Friday, June 24, 2011

Damp Somewhere in America

Well, let me say today that it's raining in New York State.  I could have posted the same sentence yesterday and the day before the only variation would have been "in Vermont."

I like bicycling and like raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation but let me make this clear:  I am not a duck.

Here's what I learned when being poured on in Vermont.  If you are wearing glasses like me and rely on a mirror attached to those glasses to provide visibility to the rear, this is what you cannot see once your glasses and the mirror fog over:

1. road signs
2. potholes
3. pedestrians
4. small farm animals
5. blimps
6. any cars within a mile
7. picturesque New England churches
8. picturesque New England towns
9. picturesque New England scenery
10. basically anything...

So, yeah, riding in the rain isn't all that much fun.

Otherwise, this has been a good stretch; when it's dry New England is beautiful and most of the roads have been very safe, with wide shoulders.  There are some KILLER hills, however.  The Middle Gap from Hancock to Middlebury has grades as much as 15%.  Even the road along the western shore of Lake George had a long uphill stretch that slowed me in places to "stand-on-the-pedal" and try to move forward speed.  It's not too bad going up a steep road at 4 mph.  When you get down to 2.6 and you're straining every muscle in your legs and sweating profusely, it gets hard to be philsophical and enjoy your trip.

Then you curse.

As I mentioned briefly, two nights ago Molly and Bud Reed put me up at their house in Middlebury for the night.  Bud used to have his own business organizing bicycle tours and he and Molly have led rides in places like Russia and China.  They know more about biking than I ever will and were wonderful hosts.  Last year they took a family trip, nine months, around the world with Spencer, their 14-year-old son and Rachel, their 19-year-old daughter.  Rachel is a top student, now attending Johns Hopkins.  Spencer is your typical guy,   smart, but not necessarily fond of school.  (It reminds me of when I was young--and managed, for example, to earn an "F" in art, because of a bad attitude.)  I should have taken a picture of the Reeds but didn't think of it during the evening and left early the next day before my hosts arose.

I give them an A+ for their treatment and pleasant conversation, including talks with their friend Tim, also an avid cyclist and a former Government Accountability worker in Washington, D.C., who shared stories of trying to keep tabs on various agencies that might be, shall we say, "bending teh rules."  Bud threw together a great meal, and ended it all with ice cream and strawberries topped with Molly's homemade chocolate syrup.

Yesterday, I did another 63 miles (I hope to pick up the pace soon).  My policy for picking places to eat is to do what the locals do.  In fact, it's almost foolproof if you follow this rule:  Go where the guys in baseball caps and work clothes go--and you're going to get a lot of good food.  I passed Fort Ticonderoga yesterday, scene of heavy fighting during the French and Indian War and military ineptitude in the American Revolution.  The British lost the fort without a shot being fired early in the war and Ethan Allen became a hero.  Then the Americans lost it back, in part because portions of their defenses were compromised by drunkenness among the troops.

Then I churned out the miles down the Lake George road and had dinner at the Diamond Point Grille.  First, dinner was awesome and I would recommend the Grille to any bicycler or car-driver or camel jockey following 9N along the lake.  Better yet, a woman named Beth Thomson was seated at the bar with three friends and spun around on her stool to ask how far I was going.  When I said, "California," she and her friends, Greg Mason and Anthony and Lois Porrazzo, began asking about my ride and my purpose.  Beth told me about her three kids, and sounded a little worried about her son, who was going to Weber State in Utah last year, but is now home and taking classes at community college.  Then she mentioned to her friends that the young man was doing 70 hours of work between two part-time jobs.  You figure anyone who can work that hard will do fine in life.

Eventually, Greg stepped outside to make a phone call and when he returned sat down with me and said he had fixed it with a friend, who owned a nearby Super 8 Motel, so that I could stay for free, since I was riding for JDRF.  Greg is a retired music teacher and we talked "shop." I asked him the question I ask almost every teacher or former teacher I meet.  "Do you think standardized testing is improving education?"  He laughed and said, "I was a music teacher," meaning it didn't effect him and he was glad, "but, no."

I worry about that a lot.  But I finished my meal and told the four friends I'd mention them in this blog.  "How do you want to be described," I wondered, "as the best looking quartet in the bar?"  They laughed and said no, just four locals.  So four nice locals from Lake George, New York it is.  I jumped on my bike and off I went, excited by the prospect of a dry (free) room for the night.  About a mile down the road Anthony came flying past in his car, honked, and then pulled over and said, "You left your money and credit cards back at the restaurant."  The people who worked there wouldn't give them to Anthony; so I had to pedal back to pick them up.  Then off I went again.

My only regret is that I failed to by them all a round of beers.

That's my update for now.  Back to the bike Batman!

If you would like to donate to help find a cure for type-1 diabetes please click HERE

1 comment:

  1. Rain is a bit demoralizing, to be sure, but I found it manageable as long as it wasn't cold. Of course, I had a motor home to sleep in at night. Kudos to you for camping. Be sure to oil up that chain after riding in the rain.