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Ride report 2015: Augusta, Maine to New Lebanon, NY

Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

Ride report 2015: Augusta, Maine to New Lebanon, NY

Old 09-07-15, 06:25 PM
  #26  
chefisaac
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Get ride report! Thank you. I have so much to learn about packing light.

Have re you ever considered using google earth to check out your route prior to touring?
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Old 09-07-15, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
Get ride report! Thank you. I have so much to learn about packing light.

Have re you ever considered using google earth to check out your route prior to touring?
Isaac! Great to hear from you.

I looked at Google Earth in the planning stages -- which roads had shoulders, etc. But I wound up trying to keep so many variables in my head -- shoulders, traffic, towns to stop in for food, towns I could stay in overnight -- that I just hit overload, called it all a bad deal, and went with the default RidesWithGPS plans. Not the best decision I ever made, in retrospect.
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Old 09-07-15, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
Isaac! Great to hear from you.

I looked at Google Earth in the planning stages -- which roads had shoulders, etc. But I wound up trying to keep so many variables in my head -- shoulders, traffic, towns to stop in for food, towns I could stay in overnight -- that I just hit overload, called it all a bad deal, and went with the default RidesWithGPS plans. Not the best decision I ever made, in retrospect.
check your PM in a few.
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Old 09-08-15, 05:16 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
And when I saw that the state of New Hampshire cared enough about the trail to do maintenance:

(yes, that's a tunnel with an active backhoe on the other side), well, that's when I started looking for alternate routes.
Heh. Reminded me of this road a few miles west of Butte, MT:



Crazy about the trail accident and nice of you two to help out. I hate that thing when it's crowded. We spent Sunday night in Brooklyn after riding there that day. Yesterday was a recovery day for me. You might consider giving the ride a try next year if you can tolerate some interesting urban riding.
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Old 09-08-15, 05:57 PM
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Day 7: Cummington, MA to The Abode of the Message, New Lebanon, NY; 41 miles

The last day of the ride. It was sunny but not too warm, and I was in a good mood. Breakfast at the B&B was lovely. I heard all about the local agricultural fair, taking place that weekend, as I had a breakfast of eggs, toast, fresh fruit, and hot tea. The bike was in fine shape:




My travelling companion was delighted that the B&B had apple trees laden with fruit:


and I was nestled between hills and hills, eager to get on my way.

I was wearing my hot pink "see me!" shirt, with "I'm headed to the ice cream party" (or words to that effect) written in on the back.

Of course, there were the mandatory problems with routing. Google tried to send me down a road that didn't exist:


so after four miles uphill to get to the non-road, I had to turn around and get back to the B&B to find another option. The sheep in the meadow were amused to see me come by again.


The Garmin GPS suggested another road out of the area, which (unlike Google's suggestion) had actually been a road at some point in time.


Eventually, I gave up and just got back to the main highway -- Route 9 -- the way that my rescuer had brought me in the night before, even though it meant taking a bit of a longer route than absolutely necessary. I figure that all the backtracking and extra loops that morning added 7 miles or so to my odometer -- which nicely helped to counterbalance the miles I didn't ride the day before.

A lot of Rt 9 was under construction -- lanes blocked, shoulders closed, asphalt scraped and bumpy. Still, compared to the day before, the hills were shorter and more manageable. Some I walked out of safety concerns: heading uphill on a 55mph highway with no shoulder into a curve was not something I wanted to try. Sure, cars and trucks could see me going up the hill and give me room, until I made it around the curve. Then I would be in prime position to get slammed by a car that wasn't expecting someone to go 8mph in the slow lane.

Pittsfield, MA was the last city I passed through. Again, I found reason to walk the bike from time to time:

Yes, those are train tracks coming across an uphill with no shoulder at a gentle angle -- a great way to get a tire caught.

I had lunch at a cafe in Pittsfield, sent a text to Phil to let him know I was in the homestretch, and set off on Rt 20. I could hear folks honking happily as they saw my shirt. One friend pulled over and asked if I'd like a ride. I smiled and said no -- but I was happy to offload my panniers to her. She went back into Pittsfield, getting more supplies for the gathering, leaving me alone to go down the last hill at 35 mph. As I was going downhill, someone on a motorcycle sportsbike was leaning into the uphill, almost dragging his knee on the asphalt. We were equally delighted in speed and curves, just in different directions.

