Sunday, October 20, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019!

After taking a break from Coffeeneuring over the last couple of years we are back!  Short off the heels of our trip to Ireland we're in the mood to keep riding and chasing coffee's is a great way to do it. The coffee options remain slim here in our little town, but we do our best and were able to augment our first week's ride while on an out-of-town trip. I'll be updating this post with each week's outing.

Coffeeneuring #1

Destination: Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Date: October 13, 2019
Distance: 5 miles, 196 ft. of climbing





We cycled into Woods Hole and enjoyed a lunch and coffee in the outside seating area at Pie in the Sky, a popular destination for all the folks waiting to take the ferry to Martha's Vineyard. Wood's Hole is a great little village to spend any amount of time in. We stopped by a local potter's shop and enjoyed checking out her work on the way back home.

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Coffeeneuring #2

Destination: The Sweet Spot, Waitsfield, Vermont
Date: October 20, 2019
Distance: 9 miles, 830ft of climbing










We were joined by our friend Jeanne on this trip and ventured out along the Common Road before dropping into town. Snow capped the ridge of the Green Mountains as we gazed across the valley, and the temps were on the chilly side. The Sweet Spot often closes for a period in the fall, so we wanted to be sure to catch it before we lost the chance.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Ireland 2019



We were lucky enough to spend two weeks this fall riding in County Kerry (plus a little in Cork) up and down the peninsulas and up and over the many stunning mountain passes.







Our trip was long planned, but it was really only in the last few weeks that we honed in on our plan specifically and key in that process was spending an evening with the Fixie Pixie and Fear Rothar who helped me narrow down the region and how much we might take on in a trip of this scope. After years of touring the country and knowing that what was good for them would be good for us, I felt lucky to get their help. Their advice was just what we needed and I felt a sense of confidence and direction about our trip.




We again travelled with our pal James and met up in Dublin. A night out in Temple Bar and then a train the next day to Killarney landed us at the start of our journey. We started with a bang by heading up through the Gap of Dunloe in the mist. What a stunning start to our trip! Despite the cars and horse drawn carts we reveled in the climb. As we crested the top the mist turned decidedly to rain and we were quickly saturated. By the time we'd reached the bottom of the other side we were deeply chilled and in need of food and warmth. Gladly, there was a small restaurant not far away and we were restored to continue our journey on towards Moll's Gap. The way broadened out in to the Black Valley and we continued to marvel at the beauty. Sheep, mountains, tiny roads, broad fields...



We never actually reached Moll's Gap, although we pretty much were right a stones throw away. Somehow we goofed up our navigation and turned back just below Moll's Gap and returned back where we'd come from to continue on over the modest climb through Lough Brin, and truthfully, I'm glad that's how we went. It made for a longer journey down to Kenmare, but it was so beautiful I would have been sad to miss it.



The climbing in Reeks is no joke and we got as much as we could want every day out during our trip. Our second day of riding took us up Priest's Leap and then later back to Kenmare via the climb through the Borlin valley. Priest's was staggeringly steep and I managed to climb it without needing to walk, but barely. I suspect that's the steepest stretch I've ever done and it was a thrill. The landscape is vast and empty. Borlin in contrast was endless and gentle and provided a perfect contrast to the effort of Priest's. We could see our road gently curving up through the valley wall for endless k's in front of us. It was a perfect journey up and over the mountain ridge.


The following days took us into Cork and out to the end of Sheep's Head peninsula, back to Bantry, over Caha pass and back into the mountains of Iverah. Sleeping at the Climber's Inn in Glenview was one of the most deep and cozy sleeps I've had in along while.


From the mountains we journeyed to the sea and took in the coast in Waterville and then moved north to Portmagee through misty climbs and spectacular views of the Skeligs.

We bade farwell to Iveragh as we made our way to Cahersiveen and then spent the night in Killorglin and began our days in Dingle. We did our time on the N561 until we were gladly able to begin the climb up and over to Camp. There's not much there, but the views are grand as you summit the pass and see mountain above and sea behind and ahead. Our first day in Dingle was a two-fer and after coming down from the climb over to Camp we made the haul to climb up and over Connor Pass. Connor is the highest pass in Ireland and it is dramatic--probably a climb that should be on any adventurous cyclist's list. That said, there are piles of tourists all driving up and down the road and that stands in contrast to some of the more remote climbs we did on the trip.




Likewise, our trip out of Dingle around Slea Head was stunning and even sublime... until the fog lifted and the busses and cars showed up.

