Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pictures part 3: Scenery

The last batch. Please to enjoy.


Even the smallest village on our trip had a little cemetery on the outskirts, with headstones dated centuries in the past. It's weird visiting a city in the US that's more than, say, a hundred years old.







There were micro-lakes everywhere -- we rode by a handful every day.







I took lots of pictures of lakes.







Did I mention that it rained every day of the trip but one? Because, yeah, it totally did.







For emphasis, here: it rained a lot.







There were lots of country highways. I feel that my captions are becoming somewhat less inspired.








I_tried leaves me in the dust.
















Thomas Kincaid I ain't.







Would you describe the light here as "dappling" the road? 'Cause I would.








This is actually a crop, although damned if I know what of.









And the obligatory artsy shot.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pictures part 2: Campsites and buildings

At this rate, I won't be done making posts about this trip by the time I go on the next big bikeride...

A lighthouse. This was the only thing of interest we could find anywhere near our first campsite. Apparently there were some historic forts in the area. Being seasoned tourists, we didn't bother to check them out.






Man, we felt like hot stuff after our first day of hard biking. Featured here, I_tried taking a well-deserved nap. Oh, how naive we were in those first few, halcyon days -- we thought it would stay that easy forever! Alright, the first day. The second day sucked.






Lake Placid! Home of the Miracle On Ice! Which sounds like a lousy, Disney-inspired ice-dancing musical, but is in fact the name of a famed hockey game. Which only serves to reinforce my impression of professional sports.






Just a random sign near one of our campsites. I just like the color contrast in the picture. Thought it worked pretty well.






The Wild Center! A nature museum in Tupper Lake. Pretty overpriced, but hey -- nice building.






Duckies!







I cannot, with any honesty, claim that this brook "babbled". But it was reasonably pleasant to sleep next to.






More duckies!







I spent the entire trip looking for run-down farmhouses to take a picture of. For some reason, I got it in my head that this was an iconic image of the Adirondacks. This here is the closest I could find. Perhaps my preconceived notions were a bit misguided...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pictures part 1: People

Bright-eyed and busy-tailed, I_tried and I stand aside our trusty steeds, prepared to sally forth and subject our muscles to horrible, horrible stress.






At this point, taking the ferry across Lake Champlain, we've biked about a total of 15 miles. Which explains why we're in reasonably good spirits and relatively kempt.






"Great, now when you post your pictures to your blog, you can show off how far ahead of me you rode the entire trip."






It would be hard to overemphasize how much I_tried enjoyed this burger.






B, strong contender for the title of World's Nicest Bartender, poses next to Joe, probable winner of Bar's Most Valuable Patron Of The Evening.






Food, both the gastronomical enjoyment of and the excessive consumption of, featured heavily in our trip. Featured here, a peanut-butter, marshmallow, and honey sandwich. Highly recommended.






Depth-of-field is fun!






Yes, I_tried really did bring a summer dress on our 600-mile bikeride.






The trio, clustered in front of one of the many, many road-side food-stands visited in the later parts of the trip (I told you food was important).






And finally, yours truly, seated above Lake George.

Brief addendum

So when I mentioned that we went 25 miles in the wrong direction, I may have not emphasized how ridiculous a mistake this was. After all, we were biking on rural highways, which are frequently unmarked. Perhaps we missed a street sign, and then biked 25 miles on an unmarked road, with no good indication that we had been following the wrong route?

Oh, no. This was a well-marked road. And not only were there route markers on a regular basis, we actually made a point of stopping at one and taking a picture. Actually, we took three pictures. And didn't once notice it was the wrong road.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oh, my aching legs

Food. Who would have thought it would be food?

"Oh, don't worry," I said, laughing at E's suggestion, "we've thought a lot about what we're planning on bringing on this trip. We've got it pared down to the basics. There's no way we're bringing more than we need."

"I'm telling you, man, you're going to regret every extra pound you strap on your bike. trust me!"

E had, himself, done an extensive tour of the US on bike, and knew what he was talking about. So, given that I was about to set off on a 600-mile, self-supported, bike-camping trip through the Adirondacks, this was the kind of advice I should have paid attention to.

And I thought I had. I_tried and I put a lot of thought into our bags. After all, we knew we were biking in the mountains. We're not stupid. (We didn't, however, know that we were biking during the rainiest part of the year -- whoops). We budgeted or biking well, and gave ourselves plenty of time for days off.

