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Experience the Blue Sky Difference

Cindy Plante

Cindy Plante

Cindy starting her 3,000-mi journey from San Diego to St. Augustine 
aka Southern Tier Bicycle Route in March 2017.
August 2017, Breakfast at Opinicon Hotel, Chaffey’s Lock (Rideau 
Canal), Ontario and a rest stop along the Rideau Canal headed to 
Ottawa.


Where do you live, what do you do for a living, and how old are you?

I live in Greenfield, about 10 miles up the hill from Blue Sky. I am 65 and happily retired from working as a technical editor supporting our US Navy.

What kind of bike(s) do you ride? What are the features you like about them?

My quiver consists of five bikes, but these days I seem to favor three of them. So I may do some weeding out this year, perhaps make room for another new bike.

My Parlee Z5i is my go-to bike for club rides and supported touring. Can’t believe 2018 is her fifth season. Time flies! I had this bike built to replace my aluminum Cannondale CAD5 road bike, 2002 vintage. My husband Paul gave me no grief on this purchase since I offered my old cream puff Serotta Colorado II to our son-in-law. The Z5 was my introduction to riding carbon. Between such a smooth ride and the electronic shifting, I am a very happy camper! This bike is scheduled to ride RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) in July. This event has been on my bucket list for years!

Last May, Blue Sky built up another bike for me, a Parlee Chebacco. I had recently returned from a cross-country tour, and a few fellow cyclists rode gravel grinder type bikes. The ability to ride dirt roads, yet still enjoy paved roads, with more ease and comfort, appealed to me, so I broke open the piggy bank again. This bike is set up for bikepacking, short unsupported overnight trips, primarily moteling it. I plan on riding the Chebacco, unsupported, around the Outer Banks in North Carolina in April and the Black Hills of South Dakota in August. This bike will also join me on two supported rail trail tours, GAPCO (Great Allegheny Passage & Cheseapeake & Ohio Towpath) from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC in June and the Katy Trail in Missouri in September. A very versatile bike.

The third bike that I ride a lot is my very old but goodie Cannondale T1000 touring bike, 21 years old! I like to think of her as a very fine Clydesdale. This bike continues to keep on rolling, carries a ton of stuff, and has taken me to many interesting places in North America. This bike is old technology, so many bike shops across the country won’t even touch her old-style hydraulic brakes, but the Blue Sky team knows how to work on anything. No specific trip plans yet for this bike in 2018 but she is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

So the CAD5 was a beater bike. After I replaced it with the Z5i and now that I have the Chebacco, I don’t seem to want to ride an aluminum road bike. Go figure.

My fifth bike is an inexpensive Specialized Hard Rock mountain bike which I just don’t seem to get enough time to carve out for it.

How long have you been riding, and how did you get into cycling?

I have been seriously cycling for over 35 years. I grew up as a kid riding around the neighborhood, and during my college years a bike was my only means of transportation. After college, there was a spell when I did not bike. Then, for some reason, an American Lung Association 3-day fundraising tour caught my attention. I registered, won a mountain bike, traded up to a touring bike for the event. This is when the 35-year clock truly  began for me and it is still ticking strong. To date, I have cycled across 32 states and hope to bag four more states this year.

How do you typically put the miles on your bike(s)? Do you keep track of your miles?

I do some club riding with my hill happy, beer happy friends in Washington County, but I also do a lot of day rides with my husband Paul and our friend Don. If one rides 25 miles a day consistently, it is possible to reach thousands of miles at year end, just doodling around here. However, I do a lot of touring which gets me 300-500 miles a week.

I am a mileage junkie! YES, I track my miles and all other sorts of crazy metrics. I’m addicted to gathering data with my Garmin cycling computer and applications such as MapMyRide, Strava, and Ride With GPS. I usually do about 5,000 miles annually. Last year, I did 7,000.

Do you have some favorite routes?

I like the climb up Anton Mountain Road to Stewarts Dam and the descent into Luzerne, then back to Corinth along the back side of the Hudson. But they’re all good.

As far as favorite supported state tours, I absolutely loved North Carolina’s Mountains to the Coast supported tour in 2017.

Last year, Paul and I really enjoyed riding Le P’tit Train du Nord rail trail in Quebec and a Kingston to Ottawa trip, following the Rideau Canal, in Ontario with our touring bikes, both trips unsupported. By the way, Ottawa is an extremely bike-friendly city, tons of beautiful bike paths, nice place to visit.

What are your long-term cycling goals?

Keep on doing it until I stop! A psychic we met on a 4-wheeling/road trip in Utah told me that I was going to live to 96, so we’ll see. Probably will croak over the top tube of an electric-assisted bike at that stage in the game, but by then I should have accomplished crossing all 50 states by bike.

What are your proudest moments as a cyclist?

