Because, that's what Old Blue did today.
If you had followed my original blog or social media posts in the old days, you'd be familiar with Old Blue. But for newer readers … Old Blue is my custom frame bike from 1977. Frame was built right here in Rochester, and I built it up to become a fast touring bike from parts sourced from local bike shops.
Remember "bike shops"? In pre-internet days, we always got everything we'd need from our LBS's.
I still do.
Anyway … Old Blue has countless miles and adventures on it. ("It", not "he", "she" or any other gender pronoun. It's a bike. Don't anthropomorphize it. It hates that.) And it's been through a lot over the years. The original fork developed a crack near the crown and had to be replaced. I changed to a Chris King headset with a higher stack than the original, so the head tube had to be milled down to fit. The top tube got dented during shipping (or assembly at a bike shop, I really think) to a bike tour in Utah. And while leading it's first Southern Tier tour for Adventure Cycling, the down tube developed a really nasty crack after grunting up a mountain to an observatory. It survived the tour with creative use of hose clamps, but that last incident inspired me to take it to my bike frame builder and buddy Andy to actually rebuild the front 1/2 of the frame … and it came out wonderfully! Oh … and THREE paint jobs over the years.
To say I got my money's worth from this machine would be an understatement. So too would be saying I LOVE this bike. But as a circa 1977 frame, the "5-speed freewheel" standard has long been obsolete so keeping the bike rolling was achieved by converting it over to a single-speed. And Old Blue has really shined in that regard. In fact, it completed TWO Southern Tier gigs as a single-speed (San Diego California to St. Augustine Florida), not to mention a whole bunch of fun solo and club rides, endurance events, as well as many, many self-contained tours for which it was designed.. The latest tweak was installing a double chainring crank with a front derailleur making it a "2-speed" … sorta. It's more technically a "4-speed" since the rear wheel is a flip-flop, meaning a single cog freewheel on BOTH sides of the hub … a 17 tooth on one side and a 22 tooth on the other. To shift THOSE gears, I need to stop, drop the wheel out, flip it, and chain it up again. Kinky, 'eh?
But it all works, and today, it worked like a dream. Shooting for a century closer to home, I dreamed up a route that sorta loops around the city/county and touches some places I haven't been in a while.
The day started sunny, clouded over, got humid, got warmer, and got sunny and dry again all within the under 8 hours it took to march through 102 miles and getting home surprisingly early. My total "stopped" time was a mere 23 minutes … just enough for two stops … one at 51 miles to wolf down a PB&J, and another for a coke and a taquito. (I do have my habits.) Little of the ride was anything special or notable, but I do have to wonder if I'm the only person who thinks the bike trail along the Lake Ontario State Parkway could use a better name than "LOSP Trail".
Century #6, and cracked the three thousand mile mark for 2020 today … I'm on a roll!
Rubber Side Down.
Looking for a "moderate" century (#5) to a new(er) destination, I remembered that I haven't been down to Springwater in a while, and THAT triggered a memory. "Long-Time" members of the club (aka: Us Old Farts) will remember Al Davis; Al was the author of a plethora of new RBC maps and he had a penchant to inject notable details into his creations. In particular, he had a pair of century rides that were less than intuitive (intentionally) in their names. For example, one might think something called the Mendon Century (RBC#151) would likely be yet another Mendon area ride swirling around the Mendon Park area with a bunch of rolling hills. But noooo …. THIS little Mendon ride only —> starts <— at the park, yet heads south to Naples and accumulates nearly 9000' of climbing. And, if that doesn't quite fill your day, the optional "G" route heads to Springwater and delivers a total of 127 miles and 12,000' of heart attack level climbing.
But, shouldn't that be named "Springwater Century"? No, of course not. This is an Al Davis Ride. It starts in Mendon … so … Mendon Century. Simple.
OTOH … Al's "Springwater Century" is almost as confusing. You'd be forgiven for assuming that anything going to Springwater would be a real death march of a ride, seeing that Springwater is deep in the hills south of Hemlock Lake. And just because the Mendon Century starts in Mendon, that doesn't mean the Springwater Century has to start in Springwater.
