Join Date: Sep 2005
Bikes: Cannondale T2000, Gary Fisher Sugar2, Trek Madone 5.2SL
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So it took a while to write again. Every small town has a library, but most are open from 1-3pm on Mondays and in some cases Thursdays when it's the week of a full moon or some such nonsense. Last I left off I implored one of you to do something about the rain. I see how effective that was....
So we left off at the Newport library. From there we took some local advice on an alternative route. It worked out well. It was still quite scenic, but without the three hills that were liable to make you want to kill yourself in between. The route took us past Bernie's Tire & Auto. With a lot of time to think on a bike, I thought it might be fun to hang out there for a weekend, photograph yourself with customers and listen to their auto woes. Then you could relive over and over, your weekend at Bernie's. Anyhow, we got to Island Pond / Brighton State Park that night and had three, count them three restaurants to choose from. Not one closed place and a gas station, but three honest to God restaurants. So we ordered pizza and salad to go and took them to a bench along the pond (Island Pond for those who don't catch on quick). That was nice and serene. Then it was off to the campsite, or as I like to call it, 'Skeeterville. So after a hard fought battle, it was off to bed. Now I know I didn't mention rain a whole lot, but guess what happened overnight. Yup, so it was a good soaker, and the trusty Eureka tent kept us dry.
Unfortunately, we had to pack it semi-wet during a rain break which finally came around 10:30. Engaged in another battle with the mosquitos and once again, reminded Kristen why the desert was so much better than the forest. We ate breakfast in Island Pond and set out just in time for it to start raining again. (Thanks again for the help folks). We rode through Moose territory and I kept an eagle eye out for them. It turns out eagles don't look for moose, so maybe that's why I didn't see any. Rain finally stopped near East Burke. Is that good? Well, we're already wet, so at best we're still going to be wet and now in stifling humidity. The route detoured us away from traffic, but through some deep woods which are apparently home to a lot of deer flies. I have the "painful" memories to prove it. Rode into St. Johnsbury, and ate at a diner that was featured in a book about hamburgers. Got to read the history of White Castle over dinner, that was entertaining. But then it was off to camp. Everyone familiar with black flies? I gather a lot of corn country folks aren't, but I sure am now. They're as small, or smaller than a gnat, but they let you know you're there. Someone here said, jokingly, that under a microscope, they're about 75% fang. I also heard the moose will go so crazy from them, that you'll see them running down backroads to get away from them. Kristen thought I was nuts for swatting at these pin head sized beasts with a bite, but once she started hearing more stories from the locals, she started to believe. We ended the night playing frisbee in the campground, away from most of the biting things.
From St Johnsbury, we rode to North Haverhill, New Hampshire. Now, to the untrained, you might think we were in North Haverhill, but we weren't. We were in Nawth A-vril. These Northeasterners are weird. I bet they wouldn't know the meaning of etymology if the dictionary fell open to that page on their tongues. Sure, we all have our tricksters like Hour and Knife, buy why waste two perfectly good H's in Haverhill if you're not saying "Haver" or "Hill?" Anyhow, back to the beginning of the day. Supposed to start the day with a big big climb. We started up immediately and it was a thigh burner, but it leveled off. Kristen said we'd climbed the big hill based on her reading of the elevation map. I remained skeptical, though I appreciated the flat ride along a river, then we turned around a bend and HELLO, a hill that has no end. No more elevation maps for Kristen. Well, the hill did finally reach an end, after several twists and bends, but the fun is always earning that downhill rush. I was near 40mph. I'd have liked to try for more, but stopping me, the bike and all that gear on little rim brakes isn't easy, nor fast. That took us across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. It started off easy enough, but we hit another climb that rivaled our last one, though not as long, it was steeper. It was about then the sun, this flaming orbital mass that had gone unseen in many days reared it's head. Just enough to make it visibly hazy. But with the hills all around, you never know what's on the other side. That's why it wasn't surprising to hear a crack of thunder. I thought that provided good motivation to kick it up a notch, but Kristen is of the mindset she's got a singlespeed, Kristenspeed, and no crack of thunder or rolling semi or scenic overlook is going to change that. We had dinner in Woodsville and bought groceries for dinner. It was then, we contemplated the great history to the area, and how long some of the same families have been living in the same area for several generations versus further west in our fine nation where people and families have, um, diversified a little bit along the way. You know what I mean? We road south, though it was quite busy and annoying, but when the White Mountains suddenly popped into view, that was pretty neat. Too bad they were obscured by clouds and drizzle. But hey, why should we expect anything more at this point? Shortly after we arrived at the B&B/Bike Shop. It was a pretty high-end shop from what I saw and the owner was quite the downhill rider from what was to be gathered. I asked him to swap my rear pads before we left again or at least leave me a par so I could swap them. I noticed one rear pad was down to near metal.
