W2O Trip – Friends on the Road

October 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

Thankfully, most people see a solo cyclist and allow some breathing room. It’s good etiquette to be open and friendly, but in my experience people traveling alone aren’t doing it to spend all their time with strangers. Traveling solo gets us more familiar with that other stranger: ourself’s, that person who gets lost in the daily chaos of life. Traveling like this has the added benefit of making those few we who do get to know all the more precious.

at Chaffey's Lock

at Chaffey’s Lock

On my ride north, I spend night two at Chaffey’s Lock. Quite a popular and nice place to camp, it’s along the Rideau Canal Trail. When I arrived there was just one other person, before I had time to set my tent up there must have been 15 more. An outing club from Toronto enjoying a canoe trip along a section of the Rideau (I think I have the correct link). A fun, very sociable group of people. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know them better!

First night of my return trip I spent at the Merrickville lock. I rode the extra ~10 miles past Burritts Rapids lock (a bad experience on my north bound trip put me off) and I cannot be happier for the choice. The guys who work Merrickville are remarkably friendly and helpful, the lock area itself is a slightly hidden gem of the area … but I also got to meet a couple guys who were doing a tour of the Rideau by canoe. It’s rare to meet people so genuinely in tune with and passionate about nature, I can’t say enough about Tim and Andre! I hope we will have cause to cross each other’s paths again.

Andre and Tim

Andre and Tim

W2O Trip – Art

October 1, 2015 § 1 Comment

I recently took a bicycle tour from near Watertown, NY to Ottawa, Ontario. I originally intended to publish the trip as a kind of travelog, but it quickly became apparent to me that this was not going to be the epic time I envisioned. I’ll write a few more articles covering it, certainly a review of the Rideau Canal Trail and likely something technical about equipment. For this portion though, a highlight worth focusing on was the art scene in Ottawa.

Alex Janvier - partial of Untitled 1986

Alex Janvier – partial of Untitled 1986

The National Gallery of Canada, along with a string of events between the Ottawa Art Gallery the SAW Video Media Art Centre were the only part of my 3 days in Ottawa which, to wax poetic, my soul had use for. Ottawa seems thoroughly whitebread, with happy exceptions like these art venues scattered around.

Terrors of the Breakfast Table: An interactive video installation by Tyler Tekatch

Terrors of the Breakfast Table: An interactive video installation by Tyler Tekatch

at SAW Video Media Art Centre

at SAW Video Media Art Centre

There was also a fair amount of art to be found randomly on the street. Every city should do this.

Downhill at Windham

July 20, 2015 § 1 Comment

Since they recently opened summer lift service, I decided to give Windham MTB Park a try. The people there are remarkably friendly and helpful, the park itself is beautiful. The great open vista of the Catskills, a cooling wind taking the edge off 90°f heat, unexpected splashes of color thanks to a variety of wildflowers scattered under the lift.

Video was an afterthought, else I would have gone to greater lengths to smooth the frame. Chest harnesses have their disadvantages. My first 3.5 runs I forgot to start my GPS (audio cue was lost behind a helmet), but no worries anyhow since Strava reports zero altitude change (wtf?). As for the gopro, my first few rides weren’t much. Perhaps one moment is worth sharing:

With the exception of local singletrack and a trip to Plattekill last year, I’ve never seen this terrain outside of videos online. My videos probably won’t seem adventurous until I advance further, but it’s much fun.

I started (and ended) with Wilderness Roll, a jump track which I was unprepared for. My cross country shoes and pedals didn’t feel safe on this terrain so I swapped them for 5.10s and flats. Am happy I put longer grub screws in these flats, it was a simple upgrade and kept my feet more secure, but still nimble. I worried more about my hands rattling off the bars than my feet from the pedals.

Next was Batavia Skill, which felt more familiar, like a singletrack flow trail. If you watched Boom! Headshot! above, you’ll understand my laugh when I clear the same section without wrecking. This was a fun ride which I did several times, it kept me thinking, there was always something different to look forward to. The lower section felt unloved and rough, but another 2″ of suspension would go a long way.

Videos shot like these tend to feel much slower than they really are (my average speed on Wilderness Roll was 14.4mph), but I can say this: There are a few sections that put roller coasters to shame, and I wasn’t even going fast enough / committed to fully utilize many of the berms and jumps. Windham seems to be hot on developing and improving trails, the other parks may have to step their game up.

Ride 10-26-14

October 28, 2014 § 2 Comments

… and another recent ride. I imagine these are getting a bit boring, but I’m excited about my GoPro! I’ll work on my cinematography some before posting anything long again, so far the shots have been quite ad hoc.

watch in a larger format here

This video was shot on the singletrack running from Clearwater Road (below Spring Farm) to the rail trail near Rosendale.

Ride 10-24-14

October 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

While still not an explosively-epic-thrill-packed-roller-coaster-fun-ride, this video seems much better than the last (which I deleted from youtube). Was a beautiful day out, and this is a great ride I’d recommend to anyone ready for it.

watch in a larger format here

The path follows carriage roads from Minnewaska State Park, through the Trapps, Mountain House, to Spring Town, then down Clearwater Road (which is single track). It’s mostly wide, easy and downhill. Dropping down the hill from Spring Farm it becomes single track with a few intermediate-ish difficult sections. With many other paths to vary the ride and a few bailout sections to end early on, this is a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Minnewaska to Spring Farm

Minnewaska to Spring Farm

Ride 10-22-14

October 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Remarkably beautiful day despite the rain. Not the most epic ride, or video. This is first light on my shiny Gopro Hero 4 Black. Once again youtube manages to break the video in some way, but it’s watchable. Was a great day out – only a few people on the trail, none blocking it. Despite the slippery mud and leaves my Repack held true!

To watch in a larger frame

Am not sure I’ll shoot in portrait again. It solved the problem most biking videos have (being aimed directly at the bike and ground), but the perspective is difficult to watch over time and it clips the landscape.

Bicycle Repair Class

October 12, 2014 § 1 Comment

Spring Farm Trail Junction

Spring Farm Trail Junction

I am told there is still room to join the repair class I am taking this autumn. It is at The Bicycle Rack in New Paltz, NY. Instructor is Mike Kilmer, who I have gotten to know over the last few months since purchasing my All-Mountain bike from his shop. He has done nothing but impress me, and I am sure his class will prove to be fun and informative! Come join!

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