GMSR 2008: Images from the day 3 finish

A Louis Garneau rider shows the strain of the sprint at the top of the Gap.

Today was a great day for racing as the weather gods cooperated and it was pleasantly cool and breezy. The organizers of this event (in a small way, I guess I am included in this grouping) have enough practice at running the show, that things come together quite smoothly now -- knock on wood -- I'll be working at the Criterium on Monday.

I took a lot photos with my Pentax K100DS and an inexpensive Tamron telephoto lens. The mostly sunny conditions made for good photo opportunities even though there was a brisk wind blowing that did kick up clouds of camera-clogging dust on occasion. I saw lots of DSLRs at this event (including some pro photographers from the ski resorts with some seriously long lenses) but I think I had the only Pentax... it really is a niche brand. I have lots of images to sort through but here are few that I found that came out passably.

This finish is a very theatrical -- even 'operatic' -- venue, featuring a very twisty mountain road that finishes with a 500 meter 20% pitch, and a good percentage of the finale is visible to spectators. There are cliffs and a drop off to a little pond and the Adirondacks are visible off in the distance: Maybe next year, instead of playing pop music as usual, Al Atwood should bring some Wagner CDs, the Ring Cycle wouldn't be too far out of place in such a setting.

Eneas Freyre of Targetraining gets the win in the mens' P12 race on top of Applachian Gap.

Dan Cassidy, riding for CCB, finished a close 2nd on the day. He was one of several competitors racing with UVM cycling connections.

The P12 race leader struggles to minimize the time gaps at the top.

Josh Dillon, coming back from a severe mountain biking injury, had a good ride and got some encouragement near the finish.

A Hot Tubes rider paperboys across the grade in the Jrs race -- which he won.

Team Webcor from California dominated the women's race.

Katheryn Curi Mattis, another rider with UVM connections, in the leader's jersey.

Chasing the two Webcor teammates.

Looking very fresh at the end as Al Atwood conducts an interview. I will post more images from other categories later this week.


2008 GMSR starts today

Green Mountain Stage Race Sept. 07 from JG on Vimeo.

The 2008 edition of the Green Mountain Stage Race starts today, this year's race has many changes, some planned in advance (the race is now scored on time, and an individual time trial has been added) and some dictated by circumstance -- Vermont's collapsing infrastructure, and damage to mountain roads caused by the very wet summer. Unlike past years I won't be around at any of the stages except for the criterium on Monday in Burlington, where I'll be working, so I won't be taking photos or videos like at last year's event.

Sometimes when I'm riding to work in the morning, my mind is pretty empty, and I drift back to my days of ineffectively racing a bike -- and consider the idea of training regularly, and pinning on race numbers again -- but usually this is just a passing idle thought as I chug up Route 100 on my way into Stowe. I think that there are too many other things going on in my life at this point in time to put on blinders and and adopt the singleminded commitment that racing on the road requires. Also, in this era of relatively expensive gas the idea of driving regularly to southern New England is not appealing. So I think that I will be content with maintaining some small modicum of fitness and amusing myself with a variety of outdoor activities.

I hope the event runs smoothly and safely -- Saturday's race will be run on an entirely new course, and Sunday's race ventures onto busy Route 7 by Middlebury -- so I hope that there are no bad car-racer interactions -- or incidents of any kind.


900 miles

From the sublime (as long as one doesn't try to earn a living here) --
--to the ridiculous...but the more clement weather and the idea of lower taxes down South is sometimes appealing.

I will be leaving Sunday morning on a long strange road trip to Wilmington, NC, helping my mother move to her new home -- she retired from her job, and is tired of the long drawn-out Vermont winters.

This experience promises to be somewhat bizarre and stressful but it will be nice to get away from my job for awhile and hopefully spend some time at the ocean. I'll bring my cameras and will try and get some images of southern landmarks like fireworks stands, pawn shops, Stuckey's, Waffle Houses... etc. Some really remarkable photos of the area close to where I will be can be seen here.

The fact that I will no longer have any family living in Vermont, and my growing sense of looming economic catastrophe in this state -- if I had to try and find a job here, today, I don't know what I would do... -- means that for the first time in quite a while, the idea of relocating is somewhat on my mind. But that has its own issues as well.


Eating very local

I have nurtured tomato plants all summer long -- it hasn't been a great growing season, local farmers are suffering from too much rain -- and now, finally, there are signs that the current very wet weather pattern may be breaking, so perhaps the tomatoes will finally ripen. This has been a summer with a distinct paucity of warm, dry days.

