Category Archives: trip


Some Pictures from The Seacoast Century

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Pictures from our trip to Mount Greylock

Yesterday Doug B., Steve R., Sue L., Dave G., John H. and John S. went to North Adams Massachusetts to ride up Mount Greylock. We rode up from the Northern side.

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The Summer of Ice Cream and Beer

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I decided to spend the summer of 2012 voluntarily “under-employed” as I transitioned from one job to another, in order to test the efficacy of my rigorous training regimen of consuming as much ice cream and beer as possible.  Finally all my hard work and thousands of calories ingested were about to pay dividends.  And no one would try to strip me of my Strava KOM’s if they discovered I’d been “doping”.

The annual conference for my national professional organization was being held in Charlotte, NC, at the end of July.  Since I was not technically practicing in my field of specialty, I thought it might actually be fun to attend the meeting for a change.  I was also interested in spending a little soul-searching time in nearby Boone, NC.  In Lance Armstrong’s autobiography “It’s Not About the Bike”, he identifies Boone as one of his favorite training areas, and where he describes “coming back” on the bicycle after surviving his battle with cancer:

“Arizona? Too hot. Colorado? Too high altitude. Then I said, ‘Remember Boone? That little hippie town in North Carolina?’  Boone was high in the Appalachians on the route of the old Tour Du Pont, and I had fond memories of it. I had won the Tour Du Pont twice there, and I had spent many afternoons cycling and suffering on its biggest peak, Beech Mountain, which was the crucial climbing stage of the race. It was arduous but beautiful country…”

Clearly bucket list-worthy.  With or without EPO.

I departed Thursday morning on an approximately 2-hour direct flight from BDL to CLT.  Upon arrival, I rented a car and started the easy, scenic drive into the high country of North Carolina.  It took about 1:45 to roll from Charlotte to Boone, where it was a comfortable 10 degrees cooler, and noticeably less humid, than the steamy city.

On the way I passed through Blowing Rock, so I stopped in to check out this local attraction.  I wandered the grounds for 10 minutes or so, and the expansive mountain views and geological formations were worth seeing.  It’s not a very large area for exploring, so the $6 entrance fee might not seem worth it for everyone.  But at least the gift shop is very prominently featured.

Soon after arriving in the small college town of Boone, I stopped by a local joint called “The TApp Room”, situated directly across from Appalachian State University.  There I enjoyed some tasty fish tacos and a side of fresh pico de gallo, paired with a nice “Seeing Double IPA” from Foothills Brewing Company (Winston-Salem, NC).

Since it was only early afternoon and I had plenty of daylight remaining (and, notably, I was still sober-ish), I decided to head to nearby Boone Bicycle and Touring, where I’d reserved a rental bicycle for some local adventures.  The shop is tucked away at the rear of a small, shared parking area, but its understated storefront belies the neatly organized and comprehensive operation within.  I was promptly greeted and assisted by a staff member named Joseph, who was exceedingly helpful and accommodating.

Within a few minutes I was checking over a Trek Madone 2.3 (2-series aluminum frame) in very good condition.  The rental included a shop-provided seat bag with emergency repair kit (CO2 pump, spare tube, and tire levers).

The bike was an ‘H2’ fit, size 54 cm, and some customization was in order.  Joseph quickly mounted the pedals I’d brought from home, attached the bike to a trainer on the showroom floor, and had me saddle-up and soft-pedal while he made minor adjustments for fit.  After about 5-6 minutes of efforts and a brief test-spin around the parking lot, I was pretty close to a solid working relationship with my new two-wheeled BFF.

Joseph was kind enough to hand-write me a cue sheet for a local ride I could attack solo the following day.  He also suggested a group ride going out from a nearby school that evening (there were no shortage of area social rides to choose from, any day of the week).  Having picked up the bike on Thursday afternoon, Joseph told me that even if I returned the bike just after the store opened at 10 am on Sat, he’d only charge me for a 1-day rental ($59).  It was clear from the shop and its customers whom I encountered during my brief time there that a rich but laid-back bicycling culture is collectively nurtured in this town.

Originally I hadn’t planned to ride on Thursday, but I already had my bike all set up by mid-afternoon, and a friendly group ride seemed like a low-risk approach to an initial exploration of the local cycling scene.  I joined the troop gathered on edge of the Pisgah and Cherokee National Forests at Valle Crucis Elementary School, which turns out to be the start/finish location for the annual “Blood Sweat and Gears” event, a century with 13,000+ ft of climbing.