Strangely enough, this route messes around in the gently flat to rolling Genesee River Valley for over 40 miles before it even begins any noticeable climbing. But eventually, it does start climbing. The worst kind, as I seem to have forgotten. Not the extreme steep stuff (like, the Mendon Century), but the same long steady grind right into the predictable headwinds up Livonia Center, Federal and Stagecoach roads like I did on my century to Dansville a few weeks back. Again? Lack of planning again?
Short memory. Once again, I took a recovery break at Wester's Country Store in Conesus for pizza and chocolate milk. Still need fuel to finish up with Stagecoach and Liberty Pole Roads ahead, but other than that, there's only one short steep climb on Johnson Hill Road up to Canadice Lake Road …
… and then it's a breeze of a ride after that all the way back to Rochester. My adaptation of the ride added some miles as I rode from home in the morning to a spot to intercept the route heading out, and a place to break off upon return home. All total, I scored 112 miles and under 5000' of climbing, making this century very doable. Back in town by 3:30pm, I had enough juice left for heading out at 7:00pm with Karen to add on another slow and easy 9 miles. We did our own "Ride of Silence" since the real event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Maybe next year, we'll be on again.
With the Springwater Century completed, I guess I have to do it's "pair" sometime soon.
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Having learned my lesson on Thursday (and how many times do I need to learn this lesson?), I closely inspected the weather reports on Saturday night and determined it was pretty safe to squeeze in another century on Sunday … with limitations. Most of Sunday should be good, but a blob of green on the radar was expected to appear in the area around 5:00pm, so an early start would be advised. I'm a fair weather rider (except if it's freezing cold, windy and snowin' like hell … THAT's fun!), and not fond of rain when it's below 60 degrees. And 60 was about the tops forecasted for Sunday.
Regular routine Saturday night. Prep the bike, get the kit picked out, etc, etc … and get to bed early. Well, no … PBS had a Moody Blues concert on at 10:00pm … so much for enough sleep. No matter. I plotted a reasonably flat to rolling route that I sorta stuck to, and I had an optional section in it to cut out if I figured I had to cut short if threatened by rain. The route was a mod of my annual Sodus Bay ride. For many years, I've liked to take at least one nice ride out to the beach at Sodus to grab an italian sausage with onions and peppers and meat sauce, of course! From the days when I lived in Webster, that was typically a 60 mile out and back. Make that 80 miles since moving into the city of Rochester. But now, I'm looking at a loop with an optional spur to Chimney Bluffs. I ended up cutting the spur because it's pretty certain I'll get out that way another time this summer anyway. Karen Loves That Ride, so I'll save that to share later.
But cutting was a good move anyway as I made it home less than an hour before the rain started. Whew!
Heading out at 6am again, on a Sunday, during the Covid shutdown, the roads were all mine. The Lake Road (aka: the Seaway Trail) is pretty quiet normally, but almost abandoned now. On the way out, I started to get "distracted". (No discipline!) I noticed a dirt road on my map that looked like it looped out to the shoreline and back to Lake Road on another dirt road. I'm on the "right bike" for that! Turns out, it dead-ended at a fancy lakeside property, so I had to turn back. Too bad … it could have led to a whole day of exploring.
By the time I reached the Sodus lighthouse …
… I had 40 miles of generally flat cruising … but no italian sausage! The beachside food stand was closed, but I expected that. It was early and still a bit cool, but likely closed by current issues anyway. And the rest of town, sans the c-store and Captain Jacks bar was all shut down too. I paused to consider the open door at Captain Jacks. My buddy Dave and I stopped in there for lunch while out motorcycling a couple years ago, and like many others, I'd guess the place is struggling now. I considered stopping to "provide support" (beer and burger) but at 9:30am on a Sunday, it was more likely they were just airing out and cleaning in hopes of a survivable day ahead. Best wishes gang … another time. I stopped at the c-store for a coffee and quickly hit the road for the hills!