Of course, now that there might be something of a harvest, I won't be around to enjoy it. We are leaving shortly on a 10 day working vacation, helping my mother move to North Carolina. The plants will be turned over to the somewhat indifferent care of my neighbors in my absence.

Blackberries are a summer indulgence, and there's nothing new under the sun: One of my first blog posts after I moved to Waterbury dealt with this monumental subject.


Somewhere over the

... rainbow. The view out my backyard this evening, two images stitched together with hugin.


The northern (rain) forest & clouds moving in

Clouds & more rain moving in, 08/10/08 from JG on Vimeo.
Despite the ominous atmosphere of this short clip, this weekend actually turned out much nicer than forecast, with Saturday being a great day and most of Sunday being quite dry. I will be traveling next week so I took advantage of a lack of commitments to get up very early (4:30 am) so as too be able to start hiking at 5:45 am by the reservoir.

This image does not convey how wet things are in the woods: It's like a rain forest, with water running everywhere, the understory is covered in ferns and other succulents, and a pervasive muddy, humid stickyness, even in the 'dry' spots of on the trail.

I was in the woods so early because dawn/early morning is probably the best time of day to see wildlife. As I was hiking in through the foggy early morning light, I saw some deer feeding (nothing too unusual in that); then a humming bird was feeding very close to me as a picked my way through a clearing overgrown with honeysuckle, and then I came upon three bull moose feeding in an old clearcut. I wasn't able to get any photos of the moose encounter because this was at about 6:45 am and it was still quite dark in the woods. Also I don't know if these moose were agitated before I showed up or if my presence disturbed them, because they moved off in a hurry, charging loudly through the woods.

With all the rain and the succession of damp sunless days, the woods are full of strange mushrooms and fungi, a mycological wonderland.

It's not too visible in this image but there is the track of what I think is a bobcat (or a catamount? -- the print is not canine) -- I tried to heighten the contrast to make it more evident. The thing about this print was, that I saw it as I was hiking out, and it was very fresh. I don't think it was there as I hiked in... meaning the cat came out after I went by the first time. Bobcats are very reclusive so it would be more exciting than scary to encounter one. But that's my boot print as a size comparison (roughly 8 1/2 men's shoe), so this was a pretty good sized animal.

I will try some variations of this hike in the fall before the start of hunting season, as the days get shorter, getting into the woods at dawn becomes relatively easier. I have looked for bear sign on my hikes but haven't seen any recently... I need to start scoping out some beech stands, beech nuts are big source of food for the bears (so I have read) in the fall.


Pepper harvest

Despite the amazingly sodden summer that Vermont is currently experiencing, I have nutured my pepper plants and they have born fruit. Being by nature lazy, I prepared these on the grill (on a sheet of aluminum foil) so there was no mess to clean up afterwards. The tomato plants are coming along slowly, I think that they would prefer some hot, muggy summer days instead of the constant -- the weather really is ridiculous, and quite demoralizing -- rain.


I was briefly suspended

Some images of bike bling from the Waterbury Mountain Bike Festival that was held in mid-July. If nothing else these photos do prove that for at least on one summer Saturday the sun did shine in Vermont.

Demo bikes from Niner gave people (like myself) with less than state of art rides a chance to try out something new.

It would take some serious grinta to use this single speed as an everyday trail riding rig around here -- I thought I had limited gearing choices on my Redline with its 1x9 gearing.

I did try out this 'all mountain' or 'trail' bike -- designed for trashing around on trails, not a cross-country race bike, nor a full-on downhill rig. The first thing I noticed was how much easier it was to climb with a 'normal' 27 speed drive train. I spun up to the top of the trail network in the granny gear and it was much easier than what I am used to.

Descending, as promised, was also much more comfortable and controllable than on my rigid bike. Also Perry Hill has some rock sections with drop offs that are very tricky and dangerous on my current ride, on the fully suspended rig I (with a distinct lack of skills at this sort of thing) could just pick some barely legit line and throw the bike off the edge... and the suspension would absorb the shock without complaint.

I could see buying a more fully featured bike because there are lots of places to ride around here but the bad economy is starting to show up and I am inclined to be cautious with spending. Also the recent moonson like weather (12+ inches of rain fell on Mt. Mansfield in July) has closed the trails and left things very wet -- and the forecast for the next five days is for intermittent but persistent showers...



Taken on Saturday during a break in the almost unceasing rain, more images of flowers and insects here. I'm enjoying my new Sigma 17x70 lens with its macro capablity... but it does make me wish for something that would get me a little closer.