The group of about a dozen riders were mixed in age and gender, but they were all universally tanned and sinewy from riding these southeastern hills all season.  It was an easy-going and earnest crew who seemed very sincere.  They even engaged in a heartfelt group prayer before launching the ride.  I realized this wasn’t all that different from my own pre-ride ritual at Nerac events, although mine was typically a silent prayer along the lines of “Dear Lord, please let John Sattar’s chain break on the first long climb…”

There was plenty of elevation gain during the first half of the ride, all the way up to the turning point at the Tennessee state line, where we paused to reassemble, collect stragglers, and catch our breath.  As I was exploiting the rest opportunity to eat half a Clif bar, the ride leader called out “Where’s Doug?!”, knowing that I was the lone newbie Yankee of the bunch.  After I responded with a full mouth, one of the women in the group turned to me and advised, in a considerable understatement, “We’re gonna pick up the pace a bit.”  And with that, I witnessed the almost spontaneous formation of an orderly and efficient paceline, with regulars taking turns pulling at the front, as we dropped into the serpentine rollercoaster of the valley below, dancing with the shadows of the setting sun.

The Trek’s Shimano 105 components allowed smooth and confident shifting and braking.  The Bontrager seat, wheels, tires, bar, and stem provided a stable and comfortable platform for mountain road riding.  This Thursday night group ride ended up as approximately 26 miles and 2000 feet of climbing, with an average speed of 15 mph. The data recorded by Strava can be found here:

After a long day of travel and riding, I was eager to remain faithful to my summer training regimen by gorging myself on some local grub and swill.  I chose the Hob Nob Café, a farm-to-table local/organic/seasonal themed eatery with a very extensive and eclectic menu.  I saw everything from Caribbean (Jamaica and Cuba), to Southeast USA, to Southeast Asia.  I sat at the small bar bustling with wait staff activity and chose the “Goddess Salad” (go on—mock me if you must) with fresh spinach leaves, flavorful local cheese, house-made dressing, and including excellent hummus and thick slices of hearty toast as an accompaniment.  I should have quit there but couldn’t help myself—I also ordered the Vietnamese pork sandwich, a panini-like feast with pork, ham, homemade slaw, chili aioli, hot peppers, and habanero sauce.  Good thing nobody was sharing my hotel room.  The sandwich also came with a side of roasted cut potatoes that were something like home fries, only better.  I washed all this down with a Foothills Brewing Endo IPA, and a Bells Two Hearted IPA (Kalamazoo, MI).  Oh yeah, and leave your credit card at home—Hob Nob is cash only.

On Friday morning I set out relatively early to beat the predicted thunderstorms.  I used Joseph’s reliable hand-written directions to wind my way out of town and climb to an entrance of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway.  The route to the BRP was straightforward, scenic, and fun:  quiet roads with plenty of climbing.  Rolling along Shulls Mill Road in particular was a blast, and well worth the price of admission all by itself.  The BRP turned out to be more bike-friendly than I had anticipated, with relatively low traffic volume, excellent pavement condition, a sedate speed limit of 35 mph in most areas, and the motorists seemed generally respectful.  However, I was able to envision how cyclists could easily find themselves in trouble on this road, as it is a major thoroughfare for sightseeing autos, and the long hills provide ample opportunity for sustained high speeds on a bike (during one continuous downhill section of my BRP ride, I descended about 1000 feet in less than 6 miles).  This subject is addressed in a recent book, “The Road Back” by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Vitez (already on my “to-read” list).  In 2008, University of Virginia student Matt Miller suffered life-threatening injuries when he collided his bicycle head-on into an oncoming vehicle on the BRP at high speed.  Following his recovery, Mr. Miller competed in an Ironman triathlon, and is currently a medical student at University of Pennsylvania.

My own BRP out-and-back ride ended up as about 40 miles with 4000 feet of climbing, and a very touristy sub-13 mph average speed.  Between the predominantly uphill outbound route and my leisurely photo-op stops, it took me about 2 hours to reach the halfway point, but only about 1:20 on the return ride. The data recorded by Strava can be found here:

The promised thunderstorms never arrived—in fact the weather was spectacular during my two days in Boone, with abundant sunshine, temperatures in the mid-80’s, and low humidity.  The threat of severe conditions was a blessing in disguise—by midday Friday, my legs had no more miles remaining in the tank.  I returned my rental Trek to the Boone bike shop and headed off for a late lunch.  I checked out the Boone Saloon, where I tucked into a tasty homemade veggie burger with garlic yogurt sauce, served folded in naan, pita-style.  I paired the food with a Foothills Brewing People’s Porter.

