Tag Archives: cycling

Cycling in Yellowstone [Day Trip]

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This spring I finally had the timing right and was able to bike in Yellowstone before the park opened to motor vehicles. Every spring, depending on the snow melt and clearing, there is a two to four week window where you can ride your bike in the park from the west entrance. That means the dates are never the same, but typically in April. For the first time since moving back to Montana, I was able to make a ride happen this year.

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It was awesome. The Sexy Master Electrician and I loaded up our road bikes, a picnic, beers and our tiny camp chairs and headed to West Yellowstone. There was a larger group of people who had talked about going but couldn’t for one reason or another when the day came. I maybe shouldn’t have gone because I was still trying to kick this endless cold. It was worth the hacking cough afterward. We were worried the weather was going to suck, and it was a bit chilly, but layers fixed everything and the sun was sun was shining. I will admit the last couple miles with a head wind did suck, but it was great for a 30ish mile ride in to Madison Junction and back out.

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It was so wonderful to be in the park without cars or motor homes and big fifth wheels. There were several people out biking. Most probably doing the same ride we did. It’s pretty flat and easy and with all the stopping to look around and what not, it only took about three hours. Next time we want to go a bit farther up to Norris or maybe try to make a one way run up to the north entrance, but that is not a flat ride and its pretty long. I need to get back into better biking shape for that.

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The road follows the Madison River and buffalo were all over. I was surprised we didn’t see more elk. The scenery was breathtaking. The mountains were still snowy and the ground was green. We didn’t spend much time at the junction before turning around to claim a picnic spot at one of the turnouts. On the way back, TSME had to race who ever he could catch on the road. I took a slightly lazier approach. It was a great way to spend the early afternoon.

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Long Weekend in San Francisco [The Fun]

Did I mention that I went to San Francisco in November? Cause I did.  And it was awesome.  Back in late August, headquarters at Architecture for Humanity requested that I be at Design Like You Give a Damn: Live! to join in on the discussion with other chapter leaders.  The first two years of DLYGAD were held in New York, this year they decided to move it across the country to be in their home city.  With little arm twisting, I was set to go and I brought along two more New York directors.  I will tell you more about DLYGAD fun later.  First I will share all the extra fun.

My friend from MSU, Robin, relocated just south of San Francisco in Santa Cruz after graduation, so I went out early and spent the weekend hanging out with her before the conference began on Monday.  Rachel was flying in right behind me on Saturday morning so Robin picked us both up and we headed straight for the Golden Gate Bridge. And then we went hunting for lunch in Little Russia and we found the Red Tavern where Rachel told us the best stuff to order and it was amazing. AMAZING.

On and around the Golden Gate Bridge  and some fantastic Russian lunch!

On and around the Golden Gate Bridge and some fantastic Russian lunch!

After that we picked up Mishelle on a random corner the bus dropped her off at on the edge of Golden Gate Park.  Inside the park we found our way to the deYoung Museum with 5 minutes to spare to get ourselves up the tower and back down, (it closes at 4:30!).  Bonus point to the museum for keeping the observatory tower free and having a huge lobby space, and sculpture garden that are also free for you to wander through.  Love the design of the museum too, places like that make me so happy. Across the street from the deYoung Museum is the California Academy of Sciences.  We walked around it on our way to the museum and no one believed me about its green roof with giant skylights.  Even though we didn’t go inside, we could see them from the observatory and I will definitely make a point to go back if I am in San Francisco again, it looked like a pretty awesome place to nerd out.

de Young Museum- views from the top and the sculpture garden

de Young Museum- views from the top and the sculpture garden

After that we headed to check in to our adorable hotel, the Baldwin Hotel in Union Square. This put us within walking distance of the conference, which was right next to the Ferry Building.  After picking up some hot drinks we wandered in to Chinatown and found ourselves some drinks to start the night.  After a couple drinks we went in search of dinner before settling at an Italian place.  After that, time was catching up with us east coasters and we needed to sleep, so we said good night and  I headed back with Robin to Santa Cruz.

The next morning Robin and I headed to the waterfront for brunch.  Brunch with avocados. And ocean views. And people already on the beach at 9AM on a Sunday playing volleyball. After a walk down the beach we headed back to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast Highway.  It was gorgeous and I even saw a field of brussel sprouts that I maybe got too excited about.

