Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Getting Cold up North

Well, the peak foliage seems to have came and went. The mornings and evenings are much cooler now, winter is clearly on the way. Due to this I have found it hard to get on the bike and go for a ride on some days. When I don't get out and ride, I can't really post on dudeonabike.com. If I'm not a dude on a bike that day, now can I? The worst part is, its not even really cold yet. I've got my fixed gear setup on the trainer inside the apartment, and that is fine for rainy days and such. Still it is not as fun as riding outside where bikes are meant to be ridden. In spite of this cold, I  managed to make it out for a nice twenty mile ride last week along the Northern Rail Trail.

I've ridden this trail so much since moving to Lebanon I almost know it like the back of my hand. So when the weather was forecast to be sunny after a few days of clouds and rain, I decided to take advantage of it and hit the trail before sunrise. I wanted to catch the sunrise over Mascoma Lake. My plan was to grab a nice long exposure shot of the sailboats which are usually anchored just off the bank by the Shaker Village Sailing Club. However, when I arrived there, I noticed all the boats that used to be anchored there were now long gone and all that was left was buoys. At this point the sun was just starting to peak over the mountains in the distance.

I rode over the bridge to the boat launch to see if I could get some decent shots from there. I was treated to a pretty nice sunrise. As I sat there on the side of the lake I couldn't help but be impressed with the view that was unfolding before me. When I first arrived at the launch it was still a bit dark, but in a few minutes the sun began rising rapidly. As it rose the colors in the sky changed from blue, purples, yellows, and oranges. it was the first time I have swatched a sunrise in a loing time. It was very relaxing to just sit there in the crisp fall air and observe the lake waking up to start the day.

After that I decided to head over to a little dam that can be seen from the rail trail hoping to snap some shots of the water falling over the dam. While the light was still soft in the morning hours. It was a good spot and I liked some of the shots I came home with. The river seemed to be really rolling along due to the recent rain and I think they are draining Mascoma Lake for the winter.

I only saw one other cyclist in the pre-dawn ride to the lake. However, once the sun came out and warmed the air, the trail came to life and there were many other cyclists, walkers, and joggers. Somehow the rail does not bore me yet, even after travelling hundreds of miles on it.

Today is election day here in the good ol' U S of A. So I'm off to do my civic duty. Then I'm going for another ride, since the weather is actually kind of nice today. I have no doubt the looming winter temperatures are not far from taking hold of the area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lebanon to Hanover and Back

This morning it was forecast to be cloudy and warmish with the clouds eventually breaking and a high of 74 F. So I felt it would be a good day to get a ride in. Guess what? The weathermen got it way wrong. Not only was it a bit chilly, the clouds never really broke and the wind was howling at around 40 miles per hour if I had to guess.

Lucky for me it was all downhill and that ferocious wind was at my back for the ride into Hanover. I had planned to try getting some cool shots of some older buildings in town or on campus and grab some shots of a couple sculptures.

A photo posted by dudeonabike (@datdudeonabike) on
I got one ho hum shot of an older library and a couple sculptures, but, not nearly as many as I had hoped. One of the pieces I had planned on shooting is in the middle of what is now a major construction project. But as we often have to, I adapted and overcame. In the end I got a few miles in and a couple of decent shots, still not getting as good of results as i would like, but I guess it will come with more practice.

On the way home I was treated to going uphill from Hanover to Lebanon on 120 back into that same brutal wind. But I made it, and it wasn't all that bad.

Tomorrow I plan on getting out again, riding more miles, and taking more photos of even better quality. Hopefully the weather guys get it right, because its supposed to be a great day as far as the weather is concerned. Will try and report back tomorrow with a ride report and some fresh photos.

Sculpture in Hanover, NH

2016 Trek 520 Review after 1000 Miles

Obviously this review is a little late considering Trek has already got the 2017 520 out. And it certainly looks just as slick. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be the owner of a touring bicycle I would have laughed. Ten years ago, I was still riding a BMX bike. Then I moved onto a mountain bike for a few years. When I moved to a more urban area I wanted something more efficient and opted for a singlespeed, which I later turned to fixed gear.

