Friday, May 28, 2010

The Rest of New England

What can I say? New Hampshire and Vermont are beautiful. The weather has been unbeatable (maybe a bit hot at times), everything is lush and green. The lupine, daisy, and buttercups are blooming, the riding has been lovely; life is good.

In New Hampshire, I spent a few days with my friend Emily. Ever since I met Emily she's tried to convince me how fabulous the White Mountains are, I wasn't convinced until now. We spent the weekend swimming, going for walks, relaxing by a waterfall, and then hiking up Mt Washington.

Emily at Diana's Bath where we just layed out and read-wonderful!
The hike up Mt Washington was a bit crazy. It was Queen's Day, a long weekend for Canadians, and they flooded the White Mountains. The mountain has a vast number of routes up; we took the most direct, which meant it was both full of people and very steep. Once above tree line, we were graced with incredible views of the surrounding mountains as we scrambled up boulder fields intermixed with the remaining snow patches. Being out of hiking shape, the way up was a good effort. Unfortunately, after a great hike, the summit was a huge let down; I had anticipated that, but not as bad as it was. There is a road up Mt Washington and a number of buildings on the summit. So, after a remote feeling hike, you come up to parking lots then walk on pavement and a staircase, make your way around the buildings to get to the rock pile that is the true summit. There are two museums, three gift shops, weather observation buildings, a cafeteria, and the Cog railway that goes to the top. It's a different world. However, looking past all of the development, the view of the Presidential Range and other White Mountains was wonderful. On the way down, we took a more roundabout way following the ridge line then dropping down into the bowl. We didn't see anyone on this route and I felt like we were hiking in Europe, it was just gorgeous.

Emily and Sara hiking up Mt Washington

This is wat you get once you leve the trail up to the summit

Me, Sara, and Emily

This is more like it. On the ridge hiking down.

That evening, we met up with Kyle who had biked over from Maine. The next day Kyle and I planned a long day ride looping through the Whites. This was the first real day ride I've done this whole trip. It felt good to get out without gear and do a challenging and fun ride. We did just over a century going through a few notches and passes. The roads were great, mostly good shoulders, along rivers and huge cliffs and slides. There were even a few miles of bike trails paralleling the road which felt remote and wound through the woods. We saw a black bear and cub on a ski slope which was fun. It was a great ride and I was surprised at how beat I was at the end of the day.

Wow, a picture of me riding.

Kyle riding through Crawford Notch

A well deserved treat at the end of a long ride!

Kyle and I, ready to head off in opposite directions
Then it was back on my own, riding west once again in the 90 degree heat towards Vermont. Stops in the shade, cold drinks, and dips in the rivers were essential. My ride through the Green Mountains was another spectacular section. I had a long stretch in a valley bottom surrounded by the mountains, with tiny little picturesque towns, small farms and old barns-exactly what I always picture Vermont as being.

Covered bridge in NH


Yesterday was a bit rough, having chosen maybe the first road of this trip I would never ride again. I started off the morning with a flat, but just pumped it up hoping it would hold awhile. Then my chain kept falling off my front rings and I didn’t know why, of course this was right before heading up a pass. As I started up this road a cyclists rode by the other direction and just said "good luck," I had no idea why, but I didn't like it. Soon after the road pitched upward for 2.5 miles of the steepest and longest sustained grade I've seen in the past 8.5 months. My chain was falling off and locking up, after falling once because of that I gave up and walked. Walking my bike up a steep hill is no easy task, especially compounded by the heat and swarm of bugs around me and the fact that my rear was flat. I forced myself to push over an hour to the top, then fixed my flat and found that I had a broken chain ring. I'd never fixed a chain before, but luckily had extra links and although it was a bit slow and messy got it done. The way down wasn't much better, it was so steep I had to be full on with the brakes but they were making the worst noise I'd ever heard from them and the rims were heating up so much that I was worried about a blow out from the heat. I ended up trying to walk and switchback my way down the steepest sections; once it mellowed a little I was relieved to have my bike working well again.

Fixing a chain is messy work!
I was happy to meet a friend outside of Burlington and tour the homestead she's moving to shortly. I'm envious of the place; it's beautiful, 50 acres in the green hills a view of the Adirondacks. Callie and her boyfriend are starting a big veggie garden there, there's a great swimming pond and trails; I'm ready to move! I then rode into South Burlington to Callie's current place with another friend, Erin. It was fun catching up, making sushi and relaxing.

Going to Callie's new home, Adirondacks in the distance!

With Callie, for the first time I'm not the one in bike clothes.

Today it's on to New York. I can't believe I'm already right here, just about to get back into the Adirondacks. Lately it feels like I've been back home with all of these familiar places and friends.

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