Staying with the B&B owners further cemented my view that they clearly have a different version of the Merriam Webster than what we all know and love. I noticed while at the B&B, that Kristen plays a good game of "Give Away." It's much like Keep Away, but the exact opposite. Anyhow, I lost and now have the cold she was getting over when we started the trip. So now I have a real bed, air conditioning and a roof, and still can't get good sleep. Anyway, we got up Friday and were picked up by "Hemlock Pete" to dump us out in the Connecticut River with a canoe. "Looks like a nice day finally," he said. He got us in the canoe, shoved us off and said he'd see us at the end point. Now wouldn't you know, not 5 minutes after he pushed us off, we heard a CRACK. Thunder. Well, it's to the north, we're heading south, let's get going. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures, but our canoe was going so fast, our bow was riding about 2 feet in the air and our wake was turning over on itself. It was amazing. It looked like we had made some headway, so we took a breather. About that time, I saw a bolt of lightning dead ahead. Maybe, dead's not a good term, but it was right in front of us. So we head to the shore to think things over. More clouda are rolling in, but if we can keep getting south, are odds will improve. So we pull away from shore and see the gray clouds moving at us directly from the west. You could see the rain in the hills, then obscuring the hills, then you could hear it in the fields, then in the trees on the opposite bank then the water, and the river is wide enough, we actually watche dthe rain coming at us and there wasn't enough time to do squat. So off to the shore again to hide underneath the trees. We tried to pull out our rain jackets, but it was much too late. We were soaked, the canoe had an inch of water in it along the keel. But again, why should we expect better on this trip. This wouldn't have happened in the desert. It did clear falry quickly, and we were underway again, though it did rain on us a couple more times. The only thing worse than the rain was Kristen bringing her camera with dead batteries. We got 2 photos in before it quit. We're still negotiating forgiveness over that one! Back to the B&B. We walked to the "General Store" in town and bought pizza rolls and frozen TGIF potato skins to nuke for dinner. And since we're where we are, a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. And yes, Mothers, we even bought two salads to go along side that. So we warmed that up and watched Pre-race coverage of the Tour de France.
N. Haverhill, NH to Sharon, VT - Well, once again, I'm an unstoppable touring cyclist or a complete moron. The bike shop was going to replace my pads before we left this morning, only he found out that was just part of the problem. The reason my pad was worn down to nothing was because I had a broken spoke which meant an out-of-true wheel which was dragging on the brake everytime it passed. So how long did I power up hills with 40+ pounds of gear and the rim dragging on the brake? Long enough to wear it to nothing. So, we waited for Tom to change out the spoke, which gave us a chance to watch the opening stage of the Tour de France. That's the 2nd rear spoke on the drive side that's broken. Tom said I need to be nicer to my bicycle when pedaling up the hills and not try to muscle my way through them, as it was a combination of the power and weight that was breaking those particular spokes. I didn't hear Kristen volunteer to take the tent at this point. We finally go underway and saw a lot of cyclists today as there was a benefit ride going on. For a while, I was keeping pace for a group who had caught us. I just can't handle being passed, so when I saw them in my mirror, I picked it up. I finally got to a turn on the map, so I needed to stop for Kristen to catch up, and they complimented me on the nice pace I was keeping "with that boat." We passed "Hemlock Pete's" shop and saw him inside. We were able to holler back and forth greetings without slowing much. We crossed back into Vermont and again, saw some of that old family history I talked about earlier. Do maple trees grow pretty much straight up and down, or do they branch out a lot? The ones here don't branch out much if you get my drift, nudge nudge. So then it was back to climbing, up Thetford Hill. Got to the top, looked back and saw a 10% grade sign for the last half-mile. Now there's some climbing, bt we both made it. In Thetford Center, we stopped for a photo at a covered bridge. While stopped, a touring cyclist coming from the opposite direction stopped to chat. He stared in Ohio and was heading for Maine. From there he was going to head to Washington D.C. He was roughly our age, quit his job, and cashed out his retirement to spend months touring. He seemed awfully normal and rational to be doing such a seemingly irrational thing, but he was happy about what he was doing. He said something to the effect of "man, there are a lot of Subarus around here." and we could only laugh because I can't help but point that out daily. He warned us of some bad roads and climbs ahead, and on that note, we bid farewell. We then passed a couple riding on a tandem shortly thereafter. They gave us the same warning. We continued on to South Strafford. There we stopped at the "general store" for a bite and a lady leaving the checkout said she had passed us and asked us where we were going. She too warned us of the bad roads due to construction and then began to sketch out a new route for us on a paper towel. We thanked her, and I thought, how bad coud it be? While outside eating, a guy riding a recumbent passed by. We waved. As we were leaving, he walked back and asked us where we were going and introduced himself. Turns out I had emailed the guy weeks earlier askig about the area. He agreed with the lady's sugestion and also gave us an alternative route for the next day. So off on detour number 1. It was mainly dirt roads, but from all indications, better than the one under construction. It climbed a lot, and went through the woods, but it seemed to be better than what everyone else described. If only the lady had mapped out all the turns. She forgot one, or so I thought. It was an easy detour of a few turns and I thought I remembered them all, so I didn't look at it much. Over dinner I went to show Kristen the lady's mistake only to find I sort of forgot one of the turns. We didn't get too lost, I figured out relatively quickly something wasn't right, oh well. Into Sharon, we had no plans for lodging. We stopped by the first place listed, full. The second place, now an apartment complex, the third place, didn't even look like an inn, it looked liked a well to-do person's house. Turns out one wing is a motor lodge. Got the last room thans to someone else's cancellation. Saw some college aged kids touring on a budget. They planned to go to Chicago. Grabbed some dinner, showered and Kristen went to bed. I heard fireworks and went to see the display. I never figured out if it was a small town display, or a local yokel with a lot of cash. Bed time for me too. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the rain. It's so commonplace, that I nearly forgot to mention it. It rained on us periodically, especially from Thetford Center to South Strafford, but the sun did make an appearance for much of the rest of the day.
That's a lot already, but I'll hopefully get more written Wednesday.