Monday, August 18, 2008

Friday's Ride

Helen and I were up in New England last week, on an abbreviated version of the Vermont/Great Barrington trip we've taken before. We got to revisit some things we've done before – running in the Beartown State Forest, riding up from mom's towards Tunbridge, running on the off-roads outside of mom's village. (Helen did much better on that climb than she did 2 years ago, just pedaled right up it). Some of my favorite biking routes are up there, both near Great Barrington – where we didn't have time to ride this time – and up in Vermont. My ride on Friday, though, was largely new areas. I'd wanted to do that, see stuff I hadn't seen before. This was my most successful ride yet on the other side of the White River towards Woodstock.

Distance: just over 50 miles

Time: probably around 4 hours, including stops to eat

Lowest elevation: 223

Highest elevation: 1614

Really Big Climbs: Hard to say, but 5 at most. The ride from mom's house to and from Sharon is one big up and down. Once I crossed the White River and went up Howe's Hill Road I was climbing for a while, from around mile 7.5 to 10.5, then again, after a significant downhill, from 11.5 to 13.5, although this one wasn't as hard. In general, the hills I was on across the White River weren't as hard as I expected. Miles 17 to 22 was pretty steady climbing, much of it on a packed dirt road that I was glad to be going up and not down. After that it was a fairly gradual (by VT standards, anyway) descent down into Bethel. Really, from mile 22 until mile 43 I was either going down or riding the relatively flat roads along the White River. That said, I'd probably say that the section from mile 26 to mile 38 was the least favorite part of the ride; the most traffic, the least scenery. It also goes through Bethel, which is surprisingly ugly for a Vermont town. The last section along the river, from South Royalton to Sharon, there's a little road on the other side of the river that's nice. But riding on routes 12, 107, and 14 – it's not as nice as the other roads in Vermont. The two hardest climbs, it turned out, were the ones on 132, which I'd done a bunch of times before.

Highest speed: 47 mph. A new record for the black bike. (Red bike hit 50 mph once, also in Vermont, on a downhill I'd hoped to get to this vacation but didn't). The 47 mph was going down 132, on the home stretch. I got up to 44 earlier in the ride, somewhere around mile 14, but there was a car coming in from a side road so I couldn't fully let loose.

Pictures taken: 0. Sorry! No camera this trip.

Overall, a nice ride. Some of the roads are ones I want to get back to. The loop itself needs some tweaking. I'd like to find a way to include the first miles and the last, but cut off some of that middle stuff – maybe find a way to cut back to Royalton instead of Bethel. It's tough to figure out these routes, though, since you never know when you look at the maps whether a road is paved or not. You don't always even know when you turn onto a road, since a lot of roads start out paved and then turn to dirt – this was the case with Stage Road, which I took in the middle of the ride. Again, a decent road to go up, but I wouldn't want to go down it. I passed a road that was called Royalton Turnpike. I can't help but think that the name was ironic.

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