On the Couch After the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival

IMG_5716“If I was a cell phone, I’d be at eighteen percent right now,’ mumbled John as he lay sprawled on the condominium’s couch as thirteen Bubbas settled into a much needed retreat after I logged 15 miles on the snow covered trail here at the Sugarloaf Fat Tire Festival.

It was a horror show driving here.  A greasy snow storm that ended up dropping ten inches of wet thick snow on midcoast Maine added two extra hours to what was normally a two hour ride. Numerous cars and trucks were sliding off the road.

Jacknived trailer truck

Jacknived trailer truck

We witnessed a very scary episode of a car going through a red light and doing a 360 in an intersection coming into Augusta on route 17.

But today easily made up for our afternoon of fight or flight tension yesterday.  The day started at 11 degrees, with a relatively benign wind that hovered in single digits all day. The warm point of the day was at 28 degrees. Although this may sound cold, it is primo. Winter biking is best on frozen surfaces that are not slick. Today’s conditions made for fast riding on a surface that was easier to roll on than in the summer, with far fewer rocks or roots to get in the way.

I am positively giddy about riding 15 miles today.

Strava is a GPS-connected app that I use to track my outdoor activities, be it biking, walking, hiking, or backpacking. The flyby feature is really interesting. Here’s the Strava flyby of today’s group riude.  It is a virtual video game that depicts us Bubbas riding our bikes. Check it out and chuckle.

Here are some representative photos of our adventures today:

Vendor Alley

Vendor Alley

We started by checking out he even’s hub.  One of our local shops, Sidecountry Sports had a strong booth representing their services.

Then we meandered down from our condo to access an initial ride on broad, groomed, packed, and very fun trails.  IMG_5713 2

 

Here’s a very short video clip of part of the trail:

Later, we got onto the Narrow Gauge railroad bed until we had to ramp big-time uphill to the Stratton Brook Hut.

It was a climb of approximately two and a-half miles. I have enjoyed staying at these huts. Their food was not overpriced, for what they have to do to get the raw materials there into in the winter. Service was great. Overnight price are reasonable.

At a few points, I had this view of Sugarloaf:

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Lots of wood and stone, flanks the communal rooms of the Stratton Brook Hut.

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Ian , Buck ,and Andre sipping complimentary free coffee.  They are sitting in front of a crackling fire.

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If you do make a visit to this hut on a bike, be sure to opt for taking Oak Knoll trail down. After all the effort to make the climb you need to enjoy descending two and a half swoopy singletrack down. 

There was nothing left when I rolled back uphill to the condo.  The first thing that I did when I finished showering was to hit the couch with John.

Later, came the day’s stories.  They go on and on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bicycling, Uncategorized, winter biking | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

How to enjoy snowy trails, frozen lakes in Acadia National Park — Outdoors — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

“A lot of people think the park is closed, but it’s not.”

Auntie Mame chilling out at Acadia's Blackwoods Campground - 2009

Auntie Mame chilling out at Acadia’s Blackwoods Campground – 2009

Acadia is the only National Park in New England, and it is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.  During the summer, it’s so crowded ( estimated 2.8 million visitors) that I stay away, confining my enjoyment of the Park’s hiking and biking trails to the fall, and the winter.

Check out Aislinn Sarnacki’s excellent article on winter use of the park.  It’s in today’s Bangor Daily News and right here, via this link:  How to enjoy snowy trails, frozen lakes in Acadia National Park — Outdoors — BDN Maine

Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures is heading up to Blackwoods Campground  for three nights of winter camping this month. I am not sure how much snow will be around by then, but we’ll adapt to either cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or fat tire biking. We’ll have the benefit of my heated tent.   It’s going to happen!

As a bonus post, here’s Day 1 (of 3) of my last winter camping trip at Blackwoods, from 2009.

 

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Souping Is the New Juicing – The New York Times

Some of my readers have commented and even started their own phauxpho soup lunch programs after seeing my numerous pics from Instagram. Here’s the latest:

Rich homemade broth with garden carrots and broccoli. Plus kimchi!

Rich homemade broth with garden carrots and broccoli. Plus kimchi!

I must have snagged the idea from the universe of food trends that was passing by my window a year or so ago.

Check out the newest option for those of you who crave something more than offered by the standard juicing cleanse diet.

“Soup cleanses promise an easier detox than a juice cleanse.”

Source: Souping Is the New Juicing – The New York Times

 Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

Danny Ghitis for The New York Times

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Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots and Kayak. – The New York Times

Photo – New York Times

When I walk outside, I sometimes fantasize about what I would do if I did not have my present connections my family, friends, and work. I’d leave the house with my pack on my back and walk west for a long time.

I’d veer up from Maine to take a northerly route, where I’d head for Montana, where I’d visit for a while with my oldest son Lincoln and his wife Stephanie in Livingston.

After that, I’d walk to San Francisco and hang out with my other son, Arlo and his partner Alanna.  I’d probably take a plane flight home.

I am hoping to be done working in four years.  I’m whittling down my obligations, footprint, and needs so that I can live off Social Security and my Maine state retirement.  I want to rent out my camp on Hobbs Pond in the summer and the apartment in my house for additional income.

In the meantime I tell myself, “I gotta be ready for the call !”
I feel like I am enlisted in some sort of backpacker’s version of the National Guard reserve,  ever-present for the call to arms.

What call?
Why, that would be the universe offering me another “adventure door” to walk through.    It is possible that it could be a walking, biking, snowshoeing, or maybe even expedition motorcycling adventure.

I was called up from reserve status this  week.
I got an offer for a month’s walk this summer with one of my hiking pals from the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails. At first I turned it down, but now it looks possible.  I am pretty worked up.

In the meantime, I’d be putting in my hour or so hiking or biking while I decide what to do.  With my new practice of walking in the dark at night under the moon or starlight, I am keeping that small glow of hope alive.

It’s no coincidence that today’s Bangor Daily News had the following reprint of this New York Times article —>>>”Many retirees enjoy the physical outdoor challenges of hiking, mountain climbing and bicycling and do it on the cheap.”  Please check it out.  It’s an alternative to “Retiring on the Couch”

Goodbye, Golf Clubs. Hello, Hiking Boots and Kayak. – The New York Times

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Why “The Revenant” feels like the real deal 

Because Canada’s Mors Kochanski was technical adviser to the movie, that’s why.  If you don’t know about Mors, you don’t know much about the increasingly popular subset of outdoor adventuring known as Bushcraft.   Wikipedia says that, “Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, and rope and twine-making, among others.”

Here’s the back story about Mors and his part to play in ensuring that actual bushcraft is portrayed in The Revenant.  I particularly like the part where he talks about making good money in consulting to the movie.

I am headed back to the theater tonight for a second viewing  of The Revenant.  I don’t go much.  The last movie that I saw before this was The Hobbit.

I shun any horror movie, and generally turn off the TV when shows get unnecessarily gory.   However, I am intrigued by the rough, soiled, and worn quality of this movie.  Yes, the violent parts are hard to take, but the acts that are carried out are characteristic of daily life of that era.  Someone else wrote that these folks ate meat, wore skins and furs, and therefore killed large animals on a regular basis.  They were also in total fight or flight mode, due to the constant threat of hostile natives.

Here’s the trailer for The Revenant.

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Strava, Snow, and Stoicism or Moving Along the Fitness Trail

It had been a struggle for me to meet my 2016 fitness goals here in the winter in Maine this month. I have been reaching deep to log in an hour a day of hard walking or bicycling- outdoors, of course.  Here’s the January 19 report.

Days = Hours = Good

Days = Hours = Good

When I finally made it back home last night, it was close to 8 pm, with an outside temperature of 11 degrees, and steady strong wind blowing around 20 miles an hour. I even had to bust through a snow drift on the Barnestown Road near the Pearse farm in Hope on the way home from The Bog, where I earned myself a meager 4 miles toward my quest to ride my bicycles 1,000 miles in Maine in 2016.

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I really wanted to stay home tonight and avoid the discomfort of the cold and the exertion that my body would need in order to move through this loose, dry snow pack on my new Surly Ice Cream truck.  But….the social nature of belonging to The Bubbas, a local, like-minded tribe of mountain bike nuts was one of the deciding factors that put me out there tonight.
Was it easy to get out to ride tonight ?
No.

However, there is definitely a strength in numbers.   I rode tonight with six other guys. We shifted around our positions in line as we moved though the loose, often sketchy snow pack.  If I got too fagged out, I pulled over and let someone else move ahead and pack down the tread a bit more.
I also gained some inspiration from a book that I have been enjoying this week:  A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. FullSizeRender 5 The book came my way from a book review by Tim Smith, Master Maine Guide and chief of Jack Mountain Bushcraft School here in Maine.

