Spring has sprung a bit early this year, and my six-year-old son has been begging to go biking. Of course, the trails are still covered in icy patches and muck abounds - they're not quite ready to host our wheels, and we don't want to do any damage to the natural environment.
We haven't done many roadside rides as Oliver is still a bit wobbly, and has the unnerving tendency to steer toward whatever catches his eye. And he's fast. Really fast. Or at least too fast for me to be comfortable with him riding close to cars. We tend to stick to backroads and trails.
In Wilmington, where a short, paved bike path follows the back road from near the KOA Campground to the town park, sand is still fairly abundant - not ideal conditions for a newbie, unsteady rider. It will be gone soon enough, but today is not our day for this particular path.
It's time for me to suck it up and shift gears a bit. So, on this early March afternoon we head to Upper Jay and one of my favorite stretches of road. The shoulder is paved and almost as wide as a full traffic lane. It's the stretch of road where I first learned to rollerblade (a laughable disaster, but I tried), and where I felt comfortable jogging Oliver in a stroller. It's a great place to work out our winter riding kinks, and a scenic stretch of road to boot.
For this trip we started by driving north from the Upper Jay Art Center at the Recovery Lounge located at the intersection of NY-9N and Springfield Road. We proceeded for just about 1 mile and pulled off at the first rest area on our right. Overlooking the Ausable River this is a great picnic spot, and when the warmer weather hits you can add wading to its allure.
There's plenty of room for a few practice turns and loops before we start our adventure. We had to pass by the Candy Man Homemade Adirondack Chocolates on our way through Wilmington, so before we start pedaling we fuel up with a few sweet treats.
After practicing staying on the far side of the shoulder - as far from cars as possible (yes, I admit I am an overprotective mom!), we start our ride. Today, since it is our first time out for the season, we are not going to go too far. We head for the next parking area. It is a peaceful ride, with few cars passing us on this early-spring day.
There are plenty of places to take a quick water break and ask a million questions — most of which I do not have answers for!
The distance between the two rest areas is just about 1.7 miles. It is the ideal spot for us to stop, chocolate up, rest our legs, and head back to the car. Today we will have put just over 3 miles on our wheels. It's enough for our first trip!
If you are up for more of a ride, continue north and head into the village of Jay. Make a right hand turn at the village green and visit the Jay Covered Bridge. This will get you to the 3.5 mile mark (7 round-trip). Note to self: there is a relatively big downhill right before getting to the bridge - have your little folks test their braking skills!
We decided to stop and check out the rushing water. Oliver was still full of energy, so he took a few laps down the bridge and back. Oh, to be six!
Now, it just so happens that our timing was right on to hit one of our favorite spots for dinner. After exploring the bridge and the rapids, we pack it up and head back up the hill to the main road. We take a left and continue north on 9N. Approximately 6 miles later we are in Ausable Forks and heading to Mad River Pizza. Now, if you don't know how much I love their french fries, just take a gander at this blog from last year - my opinion has not changed!
And, yes, we were more than a little tempted to stop and dive into our delicious smelling meal on the way home. Hey, we must have burned at least 200 calories, so we're allowed to splurge, right? You should plan on grabbing a slice and wings on your way through, too. It is definitely worth it!
Actually, you should probably just plan on staying in the Whiteface Region and spend your days cycling through the Adirondacks. Whether you're looking for a tame family-friendly ride, a fast-paced road race, or an intense downhill experience, we'll get you closer to all the action and tempt you with a few mighty good meals along the way!
This week in related Diagnosis: Spring Fever news...