Of course, immediately following lunch I had to decide where to eat dinner.  Although I wanted to be adventurous and sample a different gastronomic venue on Friday night, I couldn’t resist returning to Hob Nob Café since the menu was so extensive.  This time I picked a table in the popular outdoor seating area and tried the Thai bowl with chicken—spicy and flavorful with basil, lemongrass and rice noodles.

The entire town of Boone has a funky, relaxed bohemian vibe…I could almost smell the incense and patchouli oil wafting the streets while strolling the main drag of intriguing shops and restaurants.

On Saturday morning I departed for the conference in Charlotte, so I did not get a chance to attempt the infamous climb up Beech Mountain, which had been on my Boone to-do list.  But that just gives me an excuse to make a return trip someday.

On my ride towards downtown, which I would find warmer and wetter than up in the peaks, I contemplated this trip in a grander perspective.  My travels over the past few years have afforded me the opportunity to ride in Colorado, Utah, central Ohio, Rolla MO, Miami, Morgantown WV, Seattle, Michigan, Alaska, Southern California, and Philadelphia PA.  Boone ranks near the top of the list for my favorite bicycle memory to date.  — Doug B.


Kingdom Trails, East Burke, VT

Sidewinder @ Kingdom Trails, East Burke, VT

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Mount Greylock Climb

Sue Lucek, Don Judson, Steve Ridzon and John Sattar off to Mount Greylock Slideshow.


May 19, 20 Kingdom Trails

Riders Michael and Jill

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Kingdom Trails was the opposite of Millstone, no rocks and fast swooping descents and switchbacks so fun you forgot you were climbing for 20 minutes straight. The wooden bridges were impressive and conditions were perfect. Riding here was so much fun that I almost cried when we had to leave and I’m already plotting when we can get back up there.

May 17, 18 Millstone

Riders:  Michael and Jill

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The trails at Millstone were rocky, rooty, and some were just plain sketchy.  The fear factor was high (for me!), especially on the elevated wooden bridges (Screaming Demon trail) and some of the bony ridge descents on a narrow rock spine (Harrington Heights trail!).  Michael rode pretty much everything while I choked on several of the descents (see pic of my lame elbow wound).  I swear some of the riding there was harder than Moab! However the quarry’s were stunning and at times it was hard to watch the trail with the breathtaking views in every direction.

Snowball Express

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President’s Day 2012

 Snowball Express

Dave and Karen, a tandem couple, sent out an e-mail invitation to some friends and local bike club members inviting others to join them on Saturday, February 18th, for a century ride, the SnowballExpress, in Schuylerville, NY.  The weather has been so nice this winter that it caught my attention and I did some checking to see how I might be able to do a February century.  First I did a check to see where Schuylerville is and it looked close enough to Albany that I was thinking maybe I could go to my sister’s house a little south of Albany Friday after work and then head to the ride in the morning.  The weather looked good for Saturday and my sister said she would provide a meal I and could spend the night so I told Dave and Karen I would see them Saturday morning.

No one else responded that they planned to go so it was just the three of us.  Dave and Karen had made plans to stay with a WarmShowers host Friday night and were invited to come for dinner.  I left after work and arrive at my sister’s about 7:30 and had a great meal of bean soup, sandwiches, chips, strawberries, and beer.  My brother-in-law Barry brought out a special beer from our trip to the Ommegangbrewery on our visit to Cooperstown over a year ago now.  It’s a great beer.

I was up early Saturday morning before sunrise and on the road a little after 6 for the 70 minute drive to the start.  The morning was clear with light winds and just a little below freezing.  The start is at, John, the ride director’s, house with street parking.  He lives across from a church in a residential neighborhood and when I arrive around 7:15 there was one other car unloading a bike.  A couple more cars arrived and at 7:30 we knocked on the door and John’s wife greeted us and invited us in to register, have coffee and a bagel.  Dave and Karen were running a little late due to some misdirection from their GPS.

At 8:10 we were all outside getting the preride instructions.  Seven riders and six bikes for the ride were all it was going to be today.  John, Dave and Karen on the tandem, Ross who had done rides with John before, Scott with a brand new Kona touring bike that he had just bought on line, Jim who had driven up from NYC for the ride, and me.  As I started talking to the riders it was a diverse group with a range of riding experience.  It was Scott’s second century with last year being his first and he planning on doing more long rides and touring.  JimWilliams is an attorney in NYC and a member of a 4 man team that did RAAM for the first time last year and doing it again this year also as a 4 man team.  One of his team mates this year was featured in the movie Bicycle Dreams.