By "hills", I mean the drumlins of Wayne County. One might assume that the landscapes near Lake Ontario would be pretty flat, but there was this "event" many kiloyears ago that not only created our gorgeous (gorges!) Finger Lakes, but was also responsible for the unique terrain beginning a few miles south of the lakeshore. The glacial retreat could not have created a better playground for cyclists than the roller-coasters our bike club visits very frequently. Love this stuff!
Sunshine, tailwinds and wild whoop-de-doos make for one really sweet day of riding. At one point, I even thought I was going to get in some fun exploring when I took a turn at a road marked with my favorite sign …
… but alas … it was just another example of human encroachment over what in years past was a network of old dirt farm country roads. What has been dirt adventures in the past are now often paved over for some "practical" reasons I'll never appreciate. But the drumlins are not easily scoured away so the riding was smooth, and a constant affirmation that the super-wide ratios of my bike's Pinion gearbox are an asset even with a bit of added weight.
Today's ride was 103 miles of mostly flat riding, but that section of perhaps 20-25 miles quickly piled on about 1300 feet of climbing. Great fun! But all too soon, I get closer to the city, decide to give my bike at least a little bit of trail for the day and head south to the Erie Canalway Trail. Arriving at Lock 30 in Macedon, I don my brand new bikie-mask (Thank You Bonnie!) and head toward home.
Out in the country where I rarely meet anyone, I'm OK about going naked, but around the trails which have become more popular than before, I'm now pretty disciplined about staying covered up. As the trails get even more popular, I'm spending less time there. Imagine … feeling safer out on busy highways than your local bike trail.
Perhaps, someday, this may pass.
Thursday, May 14th. I looked at the weather reports the night before. Looked pretty "iffy". Possible rain showers in the afternoon. Temps looked OK, but not if ya get wet miles from home w/o raingear, and who wants to carry raingear when it's reasonably warm?
Accepting a "short" ride, I got up later than necessary if I had planned a big ride. Had pancakes. Karen was good for a ride today, but wanted to head out later when it warmed a bit more. Not sure when the rain might move in (but thinking early to mid afternoon), I wanted to get out earlier.
Took off mid morning and headed southeast toward Canandaigua, unsure how far I'd get. Still hadn't looked at the weather reports today. Duh. Wiggled around and out of the metro area and again used the Auburn Trail to avoid town traffic around Victor. Southbound on NY444/County Road 3 aka "Victor-Holcomb Expressway", I could enjoy the high point view of Stid Hill far to the south and started questioning my last weather update. Checked.
Looks like I can get more than the 50, maybe 60 miles I had envisioned. OK, let's keep the power on and see what happens. After a brief stop to check out the Peanut Trail "Parking Area" on County Road 30 …
… I continued on into Canandaigua and was lured to a stop by a street vendor doing Italian Sausages. I have little discipline, and stopped for lunch after only 33 miles. It was soooooo good too. From here, I had a "plan" now. I could head sorta west out of town toward the Bristol Hills, and if I encountered any marginal weather, I could turn north back toward Rochester for the quickest route back. Headed out on Bristol Street / Bristol Road, I crossed Route 5&20 and started into the hills. No wind at all today, so getting to the store in Bristol Center was pretty quick … especially the downhill to the Dandy Mart at the RT64 crossing. Nice view from the top to what lies ahead to the west.
But then it's back up … miles up CR32 to the high point of the day's ride. THAT took a while as it's one big north/south ridge between Bristol Center and Honeoye. Once on top, I could see that I was running out of time, so decided to skip Honeoye and start zig-zagging to the northwest and grabbed the Egypt/Gregg roads to get back to RT20A and the turn north on Buckelew Road. I love the name of that road. I always giggle 'cause it reminds me of a crazy cult classic movie from the mid-eighties "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension". Check it out!
Yeah, the mind wanders on long day rides, 'eh?
And what was I thinking? I thought it was time to head home, but then I get to Baptist Hill Road. Which turns into Simmons. And then Bell Road, which has been mostly paved over the years but still had a tiny dirt stretch past a sheep farm.