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Santa Cruz & the Pacific Coast Highway, these pictures do not do justice to the views

Back in San Francisco we planned our potential bike route around the city.  Mishelle and Rachel had found a place to rent bikes by the hour or day for a good price and they had mapped routes that promised to miss all but a couple hills.  This was true.  But after a nice ride along the water front on The Embarcadero, (forgetting that Rachel’s  tire got stuck in a trolley track causing her bike to tip over and chain to fall off), and climbing one of the two hills in our route, we were going slower than anticipated and Mishelle needed to drop off the bike and meet some friends.  We parted ways at the Palace of Fine Arts and Mishelle headed off on what would be a disaster.  While she was looking up at one of the highest hills in San Francisco separating her from her friends, (after minor debate, she called them, they rescued her and all was well and I am never allowed to make plans again), Rachel and I checked out the Palace.  It was originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and remains today (with some rebuilding and modifications along the way). It was magnificent. After that, we headed up the hill as well, except, we went around it a bit so it wasn’t quite as bad as what Mishelle was looking at.  It was also through Presidio Park and had an amazing view from the top.

SF bikesOnce the bikes were returned, Rachel and I wondered around the Haight neighborhood while figuring out were we were meeting Mishelle and her friends. We came across this sweet shop called Buyer’s Best Friend, that had foods and goods made all over the US.  Very Brooklyn feeling and all the samples were a perfect pre-dinner snack. Once we knew where we were going we tried to get a cab.  That took some time because we had to learn that you had to call one to pick you up. Very annoying.  We ended up at a Japanese restaurant in Japantown and spit a bunch of tasty dishes I can’t even remember.  Mishelle’s friends then drove us all over the city, over the hill where trucks and limos get stuck, to the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and to Mission Pie.  So good. SO GOOD! You must go there if you are in San Francisco.

SF SundayThe next day was the first day of DLYGAD and it started early.  So after our pie, we headed to back to the hotel to prepare the for next days events.  Stay tuned for the details on the conference, it was inspiring, whirlwind fast, and amazing as always.

The New York City Century

At the start of the summer my old roommate and friend, Monica, emailed me telling me to sign up for the New York City Century like she had just done.  I had not really heard too many good things about the long rides in the city.  They tend to be really congested with a lot of stopping and that was what the Tour de Bronx was like when I did it four or five years ago.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a  really fun ride. K and I did the 50 mile ride together.  Now that I’ve become a seasoned city rider with a desire for a bit of speed in my distance rides, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be corralled in at rest stops until they were ready to let us go and things like that.  But it wasn’t expensive and I did really want to do one of the rides around the city, so I signed up and got my friend Christian to sign up too.

We were able to start in Prospect Park at 6:30AM instead of having to be at Central Park at 6AM and headed south towards Brooklyn waterfront and Coney Island then over to Rockaway.  After that, I can’t really tell you where I was to be honest.  I was just following the street markings and the group of guys I was riding with since Christian was late (I thought he wasn’t coming since his phone went straight to voice mail) and Monica and her friend are not as experienced riders and didn’t want to go as fast.  The route basically outlines Brooklyn and Queens before heading over to Randall’s Island and up to the Bronx before coming straight down into Manhattan and ending in the north end of Central Park.  Somewhere between Rockaway and the second rest stop, one of the guys got a flat tire on his fancy smancy tubeless tire and while it was taking them forever to fix it, Christian caught up and we headed on together.  We were making good time except I got a flat on the way to the second rest stop and didn’t realize it until we were leaving it, so we wasted another half hour changing the tire and trying to pry the little piece of metal stuck in my tire out so it didn’t immediately pop the new tube.

