Great news announced today for our local community recreation area. Before now, it was down to snowshoeing in a large group of walkers doing this in order to ride bikes in the snow. Or we’d line up to ride our fat tire bikes and pound the snow down with breaking trail and multiple passes of those wide 5″ tires.
This is the brightest thing that may come my way this snowed-in day!
I had hit my chest, ribs, and shoulder hard as I ever did before. The sudden pain that I felt lying face down on the single track caused me to scream wordlessly several times. Blaine had been riding his bike just fifty feet ahead of me on Chris McKearney’s Trail in the Rockland Bog. Blaine backtracked to assist me as I laid face down moaning, and encouraged me to collect myself and take time getting up. Everything had happened so fast. I recall two immediate thoughts: I didn’t hit my head and no bones seemed broken.
I was apart from my Surly Ice Cream Truck so my winter boot cleats must of released upon impact. Blaine remarked that the rubber o-ring on my Bluto fork indicated that it had compressed to maximum travel. I was a hurting unit.
The crash happened at the end of a Saturday morning ride, which was not my usual weekend mountain biking schedule. Normally, I ride at 9:30 every Sunday morning with The Bubbas-a tight group of bike nuts that have banded together to ride three times a week, year round, for the past couple decades or more.
I decided to ride with Blaine and Monica because a snowstorm was predicted for Saturday night into Sunday, with a range of 4-8 inches forecasted for the area. Even though I have five-inch-wide lugged Flowbeist/Dunderbeist tires on my bike, I’ve put in enough winter riding to know that 5 inches or more of fresh power might not be very pleasant to move through. Clear ground on Saturday was my choice.
Except that winter Midcoast Maine trails can suck.
Most of the leaves that had fallen off the hardwood trees had been blown off the path. Wet (and slippery) bare roots were running across the ground, as were the rocks, ledges, the moss, slimy lichens, and the sticks and branches that fly up and can get jammed into the drive train. The usual stuff for this time of year.
I need to listen to the quiet tiny voice in my head that knows better than me when to back off. I ignored three quiet warnings yesterday.The first message came in the form of my Saturday morning heart rate variability (HRV) measurement. HRV is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. My iPhone holds the app, which links to a heart rate chest strap for a three minute collection of HRV data.
HRV is becoming a useful tool for not only tracking the training adaptation of athletes, but for gauging the body’s readiness for pushing or backing off the intensity of training sessions. Mine was down some 20 points from my usual status, indicating that it was sub-optimal, suggesting that I engage in a more moderate level of physical intensity for the day.
The second message that I ignored was contained in my morning iChing reading.
According to Bill Scheffel, ”The I Ching, arguably humanity’s oldest book, conveys a wisdom that requires no belief, is not part of any organized system or religion and comes to us as a kind of DNA of how we experience time and its events and ourselves as a unique matrix of energy.” My hexagram suggested that, “We are not meant to memorize a path then slavishly follow it.” Which leads to the last message I ignored.
Monica, Blaine, and I were resting a bit at the entrance to McKearney’s Loop on the way back to my car. I was sipping water from my Camelback when Monica said, “ I think I am going to pass. You guys can go and I’ll wait right here for you. I’m beat.” I was also fatigued at that point, at the end of a decent ride where my heart rate was at or above 145 beats per minute for 53% of the 7.7 mile ride.
So, a couple days after the crash I’m here packing ice on my shoulder and ribs and intermittently dosing with ibuprofen. I’m hoping the throbbing will settle down for the holidays so that I can get back on the bike and share the local trails with my two sons, Lincoln and Arlo, who will be in from Montana and San Francisco for a bit.
It’s so hard for me to listen to inner counsel, but with 500 combined hours of biking and hiking in 2017 so far, and just one serious bike and one bad backing fall this calendar year I think I am not going to beat myself up too much about it. Even so, I am presently acutely aware that so much can happen in just one second.
I already have my New Year’s resolution ready to go. For insurance I plan to tell my hiking and biking buddies to remind about it.
