Madison Tour de Farms

A year in North Carolina had sort of wiped my mind of the fact that riding your bike in the fall can be cold and wet. My day at the Madison Tour de Farms was all it took to remind me. The first 12 miles were just cold. I was riding in my Elonore Rocks kit with my Wheelworks Multisport arm warmers. I don’t know where my long sleeve training gear is right now, so that was the best I could do.

It was fine though, as I said, for the first 12 miles. I was warm enough to see some Wagyu Beef in it’s pre-delicious state

They look cute, and they taste yummy!

A bit further on we saw some deer who clearly didn’t care that they were tresspassing

super inexpensive lawn care option

 

Somewhere between the beef and the venison the climbing started. I’ve done a few tough races, and I’ve trained for some of the climbing but never enough. These last two weeks prior to Half Full Tri Im determined to make sure I get accustomed to climbing so that I’m sure I can handle what I’ve got in front of me that day. So I did the best I could climbing my way through this tough climbs. Some were pretty brutal, I wound up walking up segments of the 4 steepest hills, which led to some pretty slow going at times.

Unfortunately not long after I saw the deer, the rain came, and it led to missing the entrance to one of the farms on my map, skipping the buffalo farm that was just a couple miles off the 20 mile route, and even walking a downhill! The road was so steep and stopped at a right hand turn at a stop sign that the majority of the 20 mile riders walked down the hill.

I was disappointed about the buffalo farm, but fighting with the climbs was enough without the wind gusts and sideways rains, so I followed the route back to Critz Farms where the ride started. They’ve got a lot going on at Critz Farms; petting zoo, apple cidery, pumpkins, playground and tractor rides, christmas trees, a farmers market, and a cafe. Plus along with the ride was a lunch with all ingredients from local farms.

It was all amazing, but the bratwurst was the single best brat I’ve ever eaten

 

Fresh made apple fritters, hot apple cider, and a dry bench

Then I made up for missing a couple of farms, by exploring my way around Critz:

This goat was certain I had food for him despite my repeatedly telling him I didn’t
This is a 3 week old miniature donkey
Super baby ducks
After the sun had finally come out, I still looked like a drowned rat

Trout, Triathlon, and Love, but maybe not in that order…

Yesterday was Rach and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary. We celebrated by her working all day and me staying at home with the dog. That’s married life I guess. Actually when she did get home last night we went to dinner and a small dessert. Being who we are, presents started a few days early (because i can’t keep a secret). Rach had asked for a couple of things (one of those small blenders that blends into a drinking cup you can take to go) and a make up stand for her dresser. Her surprise gift was an unorthodox one; a gun. Yep, i bought my wife a gun for her anniversary. She’s been jealous of my neices BB gun since she got to shoot it back in June. So I got her a BB/pellet rifle and some targets to practice with. My asked for gifts were some more flies for fishing and a vest. Im not sure what my surprise gift will be as that hasn’t happened yet.

I’m lucky to have her in my life and I recognize that fact, and I promised to try to be less annoying in year 4 of our marriage :D

As for the trout; I know they’re out there, but I haven’t landed any yet. I took Saturday to try a bigger river, hoping the open space would allow my inexperienced casting a little more room to work it’s magic. Sadly, the only magic I saw was the magic of nature. Tons of beautiful places to fish right now. My trip to the West Canada Creek (which looks amazingly like a river in most parts I saw) was worth it, even though I didn’t see a fish bigger than 2 inches long.

On the way to one of my many stops along the river, I found this bridge which made me suddenly wish I had my bicycle with me just to ride under it.

After neglecting Stan for a few hours instead of heading off to Madisons hops festival, I decided to make the short trip to Waterville for their annual cruise-in. Part town festival, part auto show, Stanley got a good work out walking all through town while I scoped out cars (and roadside food vendors) and he met new furry friends.

Doesn’t this look like something James Bond would drive?
I just missed the good shot of them sniffing each other
Stan is like Dr. Doolittle; he likes to talk to all the animals, and showed no interest in chasing or eating this bunny

Sunday was spent mostly around the house, hanging out with Stan…

Chippies on the back porch are like Stanley’s personal Outdoor Channel, and it’s pretty entertaining for me too.

… and fishing from the back deck

The bass I’d heard stories about in our lake actually do exist it seems.

 

Finally when it comes to triathlon, there’s actually a lot to talk about. I’ve been working back into training, including a couple of lake swims, at a surprisingly good pace (sub-20 mins for a half mile). Riding has still been a challenge as I continue to work in more hills (otherwise there’s only so many places I can ride). I’m registered for an un-timed charity ride this Saturday called the Madison Tour de Farms. It visits a hops farm, a buffalo farm, a goat farm and the more traditional produce farms in the county. There are 9, 20, and 40 mile courses. the 20 mile course has more elevation than anything I’ve ever ridden save Timberman, and the 40 mile has 1 1/2 half times the Timberman elevation. I need to get some details about lunch, but I’m strongly considering the 40 mile course regardless of how much of a challenge it is. My only concern is making it back in time for the lunch I’ve already paid for!