After that it was a pretty slow ride for awhile dodging traffic, (they don’t close any streets for the ride) and riding single file slowly through park areas where the trails were covered in water and debris from the thunderstorm with a tornado that rolled through the day before.   Every now and then through some of the parks, it seemed like having a mountain bike or at least more substantial tires than road tires, would have been a good idea, but it wasn’t too terrible and I assume when a huge storm hasn’t just blown through, it’s not so bad. There were other points where we were able to pick up the pace in parks and low traffic areas in Queens but we were slowed down going over the bridge to Randall’s Island because you had to go up and down a few flights of stairs and there was a music festival or something going on in the Bronx, so traffic was ridiculous in parts.  Overall it wasn’t as congested as I thought it would be and it took about as long as I thought it would take, not including time to deal with the flat tires, about 9- 9 1/2 hours including stops, about 7 hours riding.  The end was kind of anti-climatic.  At previous rides I’ve done, there is typically unlimited food and beer and a massage waiting at the end.  All there was here was a pick up point for your t-shirt and a free Italian Ice before biking it back to Brooklyn.  Then again,  it was cheaper, I did get a t-shirt out of it, didn’t have to travel anywhere, and rode my bike over 105 miles in New York City in one day.

There were some pretty sweet parks to go through that I will have to look at the map and try and figure out where I was actually at .  We went through and around a massive cemetery in Queens.  The ride along the northern edge of Queens with all the bridges was pretty sweet.  There is a velodrome up there, we didn’t go ride on it, but we know it exist now.  Randall’s Island was awesome.  I didn’t realize how much work they had done there. They have a ton of different fields for sports and nice park spaces.  I want to schedule a trip back to explore it more.  Up in the Bronx, once we got out of traffic, we headed into Van Courtlandt Park which was super nice.  I didn’t know that you could actually get to these places via bike or walking over bridges.  Some of the entrances are not exactly well marked or obvious.  Even though its not the smoothest path, there is a wide path along the Harlem River on the Manhattan side that had beautiful views.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend doing this ride, you don’t have to do 100 miles, you can do less, and you see some parts of the city that you never knew existed.  They have photographers out along the way taking pictures.  I only saw them once and only found one photo of me (I’m in the lime green at the back) and one of Christian, in black.  They didn’t have an obvious one of Monica.  Most of the pictures I took while biking so sorry they are a bit blurry!

Trip to Nyack

Heading over the Brooklyn Bridge

Last weekend I convinced Kurt that we needed to stop being weenies and get our butts on our bikes and up to Nyack.  We’ve only been talking about doing it since May.  We made a real effort in June before the Ride to Montauk, but two blocks from the apartment I blew a tire.  I had just replaced it.  Since that back tire had been blowing out rather frequently, I decided it needed to take a trip to the bike shop and probably get a new tire, not just a new tube.  At 6AM on a Saturday, the bike shops are not really open, so that killed the ride and we went back to our beds.  This time around I have been itching to go because I wanted to get a 70 plus mile ride in before the New York City Century happening on September 9th, and last weekend was really the only day it was going to happen if at all.  I know the NYC Century is not going to be as fast passed as the Ride to Montauk, but I still felt like I needed to get a long ride in beforehand.

Nyack is a town in upstate New York.  It’s a 72 mile ride from my apartment and back, over the George Washington Bridge (GW), into New Jersey and back into New York.  It’s also known as Route 9 and is a common bike ride for many New York City bikers looking to log miles because once you get across the GW, you ride on the highway median and rarely have to stop.  After the GW It’s a gorgeous ride along the Hudson River for about half the ride and the other half you’re in the trees and don’t really notice the towns or developments beyond them.  It also has some serious hills to climb which means awesome down hills.  At one time or another, we have clocked ourselves going well over 30 miles an hour.  Even though it’s a lot of work coming back up the hills, it’s still a lot of fun racing down.  And of course there is always a reward for all this hard work.  In Nyack there is a place called The Runcible Spoon where all the bikers go for breakfast/brunch before turning back around.  The front of the place is all bike parking.  No one ever carries a lock with them, we just all park right there in front.

The Runcible Spoon

So yummy!

Bike Parking

The town of Piermont, about a 50 mile ride round trip, also has a couple of coffee shops right on the bike route.  The one I’ve stopped at is called Bunbury’s Coffee, which was good, but the Runcible Spoon is just awesome and worth the extra 20 miles.  I love their oatmeal and fresh fruit no matter how hot it is when we do morning rides.  We left by 6:30AM and arrived in Nyack by 9AM.  It is perfect timing for some oatmeal to power up for the ride home.  We typically get back home by noon which is nice cause I don’t feel like I’ve lost part of my weekend, just some of the sleep I guess.

Pit stop for water at Sid’s

View from the GW- Bit hazier than usual

Kurt rocking the GW

Every time we do the ride, we talk about how much we enjoy it.  If the weather stays as nice as it has been, maybe we will get ourselves up there a few more times before it gets too cold.

Riding through Central Park on the return

The [72 Mile Bike] Ride to Montauk

So maybe I’ve been a bit crazy busy/ lazy.  Maybe this post should have gone up last Tuesday.  But it’s summer!   And up until about three days ago it was the kind of warm, but not hot, summer I like.  So I hope you will forgive me for my lateness.  I promise to not let the summer get the best of me when there are so many fun things to share.  So without further ado, The Ride to Montauk.

June 16th was the  Bicycle Shows U.S. Ride to Montauk, and it was my fifth time riding to Montauk.  It is just an awesome ride out on Long Island past the little fields and massive beach house mansions.  Let me first explain what is actually is before I get to far like I normally do.  Bicycle Shows U.S. and The Five Borough Bike Club both host rides to Montauk and they are both basically the same.  You can ride your bike approximately 35, 70, 100 or 145 miles and everyone ends in Montauk, the most eastern point of Long Island. You load your bike on to a truck the day before or in the wee morning hours at Penn Station and they see it safely to your starting point.  You take the Long Island Railroad out to your start point.  You find your bike and start pedaling.  About every 25 miles there is a rest stop with food, water, and an emergency bike station to help with flat tires, seat adjustments, whatever it is you may need.  The last rest stop always has pie and it does taste good after so many miles.  At the end is a big party with tons of food and beer to replenish the massive amounts of calories you parted with along the way, massages, hot showers, and a beach.  And your bag full of clean clothes, beach gear, or whatever, is also waiting for you at the end.  You can elect to have them get you and your bike back, just your bike back as well.  Sounds pretty good right?

The first time I did the ride was in 2008 with my friend K and boyfriend at the time.  We only did the 35-mile route and thought it was so far at the time.  It was the farthest any of us had gone before.  There were some snags in getting our bikes due to some traffic problem so we had to wait quite awhile for our bikes to even arrive  and we finished in the afternoon sometime.  I don’t even want to know now how long that ride took.  My old bike was a heavy clunky sort of thing that is good for getting around town, but not the best choice for a long ride I would find out.  K had graciously driven her car out and left it at the end so we could leave when we were ready and not have to worry about being crammed on a train.  I remember we were pretty proud of ourselves for finishing and were already talking about the next ride.

2008- 35 Miles

The following year, K and I started doing training rides in March, to do 100-miles May for the 5BBC sponsored ride.  I went on vacation in the middle somewhere, she go hurt somehow, so we only did the 70ish mile ride and saved the 100-mile ride for  a month later through BSUS, which ended up getting pushed to August due to conflicts with the LIRR.  The 65-mile ride wasn’t too bad and we roped in some new friends to do the August ride.  We also decided to rent a house in Montauk and enjoy the weekend with even more friends meeting us out there.  It was a blast.  Tropical storm Danny had other plans for us.  Almost the entire ride was in the rain.  Soaking wet.  At the last rest stop, it finally eased up and we dried out just before getting to Montauk.  I also learned that my crappy bike was not the best for such long rides.  My body was in so much pain at the end of that ride, I couldn’t go up and down the stairs at the house, I lifted myself with my arms on the handrails up and down the stairs.  Yeah.  Despite that, we had a great weekend.  We actually spent time at the beach even though it was overcast and just had a good time with friends.

2009- 100 miles

In  2010, I decided it was time to take the plunge and bought Fancy Bike in the early spring.  Just in time for training for the June  100-mile ride.  We rented a bigger house with a pool this time, had more friends riding, and had an excellent time.  K was injured, so she didn’t end up riding, and I found a couple nice people on route who were nice enough to let me ride with them.  I am still understanding the concept of drafting and how to ride so close to someone else.  Anyway, it was an amazing ride.   After 100-miles I wanted to keep going.  It was awesome, I wasn’t tired, I was pumped.  One of people I rode with had a bike computer and our average speed was 16.8 MPH (or close to it).  The rest of the weekend was great too, the weather was nice and we all enjoyed ourselves.

