Monday, July 2, 2007

Lock Haven 2007—The Route

Several people have asked me how I’m getting there, so here’s what I’ve planned.

Day 1: Wayfarer House, MA to Great Barrington, MA—65 miles (105km). The first half of this route I’ve travelled before, and it poses no special challenges. The second half has a long, but gradual climb into the Berkshires with some expected steeper climbs around the ski areas between Otis and Great Barrington. You’ll notice that there are not many roads on the map where I’ve drawn lines. That’s because most of them are tertiary roads. The thing about this part of the route is that there is not truly direct route from start to finish. All the good roads run north/south, so moving laterally requires using back roads, the quality of which are always in question. I know which roads to take down as far as Northampton (I can get to Gardner State Park on roads with decent asphalt), but I have no idea what the roads are like after that. The bike clubs here have very little intelligence on them, so I’m winging it a little. I’m staying right in downtown Great Barrington, which should afford easy access to fireworks and food in the evening.

Day 2: Great Barrington to Kingston, NY—50 miles (80km). This route is the shortest of the lot because the next day takes me through the Pokono mountain range, and I want my legs to be as fresh as they can be to climb those hills. My path takes me through mostly open farm country in upstate New York, where the hills roll gently and the views go for miles. There are only occasional towns along the route I’m following, so I’ll need to make sure I’m loaded well with food, and I’ll want to fill up with water every chance I get. The biggest challenge of this day’s ride comes once I reach Kingston. I have to cross the bridge to get over the Hudson. This section of road is not bike-friendly, so I have to be alert, and I have to negotiate a ramp exit so I can get to Rt 32, which takes me into town. That’s where the urban riding skills come into play. I investigated several options that would take me around Kingston, but none of them put me easily where I need to be on the other side of town, so I decided to just bite it and ride through. Even so, I can’t get to Rt. 28 directly. I have to skirt the center of town (the roads there are 4-lane, and bikes are prohibited) and ride side streets, zigging and zagging, until I come out past my hotel, then I have to backtrack a mile or so. If I have any mechanical issues, this is where I’ll solve them. There’s not another bike shop for two days.

Day 3: Kingston, NY to Hancock, NY—65 miles (105km). This is where the fun starts! I haven’t climbed serious hills in more than 15 years and, while I believe I am prepared for these, one never really knows until one gets to them just how the body will do. I’m going into this with very little advance information about elevation changes and road conditions, so it promises to be a day full of mystery and surprise. If it wants to rain a little on the uphill parts to keep things cool, that’d be ok. The route on this day takes me by several reservoirs (I even get to cross a dam), and the scenery is expected to be spectacular. This is also the day where my family catches up to me. We’re staying at a small hotel off my planned route by several miles. Whether I go to the hotel directly or wait for them in Hancock will depend on how I feel.

Day 4: Hancock, NY to Montrose, PA—55 miles (90km). As the crow flies, the distance between these towns is only about 32 miles (52km) but, as on Day 1, there’s no good direct route. I’ve been researching a possible shortcut, but I may end up just sticking to the established route. I’ll ask locals once I get some distance past Hancock. They can tell me if the side roads are asphalt and passable with a road bike. The mountains become hills again, and the ride should be smooth if my legs have survived the day before. This is a part of the world I have never even driven through, however, so I have no idea what the scenery will be like. The hotel is in Hallstead, about 10 miles off the path.

Day 5: Montrose, PA to Hillsgrove, PA—70 miles (115km). This is the longest, but supposedly smoothest, day of the trip. There are no major elevation changes, and the roads are expected to be good the whole way. I had hoped to do the distance from Montrose to Lock Haven in a single day, but that’s around 110 miles (175km) and I was not convinced I’d make it. I may go further than Hillsgrove, though, since it doesn’t really matter where I stop at this point. The hotel where we’ll be staying is in Williamsport, so my family can come pick me up and drop me off wherever I end up stopping.

Day 6: Hillsgrove, PA to Lock Haven, PA—45 miles (70km). The last day of riding is also the shortest. I’m hoping to get into Lock Haven early, so I can stop by the registrar’s office and pick up my diploma (yay!) and arrange to visit my professors. I also want to explore the campus a bit. Everything I’ve seen of Lock Haven suggests that it is a beautiful place! I really have no idea what I’ll do once I’ve met everyone and taken care of the actual business I have there. If I’ve actually ridden the distance, I may just stand there for a while and bask in the sense of accomplishment. Maybe I’ll go find a pipe shop (more on that in another post).
So, there it is! What do you think?

No comments: