It’s mid-November. South Buffalo area is gettin’ whacked (4+ feet!) with its first lake effect dumping of snow. So too is Watertown, but Rochester in the middle is currently spared the excitement … for now. Days are shorter. Nights are longer, and I’m cold most of the time. “Official” winter is still a month away, but “meteorological” winter has arrived in full force and that means the fat bikes take center stage for the next few months. That’s not to imply that fat bikes aren’t fun in nice weather. Case in point: just one week ago at OCP:
Video by Wayne Prentice
Looking back at ’22, I scored some great times on the bike(s) as well as another 10K of miles … and THAT is probably why I’m cold most of the time. With all the biking in the last couple years, I’ve kinda dispensed with any “insulation” I’ve carried around in the past. About the only times I’m comfortably warm is:
1. In a hot shower … we have a tankless water heater and I LOVE it.
2. In my “padded cell” … I have a weighted blanket and I LOVE it.
3. In the gym … and I’ve been crankin’ it!
So as the weather turns colder, I’ve returned to the gym now that COVID stats have dropped precipitously, and I’m sure to quit going if the numbers start to (inevitably) climb again over the winter. But for now, I’m one of “those people”: a Gym Rat.
I looked at my Ride-With-GPS stats this evening and realize that I’ve made no entries in over a week. I’ve done no real “rides” in 8 days, other than riding to (4 miles) and from the gym (and the coffee shop - bad boy!).
But the snow is starting now.
That changes everything!
And what a great month it was!! So, this might be a long post, but it’s very “abbreviated”. October was THAT sweet. Starting at the top …
With the constant reminders from the dirt gang to get the twice-rained-out Dutch Hollow ride rescheduled on Oct 2nd, I was happy to see at least have Wayne P. along for the ride. An “original” dirt ganger from back in the early 90’s, Wayne is still hammering along and always good for a few miles in the rough stuff.
Next up was a second annual running of our Beechwood State Park overnighter. Same route, same campsite, mostly the same crew, and same great time around the campfire.
This could get to be a habit. (OH ... it is!)
Mid-month, we managed to get in another Adventure Ride, but without rescheduling. Just for kicks, I tried Yet Another bike for this annual suffer-fest, and I found that my “sorta-road-oriented” Rivendell was actually quite a nice ride on this route. But, I confess that over the years, the route of Lyons Hollow has suffered from rural exploitation, and surfaces are “improving” … in the eyes of county DOT’s, I assume. I won’t be shocked to see 75% of LH getting paved over within a few years. It’s already 50/50 dirt/pavement now, up from about 20% when Al Davis 1st suggested a “fun ride” he made up back in ’91!
It’s STILL fun!
The following weekend, we had ANOTHER Adventure ride that did NOT get rained-out! My own sick creation, the “Dirty Vertical” name is entirely descriptive, and THIS ride tends to draw the sick as well as the curious. But it’s worth giving it a shot in the fall when the autumn colors explode on South Hill.
Of course, I do a ton of riding solo and sometimes I just like to putter around aimlessly on a fat bike. Fat-Bike puttering sometimes ends up pounding my way around in local trails like Tryon Park and enjoying the quiet of the woods, punctuated by the sound of crushing leaves under the tires.
Shifting gears from writing about “rides”, I’ll mention an “event” here that was certainly worth riding to: The 30th Anniversary of the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway. Just in time to also celebrate the re-opening of the Ballantyne-to-Canawagus section after getting resurfaced this summer!
The “Friends” held the party at Johnson Park in Scottsville, but also offered a tour of the historic section of Scottsville, as well as an info-gathering at the now fully cleared Lock Two.
Back at the party, the celebration HAD to include a cake!
What I didn’t mention to anyone at the party was that I was gonna be ON the trail for the next two days. The following morning, I packed up my bike, hit the trail and headed for Sonyea State Forest. The trail to Mount Morris provided no surprises (I’ve ridden it how many times?) and I picked up a meatball sub at the Leaning Tower to take to camp with me. But getting down into the gorge requires snaking around past the razor-wire fences of the correctional facility and finding your way down forest roads to find the single track trail and THEN hike-a-biking it down the final slope into the gorge was worth the effort.
Once in gorge, there’s a single-track trail that leads to the sweetest campsites.
And of course, there’s plenty of loose fuel around to make The Perfect Campfire Next To The Creek.
I did sleep “well” in terms of my RBD issue, but woke during the night, startled the first time, when I heard slabs of rock falling from the rock wall towering over me across the creek and crashing / splashing quite loudly. This happened at least 7 or 8 times while I was there. Glad I was on THIS side of the creek. When I DID wake up, I had a beautiful view of the sky on a perfectly clear night. And, THIS view when I awoke in the morning.
Part of the reason for the overnighter was to get another shot at using my new one-person tent that replaces my old ultralight. The ultralight died after almost a decade of hard use. The new one isn’t “ultralight” by any means. In fact, I NEED a more durable tent now, in hopes I don’t destroy it in the event of a nighttime “Dream Enactment Behavior”. For this night, clear, no wind, maybe a low of 50 degrees, I opted to go fly-free to skip condensation issues, but mostly just to stare at the sky.