Today, I ate my usual eggs and toast Sunday morning breakfast that precedes my regular “Bubba Church” mountain bike ride with my aging off-road posse. On early morning Sundays, I read the digital version of the NY Times and catch up on the news, fake or not. I didn’t find much of interest today, so instead I clicked on my Instagram feed where I download media to read later at my leisure. Instapaper is my own custom newspaper.
I don’t ever listen to podcasts when I eat breakfast, but today I am pleased that I did. I listened to Texas Parks and Wildlife Podcast’s Epidode 13: Hiking Across Texas. It is short, only 12 minutes long, but it spoke deeply to me today. It’s a refreshing interview with Dave Roberts, 72 years old. Dave is currently on a 3,000-mile “ramble” across Texas, weaving through at least 40 national parks.
I remember reading about Dave a year and a half ago, and dug up the following article about Dave, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who has found his unique retirement groove- long distance walking, biking, and kayaking. Dave’s on a $20-a-day budget for this Texas adventure, but more importantly appears to have exactly the right attitude to keep on doing what he enjoys best- being outdoors and having varied experiences.
As Dave puts it, ” If everything does according to plans, you are not having an adventure yet.”
Do listen via the podcast link above, and if you like what you hear, read the Jan. 2016 Times feature below, to learn more about Dave and other retirees who have stood up to leave the couch for later.
The first 2017 group ride with The Bubba to the top of Mount Pleasant in the Warren/West Rockport area had it all- mud, ice, stream riding, and even more snow than expected. The approach from Route 90 departed from the old parking lot at East Coast Rover’s now defunct location, newly recycled as another car/truck repair facility. Thanks to Bubba management for gaining permission for us to park there after work hours.
I was very pleased with my ride today- the most successful technical excursion up and down Pleasant ever for me.
Very pleasant on top today.
Not only did I clear the challenge of ascending Baby Head Hill, I was finally able to loft the front end of my Surly Ice Cream Truck up a pesky little ledge on the section from the Three Way op to the power line after the screaming descent off the summit.
Here is a video of the crew maintaining a controlled skid on the steep, rock-strewn line off the summit itself.
Today, it might have even helped to have stable ice and refrozen snow smoothing out the trail a bit. The Bubbas take climbing in stride- in fact if you can’t tolerate climbing forest trails in this part of Maine, you’ll stay home. S
Most of the Bubbas carry folding saws in our packs. We clear trails as we go, especially this time of year.
Later, we transitioned to riding up the stream that put us on the backside of the mountain just below the blueberry field that set us up for the finish of the ride.
This last wet climb set up a relatively long decent that was a fitting ending to a spring day blissfully absent of the impending blackflies, mosquitoes, and heat.
A most Pleasant morning was spent at my personal Sunday Church of Two Wheels.
Despite being the only guest in the Mount Chase Lodge last night I was served a most excellent breakfast at 7:30, the time of my choice. Sky prepared pancakes, fruit slices, and bacon from a pig that had secured full employment here, on table scrap duty this past season. Fresh coffee, home made muffins and a fresh fruit bowl rounded out the meal.
I was more than willing to take up Sky’s offer of leftover bacon and last night’s brisket. At two degrees outside, I was not concerned about food spoilage.
I’ve waited for this winter bike camping trip for a long time. My last bike packing trip was in 2012 on the Sunrise Trail when I joined my neighbor and biking pal Andy Hazen on a stretch from Ellsworth toward Cobscook Bay. You can check out that most interesting bikepacking trip here.
I have that same Surly Pugsley now. It was the perfect choice for these two pristine winter biking days.
It’s a fat tire bike, with 4 inch wide tires, inflated to 7 pounds of pressure, enabling the wide footprint to track easily over this packed groomed snow.
It is a 15 mile ride directly west over a roller coaster of a tarred road from Mt. Chase Lodge to the parking lot for the Monument.
Ask the staff at the Lodge about the signage that marks the left turn after the bridge over the Penobscot River just before the end of the pavement. A short drive down a plowed gravel road leads to a small parking lot where the winter trail begins.
