Thursday, August 5, 2010

Final day...or not

I suppose I should mention that I did not ride Maria on this trip. The idea of biking through the Catskills on a single speed is one only a crazy person would consider. I know a couple of them—there’s a mechanic at my shop who did Bear Mtn and biked from Minnesota to Nashville on a fixed gear. But he’s nuts. I wanted gears and panniers, so I borrowed a friend’s mountain bike, which worked out well. The only part I hated were the shifters. They were the kind that are built into the handlebars that you just twist to shift. Eventually, my hands got so sweaty that I couldn’t shift anymore b/c my hands were slipping on them in the heat. Not enjoyable.

After an apparently crazy thunderstorm, which I blissfully slept through (comme d’habitude) I woke very early (pas comme d’habitude) and got up to enjoy the stillness. If I could reset my body clock to become accustomed to rising early, I think I would do it gladly. I really enjoy the peace that time of day brings. It’s especially tangible in the country, where there’s little traffic or manmade noise. I forget what it’s like to be able to hear the leaves in the trees or the water run in a stream. It’s just simple and lovely and fills a void that the city carves in me.

After everyone else woke, we broke down camp and headed for Margaretville. We found it quickly enough, once we headed in the right direction. At The Flour Patch, where we had breakfast, we were informed by a kind older gentleman that the “sweet spot” for cell reception was just down the road a few minutes. Given that it was already midday on Sunday and we were a good 80 miles from Albany, we clearly weren’t going to make it and thus needed to communicate this to the outside world via our handy technology. Half of the group decided to head back to the city via bus and the other half, myself included, made the choice to continue on to Albany after a leisurely swimming break.

When we got back on our bikes, we took a detour to do a little climbing, which ended in trying to cross the mountain on a dirt logging road. After thinking about the descent we’d made the night before, the idea of trekking back up it if the logging road turned out to be a dead end was so unappetizing that we decided to backtrack and find a different way.

We backtracked halfway and then took a side road over a different ridge and were again rewarded with a spectacular descent , maybe the best one of the trip. The only one of us with a bike computer clocked 44.5 mph…the speed limit was 45 mph.

I like to think that I’m not superstitious, but some things are hard to ignore. Before we left Margaretville, one of our friends remarked that we’d made it through the whole trip thus far without any mechanical problems. Well, naturally, his chain then decided to start misbehaving that evening. It somehow got twisted so it didn’t run straight over the chainrings and was giving him trouble shifting and staying in gear. He somehow made it through the rest of the trip using a limited number of gears. So, I guess he was forced to emulate my crazy mechanic friend’s single speed adventures to some extent.

The rest of the evening's ride included some more breakthtaking scenery.

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