Monday, October 15, 2012


I've commented before on my love of the Italian term, "sprezzatura" defined as a "studied carelessness" or something like "making the difficult look easy". Like the guy who carefully arranges his hair to look like he just got out of bed, and looks good doing it. I might be wrong but I think in the cycling world it's occasionally used as the Italian version of the French, "souplesse" which refers to that cyclist who possesses a smooth yet strong cadence and style. A natural athlete for whom his or her sport just doesn't seem that difficult.

Thus the terrible pun of this post and video. Glenn and I were making 800 km look easy. In fact, it was easy. As a well known idler and dawdler, I'd be the first to admit that averaging 100 km a day with 40-50 lbs of gear on your bike for over a week seems impressive, but to be fair, I think there were four days over 100 km and four under. I recall one 90 km day that was mostly "up hill" either entering or going through Adirondack Park which was by no means easy and the last 40 km riding into Montreal I had a charlie horse in my thigh that reminded me of a medical test. You know that one where they insert a needle in a muscle, then by running an electrical current through the needle the doctor attempts to activate your tear ducts. Despite that, I was fine the next day and even found myself wishing I had joined Glenn on his more impressive 200 km ride to Ottawa where I could've taken the train to Toronto rather than from Montreal. In general, alternating shorter days with longer ones meant that you recovered nicely without seizing up and that you ended up in nice places. Our only regret was probably staying at a motel in Burlington when the next day we rode by a perfectly nice campsite only minutes from the café where we sat trying to find a campsite the previous afternoon. I still don't know why Google is so reluctant to find campsites when you type the word "campsite" but is very fond of giving you camping supply stores or popular mini conferences such as "BarCamp"?

That would be my only piece of advice. Do not, under any circumstances trust Google Maps. I'm not suggesting if something ain't on a printed map, it probably isn't there, I'm just saying you'll have no way of finding it. I will say Google Streetview is not bad at determining whether that road you're looking at on a map is a cozy bike-friendly route or a behemoth eight lane super highway not fit for man or beast. Google Maps delights in showing right-of-ways long since gone-away or even mysteriously suggesting since you are on a bicycle you, like Elliot and E.T., might like to take to the sky in some Spielberg-esque inspired fantasy, all with the caveat that Google Maps is of course, "in beta" and in all likelihood not at all or in any way accurate. Unfortunately, good cycling maps seem hard to find. In an era of Google, Yahoo, Bing, OpenMap data, GPS devices for driving, running or riding not to mention unmanned drone strikes, the good old fashioned printed map is going the way of an extinct species. Eventually, I found some maps of Ontario and New York state in one of those massive book stores in the travel section. Apparently, no one plans to travel outside the Eastern Seaboard from Toronto as that was pretty much the extent of their maps.

Consider this video your virtual tour. You can even say, "I virtually rode to Lake Placid." I did, really.

Adirondack Sprezza-toura from rowdyman on Vimeo.

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