I parked right next to Guthook’s VW, as we were the only visitors here for these two days.
The map on the KWWNM website is detailed enough to be all you’ll need. One caution-print your own copy in color. Mine was in gray scale. I would have been easier to navigate if my map was color coordinated with the red, orange, yellow, and blue triangles marking intersections and trails.
With my parking pass visible on the dashboard, I unloaded the bike from inside my Honda Element and took off, smiling from ear to ear at the superb condition of the surface beneath my wheels. Access to trails and these huts is free of charge, however, overnight use requires reservations.
There hasn’t been any fresh snow here for more than a week. KWWNM’s snowmobiles tow dedicated groomers that have packed the trail! There were two faint cross country ski grooves that I stayed out of, preferring to ride to the side of the fresh snowmobile track.
The surface was not at all icy, but composed of groomed snow that refroze into a decent grip of a track.
This screen shot of my Strava feed summarizes my mileage, speed, and moving time. It was a relatively quick 10 mile ride into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.
Here’s the elevation profile.
There were three parts to this ride.
The first was four miles over relatively flat terrain on the Messer Pond-Orrin Falls Road, an old logging path eventually passing through a summer gate leading to Haskell Hut on the shore of the expansive Haskell Deadwater.
Haskell Lodge is only a tenth of a mile off the trail and is worth a rest stop.
It is the smaller of the two cabins that are options for your over night in The Monument. The doors are unlocked, but day users are asked to refrain from using the propane cook burners, lights, and firewood.
These are community huts, where everyone is welcome up to the maximum number of sleeping platforms and reservations are required.
Next, I rode along the edge of the Deadwater where I made a brief stop at the spectacular view at Haskell Rock Pitch. I heard it well before I saw it. Impressive!
From there the trail enters thicker, older forest for almost a mile when you reach a fork. With the spring melt down, extra caution is advised with regards to deep meltdown holes on the bridges and sections of deep animal tracks on the trail.
This is dangerous:
The riding is fast and the setting is isolated.
The last segent starts with a right on the blue diamond trail for three more miles or so out past Little Messer Pond where the path ascends to a high point on 900 feet.
You will know a turn is coming when you pass over a flowing stream up high and then see the signage pointing left for the 0.3 mile descent into Big Spring Brook Brook Hut.
It took me two hours to cover the 10 mile distance, which included stops for photos, and my snack break at Haskell Hut. Guthook skied in earlier, pulling a plastic sled that was loaded with 5 days worth of food and gear. It took him 5 hours. Fat bikes shine under these travel conditions.
Big Spring Brook Brook Hut is appointed with basic pots and pans, and is heated with a wood stove with drying racks above for hanging wet clothing.
Water in drawn from the stream in front, with an outhouse out back. There is a large sleeping loft as well and half dozen wooden sleeping platforms on the first floor. The capacity of his hut is listed as sixteen.
Guthook and I combined forces to come up with a superb one pot supper. I added Mt. Chase Lodge’s bacon and brisket to his tortellini, cheese, and tomato sauce.
This trip was brief but rewarding. I spent one night sharing the Lodge with Guthook, who was bushwhacking round the area on several long day hikes.
The snow was solid enough that you could walk anywhere, and with no leaves on the trees your line of sight is immeasurably better in the winter than in the summer when the green word covers all. It was a most satisfying and unique experience for us to warm ourselves by the glowing embers of the stove as we pondered the vast wilderness surrounding us.
I joked with Guthook that we finally made time to do nothing.
We were the only people spending our time within this 87,000 acre National Monument. God bless America!
And I thank you, Roxanne and Lucas, for allowing me to have this unique place to explore for the rest of my life !
The staff at Mt. Chase Lodge are knowledgeable about current trail conditions and travel within The Monument. They are ready to serve as a launch point for your own adventure. Information and Reservations: (207) 528-2183
It’s now 2017. After reviewing all the end of the year” bests” lists and the sun ever so slowly extending itself into the far northeast corner of the USA , I’m ready and hopeful about what’s to come.
