Planning Continues – The route is nearly done

Biking the Promenade, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Brooklyn
Photo by Chris Goldberg

Today I looked at the calendar and was a little shocked to find that there are only 64 days for us to get everything together, get trained, decide on a route, decide what to pack, and head out onto the road for this ride. It’s alternately exciting and a little scary. So I took a bit of that nervous energy and worked a bit more on the route.

Thanks to a bit of searching online, I came across the East Coast Greenway project. Its intent is to create a complete off-road bike route from the Canada/Maine border to Key West. So far it is about 26% off-road with the remainder routed along the quietest streets that they could find. This would give me a pretty good route from Boston to NYC except for the fact that we want to head out to Cape Cod first. So our current plan is to take the ferry from Boston to Provincetown and then ride down Cape Cod to Providence where I can pick up the East Coast Greenway until the end. Based on that, our tentative plan is now something like this:

July 16: Hyannis, MA
July 17: Providence, RI
July 18: Willimantic, CT
July 19: Stamford, CT
July 20: New York, NY

On a map it looks something like this.

Of course this is all relatively likely to change as this isn’t a race and in all likelihood we may run into weather we want to wait out or places we want to spend a few more days. And as I don’t have to be back to work until August 6th, I figure we can do a few more things along the way, or we may end up slowing a bit. Of course google maps does say it will take about 10 days to ride all the way home. So if we haven’t ridden enough for our tastes, we can head back on our own.

We’ve also begun looking for lodging. Our hope is to meet lots of interesting people along the way so we’ve sent out requests via couchsurfing.com and put out a few other feelers as well.

Pledge #214: Take Care of Yourself

Montmartre

I pledge to be kinder to myself this week. To sleep a little earlier, to have moments of tech-free silence upon waking. To write and drink my coffee slowly. To answer the phone only when I can really listen. To be kinder to myself so that I can continue to be truly kind to those I love, some of whom, could use a really kind friend at the moment. To be wholeheartedly kind to them, I need to take some moments to first be kind to me. – Pledge #214 – Toronto, Canada

photo: John Althouse Cohen

The Route is Two-Thirds Planned!

As many of you know, I completed the Friends for Life Bike Rally for the past two years. And thanks to the organizers I was able to get a PDF copy of the turn by turn maps from last year. (Silly me, I didn’t save mine!) so we were good for the trip from Toronto to Montreal.

This morning, the lovely folks at Charity Treks who have a charity bike ride from Montreal to Portland, Maine, I was able to get the next leg of my trip. While they do a trip to Maine now, back in 2005 they did a trip from Montreal to Boston. Both rides were to fund research for an AIDS vaccine. This morning one of the organizers was able to send me the turn by turn directions from Montreal to Boston. Now being 7 years old, many things have changed – the most notable I see are that when I plotted the cities out on Google, I saw that there were a few new rail trails along the way. But in any case, I now have a very good idea of our route. It will look something like this.

So our general stopping points (plus or minus 20 KM) and rough timeline will be:
July 1: Port Hope, ON
July 2: Consecon, ON
July 3: Kingston, ON
July 4: Johnstown, ON
July 5: Lancaster, ON
July 6-7: Montreal, QC
July 8: North Hero, VT
July 9: Waterbury, VT
July 10-11: S. Royalton, VT
July 12: Newbury, NH
July 13: Milford, NH
July 14-15: Boston, MA
July 15: Provincetown, MA

We’ve started putting together a list of potential campgrounds, hotels, motels, and links to potential couchsurfing hosts. That said, if you know of any other good lodging options – friends, family, churches with nice basements, quiet back yards, garages, or otherwise in the area of those cities, I’d love to hear of them. Likewise, if there are interesting tourist attractions, great restaurants or wonderful swimming holes, or other things we shouldn’t miss nearby, let us know!

First 2012 Training Ride

Though we have been using our bike to travel around the city in our daily life, grocery shopping or heading to a movie or brunch, last weekend we used it for our first group training ride.

Saturday morning we hauled the bike onto the subway and rode to the most northern stop in the city, Finch Station, where we met several dozen other folks. The ride itself was a training ride for the Friends for Life Bike Rally, a ride I did for the first time two years ago, and again last year as a part of Long Ride East. Thanks to some serious miscalculation on my part, we arrived over an hour before the ride was scheduled to start and so we wandered over to a coffee shop where we had a snack and I had another coffee before heading back to the meeting place.

After a quick briefing on the rules of the road, hand signals, and stretching, we were off. The ride took us through Markham and a bit of Scarborough, through business parks and suburban developments. Folks who know me know I’m far from a fan of biking in the suburbs. Riding in the country is beautiful, riding in the downtown core is also nice as there are many cyclists and traffic slows drivers down to where they seem a bit less threatening. But in the inner suburbs, traffic tends to be pretty heavy but goes a bit faster than downtown. Fortunately, the bulk of our actual ride will be on quiet country roads so it should be quite enjoyable.

The ride itself was really great. The 34 KM took us a bit over 90 minutes. The heavier tandem tends to ride a bit slower and we are still getting used to that aspect. On the other hand, it was really fantastic to have someone to chat with the whole way without worrying about riding two-abreast or shouting to be heard over traffic. Also nice was being able to have someone who could look down at the map without taking their eyes off the road. This was a huge help.

The big physical test of the ride, though, was Cummer Hill – a ravine near the end of the ride with a pretty steep climb. When we got there I noticed that our front derailleur needs adjustment and so we lost most of our low gears. Still, with a bit of perseverance we pushed our way to the top. Another rider, Victor Scaletchi waited to get photos of several of us riding up the hill.

Training Ride #1

Going forward, though, we have a few things to tweak. Remembering to bring the water bottles instead of leaving them on the kitchen counter will be a huge help, as will remembering the map holder for the handlebars. But all in all it feels really good to have the big details taken care of.

The next ride is coming up next weekend – and a little bigger this time: 40 KM.