News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

I did it!

It is now 4:00. I am at the finish, having pulled in at 3:58pm. I started the ride at 6:58am, so my time was exactly 9 hours!

I am tired, sore, and hungry, so I will sign off for now. Stay tuned for posts with more details later.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed!

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 04:09 pm
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

Last rest

Well, I’m at the last official rest stop, but if I have to I can stop and rest along the remaining course. It is 2:42pm, and so I’m definitely on track to finish by 4:00. Just about 16 miles to go.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 02:09 pm
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The Welcoming Stop

It is 12:55pm, and I’m at the third rest stop, which is at Deerfield Academy (in Deerfield). The volunteers here are all academy students (as well as football players, I think). They applaud and cheer each rider who comes in, or even passes by.

A bunch of flat riding ahead as I head down into Whately. Should go by pretty quickly.

Crowd of people in front of a canopy, on grassy area between street and sidewalk.  Trees in background.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 01:09 pm
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Up in the hills

I’m around mile 54 now, in the town of Colrain (I think – it could still be Leyden). The time is 11:37, so I’m doing well on the schedule. Time for some more hill climbing!

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 11:09 am
Posted in Biking with 1 Comment

Guilford stop

I’m at the second stop in Guilford, VT, at about mile 41. The time is 10:20. The day is heating up a little now. Fortunately it won’t be too hot (high of 72). Time to start heading south again.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 10:09 am
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Quarter stop

It is a couple minutes before 9:00, and I’m at the first rest stop. This is about the 25 mile mark. Good time so far.

Cyclists and volunteers at a food table, on a grassy area to the side of a road, with a sign saying "Northfield Mount Hermon", and some trees.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 09:09 am
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Warmer start

I’m checked in and about ready to start the ride. The time is 6:45am, despite what the blog timestamp may say (the WordPress app does weird things with times).

Just going to have a bite to eat and then start rolling.Tents over registration tables, next to a parking lot, at sunrise.

Posted by seaking on 09-29-2019 at 06:09 am
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Woods, Water, Frogs, and Fowl

Two weeks ago I went for an afternoon ride that followed some more old roads through forests. I actually left the house in the morning, but initially rode into the Mt. Tom State Reservation to meet others for a wildlife presentation there (I’ll write more about that in a separate post). After that, and a picnic lunch, I struck out down the old portion of Reservation Road down into Easthampton. This section is closed off to cars, and is really more of a hiking trail with some chunks of old pavement in it. I rode it once last year, but headed upward at that time. In both directions, some walking of a bike is necessary, as it is too steep to ride.

I passed through downtown Easthampton, then rode up Park Hill Road, which I had not been on before. I took that north, then west, until I got to a point where the pavement ends, and there is just dirt trail going into the trees (click on photo to embiggen):

Asphalt pavement at bottom of the photo, with a dirt trail extending beyond it into the woods.  The words "dig safe" are spray painted on the pavement edge.

I followed this west, as I’d seen on a map that it would come out on pavement again. It did, after maybe half a mile, but there was a point where a large tree had fallen on the path, and so I had to climb through and around some branches with the bike (it was not quite as bad as that sounds).

Once on the other side, I continued on the paved road, which soon came to an end at Glendale Rd. I headed south on that, going down hill, then up again, and passed by a winery there (called Glendale Ridge). Here is the view from the ridge, over some grape vines:

View with grape vines in the foreground, with a field and trees beyond, and further in the background are some hills.

I kept going south on this road and another until I hit Route 10 in Southampton. I turned there to head further south, and for a bit I followed a less busy parallel street: High Street. It runs a bit higher than 10, and at one point I was able to look downhill (east/southeast) toward 10:

Green grass field sloping downward with a vegetable garden to the left,  and trees and houses in the distance.

High St. stopped at Fomer Rd. and I then got back on Route 10 for a bit, before turning onto Brickyard Road. I had been on the other portion of this road back in May (the portion to the east of route 10), but this time I headed southwest, which was all new to me.

It’s a pleasant ride with a bit of uphill, and a bit of down, and eventually the road passes into Westfield, where it changes name to Root Road. I continued following it south, and then it bent southeast, heading toward downtown Westfield. Before I got out of the rural part of the city, I did stop for a moment by a marshy area:

Small marsh with several cluster of lily pads in the water, trees in the background, and reeds and other plants in the foreground.

I could hear, but not see, frogs in the area.

I did not ride all the way downtown. This road eventually ran into Routes 10/202 just south of the Mass Pike, and I jogged onto that road, then onto Holyoke St., which runs east, parallel to the pike. I followed that road all the way to its other end, still in Westfield, at East Mountain Road. Here I went a very short distance north, passing under the pike, and then headed further east where I passed a gate and got onto the old road that I had ridden in May in the other direction.

This time, I was able to find a better path, so that I only had to cross the railroad tracks – I did not have to walk along them. Here is the view along the tracks, looking southwest, then northeast:

Railroad tracks stretching into the distance toward the right, with trees on either side.
Railroad tracks stretching into the distance toward the left, with trees on either side.