It was perfect!
In the morning … ahem … in the LATE morning … I finally rolled out of my cozy warm bag around 9am, broke camp and struggled back out of the gorge.
In Mount Morris, I stopped for a quick breakfast (egg salad Sammy and a coke) at a c-store and called Karen to let her know I was rolling, as she planned to ride out to meet me. I found her waiting for me at Wadsworth Junction and we rode to the cafe in Scottsville for lunch before the last stretch to home. Another nice day, and I racked up another 100 miles in 2 days.
And then there’s this final October weekend! And when the weather is nice, I KNOW we can expect someone to post club rides even after the “scheduled” ride season calendar has come to an end. Saturday, the Rides Chair posted a 40 miler starting from Scottsville (Geez … you’d think I must live there now). Starting at 11am, the temp was about 50 degrees but warmed up nicely. Great ride, and then I rode home … yeah, up the Greenway! Duh!!
Then Sunday, Kathy R. posts yet another nice 40 mile ride to Cheshire, and yes, after that ride, I rode home again … up the Auburn Trail! I had to. Why?
Because I checked my math last night, checked it again today, and knew what I had to do. I had to do today’s ride, no short cuts, and I HAD to ride home to get the last few miles I needed.
Today, end of October, I scored my 10,000 miles for the year.
Not too shabby for an old guy?
Sitting at the ‘puter on a nice summer day seems weird, but after Saturday’s club ride trying to hang onto the wheels of Gary and Wayne, I’m still aching and exhausted, but VERY satisfied with the stats: 55 miles in 3 hours and ten minutes. Average moving speed of 17.8 … definitely waaaay better than my average!
So now’s a good time to take a day off the bike and report on the latest big adventure: The New England Parkinson’s Ride.
Earlier this year, I had learned that friends in the bike club had traveled to Old Orchard Beach Maine last year to join the New England Parkinson’s Ride and were going again this year. My diagnosis of RBD (yeah, like Mike Birbiglia, only not as funny) quickly motivated me (and Karen) to sign up, raise bucks, and head east too!
Part One: The Trip Out
Retirement is great. No rush to go anywhere, no rush to get back. We took two days to drive out to the coast; we avoided too much freeway driving by heading up through Vermont and New Hampshire. We stopped for the night near Hillsborough NH at Oxbow Campground.
Camping in established campgrounds AFTER-SEASON improves dramatically in some places, with far fewer screaming kids, fighting drunk adults, and noisy RV generators. Oxbow was exceptionally peaceful … once the neighbors’ dog got pulled into his tent to stop his barking. We had a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, I had a serious craving for a Real Breakfast and told Karen I’d like to find a basic breakfast diner. Sure enough, within minutes of leaving OxbowCG, we came across a Real Diner, that served Real Breakfast!
I was happy! And that breakfast held me till we got to the coast!
We checked out town, had a snack at the end of the pier, and Karen got in some water time … her first ever swim in the Atlantic!
That evening, there was a rider’s dinner at the start point and we got lobster rolls, of course.
When in Maine …
Part Two: The Ride
I got up early to get to the Century ride start (7:30am) but first joined plenty of fellow riders out by the beachfront for good reason.
At the century ride start, it appeared that 90% of the bikes at the start were carbon. So, it’s not surprising that my artistically lugged and brazed steel framed Rivendell drew plenty of compliments … and comments.
I can imagine a few guys in the crowd thinking “He can’t really mean to do a century, on THAT!” Well, yes, but not a FAST century by this group’s standards. Certainly not Gary’s and Larry’s speed. I confess, I left the carbon bike at home specifically so I wouldn’t be tempted to hang onto Gary’s wheel again, and pay the price later. And Sammy can handle the next component of our vacation plans much better anyway. My decision was validated when I arrived at a rest stop where I overheard staff talking about “those guys from Rochester NY who hammered out a five hour century last year, and maybe stopped … once?”
Yeah. Larry and Gary.
No. I ain’t gonna even consider that. I gotta walk later, ya know.
At the start line up, I moved back into the second half of the crowd (117, did I hear?) and I’m sure Larry and Gary were up front. Off we go on a gorgeous day. Roads were great …
… and rest stops were well stocked, including pickle juice! But the hospitality was over the top! Staff were asking people what they like, so as to better serve riders next year, and I confessed my addiction to peanut M&M’s. Finding none, the young lady apologized profusely, but while I was scouring the selections, she went hunting, ran up to me and granted my wish!
I think I know where I can stock up on protein next year! On toward the finish, the route swings through Kennebunkport and visits the coast line for a couple stretches. I stop briefly at a food vendor’s cart to grab a cold coke and check out the surf.
As I pull into the last rest stop, I see Karen who’s getting ready to take off. Karen did the Metric Century, and the two routes rejoin so that the rest stop serves both groups. We rode to the finish together …
… and enjoyed more hospitality in the form of free food trucks, free beer and wine.