I had just reading the chapter entitled The Dichotomy of Control, where my takeaway lesson was encapsulated in the following sentence, “ A better strategy for getting what you want, he says, is to make it your goal to want only those things that are easy to obtain- and ideally to want only those things that you can be certain of obtaining.”

Another thing that helped was for me to visualize the successes that I have already achieved when I moved ahead at this familiar junction of  Do I Really Want To Do This Right Now?
I reminded myself that I would probably not be miserably cold even though it was frigid out.  This particular ride starts with a couple hundred foot climb almost to the 1 mile mark on Mountain Road.  That is usually enough to get warmed up inside of my winter riding outfit, which is not as heavy or bulky as you might think.  I also reminded myself that I have been out doing this many times already. I have rode in the dark on the snow and ice in the winter guided by a headlamp and a handlebar mounted light for a few decades.
I was even packing a third source of emergency lighting tonight- a brand new Black Diamond Spot headlamp of 130 lumens.  I didn’t need it, but if I had, it would have allowed me to see my way through the ride.
Tonight, I was not able to make the usual Bog ride mileage, but I wasn’t the only one.  It’s much more difficult to ride out there this week.  If the days had been warmer and the night below freezing it might have been a superhighway of snow.  But it wasn’t.

I think the Stoics might have something to say about that.

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Snowstorm+Strava=Microadventure !

I got another nudge from my son Lincoln this week. The Jamrog guys ( plus Stephanie, my one and only daughter-in-law) all use the Strava app.  If you don’t know about it, you should.  I don’t care about the competitive aspects of the app, but am really pumped up about the Goals that you are able to access from the premium membership at just $59  a year.

I have set two activity goals for myself this year. Well… three.
In 2015, I was able to use Strava Premium to ramp up the number of times that I went out the door and hike, walk, or ride my bike.  My goal was to put 365 hours of exercise in for the calendar year.  I ended up bettering that by logging 406 hours.

This year, I plan to:
1)    Ride mountain bikes 1,000 miles
2)    Hike 1,000 miles.
3)    Log 456 hours doing this two activities

Lincoln and I were talking two days ago on the phone and he told me that he is trying to shoot for 8 hours a week, so that he can reach 365 hours of activity out  in Montana.  His reasoning is that by going for 1 more hour each week or a regular basis, you build up a bank of hours to draw on for those days when you just can’t get out.

So, I checked my Strava progress for January.

January data

January data

Last week, I had starting to fall behind in reaching my goals, so in the last week, I have almost caught up.

Here’s an encouraging post from today. We have a full blow blizzard outside right now, but who cares? I was able to log an hour and forty-five minutes and over 6 miles this morning.

Today's snowstorm hike

Today’s snowstorm hike

I’m only able to catch up by walking at night and stretching a bit. For example, I walked in today’s snowstorm.  I’ll do whatever it takes to try and ramp up my activity.  It’s a long and sometimes bleak winter up here in Maine and exercise really makes the difference in my outlook.

I also had a microadventure today.

Instead of sticking to High Street, I detoured up and over the ridge off Moody Mountain and then went along Muddy Ridge Road and back around Levensellar Pond to get back home.

A mysterious set of tracks heading off beside what we call the Tarantino farm lured me into the woods.

Who?  Where ?

Who? Where ?

I decided to check out where this truck went.

The tracks went all the way up through a long narrow hayfield, where then ended just before a break in a stone wall over which I am able to ride my bikes. I had gone in so far off road at this point that I decided to keep going uphill on the unbroken snow to reach Muzzy Ridge Road.

Here are some photos of my personal bike path.

Camouflaged trail

Camouflaged trail

I am not showing you the bypasses to obstructions that I have cut for myself in these pics.

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Trail is close to the left of the oak’s trunk

Before the snow came this month, I took Mike Hartley for a ride . This is what the top looks like in full fall color:

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Here is what it looks like now.

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Coming over the high point, I started walking north where I saw another fresh set of 4WD tracks coming south from Muzzy Ridge Road that stopped before the serious tangle of trees on this old road.  I decided that the same truck had worked its way up both sides in an unsuccessful effort to make a continuous trip from High Street to Muzzy Ridge Road.

This is just the sort of back woods adventuring that I really enjoy doing in my rural neighborhood.  It is also why I’m done with the gym.

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