Fixed gear got me more into road riding and riding for transportation, not just exercise and recreation. I started looking at road bikes and was strongly considering getting a Madone. But I just couldn't do it because it seemed such overkill and may not suit my more utilitarian side. Then I kind of fell in love with the idea of one day just hitting the road on a bike and going cross country. This got me looking into touring bikes.

I looked at Surly Long Haul Trucker and countless others. When I stumbled on the Trek 520 I could remember my old neighbor and parent's friend had a Trek 520 mountain bike that he adored and road everywhere. I did some research and found Trek has been making the 520 for decades. I went and checked some out. I eventually picked one up from my local bike shop.

I couldn't be happier. I have rode this bike over a thousand miles since picking it up in June so I think its broken in and I am qualified to give it a proper review. The first thing that jumped out at me when we went for the first ride together was the smooth shifting provided by the bar-end Shimano shifters. This is the first bike I have ever owned that is equipped with these kind of shifters. Initially it was weird to reach down there each shift, but it quickly becomes second nature.

The butted chromoly touring frame is plenty stiff for power transfer, yet forgiving on rough roads. During our thousand miles of riding she has certainly been put through the paces, and never let me down. The chromoly fork has eyelets for fenders and lowrider rack mounts. Currently I am without a front rack, so I cannot speak to how the bike handles with a front low-riding load. I suspect it handles just fine.

The reviews online were mostly positive. The only real negative things i saw were complaints about the wheel quality and the saddle. Firstly, I have never bought a bike and kept the stock saddle on it, ever. To me, that's not really a part of the bike. I am a huge fan of the Brooks saddles I found when I got into fixed gear.

The other negatives people mentioned related to the wheelset, which is Shimano Deore hubs, and Bontrager rims. Broken spokes was the topic of most of the bad reviews. After about 500 miles of good riding, there was a funny noise coming from the back wheel. Luckily it was just a loose spoke. It was re-tightend and rode another 500 miles. At the 1000 mile mark my 520 had its first tune up. Prior to the tune up shifting was getting just a little sloppy due to stretched cables. Happily, the bike shifts like new again, and is ready for our next adventure.

People also complained about the stock Bontrager Hard-Case tires. Based on that, my plan was to ride until I got a flat then by new rubber. Guess what? I'm still rolling on my stock Bontrager tires 1000 miles (and some change) later. Now that it's been said, no doubt, our next ride will involve a flat.

The drivetrain has performed very well for me. Initially we bombed all over North Carolina and now we're tackling the mountains of New Hampshire. The front derailleur is Shimano alivio and is friction shifting at its funnest. This took me some getting used to. The rear derailleur is the well-tested, and loved Shimano Deore. With the bar-end shifter in index mode shifting the rear derailleur is still crisp after a thousand miles. The beefy crank is a Shiman Trekking M590 with 48/36/26 chainrings. It's not very often I wish for lower gears, but it does happen on occasion. The rear Shimano HG50 casette is fitted with 11-32. The original KMC X9 chain is still on the bike.

Drop bars and Shimano T400 V-Brakes round out the components and make it a very well-equppped king of the road. As many of the reviews have stated, the bike is heavy. But to me, that translates to a nice smooth and stable ride. I could almost ride down a set of stairs no-handed on my 520 its so stable. But I will not.

Part of that heaviness comes from the back rack that comes with the bike. The online reviews just rip on the rack, but mine has been serving me quite well. Granted it hasn't been loaded with a full touring load for extended periods of time. It certainly isn't the best rack out there, but it will get you a good ways down the road.

