Adirondacks Cycling Adventure

I’m just back from a five day self-supported cycling and camping adventure in the Adirondacks. And I know, I know I have better topics to write about–the whole Tropic Thunder disgusting mess and the related “R-word Campaign,” about which I have many opinions–and more pressing projects to work on–writing a syllabus for the Trans Identities class I’m teaching starting in three weeks–but I just want to write about pedaling today.

As a side note, this of course has very little connection to the main topics of my blog–writing, disability, queerness, trans identity, and social justice–except there is a tangent. I cycled hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles on the back roads of Oregon when I was a teenager. I was more or less inseparable from first my single speed upright bike and then my Schwinn ten speed. But when I moved to Portland to go to college, I left my Schwinn behind because I knew my cerebral-palsy-tippy balance wasn’t good enough to safely navigate city streets. Now 25 years later I have a recumbent trike, dubbed the Red Crab, and once again I’m riding the back roads, practically inseparable from the sheer pleasure and motion of pedaling. So I could stretch and say that I’m writing about crip recreation.

Anyway my sweetie Samuel and I have been on several multi-day rides (read about cycling in Oregon and around the northern part of Lake Champlain part 1 and part 2) but never a camping trip where we carried all our gear.

The biggest surprise was how friggin hard the hills were on a trike loaded with 40 pounds of clothes, food, sleeping bag and pad, tent, and sundries. I was huffing and puffing, particularly because our loop took us 80 miles into the Adirondaks, so we had a lot of climbing in the first two days and a lot of descent in our fourth day.

The wackiest campground was Poke-a-Moonshine, a state park that’s squeezed between Interstate 87 and the massive miles-long cliff face of Pokamoonshine Mountain. It had some attributes of a great campground–almost empty, great hot showers, a campsite shielded by a 20 foot high boulder, an easy trail up to the cliff face–and attributes of a lousy campground–freeway noise all night, a park ranger mowing grass for hours near our campsite, mosquitoes galore. At some point I woke up in the night all worried about raccoons and our food until the freeway noise reminded me that of the two problems–coons potentially eating a day-and-a-half worth of food (didn’t happen) and carbon-emitting, planet-destroying vehicles roaring by in astounding numbers even at 2 a.m.–only one (the latter) really warranted worry, and then I fell asleep again.

The best road was a paved logging road called Forestdale–quiet, green, rolling, no traffic–perfect.

The most notable vehicle was the dump truck parked in a ditch, thistle, chickory, and grass grown high around it.

The biggest adventure was when the paved Stracksville Road turned into hard-packed sand and stone, went straight up for a mile, descended a bit, turned softer, then turned to an impassable two-track. We backtracked, took another marginally passable two-track, on a hope and crossed fingers, to avoid a long sandy descent, and two hours and six miles later we were back at the point where we turned on to Stracksville. It was an adventure and demoralizing. I got reminded about how much of long distance, endurance activity–hiking, running, cycling–is mental, how I can psych myself in or out, have fun or be miserable on the same road with the same legs and same weather just depending upon my state of mind.

And the many moments of joy: fresh pumpkin pie, sweet peaches, loons on Buck Pond, rolling along side the Ausable River, dipping my head into an unnamed creek, watching the moon rise over Lake Champlain, sleeping deep in a cocoon of a tent with my sweetie, feeling my quads and gluts work the miles, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream at a Mobil Station in Peaseville, swimming in Buck Pond and Lake Champlain. It was good.

Brooks said,

August 22, 2008 @ 8:33 am

That sounds like an amazing adventure…. I was just thru-hiking the Northville-Placid Trail in the ADKs – but I think that you biked a loop around me!

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