For one, I’m still able to embrace health and happiness. My body weight has remained around 200 pounds since I lost 27 pounds on my 2013 CDT thru hike. On prior hikes, I’ve gained it all back , but this time, I’ve been able to remain 15 pounds lighter.
Setting goals is my personal life raft. Without them, I would be a diminished individual. My spanking new goal for 2017 is to hike, walk, backpack, or bike a cumulative 2017 miles. It will be a figure that is easy to remember! With that number in place, I am generally out the door every day to put in at least an hour to an hour and a half on moderate to more activity.
I dumped my decades old gym membership in 2013 after I came back from the CDT. I went back to working out indoors but it didn’t feel right to drive a vehicle a half hour to change clothes and spend an hour inside a sweat factory where I did more talking than walking.
With this plan, I sometimes play catch-up. I had a work week last week that cut into my recreational daylight hours. Saturday morning brought me to a three hour hike in nearby Camden Hills State Park. We have not had much snow here. The ground is practically bare, however, there are ample stretches of compressed, hard, grey ice covering some of the hiking trails and single track that I travel on. Half of Saturdays hike was done on Stabilicers. Fitbit helps.
If you are considering getting in ready shape for the upcoming hiking season then I’d suggest you also make your own grand plan with a mileage goal thrown in to keep you honest. I’d like to thank Carey Kish for getting me started on upping my Maine-based mileage. His 2015 Maineac Outdoors column inspired me. I’d recommend that you review my own blog post that conveys my start.
I boosted the whole shabang up a notch for 2016, aiming for 1,000 miles of walking as well as also a separate 1,000 mile biking. I was in for a nasty surprise this past Thanksgiving when I realized that I still had over 250 miles to cover on the bike before Dec. 31. Early snowfalls and some brutal single digit temps led me to sufferer through a few slushy bone chilling rides, but I made it.
I plan to amassing at least 100 bike miles a month from now until my birthday on March 27.
What about you? Ready for a mileage goal of 1,000 miles to invite you outside more? Who is in for a belated New year’s revolution or two?
I’ve biked indoors on rollers when that was all we had, back in the 1970’s. Since then turbo trainers came out. I haven’t used mine for at least a decade. I don’t want any part of riding indoors. The sweat dripping off one’s body rusts the painted surfaces of a bike frame, and collects on the floor. When I rode indoors, I was in the habit of draping absorbent towels over the surfaces of the bike that caught the stream of sweat running down my chin and brows. It’s also boring to bike indoors. That’s why people watch TV, read, or watch their computer screens while they crank the pedals round and round.
Yesterday, I took an actual 10 mile ride in the middle of a rainy day, when there was a 1 hour break in the precipitation. Normally every ride I take from my house is a loop. We get locked into old patterns.
I live on High Street on the edge of Lincolnville, bordering the town of Hope, Maine., where there are some very large parcels of land held by relatively few folks . The last mile or so of the road toward Hope doesn’t have any telephone poles nor overhead (or underground) wires. There stands one old farmhouse smack dab in the middle of 1,100 acres around Moody Pond. Without any need to trim foliar entanglements, oak and maple limbs reach from both sides of the street to entwine, creating a tunnel effect that is most spectacular in autumn, when the landscape lights up with spectacular waxy hues of red, orange, and yellow.
People enjoy walking High Street. This year, increasing numbers of people parked at either end of my street to walk for the joy of it. It’s not busy, except for late afternoon. Most of the time, walkers never encounter us residents. It is also one of the few stretches around where you are not going up or down some 400 plus feet in elevation on a bike ride or walk.
These last two days, I took a short one-hour spin on High Street. I didn’t travel more than 1.3 miles in any direction from my house, and felt guilty at how much fun I had riding a double route on this recently resurfaced asphalt road.
