Monday, May 30, 2011

YAC (Yet Another Century)

Fourth century this month, on a warm, late-May day.   Working to get in shape for the 100-200, which is only three weeks away, now.  A small group of five of us started out from Williston at 8 am, enjoying the light Memorial Day traffic.  Three were originally planning on peeling off before Middlebury Gap, but as it turned out, this didn't happen as planned.

The first adventure happened when Todd broke his rear derailleur cable, just north of Bristol.  Jeff had a spare and we tried replacing it, but too many cooks spoil the broth and the cable got installed incorrectly.  Todd had family nearby and a bit of a plan, so we left him there by the side of the road and continued south.

Jeff, Annie and John at the top of Middlebury Gap

We had been setting a strong pace, enjoying a nice tailwind, and I knew I needed to set my own pace climbing Middlebury Gap.  John and Annie changed their plans and decided to do the entire loop, it being such a nice day.  Also, Todd had called to say that he had been able to fix the cable and he was going to ride over Lincoln Gap and rejoin us on Rte 100.  The river through Ripton was running fast and strong, making quite a sight in places.  The other three got to the top of the gap long before I did, but there were no complaints.  I took the lead on the descent, breaking 50 mph on the bumpy pavement, as the others proved their superior intelligence by using their brakes.

The tailwind became a headwind on the way back up Rte 100, though it wasn't too bad going through Granville Gulf, where the waterfalls were blasting away after all the recent rain.  Sure enough, we spotted Todd just south of the intersection with Lincoln Gap.  We bounced along the broken pavement between Warren and Irasville, and then it was time to climb App. Gap.

Jeff, John, myself, Annie and Todd at the top of App Gap
Todd and John danced to the top of App Gap, with the rest of us nursing our sore legs up the mountain. We met up with another rider, who joined us on the ride down, all the way to the end of the Hollow Rd.  I bombed down the hill first, again, and planted myself at the final switchback to get some shots.  I didn't trust having time to get the camera into burst mode before the other riders showed up (I would have), because the menu system is cumbersome, and the annoyingly long delay of the Olympus SW series of cameras meant that some of the riders went by before the camera caught the image.  Having used this camera for a few years, I can say with some authority that it is totally lousy for any kind of action photography.

The guy who joined us at the top of the Gap

Annie rounds the switchback...

...with John and Jeff close behind.  The camera missed Todd.
We got back around 4 pm, with the stops for the broken cable, a flat, and extra store breaks, due to the heat.  Having ridden to the start, I added an extra 25 miles, for a total on 129 miles.  I found the Brooks Swallow saddle more comfortable than the first time I tried it on the Klein, but I think I'll swap it for a Brooks Pro again for the 100-200, as I don't think my but would like to sit on it for another 90 miles.
 

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Spring Centuries

The cliffs along Appalachian Gap were shedding chunks of ice onto the road.
Rode a couple of centuries in May so far, just six days apart.  The first was a Gap-Notch ride.  I had a delay after glancing back to check for overtaking traffic before moving out to round a curve.  I was going about 45mph and the wind caught my glasses and tore them off. It took me an hour to find them, but I was able to straighten them out and wear them again.
Still snow on the ski trails in Stowe.
The road through Smugglers' Notch is still closed to cars--I found out why!
 I wasn't the first person to go through the Notch this year on a road bike, as I saw a fresh track from some other intrepid cyclist.  Neither one of us can say we actually rode the Notch, though, as that would have been impossible.

This spring was incredible in the way it was gushing out the side of the mountain, creating an instant brook.


The Notch had over a foot of snow on the road in several places.

This is a shot looking straight down at the Brewster River from the Edwards Rd bridge.  Most people in cars never even know this amazing scene is there, beneath them.

Beautiful view of Mt. Mansfield from Upper Pleasant Valley Rd.
 On May 6th, I reprised last year's century, riding to the VT Design Technology Education Assosiactions spring conference at VT Technical College in Randolph.  I got a bit of a late start this year, not leaving until 5:45am (I should have left at 5:00, but we had attended an excellent concert by Quartetto Gelato in Stowe the night before).  I rode the 50 miles to the conference and back, adding in a hilly little 20-mile loop with "the gang" after the conference.
The early morning mist along the Winooski River reminded me of cycling through Savanna.

I love this view of Rte 12 at Baker Pond, perhaps because it means the long climb is almost done.

These geese must have been nesting on the little rock in Baker Pond as they honked up quite a racket when I looked their way.

The tiny church in East Braintree.

The short church was built in 1817, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings in the state.

I decided to try taking Howard Hill Rd from Rte 12 over to the Ridge Rd this year, not having any idea of how incredibly steep it is.  I stopped to take this photo of the stream that runs alongside the road, partly because it indicates the pitch of the road.  To make things worse, the grader had just gone up the road--I caught it at the end.
The entire South Burlington team did the apr├Ęs-conference ride this year.


Bob Lindemann, Olaf Verdonk and our old friend and now VTC guy, Andy Myrick, joined us for the ride, giving us a great crew.

Jay rides across the floating bridge in Brookfield.

The Rte 66 hill is a real buster, but Erin really wanted to ride it and he cleaned the whole climb, meeting his big goal.

I love this view from the Ridge Rd, with the rolling hills in the background.  Quintessential Vermont.

I decided to go over Moretown Mountain on the way home, for variety and to ride the three covered bridges.  You can just see one in the upper left.

A closer view.  Why truckers don't use more care when they cross these is a mystery.  This kind of damage is so easily avoided, it's a very poor reflection on the professionalism of some drivers.

The lower two bridges use Town Lattice construction, while the third has a Queenpost design.

Cox Brook was running strong and beautiful.

Most of the dirt was quite good, though still a little on the rippled side, after mud season.  Parts of the upper section had been recently graded, but I had the right bike and tires for this kind of work.

The glimpse of Camels Hump tells you you've reached the top.

The historic weathervane on the old church in Duxbury.
I finished up the ride in the dark, with the sound of the spring peepers along the Duxbury Rd so loud it was almost painful.  A very pleasant 200k spring ride.