We started with a gentle climb for about ¾ of a mile past the Saratoga Monument and everyone stayed within sight of each other as we got started.  The roads were in good shape, traffic was very light, and the temps were now getting above freezing.  The ride is flat to rolling and we were doing an easy conversational pace and chatting at times as we rode.  We’d switch back and forth as we went along chatting and getting to know each other.  Since the traffic was light it was easy to ride 2 abreast much of the time and talk.  There were no manned rest stops, or route support, but some gas stations and small convenience stores along the way.  Our first stop was at about 35 miles at a Stewarts and we used the rest room and didn’t stop long.  The ride is laid out as a figure 8 so we were back at the start and John’s house at 54 miles to have some warm drinks and snacks.  I had a couple hot chocolates, ½ a bagel, part of a Pop Tart and some double stuffed Oreos.

We were back on the road a little after 1:00 and the morning sun had turned cloudy and then partly cloudy.  I had checked the radar while we were eating and there were rain and snow showers in the area, but the temps were now up into the mid 40’s so it looked like we would be safe to continue. As we started out John and Scott were lagging a little behind and the rest of us were following Ross that had done the ride the year before.  After 45 minutes or so into the ride we decide to wait and regroup, but after no one was showing up we called to see what happened.  John had gotten a cramp and was walking it out and Scott was in between, but we hadn’t seen him yet.  We described to John where we were and he said he wasn’t too far from there and to go on ahead so we did.  A few miles down the road and a couple turns later Ross said he needed to check the cue sheet.  We thought we finally had it figured out that we had missed a turn and needed to go back.  As we were getting back to the turn trying to decide which direction to go John came up from the wrong direction.  It turned out that the ride last year, that Ross was on, went a different way to get around a bridge under repair, and we had missed some turns and were on the route going in the wrong direction.  But John had not seen Scott and we thought he was probably ahead of us by now and following the cue sheet.  About 15 minutes later we see Scott coming from a different direction.  He had made a wrong turn at an intersection and was coming back to get on the route, so finally we had gotten back together at the 70 mile point.  We took a break a few miles later at another Stewarts.  John was going to take it easy to keep from cramping again.

Jim had mentioned in the early afternoon that it smelled like snow and with the gray clouds it had a winter look to the sky.  After our final break at Stewarts we spread out again with Jim, Ross, Dave and Karen, and I usually in the front group, Scott a little ways back and John taking it easy to avoid cramping.  We had seen a couple flurries in the air before our break, but nothing more than that… until about mile 90 when it started to pick up.  At that point it was going to be a fairly straight shot back with only a couple turns near the end to worry about so Jim picked up the pace and I started to chase.  We quickly got out of sight of the others and the snow went from a flurry to a squall with heavy snow coating our glasses and caking on the front of our clothes.  After a couple more miles Jim slowed because he couldn’t see through his glasses and the snow was hard enough that it was hard to see without them too.  For the last 20-30 minutes of the ride I worked to hold Jim’s wheel and only took a short turn on the front as Jim was fighting to see.   We made one wrong turn as we tried to read the wet cue sheets with our fogged over wet glasses.  It only added maybe a mile or so to the ride.  We saw John’s wife in the car as she came out to see if anyone needed a ride as the snow was starting to coat the grass.  Only John took the ride back with his wife as he was falling further behind.  Everyone got back OK as we made it inside the house to change into dry clothes and get some food.  I had some chips, cookies and soda as we said our good byes and headed home.

The ride was 102 miles and I averaged just 15 MPH.  We did just less than 3000 feet of climbing so I consider that a flat ride which made it pretty nice for a February century.  I had a great time, met some new people, rode a new area, and had a little adventure with the snowy finish.