If I was looking for another bike today, would I still buy a Trek 520? Hell yea, but I don't anticipate mine will ever need replacing :)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mount Cardigan State Park

Well today was another beautiful New Hampshire day filled with fun and adventure. I rose out of bed this morning to the now familiar sight of fog blanketing the upper valley. Therefore I was in no particular rush while getting a brew started in the french press, as I do pretty much every morning. Once coffee is ready then comes my daily check of the morning news, which is usually depressing. Then I check the weather. Today was forecast to be seventy-four and sunny! My mom had asked me to try and get her some good shots of the fall foliage. So as I started planning my day I wanted to obviously incorporate a bike ride somewhere scenic and with a view of fall foliage.

A few days ago I had googled the best hikes with a view in New Hampshire. Turns out one of the top-rated hikes is right down the road from us. Initially the thought was possibly drive up to the Mount Cardigan State Forest and hike to the top to take some photos, then come home and go for a bike ride. But while googling directions to the trailhead it showed up as being in Canaan. "Well hell, Cannan is on the Northern Rail Trail and the state forest is not far from where the rail trail passes through Canaan." I thought to myself.

And with this "plan" my body was put into perpetual motion for the entirety of the day. First comes the clothes, then the water bottles, camera, and then a packed lunch. Once all the boxes are checked we're ready for takeoff. The Trek 520 (Tank) and I were off under clearing skies and bombing the rail trail in no time flat. As the skies cleared the temperature started to warm up nicely, but not really too warm. Sure I was sweating at times, but when I got rolling down a hill in the shade it was definitely cool. Perfect cycling weather, really. As Tank and I glided down the trail I would stop periodically to take some photos trying to get the hang of my camera. Most of the shots were kind of ho-hum, or just plain terrible. But some were kind of cool, and I think I will eventually get much better.

The fall foliage is in full effect all around here too. So much so that I found myself occasionally getting a little closer to the edge of the trail than I usually prefer. The last couple of days have been kind of grey and cooler. Today was probably the last little taste of summer we are going to have around these parts. I'm told the Mascoma River is really low this year, but it still is pretty, I can't wait to see how pretty it is when its full.

Once again the trail was mostly quiet. There was the occasional fellow cyclist or dog walkers, but sometimes there would be no one for a few miles straight. Honestly, I prefer it that way as opposed to weekends and holidays. I do, however, wish my girlfriend would have been with me today. Unfortunately she has a real, grown-up kind of job. So today it was just trusty Tank and the bright foliage to keep me company.

Eventually I rolled through Canaan and hopped off the trail and onto the roads toward Mount Cardigan (it was easy, just followed the signs) I knew it would be a brutal climb to reach the summit, but challenges are good so the pedals kept turning. And then, there it was, it was off in the distance, but it stood there dominating the skyline  and daring me to take it on.

But take it on I did. I rode twenty miles to the state park. Well actually there was some pushing of the bike at the very end. But after riding a bicycle there, I then proceeded to show this bald mountain who was boss and hiked to the summit. The hike was no less challenging than the bike ride to the parking lot. It was a real smoker, but making it to the top was very rewarding. My photos do it absolutely no justice at all. Believe me when I say it, it was beautiful up there on the peak of Mount Cardigan soaking up all the fall colors.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Enfield Ramble...Almost

The Enfield Ramble is a short and scenic ride from the Road Biking Northern New England book. It's only about 10 miles long following the book's route. We live pretty close to Enfield so we can ride to the start and increase it to 25 miles. My better half completed it last week on her own. I've been meaning to get out and complete the same ride for a couple weeks. Yesterday was to be the day that I checked it off my list of rides to do. I almost got it done too. But there was some road construction going on along Shaker Hill Road which caused me to miss a turn. No worries though, I found the ride a long the length of Shaker Hill Road to be quite enjoyable.

I managed to find some time to mess around with my camera a bit more too. When I stopped for a snack at the bench on the banks of Mascoma Lake along the rail trail I was treated to a group of ducks feeding along with a heron. The ducks were making a lot of noise which made them impossible to miss.

