Heading to Maine
A leisurely drive from Indiana through Ohio, West Virginia, and into Pennsylvania brought me to Bald Eagle State Park for a night of camping and a morning of gravel riding. The ridge and valley geography made for spectacular climbing and a pretty neat morning view.
From Pennsylvania I headed north to Cooperstown for an excellent Fourth of July with the family. Riding the roads in farm country was as beautiful as the Windows XP background (you know the one I’m talking about), with the extra bonus of being real life. Plus, having company for some rides meant the scenery could have been hideous and I still would have loved it!
I made it home to Camden along with some beautiful summer weather. Never having explored fully the terrain in my own back yard, it was great to find some new places. Dad even finally showed me Elephant’s Head (after enduring a fun little bushwhacking in the area).
Toughening Rugged Road Style
After a couple weeks riding, running, hiking, and swimming around Maine I was off again to meet up with the Rugged Road for team training in Vermont. We had signed up for the Bitter Pill Adventure Race in Bolton Valley without ever having met, so we figured it might be a good idea to do that before racing together.
On Friday evening, we jumped in a canoe for a short jaunt around Curtis Pond in Maple Corner. Though Thorin and I were at ease in the back and the front of the boat, respectively, Lance’s knees were not so thrilled with the seating options in the middle. Kneeling at the bottom of the boat. A makeshift middle seat was deemed necessary for the race.
Saturday took us to Burke Mountain and Kingdom Trails for some group riding. We met up with a couple of Thorin’s college buddies and rode until our legs said no more. (Well, to be honest, my legs had said no more long before we stopped. A final ride up Moose Alley brought a private meltdown or two; but we all survived to take a soak in the Passumsic River.)
On Sunday, we tested our team navigational skills on an improvised route around Burke Mountain. Delighted to find all the features right where we expected them, we wrapped up the weekend with a little strategizing for the race to come. On the list of needs were a new seat for the middle of the canoe and tow systems for running and riding (because I am decidedly slower than my speedy new teammates).
Maine Summer Adventure Race
As a fun summer adventure, Dad and I signed up for the Maine Summer Adventure Race. After some cajoling, I managed to convince him that he was more than capable of completing the 8 hour race. And I was right!
The day started out with a quick on-foot orienteering section to separate the group. We got a bit turned around for the second CP; but we once we were sorting it was quick moving onto our bikes. A novel set of location trivia questions along the road (do you know how much it cost to build the Jefferson Cattle Pound?) brought us to a boat put-in on Damariscotta Lake.
A long paddling section in a unwieldy double canoe was a low point for team Two Dozen Dozens. Though I think any day outside is a good day, Dad wasn’t so much in agreement as our second hour on the water rolled into a third. While the paddling was pretty successful in terms of CPs, it was nice to be back on our bikes and “on to the fun stuff.”
We rounded out the day with some trail riding (“finally”) and some tricky orienteering. Who knew having so many trails and so few mountainous features could be so difficult? With smiles and some relief, we finished with 6 minutes to spare. I think Dad will even race again. Right, Dad?
First 4,000 Footers
Before heading to Vermont for the Bitter Pill, Mom treated me to an overnight in the AMC Mitzpah Spring Hut. We started at the Crawford Depot and took the Crawford Path up towards Mt. Pierce. Along the way we passed crew packing out trash fro the Mitzpah Hut. The hike only took an hour or so, and I wasn’t quite ready to call it a day. After some cajoling, mom okayed hiking out and back across the ridge to Mt. Eisenhower before summiting Pierce on the way to the hut.
A delicious meal, a cozy bunk, and an early sleep were welcome features of our night at the Mitzpah Hut. In the morning, we quickly head out just after breakfast and are greeted with a gorgeous, empty trail. It’s a spectacular, crisp morning on the AT. We take stock of the views from Mt. Jackson and Mt. Webster and then head back down to the Crawford Depot. We get back to our cars at about lunchtime after a spectacular 24 hours with my first three 4,000 foot peaks!
Early August arrived at it was time for our Rugged Road team to test our toughness at the 12-hour Bitter Pill. The night before the race we checked in, dropped off our bikes, and took our requisite silly picture.
We arrived on the morning of race day and were promptly shuttled to Waterbury for the race start. Just as the sun was adding color back to the world, we began with a portage down to the Winooski River. We were first onto the water and, with a makeshift middle seat constructed from webbing and roof rack clips, we were sitting pretty. Though three hours of river paddling on a low river is tough work, we were fortunate to have an agile Lance in the center of our boat to pull us through rocky shallows and snag CPs along the way.
Once off the water and onto the bike we made more gains and were quickly out of sight of everybody. With smooth sailing through CPs on a tough section of hike-a-bike climbing, we were cautiously optimistic about our chances for the rest of the day.
And then we were met with some seriously tough on-foot orienteering. With thousands of feet of steep climbing and conflicting navigational strategies, the first two hours on foot could best be described as dismal. Eventually, we found our groove by ditching land navigation in favor of pure straight line bearing. Stressed about time, we picked up the pace and ran like plodding elephants through the woods.
Back onto our bikes, we were left with an uphill ride to the Bolton Valley lodge. Along the way we grabbed the last two mandatory CPs and considered adding on the final time bonuses. Figuring we still had a hearty time lead (with the aid of Lance’s towing of me and my weary riding legs) we ditched the time bonuses in favor of a fast finish. Unfortunately, this gamble did not pay off with a full race win; but we did do well enough to clinch the $400 coed premier division sponsorship berth to USARA Nationals in October.
Back in Maine, blueberries were hitting their peak ripeness. As a result, my training runs turned exclusively uphill so I could end at the top of the Camden Snow Bowl or Bald Mountain and fill my tupperware tubs with berries.
My time in Maine ended with a new 29er replacing my old, beat up 26 inch Jamis. A big shout out to Brian at Sidecountry Sports for making such a sweet ride possible. Now all I want to do is crush hills all day.
As a crowning achievement of the summer, I finished a self-supported ironman.
Swim (77 laps on a meter pool): 1:06
Bike (111 miles out to Clay City and back): 7:38
Run (26.2 miles): 4:42
Transitions and other route delays: 1:06
Now it’s recuperating and resting before USARA Nationals next week!