First, let me say HOORAY and THANK YOU! The donation total had a nice increase yesterday and I greatly appreciate that. Of course, the total wouldn’t be what it is but for all of the prior donations as well. Thank you to all of you who have contributed! I hope that there are others who are waiting until the end of the ride to help push the contribution total even higher. Remember, ultimately that is what this is all about.
August 14, Monday, Latham to Brattleboro, VT. Today’s ride started with Ale dropping me of where I ended yesterday which was on a busy 4 lane city street with no shoulder. Actually, I had her take me 2 blocks farther because I saw the start of a bike lane. Great idea except that for some reason the lane lasted less than a mile and then disappeared without the emergence of a shoulder. So I again just staked out the middle of the right lane and hoped that I didn’t annoy anyone. But that was better than tiding to the right of the lane because then cars would share the lane with me by driving far too close. Fortunately, in less than 2 miles a decent shoulder appeared and that problem was solved.
I had been somewhat apprehensive about today’s ride because it was to include 5,050′ of climbing which was the most I had done since Wyoming.
After I got out of the city – Latham is a suburb of Albany – I got on some pretty country roads and the riding was good. I did a lot of shifting because these pretty roads went up and down, though none were more than11% and they were more likely to top out at 7% or so. The climbing, slowed me more than the descents increased my speed so I was making slower than usual progress.
I had climbed a bit less than 2,000′ before I reached Vermont. I had 2 primary thoughts. The 1st was that I had finished 40% of the expected climb and felt good (except for that recurring pain between my shoulder blades). The second was that I had heard how brutal the Vermont hills can be and I wondered how much more difficult they would be than the New York hills I had just climbed.
Although there were a couple of lengthy climbs, they never reached the 12% I had expected. The only real problem I had on the ride was that a large stretch scared me some. There is a definite sense of vulnerability when you are on a 2 lane road with significant traffic, including big rigs because that route was the primary east/west corridor in that part of the state, and no reliable shoulder. The shoulders weren’t reliable because they frequently became unrideable because of debris or cracks and they often disappeared altogether. That is worse than no shoulder because the car and truck drivers see a shoulder and figure that is where the bike should be. The problem if you ride on the good shoulder is that when it turns bad or disappears you have to move to the left, which is where a car is likely to be. I found that riding to be stressful and the thought of having Alecometo get me occupied to me more than once, especially after I had finished the bulk of the climbing so I knew that I wouldn’t be missing that. However, the thought of not finishing the ride overcame my better sense so I kept on riding. I am writing this, so the cars obviously managed to miss me.
So I did finish the ride. Although I wasn’t happy with the riding conditions, I will say that what we have seen of Vermont is beautiful. We rode through Burlington which was a very attractive small town. Lush vegetation and some pretty buildings. Brattleboro also has a small town charm and sits next to a large river, the Connecticut River. The restaurant we had dinner at tonight faces the river, has an attractive converted warehouse look and had good food and lots of local micro brewed beers.
I was going to reflect on some of the differences between this year’s ride and last year’s but I need to get to sleep. Sandi is flying into Manchester tomorrow and I want to finish in time to greet her at the airport.
I will mention that tonight I told Ale that if the last 2 days go as the rest of the ride has that I will have accomplished something that I doubt anyone thought I could do. In fact, I would be surprised if many, of any age, have done it. But I told her I wouldn’t tell her what I was talking about until the end of the ride. She immediately made a calendar entry to remind her to ask me what I am talking about.
See you again soon,