I finally got around to having the trusty Trek 520 tuned up this week. I have to say I'm very glad I did. The bike is performing even better than when new. It's good to have a decent local bike shop around. My 520 was bought back in May and has well over one thousand miles on it. The headset was loose, spokes were loose, and shifting became a bit sloppy. Check Omer and Bob's in Lebanon if you're in need of anything bike related, they should be able to sort you out.

Even though I did not get the Enfield Ramble checked off my list yesterday, I still greatly enjoyed the day cruising through scenic Enfield and Shaker Village. The foliage is really starting to turn colors now which makes for another excuse to get your ass out and go for a ride.

The mornings can be quite cool and foggy. I usually wait for it to warm it a little and the fog to clear. The downside of this though, is that by the time I get going its almost lunch, then after a decent ride, it doesn't leave much time to prep and cook dinner for my lovely lady before she gets home. But so far I've been managing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Franconia Notch State Park Bike Path

My lovely girlfriend found this absolutely amazing section of bike path while perusing the Road Biking Northern New England book she got me for my birthday. It was a little over an hour drive from where we live, but it was a gorgeous day for a drive through the mountains. The fall foliage is just starting to show up which made the views during the drive that much more spectacular. Neither of us had been to Franconia Notch yet, so this was a new adventure for the two of us to enjoy for the first time.

The bike path is 8.8 miles long and is paved doubletrack. We went on a Friday, and with it being after Labor Day, there weren't too many other walkers, joggers, or cyclists on the path. Indeed, at times it felt like we had the trail to ourselves. The trail has some moderately sttep climbs and descents which make it a heck of a fun ride. I really enjoyed some of the descents where I may or mayI think I read somewhere the trail was built because cyclists are not allowed on I-93 and there are no other secondary roads to take in order to get through the notch. It's so narrow that Highway 3 and I-93 actually merge and become one through the notch.

Starting at the Flume Gorge Visitor Center Parking Lot and heading North, the path is generally taking you uphill. We couldn't have planned this any better in my book. I prefer to do the climbing (or wind fighting) ont he way out in an out-and-back ride. Then you get to relax on the way back. The trail takes you through some very scenic parts of Franconia Notch. One of the highlights for us though was definitely the Governor Gallen Memorial. Here you are treated to some magnificent views of Mount Lafayette on one side and down over I-93 you get a different view of the mountains to the northeast. This was also a great spot to stop and have a snack or two.

The path also takes you right along Echo Lake which is very scenic. We thought about stopping by the Old Man of the Mountain, but since the profile has fallen off, it doesn't seem as cool to me. There are pictures of it before the collapse online as well as at the site. The old man fell down on May 3, 2003. I really wish I could have seen him perched high above Profile Lake, where he sat for millions of years, but such is life. the public did not want anyone to recreate the old man so now its just a cliff, but still quite pretty.

Another point of interest along the bike path is the Basin. We didn't really stop here, but I'm told there is some cool rock formations and cascades around The Basin that are worth the extra walking. The first several miles after leaving the visitor parking lot, the trail stays pretty close to the Pemigewasset River. This provides you with plenty of little spots to stop and view the crystal clear river. Many of them have some cascades as well which are very pretty and make great photo subjects.

We made it back safely to the Flume Gorge Visitor Parking lot after what seemed like an all downhill ride back south. We were tempted to do the two mile hike to check out the gorge. But didn't really feel like paying to do so, and by this time we were both thinking about where we might stop on the way home for food. Usually we try and find some good local spots on Yelp. This time though we ended up stopping at an Applebees. Tell you what though, it was pretty damn good after our almost nineteen mile ride through the mountains.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Plymouth Ramble

My birthday was last week, and as much as I hate growing older, I do enjoy getting presents. This year I was given a couple great books highlighting some really cool rides in New England. The other day we decided to check out one of the rides from the book Road Biking Northern New England by Sandy Duling. It is a guide to the greatest bike rides in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. I have to tell you, the rides in Maine look truly exceptional. I'm hoping to get one or two done before the cold weather sets in.

