To me, early warm days in March - even the short-lived ones - are more fun than a January thaw; because they are sure to be back for good very soon.
This time of year in the Adirondacks offers the same advantages as the November off-season. Depending on the elevation you choose, you can often ski in the morning in the High Peaks and bike in the afternoon on the Adirondack Coast. I'm happy to have the trails and roads to myself during these shoulder seasons; no bugs, and views of a whole different landscape than in either the snowy winter or the green, lush summer.
And so, the recent prediction for near 50 degree weather prompted my husband and I, instead of a hike or a run, to take our road bikes out for an early spring ride.
For days like this, our riding paraphernalia is a bit different than in the heat of summer. Though we still filled our water bottles and made sure to pack a flat tire kit, we bundled up a little bit more with fleece layers. And, it's always good to have a wind shell on, as it feels quite a bit colder with the breeze from moving quickly than when standing still. A headband or hat under our helmets seemed like a good idea for the same reason. And we wore bright colors for safety, as it was likely that drivers wouldn't be expecting bicycles this early in the season.
We planned to ride North from the Stevenson Road in Moriah to Westport via Route 9N, and return from Westport via the Stevenson Road; a short loop to remind our legs how to spin.
The "main" roads in the Lake Champlain Region are fairly devoid of sand and salt from the winter at this point - much different than in higher elevations that still have a good snowpack, such as in Lake Placid. However, we did develop a stripe of salty white on our tires from the road's winter residue.
There was a very slight tail wind on our way north, making our trip a bit less taxing and a bit faster. So in a bold early bike season move, we decided to add a leg that would take us toward Wadhams!
We continued through Westport on 9N toward Elizabethtown, and took a right onto Sam Spear Road - a great, short country road that meets Route 22 just south of the hamlet of Wadhams. From there, we took a right, and after fighting the winds for about a mile, enjoyed a cruiser downhill back into the village of Westport. I have a gauge on my bike that tracks speed, time and distance, and it's always my goal to reach at least 30 mph on that hill - which we did, despite the wind!
We biked back into town, and took a right onto Stevenson Road. It's quite a steep incline. (I blame my falling far behind my husband here on the fact that I have a "granny" gear that requires faster cadence for uphills.)
He slowed to wait for me near the high point and we rode together past the Westport Country Club on our left, horse pens on our right, then the Westport Polo Club entrance on our left before heading unprotected by trees directly into the wind - albeit warm wind - once more.
The Stevenson Road is a gorgeous 6-mile long road that parallels the busier 9N on which we started. It's a nice, rolling paved road with views of Vermont's Green mountains and working farmlands and very little traffic. We finished our first bike loop of the year at the end of that road - about 20 miles tired.
As an Adirondacker, it is always difficult to balance the urge to excitedly promote the inside scoop on spectacular outdoor adventures with the selfish inclination to keep them a secret. But this one's already out of the bag, so here goes.
There are a number of Adirondack Coast loops identified as part of the Lake Champlain Bikeways network - and the main route circumnavigates all of Lake Champlain, incorporating parts of New York, Quebec and Vermont.
The route we biked this week is nearest the loop called "Mountain Coast Connector", though we started further south and didn't go all of the way to Elizabethtown. The full Mountain Coast Connector loop, though, is one of my absolute favorites, in either direction. I'll attempt the whole thing once I get my bike legs back into shape!
- Kim Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid CVB.
Click here to learn more about biking information and cycling routes along the Adirondack Coast of Lake Champlain.
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