Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mountain Biking in Cabarete with Maximo

The last time we were in Puerto Plata we did some mountain biking with Iguana Mama. It was good enough that I wanted to try it again so I contacted them to find out that they are not doing the tours anymore but they did give me the name of Maximo, one of their former guides.  I contacted him through email and after a few dozen emails we were set up to ride.

We were staying in Puerto Plata and needed to get to Cabarete.  Taxis were about $60 each way and the guagua (Chicken Bus) was $1.25 each. We decided that the chicken bus would be more adventurous as well as cheap.  Maximo initially gave us the Spanish phrase to show the driver but after a few emails he sensed my apprehension and said he would take the bus from Cabarete to Playa Dorata where we were staying and get us on the bus! This was the first example of what a great guide Maximo was.
Me and Maximo, sorry about the fuzzyness
We took the bus to his place to pick up the bikes.  He has about a dozen bikes in different sizes an configurations to lend out for his rides.  I was on  a brand I have never herd of (or remember).  But it was a decent full suspension bike in good working shape.  It had a pretty long wheelbase and climbed like a pig but was great on the descents.  My wife had the pick of the lot with a Santa Cruise Heckler.

We had a short ride through town to get to the national park.  Max paid our way in and we were in the jungle.  Well, a Jungle with cows and donkeys.  At one point we were riding through a whole herd of cattle.
Looking Back

At one point I heard our guide talking to the cows and caught the word Americans.  Yes, he was explaining to the cows that we weren't from around there and needed to get out of the way.
Looking Ahead

The trails ranged from dirt roads to rough jeep roads to bright red clay singletrack to craggy limestone and everything in-between. Overall they were about 95% rideable.
Just after a short walking section, picture opportunity
Kelly and Max

The temperature is a pretty constant 87 degrees with tolerable humidity.  Uphill was sweaty and hot and downhill was a nice relief.
Snack Break

The terrain varied from guava groves to ferns and Mango trees.
Stopping to eat some guava off the ground.

This bright green little snake was showing me that he didn't want to be picked up.
We rode a total of about 16 miles in around 4:00 hours.

Typical Trails
By the time we were done we were pretty hot, sweaty and covered in red clay.  There was a good solution for all of this.  A swim in a crystal clear cave.

Entrance To The Cave

The water was cool and beautiful
Looking Out
We rode the rest of the way back to town which was downhill and dropped the bikes at Maximo's place.  Then we got back on the guagua about 1/2 mile into town to eat at a very authentic Dominican restaurant.
That plate of food was two bucks

I thought it was interesting that you ordered how much food you wanted by price.  I wanted 100  pesos worth (about $2) of food which was plenty.  It was also tastier than the resort.
The restaurant had an ambiance that you can only find in the Caribbean
 Maximo got us onto the bus and paid for our trip back to the hotel.

The bus ride is part of the adventure.
It really doesn't show too well in this picture but there are about 25 people on a 12 person bus in this picture with 4 sitting across the front seat. 

We got back to the hotel in good shape, had some drinks and dinner and were done for the night.

At 8:42
 The bottom line: I would highly recommend Maximo (Max of the Mountain) if you like biking and are visiting around Cabarete.  He is an excellent guide and an excellent person.  He will customize the ride for the length and ability that you want.  Bikes helmets and gloves are included.  He has SPD, Time and flat pedals available. I used flats because I didn't want to pack another set of shoes.  We didn't settle on a price before the end of the ride (that I knew of).  When he told me how much I gave him 150% of what he wanted.  It was worth it.  He paid all our bus fares, entrance into the park, a little for the owner of the land the cave was on and for lunch with beers. The price is comparable to an excursion with 20 other people and 10 other busloads of people in the same area.  I highly recommend it. You can contact him HERE or search for him on the web, he was easy to find. 

Thank You Max, Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

To Cross The Lake Or To Not Cross The Lake

So far, so good.  Little Sebago lake and I have an agreement.  It doesn't dump me in and I don't complain when it is buried under a foot of snow... Who am I kidding, you can't bargain with a lake.  Anyway, understanding how the ice works and being observant seems to work too.   I thought my trips across the lake were going to be over in early March after a really warm spell and I was feeling the loss.  I thought this was my last trail commute.  Around 1:24 you can see plenty of open water around the shore.

March 7th, 2018
I was commuting around the lake by road for a few weeks.  I think it was only a few days but it felt like weeks.  A series of cold nights renewed the ice and froze in the shores again! I made it to the end of March and squeezed in a few more trips in April.  It's interesting to see how a few days can change the ice in the spring.
March 29th, 2018

April 2nd, 2018

April 3rd, 2018
No more commutes for me for a few days to this will have to be the end.  I'm going to miss it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Winter's icy grip is trying to hold on but spring's warm breath is slowly winning.
Morning Doves

Getting To Work

Perfect Morning

Did it land like that?