We chose the Plymouth Ramble for our first ride together from the book. My girlfriend did the Enfield Ramble last weekend which is another more local ride from the same book. I still need to go check that one out too. We headed out to Plymouth kind of later in the day than we typically do when taking off on our little adventures. But we had some engagements in the morning and then needed to fuel our bodies for the almost 25 mile bike ride we would be doing. So we arrived at Rhino Bike Works in Plymouth around one-thirty or so.

The book's author describes the ride as having gently rolling terrain. This is mostly true, but there are a couple steep ascents and descents, after all, this is New Hampshire. She also describes the shoulders of the road as ranging from minimal to spacious. This is also mostly true. Luckily the route does take secondary roads and traffic was pretty light. If you are new to road cycling parts of this ride may be a little sketchy, so be careful.

The route is pretty easy to follow. Basically starting at the Rhino Bike Works and heading north on 3 for a little over eleven miles, then making a right over the Pemigewasset River. The river crossing here is really pretty. Make a right onto 175 toward  and through Campton. Remain on 175 southward to Blair Road and make a right. There is a nice little downhill section down Blair Road to what may be the highlight of the ride, the Blair Bridge. This old bridge is the largest covered/wooden bridge I have seen so far. After crossing the river, make a left on 3 and head back to the bike shop to finish the ride. Or keep going its up to you.

Personally, I think I will go knock out the Enfield Ramble. I can't let my girlfriend complete more of these rides than me.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Birthday Bike Ride - Hampton Beach

The day before my birthday we headed out for another gorgeous New Hampshire bike ride. This time we went to the coast and road from Hampton Beach up to Odiorne State Park via the 1A. There and back totals nearly thirty miles making it a good ride for us as we can shoot down to the coast, ride and get back to our part of the state at a reasonable time. The ride along the 1A is pretty amazing as far as the scenery goes. Most of the road offers a pretty good shoulder. There are some spots where it gets a little tight, but the speed limit is usually low and drivers are generally courteous this time of year.

Post-Labor day, and being a weekday I was surprised at the number of people visiting the beach. There was still plenty of parking though, so it was no big deal. The beach here is very wide and the waters are really clear. There was ample room to toss a Frisbee, football, or even fly a drone.

The weather was fabulous, maybe a touch on the warm side, but otherwise great. Most days since I've moved to New Hampshire have been really nice up to this point. I'm sure that will change in the near future, which is why we have been trying to take advantage of what's left of the nice weather. I wonder if my blog will get updated more frequently when old man winter arrives. 

For this ride there is not much climbing, so I broke out the trusty Scrambler fixed gear, which does not see much use where I live in the mountains. It was nice to ride fixed again mostly effortlessly gliding along the scenic coast with my best friend. 

We rode the almost fifteen miles to Odiorne Point State Park. We had a small picnic in this park which has some interesting history. Initially the land was the summer home of native Americans. Later colonists made it their home. Then in 1942 the government bought all the land and used it as a coastal defense in world war two. The evidence of this is all around if you look closely. The park is a great place to stop and refuel and really take in the great views.

We turned around and made our way back along the scenic coast to Hampton Beach. Here we took a nice stroll and looked at all the closed shops and stores. They really close the place down after Labor Day. We did find a restaurant that was open and had a great view of the beach from their rooftop deck seating, the Sea Ketch. Here we enjoyed a well earned and tasty lunch. Of course after our great meals of lobster roll and fried oysters, it was time to head back to the mountains. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quick Spin on The Rail Trail

It was a little bit chilly this morning in Lebanon for someone who just migrated north from the almost tropical summer weather of North Carolina. So after letting the sun warm things up a little I headed out to a nice cloudless, crisp 47 degree morning. At first I thought it might be too cold for shorts and a long sleeve tee shirt. That first descent was a bit chilly. But once I started spinning the pedals I warmed up nicely.

