Monday, August 4, 2008

Velophoria Incident Report

Apologies to all for my prolonged absence from these pages. First it was job searching, then it was long-distance apartment searching (my wife and I are moving to another part of the state), and finally, we took a week-long camping trip to Acadia National Park, in Maine. Hence the inexcusably long two-and-a-half week lag between posts.

For reasons too hard to explain (and I still don't completely understand them myself), I couldn't take my bike to Acadia. I missed it terribly. For the first few days, every single time I saw any kind of bike whatsoever, I had the worst pangs you could imagine. Bear in mind, one sees a lot of bikes in Acadia during July. On day four or so, my wife got weary of my pining and kindly bundled me off to the highest-end bike rental place we could find, shelled out an obscene amount of money (for a decent entry-level mountain bike), and I rode off, map in hand, to find the most challenging trail on the island. (It was weird spending money to ride someone else’s bike. I’ll try to never do that again.)

There is no off-road riding allowed in the Park, for obvious reasons, but they do have excellent carriage roads designed by none other than John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who had a pied-a-terre in the area, and was a horse-and-carriage fanatic. He loved landscape architecture, as well – learned it from his daddy – and by all accounts, lavished quite a lot of his time and energies supervising the construction of these paths. They're laid with large gravel, and offer a relatively even surface -- which presents a small, pleasing technical challenge on extra-fast descents.

Now, don’t kid yourself thinking that rich-boy carriage trails are all a walk in the park. Most of them are flat-to-rolling, but the Around the Mountain trail does gain quite a bit of altitude on a very long, constant grade with little let-up. It loops around six mountains, passes three gorgeous waterfalls, and has inspiring views of mountains, lakes, harbors and ocean. You really can’t ask for more. I looped that in with a bunch of other trails and some road riding back to my campground, and ended up with roughly 23 miles of riding (I didn’t have an odometer on my rented bike to get a specific distance).

I got caught in a thunderstorm of biblical proportions during the last third of this ride, which devolved into nearly an hour of pedaling in torrential rain and blinding wind. I’ve never seen more fickle weather than on Mount Desert Island, the home of Acadia. The weather was sparkling for most of the ride, and the clouds moved in so quickly I didn’t even notice them until the heavens opened up. This was common during our stay, though we were lucky, with mostly pleasant days. The hiking was just as good as the biking, and there were plentiful other pleasures to enjoy.

So rest assured: Though I may be absent from the pages of Velophoria, I am nevertheless always in search of velophoria. And if you seek such yourself, you could do no better than to hie thee to glorious Acadia National Park.

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