I headed across and back onto the “road”, and continued east, but soon came to a blockage. There was a tree down, or perhaps multiple small trees, so I had to make my way around, walking the bike through the underbrush:

Road surface with dead tree branches lying across it, and living trees above and to the sides.

I continued along until I passed the gate that keeps cars out, onto the regular road (Prospect St. in West Springfield). At this point, I turned north, passing around another gate and heading up a completely unfamiliar path/dirt road. The map had shown me that this route should connect to the Ashley reservoir in Holyoke.

After I had gone a ways north, there were a few large, deep puddles in the middle of the road. I thought they looked semi-permanent, and in fact they were home to some number of frogs:

Small frog sitting in a mud puddle, with reflections of the sky and leaves on the water's surface.
Small frog sitting next to a stick in a mud puddle, with reflections of the sky and leaves on the water's surface.

Those were the best photos I was able to take – other frogs moved away when I tried to get pictures of them.

Soon after these puddles, I came to the railroad tracks (same ones I had crossed earlier). I walked along them for roughly 50 feet, and came to a break in the bushes on the other side, where I did indeed descend into the Ashley reservoir land. Here is the reservoir, seen from the south end:

Grassy expanse in foreground, with reservoir pond beyond, and green trees on the far side of the water.

I rode around to the west side, and just before passing out of sight of the water, I spotted a great blue heron, and took some pictures. Not being able to get very close to it, they aren’t very clear. This is probably the best one:

Tree branch with leaves at top of photo, with a great blue heron standing in the water beneath it.  Some grass and weeds are in the foreground.

I rode on to the north, eventually turning east and coming near the water again, and then headed south, where I saw another heron. This one flew away before I could even try to take a picture, but I also saw a cormorant a ways out in the water:

A cormorant sitting on a small branch sticking out of the water.  Water is all around.

From there I headed home on familiar Holyoke streets. The distance for this ride was about 40 miles.

Next ride: the final training ride – BikeFest

Posted by seaking on 09-28-2019 at 08:09 pm
Posted in Biking, Wildlife with 0 Comments

From Haven to Home

In our last episode, I had spent Sept. 1 biking down to New Haven, CT. After getting there, I checked into my lodging, showered, and put on non-bike clothes. I walked a few blocks to get dinner, and the place I stopped was really good: Mamoun’s Falafel. I had a falafel sandwich and a glass of mango juice.

The next morning, I went out to get breakfast, and as I was walking down the street, someone asked me if I was going to be in “the race”. I said “No”, not really sure what race that was, but I soon found that a number of streets were blocked off, and soon I saw some runners come by, so apparently there was a Labor Day road race going on.

After breakfast (which was a mini-quiche and a turnover at a coffeehouse), I put on cycling clothes, packed up my stuff, and started heading back north. I should mention that, earlier this year, I received a pair of large, waterproof pannier bags as a birthday present, and I was using them as my luggage for the trip. This was particularly important for the return trip, as there was a good chance of rain predicted for the afternoon.

Rather than wend my way back to the Yale campus on various one-way streets, I took a more direct route north that converged with the trail. After about a mile I was able to go a very short distance on a side street to get on the trail, and I headed north into Hamden. I stopped to photograph this mural on the side of a building (click to view larger photo):

Mural on the side of a building, depicting nine women of different ages, races, and ethnicities, each holding a burning torch aloft in one hand.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting five women of different ages, races, and ethnicities, each holding a burning torch aloft in one hand.

Heading on, in Hamden I passed under the Wilbur Cross Parkway, and eventually back up to Cheshire (where I stopped briefly by the scummy pond again). And then on to Southington. I passed by these butterfly shaped benches:

Iron benches shaped like butterflies, on a grassy area by paved recreation trail, with bushes and trees to the side.
Frontal view of a bench shaped like a butterfly, in front of some bushes.

And soon after those, there were a whole series of murals, one after another:

Mural on the siding of a building, depicting a blue sky and a hovering watering can, which is watering several flowers that look very different from each other.
Mural depicting eight joined train cars, with different items in each car.  The last one is carrying large letters spelling the name Ben.
Mural on the side of an industrial building, depicting the words "Rails to Trails", with painted trees between the words, and painted vines winding around the letters.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting a stormy sky and tornado, with various graffiti-style names.
Mural on a building depicting an old-style train depot, with a couple of waiting passengers, a dog, and an arriving steam train.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting different types of trail users (3 cyclists, a jogger, and a rollerblader).  There is some landscaping at the base of the wall.
Mural on the side of a building, depicting different types of trail users, including a child walking with a dog and balloon, an adult walking with a dog, a child on a bike with training wheels, and a skateboarder.

After heading through most of Southington, the trail came to an end, I rode on Routes 10 and 177 up through Plainville. I then got back on the trail and wheeled into Farmington just as a slight sprinkle of rain started. It was not enough to be bothersome, and the sprinkle came and went as I followed the Farmington Canal trail through the rest of Farmington and into the town of Avon. I stopped for lunch at a cafe in Avon, and it was good timing, as it rained in earnest while I was inside eating. That rain had stopped by the time I left and got back on the bike.

I continued to have reasonably dry conditions as I headed into, and through most of, Simsbury. However, in the northern part of the town, it started to rain steadily, and so I got out my rain jacket and rain pants, as well as changed my shoes into a pair that can be worn in water. I made the change under a tree that provided good rain cover, and then, sealing up the panniers again, I headed out into the rain. It rained consistently for the rest of the time I was in Connecticut, and was raining pretty hard when I crossed back into Southwick, Massachusetts. The first mile or two in Southwick is a nature preserve, and I saw a number of frogs and toads on the path, some which jumped out of the way as I came by, and others which sat stoically in the rain.

Halfway through that town, the rain let up, and soon after that the sun came out. It had rained for about 90 minutes. I changed my shoes back to ones that were a little better for pedaling, and then continued into Westfield. I kept the rain outfit on so that it could dry out as I rode, but I did unzip the jacket.

After reaching the northern end of the trail, I went through the rest of Westfield and back into Holyoke on Route 202. The total distance for that day was 73 miles – so about 150 for the whole trip.

Next: a short ride exploring more non-roads

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2019 at 11:09 pm
Posted in Arts/Media, Biking, Travel with 0 Comments

Conn. Trails

[Note: the donations to the Food Bank reached my goal yesterday! Thanks to everyone who has contributed, and people are still welcome to give.]

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I set out for a 2-day bike trip to New Haven and back. This is a trip that I’ve been wanting to make for years, primarily because one can ride on paved recreation trails almost all the way. Information on those trails, by the way, can be found here.

There is not a trail running through Holyoke, so I began by heading over into Westfield, making my way down through downtown until I got to the actual trail beginning at Route 20/Main St. From there, I headed straight south, passing all the way through Southwick and then into Connecticut.

I had traveled the Farmington Canal trail partway through CT a few times before, and so it was familiar to me up to a point. I rode through the towns of Suffield, East Granby, Granby, and part of Simsbury just as I had in the past, in this case stopping for lunch in Simsbury. After lunch, I deviated from that trail to follow the Farmington River Trail, which runs in a long arc to the west, and then comes back to the Canal trail much further south. This was uncharted territory.

The Farmington River trail is also unpaved territory, at least for the first several miles. I rode the dirt trail for a little ways and came to a park, which had this covered bridge (click on photos to enlarge):

Red, wooden, covered bridge over a small stream, with trees and picnic areas on the other side.

Here’s the view from the bridge into a little pond made by the stream:

Pond with picnic tables and people on either side.  There are trees around the far end.

I continued from here and the trail alternated between some dirt sections and some sections that were quiet roads. When I’d gone pretty far west, the trail dumped onto some slightly busier roads for a while, as it headed south and a bit more west. Finally, actual trail started up again, paved this time. Soon after that I reached the Farmington River itself.

View of river with some people in boats or on paddleboards, with a grassy area in the foreground and trees in the background.

The river is pretty wide there, and a number of people were out on it.

View looking upriver, with people on boats in the distance, trees on the banks to each side, and some tree branches in the top foreground.

As were some ducks.

Duck in the water, swimming toward the left.

The trail follows the river south from there, and then southeast. Toward the end of the River Trail, it passes through a tunnel under a road, and the tunnel is decorated with murals:

Mural of a flowering bush as well as painted stones on the concrete wall of a bike tunnel entrance.
Mural of a deer and small cityscape, as well as painted stones on the concrete wall of a bike tunnel entrance.

Within a mile or two after this tunnel, the Farmington River trail ended and deposited me back on the Farmington Canal trail in the town of Farmington. I continued south, and passed through an office park in the south part of that town. There I saw this business:

Business sign reading "Trumpf" with bushes and other landscaping around it.

I wondered if this company might have anything to do with that person in the White House. Their web site does not give any clues, but maybe the firm was founded by a distant relative?

Just after the office park, the trail entered the town of Plainville, and then ended. I knew about this in advance from looking at maps, but there is a gap in the trail at this point. I had to go on roads for a little while. I rode on Route 177 down to the Southington town line, and then had to get on Route 10, which is pretty busy (including passing an interchange with I-84).

Along 10, I saw this place:

Beige building with signs near the top saying "SmashBurger" and "203-Urgent Care".  Multiple cars in the parking lot.

I worry a bit about the need for urgent care at a burger place…

Shortly I was able to head off on a side street and get on the trail again. I rode it through the rest of Southington, then into the town of Cheshire. In a wooded part of Cheshire, there is a little observation deck off the side of the trail, where one can view a very scum-covered pond:

Pond covered with green algae, with trees in background.
Another view of pond covered with green algae, with trees in background.

There were a bunch of ducks there, who seemed to like the water fine – they swam through the scum with nary a care.

After Cheshire, the trail passed through Hamden, and then finally into New Haven. It ends in the middle of the Yale University campus, so I left it and rode on a few city streets to the place I was staying the night. My total riding for the day was 78 miles.

Next: part 2 of the journey

Posted by seaking on 09-27-2019 at 07:09 am
Posted in Biking, Travel with 0 Comments

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