The weather turned out to be just another perfect New England late summer day. I made my way into Lebanon, and then hit the rail trail. We had a little rain yesterday morning so I was worried it may have been too muddy. Turns out it was really great. I think some rain and then almost 24 hours of drying out makes the trail kind of packed down. The last time I rode on the trail I felt like my tires were constantly sinking in to the sandy, deep gravel parts. Today was different, the ground below my tires felt much more firm and confidence inspiring. I think I even managed four personal records on Strava, woop woop!

The rail trail to me, is the most enjoyable on weekdays when every one else is at work or school. You almost feel like the whole trail is yours for the day. Once you get a few miles out of Enfield, things really thin out and quiet down. My trusty Trek 520 carried me along faithfully again today for 30 miles. I have just over a thousand miles on that bike now. I anticipate I will be putting many more on it. Its a great platform for a day of riding.

I stopped in at the Meadow Lounge thinking I could grab a mid-ride beer; no luck though. They only open at 4pm on Thursdays. But maybe tomorrow I will ride by there and check it out. But more likely I will do a different ride since I just did a good chunk of the rail trail today.

I was able to snap a few photos today too. It will be interesting to get some more to see the progression of the leaves turning color. After turning around at about the fourteen mile mark, I headed back to Lebanon. I stopped in for lunch at the Village Pizza since I burned a few calories out on the trail.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Island Line Rail Trail - You Gotta Do it!

Monday night we were planning our next adventure which would take place on Tuesday, since we both had the day off. Somehow my girlfriend stumbled across this ride on some Island Line Rail Trail. At first I was thinking, "yea sure, another rail trail, cool I guess". Then she showed me the pictures, and I was blown away. After those images, I was pretty stoked to check this ride out. This particular section of rail trail goes several miles out into Lake Champlain, the nations sixth largest lake. During the summer there is a bike ferry that will take you across "the cut" a 200 foot gap in the Colchester Causeway to South Hero and Grand Isle. After Labor Day it only runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until October 10th.

We headed out Tuesday morning and headed to Airport Park. The drive from New Hampshire was really pretty. We found the park pretty easily and headed out to the trail. The weather was pretty much perfect and we were enjoying the start of the trail even if there was some loose gravel and I was sliding along with skinny tires on my fixed gear. After a short ride through some wooded area and gentle hills, the trail suddenly opens up to the lake. It really is a sight to behold as you begin to realize the scope of the monumental effort it must have taken to build this thing way back in 1900.

As we effortlessly tooled down the trail we kept thinking it might have been all downhill, but I kind of knew better. The wind was pretty stiff. I even saw some waves crashing against the causeway that reminded me of ocean waves hitting a rock jetty. I was really surprised with the size and beauty of Lake Champlain. The lake is filled with cool looking islands surrounded by crystal clear waters. When we arrived at the cut, we noticed the ferry was not in service. I halfway thought it may have been due to the wind, but realized it is post-Labor Day and that is the more likely reason. We grabbed a few pics, and headed back. But then I noticed this pretty good sized sailboat headed right to the causeway at a pretty good clip. It looked like he was going around 15-20mph. I stopped to see what might happen. I didn't think he would be approaching the cut with his sails out and moving that fast. But sure enough he shot right through it towing his inflatable dinghy as well.

On the way back toward Airport Park we were confronted by an angry headwind. It was really brutal on my fixed gear too since I have been really accustomed to riding with multiple gears lately. I constantly found myself reaching down for a barend shifter like on my Trek 520 I have been riding usually. I was really mashing the pedals to get through the wind and back into the relative calm in the more woodsy section of the trail. Once there we made pretty good time back to the park.