I stopped back at my sister’s before going home and had some more food and beer.   I got home a little after midnight and had plenty of time to rest before the morning ride at 11 on Sunday.  – Dave W


Garth’s excellent Colorado cycling adventure

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In case you didn’t already know it, my wife Andrea is awesome. For Christmas she surprised me by signing me up for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado that started on June 19th. This is a brief account of that adventure.
Pre-ride: The Isle of Capri Hotel & Casino in Black Hawk is about 4 miles from the start and had cheap rooms. The problem with that is Black Hawk is a pit of a town.. really. A pathetic nothing but gambling town. No grocery store, no pharmacy type store, no pool or fitness room in the hotel. Nothing. To make matters worse, riding bicycles is against the law in Black Hawk. The only good part is Black Hawk is 8,000 feet above sea level giving us a chance to acclimate to elevation. Our first day there, Thursday, we went for a drive on the route the bicycle tour would follow. Yikes! Big climbs right from the start. We drive to a ski resort thinking it was unique to see snow in June and find that running at 10, 000 feet just doesn’t go so well the on the first day. The day before the start of the tour, Saturday, we put our bikes together and go for a 30+mile ride to Nederland, get great coffee and meet Heather Irmiger decked out in her team Subaru/Trek kit.
Day 1: This was only a 56 mile ride to Estes Park. Only 56 miles I think so I’ll ride like it’s a 56 mile ride. I like the climbs but get carried away too often, up & down hill. At the end of the ride I plan to not pedal so hard on the downhills, I’ll try to conserve some energy, because I am beat and somewhat disenchanted with riding. I am NOT looking forward to the next day.
Day 2: I feel better now, almost looking forward to riding – almost. This was billed as the best day of the ride. A 60+ mile ride up the Trail Ridge Road into the Rocky Mountain National Park with great roads and beautiful scenery. In the morning the road was closed due to a snow storm so it was unclear as to what we would do. Not until about 7:45 did we get word that we would proceed to aide station 2 and perhaps then the road would be open. Early during this climb I noticed I am being shadowed by a guy who thought I had a good pace and after speaking a bit we decided to stick together, keeping each other reasonable and not stick with each cyclist that may go by. It was hard, real hard not to go with the few folks that went by, but in the end it worked out great. Towards the top it was snowing but not so hard, and it was not very cold.. it was truly beautiful.
Approaching 3 miles from the top however, pretty snow turned to driving hail which felt like needles penetrating my skin. Visibility dropped to maybe 30 feet. One eye was hurting with some sharp pain so I keep it closed, which didn’t matter anyway since that side of my glasses were useless. My hands and feet quickly turned numb and shivering gave my bike a terrible wobble. At the top I entered the visitor’s center to try & warm up. It was filled with another 50 cyclist that had the same idea. Thirty minutes didn’t seem to help much so I put on another coat & hat that I had been carrying and headed down. Wobble wobble all the way. At some point after getting all the way down I grab a hot chocolate from a store and shortly after I can feel my hands & feet for the first time since just before the summit. I roads are quiet – I see only 2 other cyclist in the next 17 miles. Turns out the park service didn’t let any more folks down because of the conditions so they were bused down while others who had ridden back to the start in Estes Park were bused from there. This was truly the worst day of cycling I have ever had but also one that I’ll never forget.
Day 3: Lots of pace line work until Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass. The climbs seem to go on forever but sadly end at the top. Screaming 7 mile decent into Steamboat Springs.
Day 4: Long, long, long flat windy section before some climbs. The weather is great but climbing for an hour in the sun takes a lot out of a person.
Day 5: No riding, we take a whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado which is at it’s highest in 27 years.
Day 6: Up Vail Pass on the bike path. Up, up, up. I am feeling better every day so I’ve got a good pace going up and stick with the guy who came up from behind. On the way down was the first time I felt that ‘descending skills’ were required. Now this is a bike path, about 8 feet wide and since it is descending a mountain it is surely not straight. So many curves including 2 180 degree turns that so need to be alert. I was either pedaling or on my breaks, leaning into the turns and passing so many folks.
Day 7: Loveland Pass was the major climb of the day, about 8.5 miles and 2600 feet of elevation ( I had no working computer on this trip, got this from mapmyride ) to the top. The trip down was regulated by a truck that I couldn’t safely pass. Good thing perhaps. Then we get on I70 and descend another 17 miles where on the way down I actually passed a truck that was in the slow lane. Yeah, he wasn’t going all that fast, but the fact that I was in my top gear spinning 100+ rpm and actually passed a vehicle on the highway entertains me. As we approach Central City we have one more BIG climb ahead of us and my riding partners don’t make it easy. On the climbs I am always looking behind me to see if anyone is catching me. If I don’t see anyone I keep a nice pace that only hurts a little but three quarters of the way up I see an Expowheelman gaining and have to dig a little deeper and hurt a little more. At the ending party we got one free beer and had a 20% grade back up to the parking lot. Perfect!

Dave Waldburger’s Pictures from the 2010 UCI World Cup in Windham, NY

View Dave’s Pictures from the 2010 UCI World Cup in Windham, NY