Today was the first day the wonderful Apple Hills (a farm with a country store & cafe and fantastic you-pick fruits) was open for picking strawberries. I resolved this morning to ride the velo up there, despite knowing the horrible hills that awaited me.
Using the handy GeoContextProfiler, I learned just what I rode today (as the crow flies).
The biggest trouble was that the front shifter refused to hit the granny gear. Seriously. At one point, it got bad enough that I got out and moved it with my hands. The problem, of course, is that the landscape doesn't just go up, it's full of dips. So if I'm stuck in the teeniest cog up front, I can't make as much use of the downhills before I hit the next big climb. Seems like a trip to Chenango Point Cycles might be in order again. Nobody likes getting up a hill by pushing the pedals forward a half turn, hitting the brakes, then spinning back to shove them forward half a turn again. Ugh.
Here's my "why do I do this to myself?" face.
Still, I got to pick just over a pound of fresh, sweet strawberries and enjoy a tasty lunch of Buffalo chicken soup and a chicken fontina panini on the porch (and snagged some powdered donuts and a super-soft, super-huge molasses cookie to boot). And heck, the views are pretty glorious, too.
And of course, there's the ride home. See, rather than taking Dimmock Hill back, which would be more downhill than not but would still involve some grueling climbs, I take county route 104 (Chenango West Rd) down to 11 South then skim along the relatively flat loop back to the velo's home. And when I say take that road down, I mean take it down. I'm convinced my cheeks may have been flapping today as I flew along the shoulder around 50 mph with no pedaling. And that lasts at least four miles. Glorious. It's enough to make you forget the moments when you curse under your breath as you slam into the pedals in a desperate attempt to creep up a hill more slowly than a tortoise with a walker and bad knees.
Once again, someone accosted me about getting a flag. The woman was friendly enough, of course, but she kept saying "Those roads are kind of narrow. You should really get a flag." I'm not sure how a bit of orange plastic flapping well above my head would widen the asphalt, but I've actually had a flag in my car for a while, and figured today was a good day to finally suck it up and install it.
You see, I'd purchased a flag pretty soon after moving the velo to Binghamton. The drivers here are often less than attentive. But, I velcroed it onto the side of the velo, and it lasted maybe two rides. When I asked the guys at the bike shop for recommendations, they said, you'll have to drill a hole. So, about a month ago I bought another flag, and today I finally bit the bullet and drilled into the body of the beloved velo. It didn't go too badly, actually, except that I couldn't find my drill bits and had only the tiniest one, which didn't appreciate being used to widen the hole, causing the drill to quit working entirely just shy of me being able to slide the flag in. Thankfully, the owner of the house who allows me garage space popped out and offered me his own power drill, complete with reasonably-sized bits. So, now I have a flag. And man, does it look stupid.
Tune in for future posts, including a Ride for Roswell report, the story of How the Velo Moved Across the Country, and adventures in velomobiling in Southern California! That's right. Somebody finally finished her doctorate and will be moving to a tenure-track position in Irvine, California. Exciting adventures await us.