It took me 32 years of riding right here to take this most simple ride: out the door to the street, then ride right to Levensellar Pond for 1 mile, then head backpast the house in the opposite direction to Moody Pond, where I turned around and headed back 1.3 miles to my house, where I repeated the exact same route, snagging 10 miles in just under an hour.
Moving over the landscape on foot or two wheels is my daily practice. There is bigger purpose in my 10 mile triumphs. I’m needing just 48 more miles to reach my goal for 2016- one thousand miles on the bike. I met two other 2016 goals already: 1,000 miles of walking/backpacking and reading 25 book, one every two weeks.
It’s really dark and cold again where I live in Midcoast Maine. Ice and snow coat the fields, forests, and roads. Grrrrr.
My response is to get outdoors as much as possible. That will mean hiking, fat tire biking, cutting up/hauling trees into firewood from my woodlot, shoveling snow back and forth across the driveway, digging out lost, buried stuff, etc.
My Oct. 16, 2016 (bike dismount) shoulder injury has finally settled down and healed up as much as it can. When I last had surgery on it in 2006, a complete shoulder replacement was the only “cure”, predicted to be done in some 5-8 years. I’ve netted 10 years of restricted use since then, with yearly X-rays showing the inevitable progression of bone disease. Major shoulder surgery is inevitable, though.
I truly missed riding in the October and November forests this season, due to my shoulder injury and then deer hunting season. I don’t go out during the deer hunt, and it’s not just me who stays out of the woods in November. I live in a two acre hay field, surrounded by forest and swamps, where deer are plentiful. High power bullets travel a log distance.
For the past couple of years I have set personal fitness goals. The first goal I set was due to Carey Kish’s “Maineiac Outdoors” blog post . Check it out: The 1,000 Mile Challenge.
I reached the 1,000 miles of without too much trouble. I also put 740 miles on my bicycles that year.
Next, my neighbor Matt encouraged me to read Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 Until You’re 80 and Beyond. The core premise of that book is, “Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life.” Yeah but… I made one critical modifications. I don’t push on days when I am tired. How do I know I am tired? I now use a technology known as heart rate variability, but that is a longer story for anther time.
In the meantime, if you want to check out HRV- go here and here.
A conversation with my oldest son, Lincoln encouraged me to think about ramping up my walking and biking to a 1 hour-a day-average, yielding 365 hours of moderate exercise in a calendar year. I decided to try for 1,000 miles on foot and 1,000 miles on the mountain bikes in 2016. I should have done more biking when the weather was better.
How am I doing? Check my treasured data for 2016. I’ve been much more active in hiking and biking since I gave up my gym membership. I walk out the door of the house and walk or bike rather than drive 20 miles to walk or sit on a stationary bike at the YMCA.
As of today, I have logged 2,095 miles: 912 on bikes and 1,177.6 miles on foot. I am past the finish line for hiking goals this year, but I still have to log 88 more biking miles with 14 days left to log that.
It started snowing early this December. Rain doesn’t help either. Picture 4 inches of snow piled up before 5 hours of rain saturates the snow to make it stupidly heavy to push around. Thank God for my plow guy, Sam, who shows up year after year and does the job, unannounced.
It’s just starting to creep up from subzero conditions yesterday, accompanied by a killer wind chill during the day. If I can’t ride due to ice and snow at least I can walk. Here is a pic taken yesterday afternoon from atop Mt. Battie overlooking Penobscot Bay at -4 degrees.
Yes, I had mukluks on my feet and chemical hand warmers inside my mittens.
A few more miles……to go before 2017 ticks over and shows up for a while. It’s snowing lightly right now at 7:41 am and there is talk about squeezing some ride in through the Rockland Bog before the snow pack warm up and gets saturated with tomorrow’s cold rains. Stay tuned for the finish…
I’m injured. It’s early November and I’m now at my lowest point in working toward my fitness goals for this year.
October 16 is a bad day for me. Last year, I was off my bike for a month after I had a crash going over a rocky stream bed in the Rockland Bog, an event that occurred on Oct. 16, where I opened up a large gash on my knee as well as bruised the top of my shin bone. A bruised bone is a painful experience. I take so much longer to heal now than when I was a younger man. It seems to take a month for me to heal.
