So close and yet so far. A challenging new route from last year. Supposedly less climbing. New roads, some of them dirt. No GPS, a simple printed cue. Lack of cell phone coverage in the mountains. Rolled from the house @ 4:30 am. Made poor time on the flats to the NY side of the lake. Recharged and refilled water at the Crown Point Campground. First bout of misery when the stomach and GI distress hit – worked hard to try and eliminate a repeat of my Boston 400k – stayed a bit longer at my first stop to settle the tummy and text the family.
Into the terrain north of Paradox Lake. Climb climb from the Champlain Valley – then navigate on a few unsigned dirt roads. Bliss was climbing this morning – feeling strong – making back time – and hitting the dirt. Then a question about navigation. No phone signal – continue bombing down this dirt descent and hope it drops me out where I need to be – only 60 miles into the double?
Sound of a truck – pickup with VT plates.
Yeah, this will go there – you’re crazy to do it on that bike!, I’ve ridden all over here on my mountain bike… and don’t slow down too much – lots of deer flies out…
My first navigational hero – in the right place at the right time.
Perfect timing to continue rolling down a great great backwoods descent. Lane and a half at most for the best parts. Posted on both sides of the road – but creeks, trees, the sound of water. Upper wetlands, beaver ponds. A bit of gravel and washout. Views to unnamed (to me) mountains. Nothing in the road surface that I haven’t seen before on the IF – but most folks wouldn’t consider riding dirt on skinny 28s (more like 26s) with a light load. Dropped out on NY 74 just east of Paradox Lake – just where I was supposed to land. Into the campground for stomach distress round two – and to top off bottles. Enjoyed cold and delicious spring water in an empty tent site. Washed the face. It was starting to get hot. Down from Paradox to Schroon Lake on NY 9. Into the general store for a proper lunch, enjoyed sitting in the shade on the porch. Stomach feeling better, behind schedule. Terrain ahead. Hydrated. Electrolyted. All systems seem to be sorting themselves out. Text the family with update #2.
On to Hoffman (Mountain) Road. Climb climb climb to Olmsteadville and NY 28N. All paved, with a few short rolling descents. Navigation question again – sign says to turn, cue says to press on. I turn. Doubt it for the next 10 miles. Two cars pass. Quiet paved road. Isolated. I pop out onto a busy(ier) route. Sings pointing to I87 and another town do not compute. Pull out the smartphone. No signal. Climb or descend? Sun is directly overhead – and my guess is to climb. UPS truck coming down the road. My second navigation hero arrives in a brown ensemble with mirrored shades. Just up the road, follow to the left, through the blinking lights. North Creek is the next town to hit on 28. Perfect.
Roll into Olmsteadville. No cell signal. Pick up NY 28N south(ish). Then on to North Creek and over the Hudson. No cell signal for texting the fam – so I roll on with a view of Gore Mountain. No easy convenience store on the main drag for water… but I’m packing three bottles (two full), temps in the 80′s, and only 17 miles to the next town. I gamble and roll north on NY 28, following the Hudson. Five easy miles with quite a bit of traffic, enjoying the view along the river. Then the ‘slower traffic’ lane appears. Long climb ahead. Temp hits 86. Water drains very quickly. Third bottle pulled from downtube. About 8 miles of up. 4 to get the bulk of the work done. Topo claims 4-6-8% but the VDO claims some of 9-11% thrown in. Nothing as steep as the previous climbs – but this road leaves one exposed to the big rigs and camping rigs and the sun. Not fun, the slowest 8 miles in recent memory. Water tapped out with 4 miles to town.
Parched I double down on water at the Stewart’s in Indian Lake. Enjoy a chocolate milk shake with vanilla creme wafers. Stomach seems to be doing much better. 110 miles of the cue in the bank (+7 bonus). 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m 2 hours behind schedule. 24 to Speculator. Down nearly a gallon of water, refill. Check the phone – still no service. Debate a long distance call from the pay phone and then roll on. Make the turn southward towards Lake Pleasant and Speculator. Scenic overlook – stop for a snap and to check the phone. 3 bars – but no connection. Worried that the fam will be worried – its been 6 hours since my last text. Roll south to Speculator on NY 30. Gorgeous road for most of the 24 miles. Views to Indian Lake. Camps great and small dot the roadside. Too many ponds and creeks and upper wetlands to count. Mountains abound. Stop in at the Lewey Lake state campground to use the facilities (GI again), wash my face, and top off bottles. Rolling south again with 4 miles from town I see a cell tower and stop. Finally a signal. Voicemail and a call to a very relieved wife. The fam has been worried and is about 40 minutes away in the rescue wagon. I’m beat and running well behind – putting me after midnight to finish the double century. I roll on to Speculator, make a quick stop at the convenience store and slowly roll west out of town. Somewhere along NY 8 Jen finds me and we call it.
I logged 140 miles, 7 of which were bonus to fetch water or to track down a missing cue, or in one case find the end of the road and figure out where to turn next. I spent an amazing 3 hours off the bike during the first 200k – which contributed to my slow schedule but helped with my stomach issues.
Bliss is riding in the mountains (even though I’m not a strong nor fast climber) under blue skies with puffy white clouds on a perfect (if a bit too warm) summer day. Misery is a slowness in the legs, lack of sleep for several nights prior, a stomach glitch I can’t seem to solve on longer rides, and a route that needs a bit of work to balance the beauty with the pain and the traffic. And I’ll have to verify the climbing. Online mapping shows less than last year – but it might be packed into tighter and steeper groups – which certainly hurt in the heat. Or the online maps can be wrong…
Aside from the disappointment of not completing the full solo double – I’m thrilled that I spent the day on the bike surrounded by the mountains and lakes of the north woods. And the fam was thrilled that I simply lost all cell reception for the better part of 6+ hours, and was safe and slowly making my way. A SPOT device is in my future… from the most amazing wife in the world.