Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tapping Out Some Inspiration

Well, since the last time I posted, what's been happening? Too much to tell in two paragraphs, so I'll start here for now. In the last three and a half months, I've traveled eleven hundred miles by snowmachine, anywhere from Greenville to Jackman to Ft. Kent to Frenchville, Maine. 

My first snowmobile ride of the season was 316 miles and 12+ hours in the saddle. My friend Andy and I blasted this one out only to rip another 95 miles the next day. That's a good start!

 Big Spencer Mountain on a cold early February morning.
Two thirds around the big loop we saw the Trains in the Allagash.

This is the loop Andy and I did for my first real ride on the new sled.

One of the best things about Facebook is finding friends and relatives you haven't seen in years. Life and a big, busy, world can sometimes cause us to become disconnected. A couple of years ago, I reconnected with family from the Ft. Kent area that we used to visit when I was a child. The memories are so very grand and to this day, this family is so loving and inspirational. My mom tells me that when I was a child, I used to be able to pin point to the day when the Theriault family would visit, more specifically I used to say..."mommy Laurie's coming to visit"...sure enough within the next day or two Laurie and her parents Norm and Pat would show up. There is certainly a connection there between us and showing up at her house after thirty years or more of not seeing each other, it was like we hadn't missed a single moment. (Thank You, Laurie!)

 After 30+ years I am reunited with my amazing cousin Laurie, who loves to ride sleds as much as I do, but she definitely rides much better than me!

Sunset from a 'little piece of heaven' - Cross Lake, Maine

After two glorious days of riding in 'The County' at the tippity top of the state of Maine, I drove south and on my way home I stopped in the Baxter State Park area for another ride. I planned to make the trip up through the park tote road to the North entrance. After some cooling issues with the machine due to the firm trails and poor lube for the sliders, I headed into the State Park. Along the way, I saw several groups of climbers who appeared to be headed in to Chimney Pond, some waved in excitement and kindness, but unfortunately, one guy I saw out solo skiing, gave me a real nasty look when I waved hello as I passed him very respectfully. I kind of shrugged it off because I knew he was pissed to see me on a snowmobile. I had to laugh to myself and think, if he only knew me, he would maybe understand, but honestly it didn't bother me. The rest of the ride up through the park was actually really nice and I didn't see a soul or machine until I hit the ITS trails way north. That park road thought was fifty miles of ungroomed and a lot of whoop de doo's! 

My mental plan turned North and West instead of South and East when I changed course as I envisioned this could be the last ride of the year, so after leaving the state park, I headed up to Libby Camps for some amazing food and fuel for the machine.

Libby's opened this winter for snowmobilers and the folks there are incredibly nice and have a beautiful spot on Millinocket Lake. I was hungry and pressed for time, so I ate, fueled up, then headed out across the lake and into the Allagash. I knew the trails in this direction had been ridden hard all winter and that the ice on the lakes was +3 feet thick, so traveling alone, I was able to minimize the objective hazards and make a go of it. Traveling alone, on a snowmobile you ask? Yeah, I had days of food supply and plenty of outdoor equipment to keep me comfortable for a very long time through potentially some pretty miserable conditions, which I didn't need to use, but be comforted knowing I was fully prepared for anything to happen. After 9 hours and 210 solo miles though, I was ready to be done when I arrived back at the car. What a rip that was!

Wa What...Done sleddin' for the season? No freakin way dudes and chicks! My snowmachine buddy Andy and I rallied our mutual friend Kevin for one more weekend of throttling through the forest. You might remember from my reports last year the three of us ripped out 500+ miles in three days, so I knew this would be a good adventure. This season I had hit all my goals to date on the sled, but one more was looming, only to go down on this very trip, another ascent of Coburn Mountain!

Team Blue on the summit of Coburn Mountain.

What a rush it was going up this one, high winds, 3-4 foot drifts from some fresh snow overnight made for some very steep and deep riding. My Yamaha Nytro XTX 144 inch track handled it without issue. There were no good views as you can gather from the photo above, but that's how the cookie crumbles in the mountains, sometime you see them, sometimes you don't. We ended up ripping up to Jackman for fuel, then over to Pittston Farms for lunch and continuing on for another big loop around Moosehead Lake, then back to the Forks where we were staying at Northern Outdoors. Great food, accommodations and snowmobile trails. Our second day and warm temps meant that this would surely be the last riding of the season, but not before hitting some amazingly STEEP and DEEP logging cuts off trail around Moxie Mountain area on the Northern Outdoors/Forks area maintained trail system. That was wicked good fun. I'm definitely going to seek out more of this type of terrain and riding next winter.

Below is our ride, the little dog legs out and back are where we rode up the logging cuts

Steph and I also did some amazing skiing this past winter, one of the best days of the season was blowing off work for a powder day at Bretton Woods. Steph's really coming into her own with DH skiing, so it's really getting fun now. She's skiing powder, moderates, steeps and doing it all really well, with some amazing style and control. She's a natural!

We also skied a really amazing day at Saddleback (our favorite ski area)
Here's a couple of pics from that day.

 Made the obligatory stop at the 'Sneaky Pete' sign and skied the trail a few times.

That smile really says it all...

So what's happening right now with spring in full bloom? Well lots of rolling on bicycle wheels. I'm just below a thousand miles on the bike, combined mountain and road, having my biggest mileage week last week at 185 miles. Steph and I rode with our friends Matthew and Olivia last Sunday up in the White Mountains. Matthew promised a bunch of uphill miles and he did not disappoint. We started in Jackson, NH and did a short loop up the now infamous Switchback Road loop, over and just below Black Mountain Ski Area, then back through downtown Jackson heading North and West toward Bear Notch road. After a quick flat repair, we were ascending Bear Notch and I jumped my pace up to get a nice personal best time up the climb. Matthew said we were pushing 400 watts of power for a long time. Before too long though, he passed me and I tried to chase him up, but he was on his game. A quick rally at the top and we were headed down, continuing to our next climb of the day, The Kancamagus! This one is so nice and Steph had just done the Crank the Kanc time trial hill climb up the Kanc the day before, so she was feeling strong. I held just below the limit, but slightly on the conservative side, as I really wanted to do well on the return climb up Kancamagus Pass from the Lincoln side. 

Ride bikes to the top of mountain passes!

Another rally of all the troops at the top and down we go into Lincoln for a little lunchie! The descent in to Lincoln felt longer than I remembered since there was a decent head wind, but we arrived safe and sound at the Half Baked Fully Brewed Cafe. We all grabbed our fuel of choice, which for me, was a small cup of coffee and an everything bagel with cream cheese. That bagel was quickly absorbed into my system and the coffee lit a fire under me. When we mounted the bikes to head back, I quickly broke from the group and hit it hard. I absolutely love the climb up the Kanc from Lincoln and on this day, I was primed for a good time on the ride up. While I rode, I would look back for any signs of my riding companions and after a good 10 miles, on the steeper slopes of the climb, Matthew appeared in my view. I began to fear him catching me, so I made a few strong stand-up accelerations and secured a little more time between us. I arrived at the top of the pass only 30-45 seconds ahead, but I felt strong on the climb, actually, exactly right where I want to be with fitness right now. 

The lovely Queens, Steph and Olivia arriving at the top, they had a good ride together all the way up with plenty of single file and chatting. 

Here's a link to that bike ride on Strava - good times with good people. 8 wheels a rollin'.

Hey, thanks for reading this blog post...Ride on!
More later...I promise!