But those three east-to-west roller-coaster roads followed by Belcher do NOT constitute the quickest way home. Once I hit County Road 37, it was definitely time to head straight north, no delays. Well … maybe just one last wiggle through Mendon Ponds Park.
Nice Day! The weather turned really nice all afternoon. Ended up with 84 miles and kicked myself for not planning ahead. Had I got up early and checked weather, I would have realized I could have knocked off Century #4.
No matter … spring has sprung. Lots of nice days ahead.
"That" was the "Killer Hills" RBC (Rochester Bicycling Club) club ride I was scheduled to lead on Sunday 5/3/2020. Love that ride! It provides great scenery around the Geneseo / Dansville corridor and several opportunities to "check chain wear". IOW … hard climbing in your lowest gears. If your chain and rings are beat, it will become evident on Vista Hill and Coffee Hill, for sure.
Alas … Killer Hills was not to be this year as all RBC club rides are cancelled till further notice due to the Covid-19 outbreak. So when we get blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day, what do I do? Grab a mask and go Solo Distancing, of course.
"This" will be Century #3 for 2020 and another notch in the goal of 10,000 miles or ten centuries for the year … whichever comes first. (Wouldn't I need a hundred centuries to get the ten-k?)
So, Saturday night, I get everything prepped. Route planned and track file loaded. Kit laid out. Tires pumped up. Gadgets charged. Snacks loaded on the bike. Bottles filled and Hydro-pack topped off. Aaaahh … which bike? I feel like a lazy ride, so the lightest bike in the fleet gets pulled out. The bike I rarely use anymore: The FrankenTrek.
It's a stupid bike in some ways. It's a pile of leftover and replaced bits from my first (and only) carbon bike from 1995. The original frame didn't even last ten years, as I cracked the BB shell, so instead of that beautiful clean copper-ice original, the warranty frame is a dumb looking blue billboard of advertising graphics. At least the fork is original and helps to give the bike a "Captain America" look. Anytime I ride that bike, I complete the look with my Adventure Cycling TransAmerica jersey. When riding it, I vacillate between feeling like a super-hero and a real dork only minutes later. Mode 2 is the default anyway, so I'm good with that.
But it rolls pretty nice on skinny wheels, so here we go.
I'm up at 5am and on the road by 6. I love the approach of summer with early sunrises. No stopping for a coffee fix on this ride. Nothing is open. I head south on backroads along the west side of the Genesee Valley and reach the village of Leicester in pretty decent time. It's been mostly flat to very gently rolling to this point but the hills start immediately after between there and Perry. So, I take a quick break at a C-store for a coke (Caffeine!) and a cheesy taquito. That was just enough fuel to make it through Perry and Castile and into the south entrance of Letchworth State Park by 10:30am. I'm starting to realize that my long day might not be so long after all, so I slow down to enjoy the beauty of the park with my first pause at the new bridge over the gorge.
At first, the park was pretty quiet. Sunday Morning I guess. But as I moved northward through the park, it started picking up and by the time I got out the north end by the dam, it was getting pretty crowded with people at all the overlooks and waves of Harley bike gangs rumbling down the road. I made four short stops. One at the Middle Falls, another at a roadside overlook for a snack break (1/2 a Cliff bar), one to check out the high water at the Hogsback …
… and a last stop at the dam. That last stop was crazy. Parking lot was jammed and very few people were wearing masks, but I'll give credit to the one young woman motorcyclist who wandered around with her full coverage helmet on and visor down. Overkill? Perhaps not! In any case, I'm outta there FAST!
Down and out the north entrance to River Road and everything was quiet again … all the way home. I even did a section of Route 15 past Marketplace Mall which was eerily empty and had the road nearly to myself. I made it home by 3:15 after knocking out 114 miles. We joke about how no matter how short or long or how flat or hilly our rides are, we always seem to have an overall average of ten MPH. If the ride is a flat 30 miles, it will always take 3 hours. If it's a hilly 80 mile ride it will take (go ahead … guess …) 8 hours.
On the Frankenbike, all bets are off.