The photo on the top left shows me as I began my 3,000-mi journey from San Diego to St. Augustine aka Southern Tier Bicycle Route in March 2017. I am proud to say that I was an EFI’er, you figure that acronym out. This was a supported tour and I rode my Parlee Z5i, which never failed me the whole long way. Hot desert sun burned out my Garmin computer but my bike never burned out. Not even a flat tire (Conti Hard Shells) and a lot of road surfaces were pretty sorry looking, especially 19 days of Texas chip and seal and those nasty, nasty goat head thorns.

The photo on the right shows Paul and me with our touring bikes at the eastern terminus of the TransAmerica Trail aka US Bike Route 76 in June 2016. Over 4000 miles, unsupported, from the Oregon seashore to the Yorktown Victory Monument in Virginia. Watching out for mountain lions through Lolo Pass in Idaho, altitude adjustment in the Rockies, mosquitoes galore in the Big Hole Valley of Wyoming, fighting Kansas headwinds,  the horrible hills of the Ozarks, the even more horrible chasing dogs of both Missouri and Kentucky (sometimes they chased when we were starting up a hill), Appalachian climbs, the famous Cookie Lady’s house in Afton, Virginia, and bears walking up the road in rural Virginia. Enjoyed every moment of it!

What tips would you offer to less experienced riders?

Set goals for yourself. Buy the best equipment that you can afford. Get out there and enjoy the ride. Join a cycling club (we have plenty of those around here). Don’t wait for your procrastinating friends to sign up with you for a tour or other athletic event.  And I hear this a lot, people say they are not ready to do a ride early in the season. On the contrary, you will get a head start and you will ride yourself into shape much faster.

What’s your favorite cycling product/accessory?

Since you probably  figured out that I love my Garmin from a previous question … I love my toe covers! They seem to keep my feet warm at 40 degrees and above, no cumbersome booties to deal with. They are also wonderful on those real cold starts that end up quite warm, easy to stash away when they are not needed.

How do you fuel and hydrate when you’re in the saddle?

I really like my Clif Nut Butter bars (and I’m not going to tell you which flavor since I wipe out Price Chopper by the boxful when on sale) and Gu Chomps or the like. If I am doing a very long ride, say 70-90 miles, I do not like to stop and eat a big lunch, just happy with an energy bar. One water bottle filled with water, the other with Gatorade. Sometimes I use a Camelbak hydration system. For longer rides or very hot days, I use the Camelbak plus one water bottle filled with Gatorade. Occasionally, a chocolate milk at Stewart’s.

Any funny or unusual experiences during your riding/racing career?

There are quite a few but here are three:

This was the wildlife experience of a lifetime, on a bike no less! I was proceeding east from Columbus, New Mexico, skirting the Mexican border, at sunup in mid-March last year. I was riding alone, no one in front of me, no one in back, no cars, no nothing. Except … up ahead, on a narrow 2-lane county road I see a silhouette of some kind of animal in the middle of the road. I continued riding but did get my Halt dog spray out as a precautionary measure. As I got closer, the animal had moved to the opposite side of the road, along the shoulder, maybe 20 feet away from me. I kept pedaling and as I passed by, I recognized it for a wolf, a red wolf. It just stared at me. I own Siberian Huskies and my 90-lb big girl has that certain look in her eyes when she is hungry. Well, the wolf had that same look in its eyes and it was a whole lot bigger. This is only the second time in my life that I said to myself in fear, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” Even though not overly religious, apparently that took care of me and I remained intact and not part of the wolf’s breakfast. I was not prepared to take the chance of taking a photo so all you have is my word. This animal was so stunningly beautiful.

Here’s a humorous one. When I was dating Paul umpteen million years ago, we were riding our touring bikes, unsupported, from Port aux Basques to L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. Those days I had a lot of energy even after the riding was done. I baked a cherry pie, yes I did, at the campground with a contraption called a Bakepacker. Used to roll out the dough with a beer bottle. We did not finish the pie that night (I’m sure we finished the beer) so I bungeed it onto my rear rack the next morning. Lo and behold, we are riding down the road, I hit a bump and the pie went flying, pan and all! Before we could recover the pie, a swarm of black crows swooped down and swiped every single morsel of the pie in less than 30 seconds!

This one is more unusual. Two years ago, Paul and I rode the Natchez Trace from just south of Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi with our loaded touring bikes. This is the only US highway that I know of where the bicycle legally owns the road; motor vehicles have to inch behind cyclists until it is clear to pass in the opposite lane. For the grande finale we secured reservations at a lovely B&B in Natchez, situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. As we were sitting out on the balcony after cleaning up, the innkeeper Neil asks us if we wanted to go for a ride with him to visit friends of his out in the country. That evening we ended up at a beautifully restored plantation home with a huge wing added on for hosting concert pianists from all over the world. We got to hob nob with all these wonderfully gracious folks and to hear a world renown pianist from Peru perform. Us with our khakis and crocs, the rest of the crowd a bit more dressed, to say the least. Everyone was so nice to us. Can’t beat Southern hospitality.

Announcements: We finally have some nicer weather for the weekend! Join us at @ 8:30am tomorrow for the Saturday morning group ride!