Thursday, June 30, 2011

Week of June 26 to July 2, 2011

I’ve clocked about 1200 miles so far this week and I still have a few days to go. I figured if I have to go for another spinal operation, which seems likely at this point, I’d probably be restricted from the bike for another couple of weeks, - so I might as well get the riding in while I can. The odometer is very close to turning all six wheels to 100,000. There aren’t too many 650cc bikes out there with more miles than that, and I’ve never done much to it except tires, chains, sprockets and brake pads. I can still do all of those chores myself. The bike runs like it did the day I got it. I wish my old body stood up as well. We’ll have to see in a couple of days what the surgeon says about the need to cut again. I don’t mind the knife as much as I do the anesthesia, which usually sets me back a little; - like last month it took only a few days to recover from the cut and stitch, but two weeks to recover from the anesthesia.

Yesterday I went up into the Berkshires. One of several little towns I rode through was Stockbridge, the home of Alice’s Restaurant, a place that Arlo Guthrie used to sing about. It was a beautiful day and I had a great ride of about 280 miles. Today I was in Dutchess County in the morning and west of the Hudson this afternoon, where I rode on several two-lane roads in western Orange County, a few of which were new to me. I clocked about 225 miles total for the day, which included a piece of old Rte. 6 between Middletown and Port Jervis that I hadn’t been on in many years. I almost forgot it was there. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the high 70s and very low humidity. The sky was beautiful with lots of white fluffy fair-weather clouds around and otherwise bright blue. The miles don’t come nearly as easy as they did a few years ago, and I often have to push myself to get out in the morning and get on the bike; but that only increases the value of every mile.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week Ending 06-18-2011

I rode a total of a little more than 700 miles this week within a 100-mile radius and taking a different route every day, although occasionally repeating a few of my favorite roads. I’ve been promising myself to take the camera along but I still haven’t gotten into the habit of carrying a cell phone. It’s about time I started planning multi-day rides. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Week of 06/12 to 06/18/11

The week is not over yet but here are a few rides I took so far:

Sunday afternoon, 6/12, I toured several of the scenic roads inside Harriman Park to check out the mountain laurel, which is in full bloom every year around this time, especially along Tiorati Brook Road, Lake Welch Parkway and Johnston Rd. From there I took County Rd. 106 and NY 17A west to NY 94 in Warwick, followed by County Roads 1A and 1 through the black dirt farm area of Pine Island and north to near Westtown. I rode county roads 12, 36 and 100 back to Goshen and took NY 207 to Newburgh before heading home, for a total of around 85 miles.

Thursday, 6/16, was an excellent day for riding so I got on the road a little after nine and headed generally northeast without a specific destination in mind. By the time I got up around Southeast and Putnam Lake, I decided to go into Connecticut and ride the southern Berkshires to Massachusetts. I began by heading into Sherman, CT, on CT 37 and then CT 39 to Gaylordsville, where I used a no-number road (S. Kent Rd.) past Hatch Pond and Leonard Pond to CT 341, followed by CT 45 through Warren to US 7 in Cornwall Bridge, and then east on CT 4, and north on several scenic state roads to Canaan, where I turned west into Millerton, NY for a pit stop and a quick lunch. 

After the stop I headed north via Columbia County Rtes. 62 and 63 to Boston Corner, and I took NY 22 to Copake Lake, where I headed due east into Massachusetts via NY 344, which goes past Copake Falls toward Bash Bish Falls in Massachusetts. I took West St. north from the falls and back to the NYS line, where it becomes a narrow seasonal road called Sunset Rock Road, a very steep downhill grade on loose gravel for almost two miles. I noticed when I was about halfway down that my gas reserve light was flashing and I wasn’t sure how long it had been on. The gas odometer said I already had 315 miles on that tank-full. The dire consequences of running out of gas on a seasonal road flashed through my mind. I couldn’t expect anyone through that way until probably the weekend. But I was able to make it out to NY 22 and a gas station in Hillsdale with about a quart to spare. The price was about 30 cents cheaper than Westchester County.

After filling the tank, I headed southwest on Columbia Cty Rd. 7 diagonally across the county through Ancram to Jackson Corner, west of the Taconic Parkway. From there I used County Roads 51 and 15 and Centre Rd. through Schultzville to Salt Point, where the traffic begins to build. I hadn’t been through that area for at least four or five years. I decided to take Hibernia Rd. from Salt Point to the southbound lanes of the Taconic Parkway and I came home through Fahnestock Park, where the mountain laurel is also still in full bloom. I clocked 215 miles for the day and had a really great ride.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ride on June 10, 2011, my 86th birthday

My son Jim needed parts for his KTM enduro bike and I said I’d gladly pick them up at Moroney’s in Newburgh. I had thought about taking the car since it was only 10 days from the date of my hernia operation and the surgeon had said I should stay off the bike for two weeks. But I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I rode the bike to Newburgh to celebrate my birthday?