2010- 100 Miles

Last year I fractured my elbow, riding to work one morning, so I was out for the ride.  I had already signed up to volunteer to get the ride free, (the key to not spending money!) so I was assigned to checking people in at a table, not lifting bikes into a truck.  We didn’t do any organized rides last year because weather ruined the Night Ride, another ride I highly recommend on the North Fork of Long Island.  I’ll tell you about it after it happens this year.

So because of last year’s injury, I still had a free ride to use up.  Christian also had a free ride to make up for the cancelled Night Ride.  Another biking friend emailed us all when the email went out saying that the ride was actually going to end at the lighthouse instead of the train station, a much more desirable finish line, even if there are five miles of hill to get to it.  In the end, I was the only one who could do it, so I rode solo.

During the first 15 miles I found a couple to team up with and practice my drafting skills.  It was an absolutely perfect day for biking, even though there was a pretty strong wind head on frequently.  I now have a computer on my bike, and we were booking it along at about 18 MPH.  Seriously awesome feeling to look down and feel like your barely working and going over 20 miles an hour cause your on the tail of someone else.  Until it’s your turn to lead the group.

The couple I joined up with were really nice and also lived inNew York.  Had a chance to talk when it wasn’t so windy or at the rest stops.  Between the last two stops the guy motioned for me to pull up next to him.  I got up there and he said something like this, “So we’re gonna stop at this little beach inEast Hampton,” and I was thinking, I like this idea, “and I’m gonna propose to her,” my mouth drops open, I look from him up to her and back again,  “she has no idea. We’ve been talking about starting a family…”  All I could really say was “that is so awesome! I’ll take the pictures” or something to that effect before a car forced me back in line.  I only had a quick chance to ask him if it was before or after the next stop so I could figure out how to NOT be awkward.  Poor guy, this random stranger crashes your proposal plans.  Opps.  At the stop, I talked to him a bit more, and was like, how do I not give away something by coming up with an excuse to fall behind or something.  He was fine with me still riding with them, the beach was obvious and I would just hang back and let them have their moment.  He didn’t know what he was going to say, but he knew how he was going to do it.  It was all really sweet.  Unfortunately, my chain desperately needed grease, I don’t know how it got so noisy, and the wait was a bit much, so they took off with out me because they had people to meet at the end so I didn’t have to be awkward at all.  We didn’t find each other at the finish, probably because I went really slow the second half, but I sent her a “Contratualations!” message when I was done and she sent me the picture of them right after he proposed.  Hopefully I can do some rides up to Nayak with them this summer.

2012- 74 Miles

After a fast start, I went pretty slow for the second half.  I didn’t find anyone else to team up with against the wind, and I really had not trained for the ride, which is why I was only doing 73 miles instead of 100.  My final average speed was around 15 MPH, which I can’t really complain about given the circumstances.  I was pretty sore after this one, the last hills really kicked my ass.  My hamstrings were seizing up and I was debating whether or not to stop, get off my bike and stretch, or just finish the last miles and stretch at the end.  I was afraid if I stopped, it wouldn’t end, and I would have more trouble getting back on, so I I stretched as much as I could still on my bike on the down hills.   I was so happy to be finished and with the way the finish line is at the light house, there were a lot of people cheering you in, which was nice when you’re to drop dead.

I dropped my bike off and went to find my bag to take my shower.  I couldn’t find my bag, so I went to find beer, hoping that would help.  After going through the pile again and again. I went to look in the other piles, based on where you started, to see if it was in one of them.  I was looking in theBabylonpile.  Where the 100-mille ride starts.  Where I started the two times before, but not this time.  Opps again.  Another beer in the shower later, I was feeling much better and wolfed down a hamburger, some grilled chicken, pasta salad, potato salad and more beer.  Then I waited for my massage.  I don’t know if anything feels better than a massage after a long bike ride.  It made me very happy.  I grabbed two hot dogs for the road and headed to the yellow bus taking me to the LIRR for the long ride home, where I promptly passed out.

God that was a long post.  If you made it this far, I hope it didn’t bore you to tears and I hope it inspired you to get out on your bike!  It’s pretty amazing how far you can go on two wheels.  The final question is: will I ever do the 145-mile ride?  Two of my friends already have, and K wants to do it, I am kinda indifferent about it.  I would have to have my ass in gear and have built up the miles to do it and I  don’t know if I care enough, I get the same reward for doing 100-miles.  We’ll see…