So that brings me to what I’m preparing for; the Half-Full Triathlon. You may have heard by now that Ulman Cancer Fund and Rev3 decided to pass on USA Triathlon sanctioning so that they could include Lance Armstrong in the race. This was hinted at a few weeks ago, but it became official yesterday morning. When it was hinted at, I didn’t expect it to actually happen, believing the USADA decision would have come out by now, and made Lance harder to involve without more of an outcry. But as this hasn’t happened, it’s easier for the organizations involved to include Lance. It’s not terribly surprising as the gentleman who founded UCF is the CEO of Livestrong. As I have been scheduled to race this event all year, I’m torn in continuing to support this event, especially now that I’ve reached my fundraising goal, and paid for travel and lodging at the event. $1000 is a lot to throw away in terms of our budget for racing.

To be fair, Lance is not racing against the registered pros (many of whom have spoken out against his participation), and he is not charging an appearance fee (which is unusual for him, as he has charged appearance fees for other cancer events he has attended ($100k + Netjets credits @ Pelotonia). Between that and my own sunk costs, I’ve decided to go ahead and race. It’s going to be an insane event probably, a smaller local event that was made larger with Rev3 involvement now will be a circus with Lance participating. Means an earlier morning wake up, crowded transitions, and likely a lot more to have to avoid. But I still believe in the message and work of UCF and Lance doesnt benefit from their funding (though obviously he continues to benefit from the appearance and racing with support from his sponsors). If this benefits UCF and doesn’t lead to a chain reaction of more races spurning the ban in order to bring in Lance, it could be a lot worse. I don’t like the precedence this sets, and personally I think this is still more about Lance than UCF. He could easily have come to the event, done a speech, acted as master of ceremonies, and handed out finisher medals. But that’s not Lance’s thing; in that way this is about him. He got what he wanted, a way to race, even if he’s only racing a division of cancer survivors, you know he’s going to attempt to be first overall, even if his time isn’t offically recognized as the winning time because he won’t be in the pro wave.

It’s certainly going to be an interesting week.

Getting my feet (and everything else) wet

Summer is fading like a memory of last nights dreams; something you long to hold on to but can never grasp firmly enough. Warm days and cool nights are giving way to the need for the extra blankets and pajama pants instead of shorts around the house. Thus I’m doing everything I can to enjoy each day before the snow boots and parks are de rigueur.

A week ago, I was scouting the local trout stream. This past weekend, I put the scouting to use, and actually fished the stream. Well, fishing is an interesting word; it actually means to catch fish. As I caught no fish, I guess I can’t say I was fishing; rather I was attempting to fish. Between several stops at fishing access points and a mile or so of walking, I threw my lure into the water with excitement, but little skill. I found I was far more skilled at putting my hook into the trees and weeds around me than into the mouth of a fish. Oh I did have a couple bites, and upon walking my way up into a small pool I saw a great many brown trout, even some of decent size.

As I visited the old canal lock that I posted pictures of last week, I made my first real mistake in fly fishing; fishing waders only keep you dry if you manage to stay upright. On my way out of the pool at the base of the lock, I stepped on one of the large slabs that used to make up the lock wall; it’s covered in algae and quite slippery. Before I knew it, I was face down in the creek feeling the shock of the crisp water on my upper body and face. And soon, everywhere else as I mentioned, waders only keep you dry if you don’t let water in the top. Thankfully I was merely wet, not flooded and was able to continue on, but as I visited one more stop I realized my first fishing adventure was ending up all wet in more ways than one and called it a day. I’d say it’s a safe bet this blog won’t be redirected in purpose to a fly fishing journal, but I will be back out there this week once everything is dry and my courage matches my enthusiasm.

Not one to let a single hiccup ruin a weekend of adventure, I decided that I’d eschew my normal road ride on Sunday for a spin on the mountain bike. There are 140 miles of horse and cross country trails all suitable for mountain biking, which is a lot more than I’ve had access to before. I decided my first ride would be at Brookfield Railroad State Forest. As the name implies, it was once railroad land and you can see traces of the rail bed to this day. I had planned on providing some pictures of the trails and my ride, but the oxygen deprivation I’m left with after a mountain bike ride, even a short one, seems to be far more acute than that of a road ride. The hills are always shorter, but they seem far steeper and the ground less sure; I didn’t fall but I made abundant use of my brakes throughout, and walked up a few of the hills that my legs seemed ready to handle by my lungs were not prepared for. Two miles was as much as I could handle, but it was a lot of fun, and I will be back.

On the way home from rolling through the woods, I took a dirt road. There aren’t a lot of them around, so I suspected I might be wandering into something beautiful, and indeed I was.

Cornfields don’t look like this in Michigan or North Carolina

 

Then right before the last turn home I encountered a family out for a Sunday walk.

