• Patrick Gabrion

Woolly bear ... the sequel

Out riding the other day I finally spotted another woolly bear, thus giving me the opportunity to snap a photo — does one really "snap" with a cellphone camera? — of this legendary winter-weather forecaster. As you can tell by the accompanying image, he was completely rusty brown in color. So, a mild winter, or is it too early for acquiring any black sections?


But the real thrill, besides the possibility of not too much snow, was what transpired while obtaining the shot. It would have made a good action and adventure film.


Woolly bears have three sets of legs, one on each of the first three segments. There are also some “false legs.”

Let me set the scene. I pulled a U-turn on my bike, eager to get back to the little creature before he disappeared. Here comes the "action" part. As I got even with the furry caterpillar a car came flying by, sending the woolly bear somersaulting through the air, at least three feet off the ground, and then skidding across the pavement. I thought for sure he was dead, spoiling my chance for the photo op.


I waited for a couple of minutes. The tension was building. Finally, there was movement; he was alive. When I first saw him, he was heading east to west. But following his death-defying stunt, he was going back in an easterly direction. Poor guy, he must have suffered a concussion!


Anyway, the star of the movie — let's call him Wilbur the woolly bear — now has quite the story to tell his friends. And here's hoping he doesn't gain any black segments, so us roadies can cycle deep into the latter months of 2020.


Finally, an event


Lo and behold, there is a century ride actually taking place amid the genuine concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. It's the Cadillac Challenge slated for Oct. 4, utilizing roads on Maine's Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. My friend Jon signed up, so I did too; I couldn't let him do it alone.


This will be the second time I've done this event. It's one of the prettiest centuries you'll ever do, but also one of the hardest. There's nearly 7,000 feet of elevation throughout the 100 miles, and the real test occurs near the tail end — going up Cadillac Mountain, and suffering I might add. With an elevation of 1,530 feet, its summit is the highest peak within 25 miles of the Atlantic shoreline of the North American continent. The road from the base to the top is only 3.5 miles, but it took me half an hour to cover that distance the first time; to my credit ... without stopping.


Organizers appear to be taking all the appropriate steps to make it a safe ride: Filling out registration/waiver forms before arriving, the wearing of masks at the starting line and at rest/food stops, social distancing while on and off bikes, etc. They are limiting participation to only 100 cyclists.


I did a warm-up ride with Scott the other day, covering 77 miles to Brunswick and back in just over five hours. I'll report back with all the survival details, but more than anything else it should be fun and I'm looking forward to "competing" against myself. Be safe!

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