Leaving Dingle for Tralee was our last proper day of touring and a highlight of the day was getting to Inch Beach. James and I braved the bracingly cold water for a swim and Nancy rode effortlessly over the vast open expanse of hardpack beach sand. It was dreamy and an hour or so I will not soon forget.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New England Randonneurs 200k Trace

Last Saturday, myself and five others biked from our home here in the Mad River Valley down to Brattleboro, VT as particpants in the New England Randonneurs springtime Fleché/Dart/Trace ride, where all riders converge at a predetermined location, in this case Brattleboro.

After the ride a friend asked how it went.

"Dreamy" was my reply.

I added that this didn't mean the ride wasn't at times hard, painful or challenging, but when all is said and done, the sum total of the experience is somehow just this big sense of accomplisment, gratitude and pleasure.

Our route favored dirt roads and low-traffic back ways with whatever lovely sights we might happen upon. We rode 131 miles in roughly 14 hours. Temps were in the mid 40's when we started and apparently reached the low 80's at the warmest point.

Its amazing how the bike, this basic tool, delivers again and again!


Saturday, June 30, 2018

s240 2018!


This year's ride was short but sweet... and the destination was probably the finest yet. As always, the magic of bikes, loved-ones and a beautiful part of Vermont equal some form of magical experience. Hooray!

I'm so glad we started this way back when because it set the template and now it just wouldn't be right to quit! Besides, it's just so much fun.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Japan

We were blessed with a two-week cycling journey around southwestern Japan. Our travels were largely based on the island of Shikoku.

With a rough plan in hand we adjusted our journey once we got a feel for the roads and options available. Also, there were four of us and we needed to account for the wishes and priorities of each. As a recent bottle cap proverb said "If you want to go far, go alone; if you want to be happy, travel together".

It was a memorable, perhaps life-altering experience. We will be back.











Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our 2017 S24O!




Over the last 9 years we have managed to enjoy 8 group s24o's with our friends and loved ones. The nominal excuse is my birthday, which falls at the end of April, but the real reason we do this is because it's so much fun--I'm honored that to be a part of it.  After so many years we have a track record; we all look forward to this annual gathering filled with fun and adventure.


What's an s24o? It translates into a "sub-24 hour overnight" and it is only the most awesome thing ever. Bicycle touring on a short schedule? Speed camping? Its charm lays in its brevity. Most of us can manage to put aside our responsibilities for half a weekend and the rewards are always worth whatever juggling needs to happen to pull it all together.

 


We gather bikes, kids, food, camping gear and a sense of adventure to ride off down the road until we find a cozy place to camp. Tents get set up, snacks come out, stoves are lit and we enjoy yummy food and an evening together. In the morning it all happens again in reverse as we disperse back home, smelling of wood smoke, twigs rattling in our spokes, and smiles on our faces.


This year we hit something of a milestone: for the first time everyone was on their own bikes. In past years there have been kids in trailers or on trail-a-bikes but this year everyone got there by their own effort. I think of Silas in particular because the first year we did this he wasn't yet thought up, the second year he was baking in the oven, and the third year he was there in a trailer. Now he's leading the pack with gears and hand brakes!

 




This years trip took us again up Stetson Hollow Road in Granville. Since we first went to this area, Tropical Storm Irene managed to take out a significant bridge and scoured sections of the road down to bare boulders, so we can't go as far as we could 9 years ago. Nonetheless, we found an inviting spot with room for a handful of tents and a couple of campfire options.

 



As usual we came varying distances based on our time available and the umph in our legs. Sometimes I think the kids don't realize that biking the back roads of Vermont for 11 or 12 miles is not a typical activity for folks their age, but they don't know any different and seem to enjoy it.




After arriving, we set up camp and then did a little excursion that included crossing the aforementioned stream bed where the bridge once stood to see a lovely waterfall. We enjoyed some pre-dinner yummies and then went back to our campsite to fry up some sausage and enjoy a campfire. Gladly the night was not quite as cold as predicted, but we are all glad to be in our sleeping bags once we turned in.




The morning saw us sleeping surprisingly late, having a little breakfast and then getting ready to go. Some of the kids had games they needed to get to, so there was a first crew that left before the rest of us a little later. We made our respective ways home, some to waiting cars, some all the way back on bikes.

Why did we skip a year? The reason mostly was that we were trying to include a lot of families and in the end could not find a date that worked for everyone, so we skipped it. Going forward we've decided it'll be the same weekend every year so whoever can make it will be there.