And then, I was at the gathering, with my friends around me. The first one to see me come to the campground on two wheels shouted out, "Oh my God!" I smiled, and looked at my odometer: 399.8 miles total for the week. I took a victory lap, winding up to 400, as my friends came to greet me and offer me hugs & homemade ice cream.
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Old 09-08-15, 06:00 PM
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If you've enjoyed this report, please consider leaving something in the tip-jar, er, making a donation to the MS Society.
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Old 09-08-15, 06:19 PM
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At the end...

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Old 09-08-15, 06:54 PM
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Great story, and hope you enjoyed 100 bowls of ice cream.

Thanks for sharing!
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Old 09-08-15, 07:13 PM
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Wow, that was such an entertaining read. A bit of a noob here and I never knew how people rode long tours like that.

Time to get off my butt and ride! Very inspirational.
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Old 09-08-15, 07:29 PM
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A wonderful trip report. Great adventure.
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Old 09-14-15, 09:47 AM
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Sounds like a ride full of challenges. Thanks for sharing your story with us! Which is more fun, the self supported tour or a fully supported tour?
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Old 09-15-15, 09:03 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by since197three View Post
Wow, that was such an entertaining read. A bit of a noob here and I never knew how people rode long tours like that.

Time to get off my butt and ride! Very inspirational.
It's not for everyone, especially those who never take to camping. My GF tried it and never really took to it.

The first night I spent in a tent was at the end of the first day of my first tour, which turned out to be a nearly four month, self-contained trip from Seattle to Bar Harbor, ME to Philly then on to Ocean City, NJ. Seattle to Bar Harbor I did with a group of 13 people. It was an organized Adventure Cycling Association tour, but we had no support. I went the group route because I was a total noob to touring. Not only had I never camped before, I had no idea what one needed to cook for one's self, much less 13 people. Also, there are economies of scale with small groups. I learned a lot during the trip, including that touring with strangers can pose challenges. I used what I learned to do a solo, seven week trip in southern Spain the following winter. Then I took another long trip out west, from Seattle to Cortez, CO. Didn't do any self contained touring after that for some 8 years then I picked it up again.

I now try to take at least one 8 or so day tour every year, preferably out west, and a few long weekends. I toured the Black Hills of SD this year and am planning to head back to SW Montana, where I was in 2011 and 2014. I also crossed PA via two different routes in 2013 and 2014. Taking a three-day trip this weekend to Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine, NJ. I'll take PATCO Lindenwold and then ride about 54 miles to the campground. Saturday I will take a day ride to the Cape May County Zoo and pick up groceries on the way back. Sunday, instead of retracing my route back to Lindenwold, I will ride into Ocean City and up the coast to A.C. to catch the train back to Philly. I find even short trips very refreshing. And when the weather is nice like it's supposed to be this weekend, you can run lighter. No need for cool/cold weather gear.
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Old 09-15-15, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
It's not for everyone, especially those who never take to camping. My GF tried it and never really took to it.

The first night I spent in a tent was at the end of the first day of my first tour, which turned out to be a nearly four month, self-contained trip from Seattle to Bar Harbor, ME to Philly then on to Ocean City, NJ. Seattle to Bar Harbor I did with a group of 13 people. It was an organized Adventure Cycling Association tour, but we had no support. I went the group route because I was a total noob to touring. Not only had I never camped before, I had no idea what one needed to cook for one's self, much less 13 people. Also, there are economies of scale with small groups. I learned a lot during the trip, including that touring with strangers can pose challenges. I used what I learned to do a solo, seven week trip in southern Spain the following winter. Then I took another long trip out west, from Seattle to Cortez, CO. Didn't do any self contained touring after that for some 8 years then I picked it up again.

