Monday, August 30, 2010

Down the Great Allegheny Passage (2009)

A pre-randonneuring account


My trips always seem to start after nights of little sleep. We arrived last night at 1:30 am delayed by all day rain, those work deadlines that always come up when I want to take a day off and the nagging effects of a cold or sniffles or allergy that have me questioning the security of my stomach and reaching for tissues. The flu the kids had three weeks ago was also on my mind.

I drove for 5 hours while the kids slept. Of course, when we arrived, the baby was wide awake and eager to explore at the top of her voice for the next few hours and no one was going to stop her. Sleep was interrupted for me. For my wife, who stayed awake with her, all I can say is I heard her pleading with the baby and bargaining with God at least once last night. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Going up

                      Insanity needs a structured environment to really flourish.

Not so long ago, I used to think I could ride uphill. No biggie - just stand on the pedals and jam up the shorties or, if the hill was tall enough that you had to tilt you head to see the top, sit and spin your way up - your heart might pound a little bit and you might have to catch your breath on the downhill, but once it was over, it was done. Just find your groove, ride fast on the flat and make up any time lost in the hills. Then I started randonneuring.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blue Mountain Permanent - August 14, 2010

A wall of land runs east-west for 150 miles in central Pennsylvania. Verdant family farms spread over the rolling fields south of the wall. Amish, Mennonite and smallish, corporate-sponsored farms grow corn, clover, organic vegetables, raise cows, alpacas or goats. North of the wall, the towns and villages of coal country sporadically appear. The land wall thrusts 1400 feet up as though two ancient land masses offering different ways of life resolved their dispute by smashing themselves together to build a barrier that would forever hinder any exchange between the two. That wall is Blue Mountain.

200K - Biking from Brooklyn to Bear Mountain

- NYC  July 18, 2010
Pre-dawn summer Sunday in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY, comes with waves of heat and throbbing sounds of an all night reggae-thon. Today’s brevet will start under the George Washington Bridge at 7 am. That’s two hours and 17 miles away. Traffic is light for the city. The thought of a subway ride with at least one transfer seems a poor way to start the day plus, it’s a chance to ride the length of Manhattan at dawn. So I start an easy pace toward Prospect Park and flow into the warm humid embrace of July.