Saratoga PLAN preserve stewards as we explored a preserve I'd never visited before, the Levine Preserve in Providence.  There are no real trails here yet, just a former town road that bisects the preserve and allows a nice walk.  PLAN is in the process of laying out where future trails might go, so today we were roughly following some existing flagging, but also exploring some on our own.  There are remains of several buildings here, including a former farmstead, an old sawmill on picturesque Cadman Creek, and literally miles of old stone walls.

Cadman Creek, near the sawmill ruins

We only walked a few miles, but stopped a lot to try to understand what we were seeing and what used to be here.  This place deserves a return trip in the spring, when wildflowers are in bloom and before the inevitable underbrush takes over for the summer.  Formal trails are still planned, but will take time, and I hope to be involved in possibly creating some of them later this year.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Walking and disc golf - A return to colder weather

After last week's surprise 8" snowfall, a few warmer days and some significant rain took care of getting rid of it very quickly.  The past few days have been colder and windy, and not very appealing for doing much outside.  Nevertheless, I got in a couple of walks, a fast one on the Rotterdam bike path, and a more relaxed shorter one in the H. G. Reist Sanctuary in nearby Niskayuna.

Today was a better day, so I got in a couple of rounds of disc golf in Central Park.  I finished both rounds with 66 (+9), but in two very different ways (33-33 and 29-37).  Aside from a couple of uncharacteristically disastrous "holes" in each round, it was a pretty good day overall. 

More snow possible next week - it's just that up and down time of year.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Biking - A shortened trip on the still snowy bike path

After a lazy day yesterday recuperating from a tiring XC ski outing the day before, I needed to take advantage of a dry day with mild temperatures before the rains arrive tomorrow.  So I took the old mountain bike to the Niskayuna and Colonie bike path, as I've been doing all winter.  I can usually get in about 12 miles on the sections that are either plowed or melted off, but today I had to stop a little short of that. 

I picked my way through a couple of minor snowy sections, but near the usual turnaround point, I had to bail out a little earlier.  Where the path hasn't been plowed, and there are trees blocking the sun, there's still some leftover snow out there.  A slight headwind (in both directions, as usual) made up for the shortened distance, and it was still more than I would have done on the trainer in the basement. 

The roads still aren't quite ready for serious riding (at least not for me and my squeaky-clean road bike), so this will have to do for now.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

XC Skiing - Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center

Dyken Pond is in another world, at the end of a long dead-end road high on the Rensselaer County Plateau.  When I scouted it out for an ADK ski trip several weeks ago, there was more snow there than anyplace else locally, well over a foot, but it was very crunchy and not good for skiing.  After Friday's additional snow, warm temperatures, and with all that remaining base, we just had to give it a try.  And it didn't disappoint.

There was easily 15-16" of snow on the trails, which, unfortunately, had not been broken anywhere we went, aside from a single snowshoer at one point.  This was heavy, wet, but skiable snow, and we broke trail on several loops before we just plain ran out of gas.  The temperature here never got above 40 degrees, despite near-50s in the valleys below.  But the warm March sun kept the snow soft, and it was a perfect day to be outside.  There will be snow here for a long time yet, and hopefully, some more skiers will discover these trails.  Maybe they'll be broken out next time we return.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Disc golf - A couple of not-so-rusty rounds

I haven't played any disc golf since December, a combination of weather, course conditions, and a sore throwing elbow.  But looking at Central Park today, with temps in the mid-30s and my elbow OK, the course looked mostly ice-free and playable, so I decided to give it a try.

I had lost my favorite "driver" disc last fall at Blatnick Park, so this would be the first throws for the replacement I got from Holly for Christmas.  All things considered, I wasn't expecting much from this outing, but was pleasantly surprised.  The new "driver" goes further than the old, and I had no trouble putting together two better-than-average rounds of 63-63, each only +6, and each with a couple of birdies.

Now it's snowing again, with an annoying piddling accumulation expected, so I guess I'll put the discs back on the shelf for a while.  Looks like a warmup and some sloppiness due here next week.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Biking - A few March miles after a lazy week

It's been a week without exercise, for a variety of reasons.  Sketchy weather, other things to do, lack of motivation.  My good bike has been in pieces in the basement getting its annual overhaul, but I finished that today, and with temps over 40, it was time to get off my butt and do something.

"Something" turned out to be a short bike ride on the bike path in Niskayuna and Colonie, not quite 12 miles, on my old mountain bike.  There were lots of people out, mostly walkers, and my horn got a good workout.

Now that the good bike is ready to roll, if the roads stay dry it will be time to take it out for a test drive.