We stopped to use the restrooms there and refill top off our water bottles. We did this because it was only like three and a half miles out to the cut and we still had a lot of gas in our tanks, so decided to continue on to Burlington. Across from the park, the trail does indeed continue on to Burlington which is only a few miles away. In between the park and Burlington is an amazing little beach too. Actually I think there were a couple of them. But we stopped at a really nice one.

We made it into Burlington and stopped in at Foam Brewers. This place is a pretty cool little brewery with good beers and a cool atmosphere. We also had a killer cheese and salami plate. After indulging ourselves a little we hit the waterfront, to check out the views and grab a couple more photos. Burlington seems like a really cool place. I think we will definitely be doing the rail trail again and checking out more of Burlington in the future. The islands in Lake Champlain will be neat to check out too.

If you go maybe these links below will be helpful:
Bike ferry info
Island Info

Friday, September 9, 2016

NBD Part Deux - Lebanon to Lyme

Today was another glorious day for cycling through the New Hampshire countryside. So far all the riding I have been able to do has been absolutely amazing. But today was even more amazing as I had the rare treat of the company of an amazing woman. Last night and this morning we were thinking about where to head off for a nice ride today. We considered a couple options, the Northern Rail Trail, the Upper Valley Trails Loop, etc, but then we decided on Lebanon to Lyme. I did most of the same ride a few days ago and was blown away by the fun I had on some of the climbs and descents in between Hanover and Lyme on NH route 10. So we decided on that route with the only real plan being to ride to Lyme. I missed the turn off on E Thetford Rd the last time I came through and was looking forward to at least identifying it for future rides.

Man my girl can really fly on her new bike. I'm so used to being waaaay ahead, it is really great to turn back and see her right on my wheel sometimes even when I've been mashing it pretty good. At one point I saw someone gaining on us just outside of Hanover. I don't think either of us particularly enjoys getting smoked by some senior citizen (and there's plenty of badass ones around these parts) so I hammered down. Just as sure as ice cream melts in the sun, there's my beautiful lady right behind me at the bottom of a pretty fast descent. The pursuing cyclist was not in sight.

After making it to Lyme we stopped at the church/old cemetery for a quick drink of water and then turned back toward E Thetford Rd. I wasn't really planning on exploring it, but while we were stopped we looked at google maps and decided we could take E Thetford Rd to River Rd and then take that back out to route 10 to return to Hanover and finally to Lebanon. So we mounted up and we were off once again with nothing but new roads and new adventures ahead.

Sometimes I like not having a solid plan or at least being flexible with my plans and in doing so, often times the unexpected detours are a real treat. Today was one such unexpected detour that just couldn't have been any better. Route 10 between Hanover and Lyme is not bad riding whatsoever, but there are sometimes a lot of cars moving pretty quick. So when we detoured down E Thetford Rd things started getting quieter real quick. We even saw the cows we had been smelling since we rolled into Lyme. there was some light traffic on E Thetford Road, but we quickly made our way to River Rd and hung the sharp left at the bottom of a hill to access it.

I was a little worried when we did turn left onto River Rd because there was a sign saying "Road Closed .10 mile" I thought to myself though, "Heck, it's only a tenth of a mile and I'm on a bike that has been through closed roads before." Sure enough about a tenth of a mile into the road it is indeed closed to vehicular traffic by some large concrete barricades. I'm not really sure why it is closed, because the road actually seemed fine. There was ample space between the barricades to fit a bike through, so we continued right along. River Rd is almost a cycling utopia due to the very light traffic, the rolling hills, the great scenery, and well, you get the idea.

There were some hills but they seemed much more rolling than the ones we either toiled up or screamed down on route 10 on the way to Lyme. Some of the houses along the river are just amazing. There are some frequent great views of the river and the mountains surrounding it during the ride along River Rd. Some places are very peaceful and quiet. We even stopped for a few minutes right on the side of the road for a quick Rip Van Waffle and photos of the river. A few miles later we even saw a deer. It was as though it wasn't even afraid of us. I stopped and tried to get my camera out, but as soon as I did it fled away into the cover of the woods.