I now try to take at least one 8 or so day tour every year, preferably out west, and a few long weekends. I toured the Black Hills of SD this year and am planning to head back to SW Montana, where I was in 2011 and 2014. I also crossed PA via two different routes in 2013 and 2014. Taking a three-day trip this weekend to Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine, NJ. I'll take PATCO Lindenwold and then ride about 54 miles to the campground. Saturday I will take a day ride to the Cape May County Zoo and pick up groceries on the way back. Sunday, instead of retracing my route back to Lindenwold, I will ride into Ocean City and up the coast to A.C. to catch the train back to Philly. I find even short trips very refreshing. And when the weather is nice like it's supposed to be this weekend, you can run lighter. No need for cool/cold weather gear.
WOW. You really upped the bar with those rides lol. I really just begging to ride seriously and only up to 15 miles. A long road ahead of me.
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Old 09-15-15, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by since197three View Post
WOW. You really upped the bar with those rides lol. I really just begging to ride seriously and only up to 15 miles. A long road ahead of me.
Thanks. Hoping to take another cross country trip when I retire at age 60--in 9.5 years. It's never too late. The strongest guy on my cross country trip was 60. (The oldest was 76.) He had been a CHiP for 30 years. Retired at 55 after 30 years of service. He rode a full suspension MTB towing a B.O.B. trailer. His wife had been a seamstress and made his tent. It was huge and heavy. We nicknamed it "the Condo." He carried CHiP key chains for each member of the group and gave them to us at breakfast on the last day. I still use mine.

The thing that really appeals to me is riding through a nice area then setting up my little home away from home at the end of day. The perfect evening includes cooking a nice, hot meal (although I have made some so-so ones due to lack of choices), drinking some wine, reading by a campfire then crashing in the tent. 45-60 degrees is great sleeping weather. One night in IN the low was about 85, and it was humid with no breeze. That is not fun.
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Old 09-16-15, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
Sounds like a ride full of challenges. Thanks for sharing your story with us! Which is more fun, the self supported tour or a fully supported tour?
More fun while I'm doing it? Probably the group tours. The Bon Ton Roulet and the Ride Around Washington gave me people to chat with who were experiencing the same thing.
But I find I get more "story points" out of the solo rides -- when I tell my co-workers I rode 400 miles in New England, solo, schlepping my own gear, *that's* when I get the "Oh my God!" reaction. And there have been rides where I wanted more time alone with my thoughts and less nights of entertainment with 200 of my closest friends.

The C&O/GAP ride in 2010 was probably the best. It was the summer after my weight loss surgery. A lot of things were changing in my life, and I was really looking for some time to think, alone. Proving to myself that I could *do* something like that was very important to me. Less than a year before, I needed to pull over and suck wind multiple times on an 8 mile flat commute to work. Plus, I fell into a rhythm with a group of four friends doing the same path at the same time. We weren't riding together, but we kept running into each other along the way. So I was alone, but I still had someone keeping an eye out for me.
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Old 09-17-15, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
More fun while I'm doing it? Probably the group tours. The Bon Ton Roulet and the Ride Around Washington gave me people to chat with who were experiencing the same thing.
But I find I get more "story points" out of the solo rides -- when I tell my co-workers I rode 400 miles in New England, solo, schlepping my own gear, *that's* when I get the "Oh my God!" reaction. And there have been rides where I wanted more time alone with my thoughts and less nights of entertainment with 200 of my closest friends.

The C&O/GAP ride in 2010 was probably the best. It was the summer after my weight loss surgery. A lot of things were changing in my life, and I was really looking for some time to think, alone. Proving to myself that I could *do* something like that was very important to me. Less than a year before, I needed to pull over and suck wind multiple times on an 8 mile flat commute to work. Plus, I fell into a rhythm with a group of four friends doing the same path at the same time. We weren't riding together, but we kept running into each other along the way. So I was alone, but I still had someone keeping an eye out for me.
Your trip reports are very inspirational and makes me want to do a tour. If I did a solo tour, it might be the C&O, because my sister lives in NOVA, so I could have her pick me up at the end. And, if necessary, rescue me. I hear that some of the lock houses can be rented for a night. Also, the C&O seems like a good distance for a first tour.

Also, your weight loss is inspirational. Your current avatar makes it look like you may not be an Athena anymore. You can see the weight loss from your pictures on the C&O tour to your current avatar.

GH
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Old 09-17-15, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ColaJacket View Post
Your trip reports are very inspirational and makes me want to do a tour. If I did a solo tour, it might be the C&O, because my sister lives in NOVA, so I could have her pick me up at the end. And, if necessary, rescue me. I hear that some of the lock houses can be rented for a night. Also, the C&O seems like a good distance for a first tour.

Also, your weight loss is inspirational. Your current avatar makes it look like you may not be an Athena anymore. You can see the weight loss from your pictures on the C&O tour to your current avatar.
I wouldn't be a Clyde (200 lbs and over) but I think I'll always be in the 'Theena category (150 pounds and up).

Here's the "before" (or, more accurately, "just starting"), September 2009:


And here's one from last year in Washington, selected because of the shirt:
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