I wasn’t even sure I could get my leg over it and back it out of the garage safely when I reached for my helmet at 8:45 AM. No sooner I threw one leg up to swing it over the bike, the other leg partially collapsed and I almost ended up in a heap inside the garage! But I got on, shook the weak leg and backed it out, hoping that it wouldn’t collapse again while I was depending on it to hold up that side.

I started the bike and carefully eased it into gear, reciting the Lord’s Prayer as I rode carefully down the driveway. And I took a deep breath of fresh air as I started up the street. I had been feeling weak ever since the operation and I had met with the surgeon the day before. He said I should walk more and get more exercise. I said that I don’t have much desire to walk or exercise, and I asked, do you mean I should push myself? He answered, “Yes, push yourself.” So after taking a deep breath, I said aloud, “Push yourself!” and I pointed the bike toward Newburgh, hoping for the best.

I felt a little out of it as I was passing a school bus and a string of cars going up Storm King Mountain above West Point, and I wasn’t sure I should be pushing quite so hard. But after picking up the parts and saying hello to a few friends who work there, I felt a little more normal. So when I got back out to the bike and was able to get my leg over it without incident, I felt a little more confident that I might take a longer way home, since I had only traveled 25 miles so far. Oh well, he did say, “Push yourself,” so I repeated it and headed west, instead of south.

By the time I got past Stewart International Airport, I had already decided that I would turn north and maybe go as far as Modena via some back roads. That started a series of similar incidents where I’d think of the same two words, push yourself, and I kept going north until I got beyond Kingston, where I was already almost 60 miles from home and didn’t know yet where I was headed.

At one point, I had come to where about six or eight state troopers had set up a roadblock to check inspection stickers. I pulled in and turned off the engine, since I wasn’t wearing my hearing aid and wanted to hear what was said. One big guy said, “Don’t turn it off,” as he walked around to the right side. Four others stood in a line on my left, looking on. I said as the big guy walked around to the right, by the way it’s over on this side, near the top of the fork leg. He said, “I already saw it. Do you have a motorcycle license?” I laughed and said, I sure do. I’ve had one since they “grand-fathered” me in about 60 years ago, and I reached for my wallet. He said, “I don’t have to see it.” I then told them that I’m out taking a ride to celebrate my 86th birthday. I got at least one smile and about four other “Happy Birthday” wishes as I restarted the bike. As I pulled away I said, “Take care guys, have a nice day.”

I gassed up north of Kingston and decided to head east across the Rhinecliff Bridge toward Dutchess County, thinking about which roads I’d like to ride on my birthday, and always thinking of the doctor’s saying I should push myself. Of course I realized that he meant by walking more, but this certainly wasn’t as strenuous as walking! By the time I got back across to the east side of the Hudson, I had already decided that I’d head for Ancramdale in Columbia County, where I’d have lunch at the Farmer’s Wife, a little country deli and catering place I’ve used several times in the past.

I started experiencing lightheaded episodes earlier and I wondered what might be causing them. I had been having very low blood pressure since coming out of the anesthesia, so that could be a possibility. Another could be dehydration, but I had coffee when I stopped for gas. I wondered if it could be weakness from not having eaten much that morning. Lunch at the Farmer’s Wife would decide. I got there at exactly 12-noon, and the place was empty; so I got my order in before the rush since they usually have quite a large take-out business at lunchtime, which apparently hadn’t begun. I ordered a Rueben and helped myself to a Tropicana orange juice out of one of the coolers. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch, and when I got back out to the bike it was sunny and around 80 degrees, and I felt much better.

I headed northwest on County Rte. 3 toward the foothills of the Berkshires and then took several back roads to Sharon, CT. From there, I rode several of my favorite country roads along the CT/NY state line, including a ride through Mizzentop, to NY Rte. 164, and through Towners and Luddingtonville to get home. Altogether, I clocked 210 miles in a little over six hours, and it was a really great birthday. I still had barely enough energy to attend a joint birthday party for my grandson Jimmy and me, who share the same birthday. Barbara served pizza and ice cream. I got up the following morning without any negative aftereffects, so I’m back in business!