Friday, January 29, 2010

Dreaming the Appalachian Trail

The Man - Brad Viles
I encourage you to read Brad Viles's book, Dreaming the Appalachian Trail. I write this blog in admiration for a man I have never met in person. We have corresponded via email, have chatted on the phone, and have exchanged books. Indeed, I have read many of his writings in the Bangor Daily News.

I was so enthralled with Dreaming … that I just had to have my wife Cathy listen as I read her two chapters of beautiful prose that reminded me of reading Robert Frost’s, “Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the one less traveled by”. I pictured Brad reading to an intent group of outdoor enthusiasts by a campfire next to a river in Maine.

Snippets from Contents of Dreaming
Dreaming the Appalachian Trail is a fictional account of Brad’s Appalachian Trail (AT) hike from Georgia to Maine. Along the way he encounters violent storms, strange people, spectacular scenery and events that change his life. The trail itself is a major character in this story of imagination and wonder.

I absolutely loved Non-stop’s frog/tadpole metaphor. “A frog can’t explain to a tadpole what he will become when grown. The tadpole can’t understand about having legs, no tail and breathing air, even though a frog is exactly what the tadpole would become when it’s an adult. I could not express to anyone what it was like to walk over two thousand miles, so I was a frog, surrounded by tadpoles.” Gosh, I read that, and said, there is my answer when people ask me what it is like to paddle 100 miles on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

The Voice made me pause and feel Maine-tainer merge with the “AT”. I ask myself, hmm, so that is what it is like to have the AT talk to me.

Topo Man made my imagination go wild, and his appearance with Compass was unexpected and appropriate. I could see a person tattooed from head to foot with the map of the AT, and yet this person was always losing his way on the AT.

If you want a book to tell you directions and points of interest on the AT, as most AT books do, then this book is not for you. If you want to "feel" this man's connection to the AT, if you want to be absorbed and believe an AT hike, and if you want to read poetry, then buy Dreaming the Appalachian Trail.

I felt so moved after reading Dreaming the Appalachian Trail I posted a five-star(*****)review on

Purchase Dreaming the Appalachian Trail
To buy Dreaming... ($10.00 72 pages) go to

Brad writings include special outdoor enthusiast columns describing his personal exploits. You can read his outdoor pieces by Googling keywords, “Brad Viles Maine”.

Enthusiast passes on tips, stories, love of outdoors
In the January 16, 2010 issue of the Bangor Daily news, Brad wrote a book review of Outdoor Enthusiast titled, Enthusiast passes on tips, stories, love of outdoors. Click here to read it.

An Invitation to Hike Acadia National Park
Brad and I do plan on meeting in person. Brad has graciously invited me to join him in hiking his special trails in the Acadia National Park of Maine. In fact, as I shared Brad’s invitation with my own “characters’ in Outdoor Enthusiast, many have asked if they might join us. Maybe if Brad reads this blog he will smile like his AT trail name of “Maine-tainer”, and I can introduce him to three or four of my fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

My Maine Connection
In the process of interviewing me for his BDN article, I recalled my Maine adventures - after all this review is for "Mainers”. Gosh, I am really connected! Not only was my Dad from Maine, I have aunts and cousins throughout Maine, and we are doing a genealogy search to verify my great great grandmother was indeed a Penobscot Indian.

Moreover, Outdoor Enthusiast describes seven paddling treks in Maine including the Allagash, the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race (with my TV dump at Six-mile Falls), Kennebunk Fireman Triathlon, Kennebec White Water Rafting, and the Androscoggin Trek to the Sea. My Maine club memberships are the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Maine Island Trail Association.

I trust my motivational presentation at the Naval Ship Yard Kittery encouraged sailors to enjoy Maine’s outdoor opportunities. Chapter Eleven of Outdoor Enthusiast has Places to Play in Northern New England - the Maine Way

Be sure to never say, “I wish I had spent $10.00 to read, Dreaming the Appalachian Trail

Friday, January 8, 2010

Let's Go Spinning!

“Do you want to go spinning?” my friend Dick asked. My first response was, “I do not do yarn”.

So what is spinning? For an outdoor enthusiast, spinning is a bicycle aerobic exercise that can either take place on a specially designed stationary bike-like device called (obviously enough) a spinning bike, or, you can put your own bicycle in a climbing block and stationary trainer, and pedal nowhere.

A perfect time for spinning is on a cold, windy, snowy night in the middle of a New Hampshire winter. What a great time to meet friends, get cardio exercise, learn the secrets of pedaling from experts, and adjust your bike’s hardware. I attend an evening one hour indoor cycling spinning class at Nault’s Cyclery in Manchester. (

First, let me stress this class is not for the novice bicyclist. The pace of the class is aimed at experienced bicyclists preparing for spring competition and long outdoor mileage. I use this class to be ready for my June triathlons (

The class is lead by Jack, a USAC Level III Coach ( As we pedal with motivating beat music in the background, Jack talks us through a visualization of an outdoor cycling workout: "You're going up a long hill now, you can't see the top yet.…"

During the class you vary your pace -- sometimes pedaling at a high cadence, other times cranking up the gear level, and even pedaling from a standing position. We do routines that are designed to simulate terrain and situations similar to riding a bike outdoors. Some of the movements and positions include hill climbs, sprints and interval training.

Nault’s bike shop provides space for our twice weekly “bike ride”. The staff even helps with minor equipment adjustments, such as helping me when my cadence meter was not registering and assisting me when my handlebars needed a more efficient alignment. Without Nault’s continued support this class would not be possible.

Jack hardily encourages us to drink plenty of water. Indoor cycling is very energetic and causes a lot of sweating, and a person can easily get dehydrated. Spinning burns serious calories and offers an awesome aerobic workout that makes your heart pump fast. It also tones your quadriceps and outer thigh muscles. Because you stay in one place with the same basic movement throughout, spinning makes it easier to concentrate on your form than in an outdoor environment.

We follow Jack’s encouragement and instruction: “pedal with only your left leg for one minute, one minute slow pedaling both legs, and then pedal with the left leg for one minute.”

To get more information on spinning go to and Indoor Cycling Tips and Training

What do I bring to the class?
• My bicycle and my bike shoes
• A water of bottle (I am definitely going to sweat.)
• Hat or sweat band
• Towel for wiping away sweat
• Power meters and heart rate monitors are encouraged
• Padded bicycle shorts

I now, never have to say, “I wish I had done winter spinning.”