Not Alone

Thank You Lake

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I Don't Think I Need To Do That Again...

That's what I said last year after finishing the Fatbike to the Clouds race.  Well, some people never learn.  This year I got my wife to sign up too.
Loaded up and ready to go
 We got to the mountain about 1 hour before the race and found that we had missed registration.  That seemed a little early to shut down the process since from 9:00 to 10:10 would be spent milling around or out in the cold.  But they found somebody to get us checked in so all was well.

 We did a quick preview of the bottom of the course, to check the tire pressure and all that.  You can't do a fatbike race without checking conditions for tire pressure.  We left all 4 tires as-was, although maybe 1/8 PSI lower in my rear tire might have got me 1st.  Nah, probably it wouldn't have changed a thing.

After reading what I said to my future self in my blog from last year I started closer to the front of the pack.  It was a good choice.  By the start of the climb I was just about in the position I would finish the race in.  This is a funny race.  It starts with trying to get your best time and finishing as close to the front of the pack as possible.  And it ends with hoping you can make it the rest of the way up the hill without walking.
When I got to the top there were 7 bikes there.

 I actually did really well at both.  I really don't think I could have got to the top any faster so I'm calling it a good race.  I also beat last years time by over 3 minutes even though the overall field was a few minutes slower because of the soft snow near the top.

Obligatory finish shot on Washington

I hung around the top long enough to get a drink and try to gnaw off a chunk of a frozen energy bar (which I failed at, friggin hard) and started back down to find Kelly.  I was happy to see that she was only about 1/2 mile from the finish when I found her and still smiling.  This race is a lot of suffering so the smile was a bonus.

Smiling and grinding uphill
She was really worried about crashing and burning before making it up the mountain.  It turns out that she was ahead of a lot of people!
Plenty of people still left behind her.
I headed off down the mountain trying not to freeze.  I hit 29MPH on a straight section on the way down which was a hair faster than my max speed on the way up.
2nd Place
I pulled off 8th place in the fatbike division overall with a time of 58 minutes & change.  Kelly managed a podium with a time of 1 hour & 18 minutes. 2018 Results The race was well run as usual, thanks to the organizers for pulling it all together. 

Relive 'Morning Ride'

Here's an unsatisfying video of the event.  Why unsatisfying?  Because the battery died before I reached the finish line.  Don't worry, it isn't 58 minutes long thanks to the magic of 16x playback.

So what is my advice to my future self? Am I going to do this miserable suffering ride again? That is a definite maybe. I think my advice would be lose 12lbs if you want to climb it faster because you aren't getting any younger!  You hear that future self? Lay off the cookies and before bed snacks.  Or maybe 8th is good enough.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Here are a few pictures of this weeks commute.  Better than gridlock I'd say.  Technically one of these was early evening but I've got to go with my naming convention. (Hint: it's the one with the moon)

The day God came to me I was on a fatbike.  "Ride here my son..."

Big Rock, Bright Moon, Brighter bike.  

Early Morning Traffic

Early Morning Pedestrians

Lots of pedestrians.

I'd say there are close to 50 deer living in the area I ride.  There are lots of young ones and I think the mild winter is strengthening the herd.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Amundsen Fat Bike Dash 2018

Rock hard icy trails with 5-6" of snow on top.  Fatbiking is a fickle beast.  I was thinking that this race would be a drag race for the fittest of the fit.  But the snow on top changed the game.  I've tried to do this race in the past but it was "iced out" last year.  Thanks to Norway Winter Carnival, Western Foothills Land Trust, Roberts Farm Preserve, Green Machine Bike Shop, Norway Brewing Company  and everybody else that helped to make it possible. 
Learning my lesson not to start too far back. (OK, it looks like I am in the third row) Photo thanks to Norway Winter Carnival

Hills, this course had some hills (both up and down).  The uphills were hard but not too technical.  Being able to navigate the downhills without eating snow was what it was all about.   It really was a great day for a race.  The 10K format made it mostly a sprint event.  I held back at the start so as not to get caught up too much in the slippage and minor crashing.

Uphill #x of 16
Really, look at the profile of this segment, just a few hills.  The name of the game was to peddle strong and not wash out.   I was able to pick off some people one by one both on the hills and when they slipped out around corners.
Panting like a dog I'm sure.
 My wife joined up too!

Having Fun
Maybe panting like a dog.

But really, fatbiking is really that much fun. (maybe she just realized that she made 1st)
I held on for a 4th place finish overall.  If I had known that the guy I was following was in 3rd I would have stepped it up but I really had no idea. My wife finished 1st in the 5K group.
Finish Face

All photos  thanks to Carl Costanzi