Would you believe that this past Oct. 16, the exact same day, but one year later, I had another unexpected bike dismount, and in the Rockand Bog- again? This time I rolled onto my decrepid right shoulder when the soft ground crumbled underneath my mountian bike tires as I was skirting the edge of a deep mud pit. Thankfully I landed on a grassy patch of soft earth, but the damage was done.
According to the best shoulder surgeon in Maine, I own a right shoulder that is as worn out as one on an 85 year old man. It is riddled with arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis, with bone to bone contact coming and going. Among my seven surgeries, I have had two shoulder surgeries, one on each with the last in 2007, where the same Dr. Endrezzi told me that my right shouder would need to be replaced in 5-8 years, so I am overdue. I see him yearly now, where he takes a fresh x-ray of the joint and compares it to past xrays, where we note the progression of disease. It’s only a matter of time. I just hope it is not that time right now. I am not ready for surgery, particularly the long rehab required for a complete shoulder replacement.
I have tried riding my road bike just once since Oct. 16 and even the act of trying to relax my arm by resting my palm on the soft right grip and occasionally shifting and lightly braking resulted in a spike in the pain, so no more bike right now.
Thankfully, I can walk, so hiking has been my sole fitness choice for almost a month now.
On Jan.1, 2016 I set a yearly goal of hiking 1,000 miles and biking another 1,000 miles. I was making excellent progress at reaching both, until now. I have my 1,000 mile of hiking in the bag already, but I still need 250 miles of biking to happen in the next month and a half.
Here’s my Strava data, reflecting my totals to date:
I feel cushioned by logging 93 hours of combined hiking and biking in Septmber this year, a strong number that reflect three weeks of extended backpacking.
Another new goal for 2016 is me averaging 75 minutes of moderate to more walking or biking a day. My research points to that number is the optimum level for me to gain positive mental and physical benefits. Less than that produces lesser results, and any more appears to not only reduce benefits, but brings about a cascade of fatigue that increases inflammation and requies me to do nothing for a day or two in order to recover.
I learned about heart rate variability from a fellow psychologist this year, and since April, I have developed the habit of taking a three minute reading while wearing a heart rate chest strap and firing up the Daily Beat HRV app after I wake up each morning. Based on the reading, I adjust my activity level for the day. Personal subjective assessment of my mental and bodily fatigue is often out of line with what my heart rate variability numbers indicate. 95% of the time,I feel good and the numbers tell me to push it for the day, but I recently came down with a cold, and before the stuffed head and sneezes started, my HRV readings dropped significantly. The time variations between my heartbeats leveled out, a signal that suggests compromised metabolic activity that needs to be respected by backing off and resting a day or more.
The outdoor temps are predicted to be up to almost 60 degrees today. My HRV reading to day was back to favorable.
I plan to log some slow miles on easy terrain today, as I hope to be finally back on track to wrapping up a very good year of hiking and biking.
And yes, I have already voted today – that was done a couple of weeks ago by absentee ballot.
“The graying of The Bubbas,” is real. Nate said it.
It was humid and the roots were just a bit slimy and slick, but it wasn’t a problem for nineteen Bubbas in The Woods this past Sunday morning. We broke some kind of record for attendance today with the help of additional folks like 73 year old Rhode Island Bruce pushing us along.
Our special guest today was Carol, who came up Massachusetts up to Midcoast Maine to “ride Bubba” again. And here’s Carol herself, front and center as we celebrate her riding with us today.
We’ve been at if for decades, and with the advent of modern bike technology, there’s hardly a frame breaking all season. It’s even a rare event to even have “a mechanical” anymore. Maybe a broken chain, or a flat, but that is about it.
We ride out of habit. We ride to rack up those Strava PR’s (Personal Records).
We ride to commiserate on the climbs. We ride to get our weight down. We ride to sip beers tailgating in the parking lots. We ride to be with other riders.