Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Riding the Mt Desert Island carriage trails

Today we needed to be in Bangor in the morning so we decided to take the trikes down to Acadia National Park afterwards. We’ve been to the park before but never on the carriage trails so we asked at the ranger office which loop had the least climb, the response was the Jordan Pond loop and going CCW offered less steepness but longer climbs. Just driving through Acadia is a joy, you can hardly turn your head without seeing another spectacular view. It was a clear day so there were more long views than you could shake a stick at.
The carriage trails are a crushed gravel, chip stone, surface so lack of suspension in the trikes is obvious. But they are smooth enough at slower speeds. The ranger had recommended at least a hybrid bike but our trikes with 1.5 inch wide road tires had no problem but then we don’t have to worry about balancing . On some of the steeper climbs I could feel the rear tire slipping a little and could see Donna’s tire slip. I think if I were riding these trails routinely I’d opt for the widest tire with more grip and less pressure.
Much of the loop is just wooded and just as boredom starts to set in we’re treated to views of Bubble Pond. Next came Eagle Lake views and riding very close to it’s crystal clear water. Then we turned south to Jordan Pond. By this time we had been climbing for what seemed like most of the ride, the result was that our first views of Jordan Pond we were a hundred feet above. These last 2 miles we’re a pretty easy coast mostly back down to the Jordan Pond parking area. On this coast I hit my max of the day 19.5-mph. There were other areas that had steeper descents but rough trail, blind corners, other bikes, horses, and horse drawn carts kept the speed down.
No pictures though, left the camera at home. Just gives us another excuse to go back. We’re looking forward to exploring other trails and from the wiggles on the map they look to have serious climbing involved.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

First Ride in Maine, a little hilly compared to Florida:)

Today the big event was a 5.21 mile tike ride. We’ve been working on the house and more than a little afraid of the local hills so that here we are three weeks later and no rides. But today it’s Sunday the weather can’t be any better, a sunny, mild light breeze, and my belly is full, bacon and eggs. There are just no more excuses, so I finally decided to see if I could even get to the road down our driveway.  Our driveway is U shaped in elevation and gravel so it was questionable if the narrow tires would give enough grip to climb out. In short, yes I can, slowly, very slowly. Speed must be kept down due to the roughness and greatly increased braking distance. Once I successfully crossed the Rubicon (small creek our driveway crosses) I turned right on Belfast Rd, towards the roads namesake. An easy peddle over the crest (we’re near the peak of this ridge crossing) then start gaining real speed on the descent but I wanted to turn left on Suitor Rd which is only about a 200 yards down. Hit the brakes and something is wrong. I slow but there are other sounds and a pull to the right. I aim for the right shoulder where there is a wide spot. As I slow to a stop I release the brakes and the right one still is engaged. I too busy aiming and can’t look at the wheel/brake but I can note that something visible isn’t right. Once stopped it’s quickly obvious the problem, the right wheel quick release has released and is missing and the axle is partially out of the hub. This is not good, as in it couldn't be ridden. So now starts the search for the wayward parts. I figured that the inner axle support had to be within 50ft since the wheel will not roll properly and it was rolling fine until I started braking. Sure enough I found the axel support after 10 minutes on the roadside. But where was the quick release? Another 30 minutes search of the length of road from where I found the support and up but nothing. I decide to head home pushing the trike, the axle support will stay in for a little while so every 50ft or so I need to pick it up and reinstall.  I learned that pushing a tike is a pain since it’s so low. Luckily I had some light string that I tied to the handle bars and made towing very easy, note to self always carry tow string. Once I turned down the driveway I wondered if the quick release could have come out this far back so I kept looking as I walked and low and behold there it was about halfway to the house. I guess with weight in the trike the axle support will stay in place until some side load comes along.

Ok that event was not a 5 mile ride, more like 0.5 mile ride the 0.5 mile walk. Now I proceeded to do what I should have done before, check every quick release, the other axle was loose also, and adjust brakes. Now I was really ready for a ride.

I only averaged about 6.4 mph but to give you an idea of the hills I hit 40 mph on a hill I climbed earlier when returning and I had braked nearly halfway down and only then let the trike coast out. This series of hills are going to be a great workout routine. On exiting the driveway turn right towards Belfast after cresting the hill coast down to Suitor Rd and climb it’s first hill. The next descent gives enough energy to almost make the next climb on a coast. At the end of this road comes the real climb, turning left on Old County Rd. This has to be in the top 5 steepest hills I’ve ever done. Had to stop three times before making the peak but the view is spectacular. Those distant mountains in the picture are at least 20 miles away. I’m at about 1000 ft above sea level which is only 250 ft higher than our house. But I’m sure I’ve climbed at least 500 ft by this point. I turned around instead of going to Knox Center, I was already beat and going forward would have been more climbs than just turning around. The only hill I had to walk was on our driveway. The last section is too loose and my small tire just spins. 

I’ve already decided my next big goal will be to ride from Belfast at the sea level to that peak.