Monthly Archives: September 2013

Buying a House

In case you were wondering where I am…

I rented a beautiful house in Olivebridge, just south of the Ashokan Reservoir.

As it turns out, I love it here. So now I’m looking for a house to buy. My current landlords indicated that they would sell us the house we’re in now. It’s a great house, and I have good neighbors, but there is one thing that is a major deal breaker: satellite internet from Exede. I know most of you won’t believe this, but there are major swathes of our country with decidedly third-world internet access. That is to say, we can’t even get Time Warner cable here. As bad as Time Warner is, you haven’t experienced bad until you’ve had satellite internet from Exede! Their service is a borderline scam. It’s definitely a ripoff. For $120 a month, we get 25 GB of service–any more than that is $10 a gigabyte. So no movies, no software updates during the day, and nothing graphics-intensive unless I want to go over my limit. About 10% of the time it doesn’t work at all, another 30% of the time it works very slowly–we’re talking click a link and go get a cup of coffee, because you’re not getting anything done for a few minutes. The other 60% is less than optimal, but that is excusable because of physics (every click requires 4 trips to a satellite: my dish to the satellite, the satellite to the server, and back again).

Not a big deal, you say? Well, if you’re self-employed and in a field that requires lots of research and large file downloads, a day without internet carries an enormous cost in terms of lost income. In fact, since I’m self-employed I can put a precise price on what Exede Internet has cost me–and it’s more than a few mortgage payments even over the course of a single year. I can’t wait to tell Exede Internet to go to hell, it really is one of the worst things that has happened to me (professionally, that is).

Anyway, rant over. So we’re looking at houses. Today we looked at this one, which–provided they accept our offer (which is 100% contingent on a fully tested hard-wired Time Warner internet line)–should be ours. It’s on 15 acres. I haven’t quite decided if it needs a repaint or if we leave it au natural. It definitely needs a little landscaping, the front of the house reminds me of some of the shabbier neighborhoods in Detroit.





The inside of the house is amazing. We had always envisioned ourselves in something ultramodern and architect-designed, or at the very least midcentury. Needless to say, our furniture collection is going to look odd in here.








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That’s all for now; I just wanted to provide a brief update to assure everyone that I haven’t abandoned the blog altogether. Hopefully I can get back to riding significant distances again soon, but as I’m sure you understand, when we spend half the day looking at houses, it means I’m working until 10 pm every night.

And in case you’re wondering why I repeated “Exede Internet” multiple times in this post, I’m hoping this post starts to show up in searches for their crappy service. Of course, anyone with an actual choice would never use it, but still I want the world to know how bad it really is.


A Review (Sort Of): Giro Empire Mountain Bike Shoe

We all make mistakes. These shoes were my latest.

My trusty Sidi Dragon mountain bike shoes have seen better days. I’ve replaced the treads and buckles at least once, but the uppers were starting to fall apart. I got four years out of them, though–I think that’s impressive.

To replace the Sidis, I decided to try something completely different–the Giro Empire shoe. Even better, I managed to snag a pair in camouflage! I reasoned that on long rides, the part of my foot that starts to hurt first is the top–and that laces are the best way of distributing pressure across the top of my foot. They arrived last week, and damn they are beautiful shoes. I wish I could get some regular shoes like this.


When they arrived, I immediately put my Crank Brothers pedals on my English 650B, and went out for a 50-mile ride that included some double track, a stream crossing, and a few occasions that required me to shoulder my bike and hike. Not something I’d want to do in road shoes (although, frankly, I have on many occasions!)

The aches set in around mile 25. The top of my left foot–but not my right–started to hurt. I tried to ignore it, but by mile 35 I couldn’t stand even one more minute. I hopped off the bike in the middle of the road, ripped off the shoe and hopped around for a while. Then I struggled home with the laces on the left shoe almost completely undone.

Not a good result, right? It’s clear that my left foot and my right foot are slightly different in shape, because my right foot was fine. Please note that, like all other cycling-related accessories, whether a shoe or bib short or chamois creme or anything else works is a very individual thing. The shoes are extremely well constructed and very light (perhaps because of the lack of buckles and straps). And they are beautiful.

If nothing else, I think my experience with these shoes highlights the value of the Rapha Grand Tour shoes. Like any other leather shoe, the Rapha shoes started out tight and uncomfortable, but after 10-15 hours they molded themselves to my feet. I can easily spend 18 hours or more on the bike without foot pain in those shoes.

So…just because they didn’t work for me doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. If you’re in the market for some Giro Empires–and especially if you want the camouflage version–let me know (my contact information can be found via the About page). Worn once, size 10, $200 ($100 off retail). I even have the original box. Only 400 made! Sold.


Labor Day Slide

I attempted this ride solo on the day after I returned from Holland–Labor Day. Unfortunately, I got about 10-15 miles into the ride and the skies opened up with the worst thunderstorm I’ve ever seen. Now, I don’t mind riding in the rain, even in a relatively heavy downpour. But this storm was a whole different order of magnitude from anything I’ve ever seen before. And keep in mind that I grew up in the Midwest, where severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are relatively common. In any case, after taking shelter for a bit, I rode back home, figuring that riding in the high Catskills in the middle of this weather was far from advisable. So it wasn’t until yesterday that I got around to a longer ride, although I did manage 70 fast miles during the week on various rides.

My friend Luis joined me for the ride. He’s 10 years older than me, but still manages to destroy me handily on climbs, even when I’m feeling 100%. Here’s the route, and the GPS is here.


Slide Mountain is not particularly challenging compared with some of the rides we have done recently; however, I was suffering from a cold (or allergies) and I was definitely not on my game. I suspect it’s allergies, because the second I got off the plane from Holland I started sneezing.

A few pictures from the lead-in to the big climb. If you look at the ride profile on Ride With GPS, you’ll see that it looks like a pretty miserable 36 miles to get to the top of the climb. Really, it’s not so bad. Keep in mind the scale. Yes, you’re going gently uphil for all 36 miles, but for the most part, it’s barely detectable. (I just started riding with Luis…I don’t think that by riding with me he has implicitly signed a release to be the star of my photographs!)



The climb up Slide is a bit of a grind, but Luis and I agreed that, despite the fact that it is a bigger climb, it is generally easier than Peekamoose. Your opinion may differ. The important thing is to pace yourself, because it is a long, slow climb. When you reach the lake, you’ve finished the climb. Here’s the proof of completion.


Frost Valley Rd might be one of the nicest roads in the Catskills to ride. First, there is virtually no traffic whatsoever. We probably saw 10 cars total, in both directions, during our time on this road. Second, once you get to the top it’s an easy 20+ mph almost all the way home. Third, it has to be one of the most beautiful roads around. The road runs through a high mountain valley, and you can see for miles. Here’s the famous Frost Valley YMCA, a huge mansion set in the middle of nowhere.


And a few more photos from Frost Valley Road. Keep in mind that the whole thing slopes slightly downward, so with even a little effort you can haul ass through this segment (while enjoying the view, of course). The road can be a little rough in spots, so be careful.



And my favorite part of the ride, again on Frost Valley Rd. The road becomes really rough around here. It looks like they might be in the middle of paving it; the last time I was through here the gravel portion was a few miles, now it’s only about 750 feet.



And that was all for this week for long rides. Looking forward to a couple more centuries later this week (one on Wednesday and one on Sunday), so there will be more new routes coming soon!