But how could we know that routes 3 and 30 weren't the same road? It's an honest mistake. It could happen to anyone. By the time we thought to ask a local for directions, though, we were already 25 miles in the wrong direction. In most circumstances, this would be a frustrating but not-especially-unbearable setback. As it was, we had only a few, already-long days ahead of us to meet up with D, who would be joining us for the remainder of the trip.

So we went crazy and started throwing away our food.

Oh, it made sense at the time. We had a lot of weight. Food weighs a lot. We can always buy more food. Ergo, throw out the food. Also, the umbrella. And the gas for our stove. And the petroleum jelly. And the earplugs. It felt like the right thing to do, at the time. I'm sure we saved ourselves a little bit of effort, and eating at restaurants is certainly easier than preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. And the fact that we threw out a full bottle of honey, only to re-buy honey a day or so later, only made me feel the slightest bit silly.

And when a raccoon (?) stole our garbage in the middle of the night, and we ran into a bear at the camp showers the next morning, I became convinced that it was only through divine intervention and our complete unwillingness to pay attention to road signs that we had managed to avoid a horrendous mauling death in the middle of the night. From that night forward, we followed a strict policy of buying every meal, at a restaurant or grocery store, and immediately throwing away everything we ate, so as to provide a distraction from the rabid animals of Tupper Lake and surrounding cities.

It worked. We weren't mauled in the middle of the night. We also won a stare-down with a moose. And I believe our sacrifice to the gods was the only thing that kept us from having a single flat tire over the course of 1500 (!) combined miles of biking. So go, team.

Directional problems aside, biking the Adirondacks was great. There aren't many big anecdotes to relate here, so I shall relate a few in bulleted form, because I'm not a good enough narrator to tie these together in any sort of cohesive whole. And on:

* Lakes in the Adirondacks are warm enough for swimming, but not enough for midnight skinny-dipping.

* There is no more satisfying feeling than witnessing the bewildered expression on someone's face as you tell them you just finished biking 60 miles, with thousands of feet of elevation gain, with 50 pounds of gear on your bike, in the pouring rain.

* Corollary: it rained every day of our trip, except one.

* Wilmington, NY, has the world's nicest bartender. A long-haired, Phish-loving bartender who introduced me to many glorious, low-priced, local microbrews.

* Lake Placid, NY has the world's nicest, cutest bike mechanic. This is more I_tried's thing than mine, and I can't believe she didn't ask for his number. Boyfriend be damned.

* Indian Lake has a lovely little coffeeshop. On the front door was a sign saying welcome, with, underneath, some words in what we were assumed Sanskrit. After perusing the store, seeing the enormous sword hanging above the counter, and glancing at the bookshelf full of Lord of the Rings memorabilia, we looked again. It was actually Elvish.

* Many other small annecdotes and observations of varying levels of interest, which I may or may not divulge, as suits my fancy.

Definitely, definitely a worthwhile experience. I don't think I'll ever match my sister's accomplishment of biking all the way across the US, but I'm definitely looking forward to a longer bike-camping trip before I get too much older.

For someone who needs constant, constant mental stimulation to save me from boredom, I was never -- not once -- bored during our 6-8 hours of daily biking. Oh, sure, the scenery's gorgeous (pictures fortchoming in a future post), but just clearing my mind and pedalling for hours on end was a weirdly fulfilling experience. I suppose it helps that I had an excellent conversational partner, as well.

And that's all I have, for now. I'll post pictures in a bit. You may be able to eke out some more information from I_tried's blog (linked above), if you're lucky.

And now I'm back in the real world, dealing with real life issues, and trying to get some research done. Perhaps something interesting will come of that, as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Synopsis

So I'm home. Flying curse true to form, I have a lost bag. *Sigh*. I'll be writing a few longer posts in the future, with pictures. But I just got home, and I need to pack and catch up on errands. And I'm moving this week, so it may take some time. In the meanwhile, here's a couple random trip statistics.

Total distance traveled: 593.31 miles
Longest day (miles): 71.65 miles
Longest day (hours on bike): 6:17:34 hours
Max speed: 48 MPH
Miles added to trip due to dyslexia: 50
Number of flat tires: 0 (!)
Weirdest new word learned: "interesterified" (thanks, Milano Mint Cookies!)
Nights spent in hotel: 1
Nights wished spent in hotel: many
Most useless item thrown away while crazedly trying to reduce our weight: petroleum jelly. Or maybe the umbrella
Most useless item we wish we could have thrown away: Birkenstocks
Most dangerous animal seen: bear
Most awesome food item invented: peanut butter, marshmallow, honey sandwiches
Runner-up: Skittle-stuffed marshmallows