Not the kind of Wild Turkey we had in college

Lastly, we visited the Chenango Canal Towpath. Aside from being a historic site of travel in the area, it’s got a history with industry as well

Original site of Motts Apple Cider Mill

But I think you can see from this picture why we took our walk

I can see worse jobs than working the tow path of a canal

Last, my fly fishing practice on the lake has yielded some small fish, but a couple worth noting, specifically yesterday I hit a keeper Black Crappie along the shoreline in front of the house. I still don’t know how to cut and clean the fish, but once I learn, dinner will be free from the lake!

It’s called a Cappie, i hope they don’t taste that way

 

Lake Moraine Days

Moving somewhere sight unseen always feels like an adventure until you get there and get settled in. Then it just feels like home. It’s a little bit different this time as it’s my first time living in a furnished apartment, and while I am still adjusting to using other peoples things on a daily basis (and keeping Stanley from breaking other peoples things) I have always been blessed with the ability to make myself at home nearly anywhere.

Our first days here have been filled with exploration and play whenever we’re not working. Rachelle’s schedule has been erratic as the athletes arrive at school and must be poked and prodded to assure they’re of sound health to begin their training for the upcoming seasons. The whole of the student body has arrived and has begun the long slow march toward spring. The campus itself is almost as alive with color as it is with people. The leaves have started turning, and in some cases, falling. I’ll get some pictures as the colors really start to change; right now we’re at the point where the trees have dots of colors with a backdrop of green. But even as I look out over the lake this morning, I see trees that were bright green just a couple of weeks ago that now sprout all manners of orange and red. And our deck has a large collection of various colored leaves, though the majority of them are brown, it’s a reminder of the dry summer that’s about to end and that fall will soon be here.

The water, like the leaves, has been changing as well. What was a gigantic bathtub of relaxing warmth has quickly changed to a tepid pool that now mimics the bite of the autumn air. That’s not to say it’s unswimmable, but it won’t be long until an open water swim requires a wetsuit, or that my trips out on fishing float will require waders and warm pants underneath. For now, I can still wade daily into waist deep water and tease the local panfish with my amateurish fly casting. I’m afraid I may never pull a bass out of the lake, but I’m quite adept at finding large bluegills, and in the right part of the lake, I’ve caught several 10 inch Alewife, a fish I was unfamiliar with until I moved to New York.

That dry summer I mentioned above has affected the water levels throughout Central New York, but it certainly doesn’t show at first glance. There’s water everywhere here; from the lake in our back yard

The north section of Lake Moraine, the part I haven’t fished yet

To the waterfall at Chitenango Falls State Park

Upper Chittenango Falls
Lower Chittenango Falls

Lastly, to the trout streams I plan on spending my September and October weekend mornings ankle or knee deep in (Most of them are too shallow these days to stand waist deep). I took the long labor day weekend to explore the local streams and I was thrilled to find local streams within just a few miles drive. I mostly looked and explored as I don’t have all my gear yet, but I did throw a line in the water at a stream specially designated for catch and release, intended for learning the art of trout fishing. The best part about these streams is that they’re incredibly beautiful and peaceful. The training stream is a section of the old Chittenango canal, and I actually fished off the top of a lock.

I didn’t catch any of them, but there were trout in that pool just to the left of the old lock
My first trout steam, Im confident there was a brown hiding under that tree but I don’t have the skill to reach the spot yet
The view upstream from the Deansboro fishing access point. Getting waders will help me make this trek soon.

Of course, water isn’t the only place we’ve adventured. The biking here is so very challenging, that I’m still fighting to build up distance and stamina. Rach and I did a loop around the lake yesterday, and we both were completely beat. But I have a month to get ready for Half Full Tri, and the riding here is much harder than it will be on race day. So I’m not too worried about the distance or the climbing, I’ll get there. And I’ve never had as much access to open water, and I’m taking advantage of it; whether swimming or kicking my fishing float, I’ve been averaging about a mile a day or so. Plus, we learned yesterday that I get free access to the sports facilities at Colgate, including the amazing pool facility, which I’m definitely going to make use of it.

Finally the people here are exactly what we were hoping for. The biking and running on the road here is only difficult because of the elevation, not because there are people wanting to run us off the roads. Our neighbors, mostly retirees and their families, are amazingly nice, and have volunteered use of boats and docks for when the water is too cold to fish from my float. The people here are so down to earth. An example; our actor landlord, he of ~200 credits on his IMDB page, does his own yard work and is a garage sale expert, finding all kinds of deals. Rachelle likes he co-workers and everyone we’ve talked to has been nothing but friendly.

And then there’s the dogs. Most of our neighbors have dogs, and Stanley has become fast friends with all of them. I’ll share some pictures shortly, but Stan might be the one who has adapted most easily. He loves sitting and watching the lake, going for walks, visiting his doggy neighbors, and of course playing in the lake. He still doesn’t like baths but he’s at least getting comfortable with the water.