At the end of River Rd there is a pretty good climb back up to route 10. We hooked a right and climbed and cruised our way back to Hanover. Then was the part both of us weren't too keen on...the climb back to Lebanon. It wasn't too bad though and we dispatched the climb without too much difficulty. It was a little warm out, but I'm not complaining because I have an idea we're in for the coldest winter of both of our lives this year. So we better enjoy the warmth while its here. But I have no doubt we're truly going to enjoy and make the most of what New Hampshire has to offer.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

NBD for the Lovely Lady

Yesterday my girlfriend decided it was high time for a new bike. The old Trek mountain bike she has been riding since we met over a year ago has served her well, but it is in need of some help at this point. When we first came to New Hampshire we rented some Trek 7.2 fitness bikes for a ride on the rail trail. We both enjoyed riding them and now that it was time to score a new ride she went with what she knows. Its a really sweeet aluminum frame bike with more racy geometry than her old mountain bike. Needless to say its a little tougher to leave her in the dust now.

After we picked it up, we headed out on the Northern Rail Trail for a little cruise to test drive her new whip. She was gliding effortlessly down the trail on her new ride all the way to Mascoma Lake. It was here that we decided a break and Rip Van waffle were in order so we stopped at one of the benches on the side of the lake. At this point, mother nature decided to throw us a curve ball and it started drizzling. No big deal we thought. It loooked like it might pass right by and the radar said there wasn't even anything in the area. As we sat there chatting and enjoying each others company the rain started to pick up. It was really starting to rain at this point. We had talked about diverging from the rail trail and going over the bridge to look at houses, but we also thought about heading back to Lebanon due to the rain. For some reason when we did get going I started heading back to Lebanon. As the rain started to let up, I asked where the turn off for the bridge was because we were almost at the end of the lake. My girlfriend politely pointed out that if I wanted to go across the bridge we would need to turn around.

So we turned around and made a right by the Shaker Village Sailing Club and then a left on Main St to cross the lake. It was my first time diverting off the rail trail and the ride across the bridge was pretty nice. There's actually a bike lane going across. After crossing the bridge and going by the beach we made a right on 4A and rode by the cool lakeside homes. We followed 4A to the end of the lake and made a right on Payne Rd where we had to take a little goat path to get back on the rail trail. No big deal though. It was a great ride with a lovely lady and even the rain couldn't dampen the spirit of it.

I've found several other great road routes in the last weeek or so that I will be sharing soon so stay tuned. New Hampshire still has a lot of great cycling to offer me and my girlfriend it seems.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Hampshire - Great Place for Biking

A couple of weeks ago I relocated to the granite state - New Hampshire. While I will certainly miss the great riding I did while living in North Carolina, I'm finding New Hampshire to be very accommodating to the avid cyclist. There are some great country roads out here and even a really long rail trail. So far the weather has been perfect, but I realize that will change. It is much more hilly here in the mountains than where I was in North Carolina.

I have only rode my fixed gear one time since moving here, and that was at the beach. I will miss riding my fixed gear around Raleigh with the great friends I have there. But my trusty Trek 520 is getting the job done without any trouble so far. I've already done a century on the rail trail, a shorter ride on the trail, a beach ride with my lovely gal, and completed the upper valley trails loop.

It's exciting to find yourself in a brand new place with new rides and routes to enjoy. The scenic mountains, rivers, and lakes don't hurt either. I'll try to document the best rides and routes I find here in future posts, so check back soon.

Grafton Rail Trail - Mascoma Lake Fog
Another cool thing about the northeast is that several states can be reached in a relatively short drive. So it will be nice to check a few more states off the list of states I've rode in. I typically work on weekends so I get to go for rides when no one else is out. It is kind of nice because you have less traffic on the roads, less cyclists on trails, and parks tend to be empty.

Kilowatt Park - Hartford, VT
Check back later for more posts detailing some great rides in New Hampshire and other places.