And a free concert by a group that plays “my age” (not new-age) music! I was feeling particularly happy between the terrific music and knowing I finished the century in under 7.5 hours! Perhaps a personal record. Don’t know what got into me, but I had to go dance.
We followed up this great time by joining the rest of our “Pedalers for Parkinson’s” team at a condo for more food and drink and good time.
Part Three: Acadia National Park
Again, no rushing in the morning, but we have our sights set on a short stop in Freeport Maine on our way north to Acadia National Park. We’ve been there before, and it seems like it’s expanded, but still, it’s an adventure all it’s own to visit the L.L.Bean HQ.
We found a local place to grab some breakfast before heading out and made our way to the island. Without a “plan” for lodging, we were wingin’ it again when we ran across a KOA right on the island. I’m no fan of grossly overpriced KOA’s but Karen’s mention of “showers” sealed it quickly. I’ll give KOA’s the credit for having clean and functional facilities.
Our assigned site was in a non-RV section … close to a marsh. Yeah, mosquitos. Crying baby on the opposite side of the loop. No privacy with sites crammed together. At least people respected quiet hours.
Except the baby.
In the morning, warm and sunny, Job #1 is to ride Cadillac Mountain. Drivers inside the park were generally behaving, but they did get frequent reminders.
Turns out, the road to the top isn’t particularly steep so we got there much quicker than I expected.
Being a clear day, we had excellent views.
The ride back down off the mountain was as unimpressive as the climb. Not super fast, but a nice winding road with few obstacles. We went back down to the visitor center and got maps of the Carriage Roads that everyone talks about. Sure enough, these roads are a pure joy to ride.
There are roughly 45 miles of carriage roads open to bikes in the park. We did the northern half after riding up Cadillac, and saved the southern half for the next day. The second day started out cool and foggy and got progressively more damp in the afternoon. We decided to do a loop around the island and visited an old, still operating lighthouse.
Dinner was at a bar-b-que place we discovered on the way back to camp. Our dinners for the two previous nights were in Bar Harbor, a short drive from camp. Crazy place. Cruise ships dump their guests here to wander the streets full of craft and souvenir shops, and restaurants and breweries. $$$$$
Part Four: Return Home
Once again, no hurry to get home, so we headed out across New Hampshire. We were wingin’ it, yet again, and considered visiting Mount Washington, since it’s practically on the way. We were concerned about the wind as we drove that direction. And knowing that weather is much different on top than down in Gorham, we stopped at the town park to have a picnic and visit the info-booth. We thought about the cog-railway to the summit. We could simply drive up too. But when I looked up the weather station on top, it was reporting 83+ winds. Add the wind chill to current 40 degree temps and we agree we aren’t prepared for the arctic.
So we head on. And since we’re “almost there” anyway, let’s go do the Kanc! Yeah … The Kancamagus Highway. OK, it ain’t Deal’s Gap, but I HAVE done it on the motorcycle and enjoyed it immensely. Some day, I’ll do it on a bicycle. Kinda like a rite of passage, even though I’ve had plenty of those.
Entering Vermont, we wrap up the day in a frantic search for a room, since we’re not in the mood to deal with a wet tent. We scored a room at the Inn of Montpelier in the capital of Vermont and found dinner at a place just down the street. All good.
In the morning, we return to New York across the Lake Champlain Bridge at Crown Point …
… and stop briefly to check out the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse.
The final stretch to home ran us through the familiar Adirondacks and Tug Hill Plateau.
Ride With GPS sends me a monthly report of my rides. It's interesting to see it presented in a way that shows me where I was just screwing around rather than "really riding". Here's what August looked like.
The first three days of August were on the return from the Vermont tour. Six days in August, I didn't ride at all. But I got in a couple Centuries this month, and I've already blown by 2021's total miles ... by the end of August! At this rate, 10,000 miles for the year is a slam-dunk (barring any "issues") and maybe even beat 2020 (11,111.1 miles) ... We'll see!
And to think we used to do all this on paper ... before GPS, before bike computers, before mechanical odometers. Using state highway maps, we'd count the miles by measuring the mile-per-inch scale on a string, and using the string to follow the path we took.
No batteries required. No internet service. Full analog. Quaint, 'eh?
The bike club had scheduled the Mendon - Stonybrook Century for Saturday that I just couldn’t miss. With it starting just 13 miles from home, the Grand Idea was:
1. Ride TO the ride start.
2. Ride the Century.
3. Ride home.
And Bingo! 125 miles - A Double Metric! And I wasn’t even alone this time. A bunch of fast riders were doing it, and I rode with some of them in parts of the ride. Great day, great ride, no pictures. Here’s the route:
But TODAY! Sunday! Another club ride, but on a hotter day.
My ride plan included a version of the route that made it even longer, so guess what? I rode alone. But I had a task. I wanted to check out the washout area at the fingernail end of the Keuka Lake Bluff. We should take bets on if, or when, the town or county will ever pay for repairs there, or if the road will become abandoned … for cyclists’ use only!
From there, it was back up to Branchport, up Italy Hill to Darby Corners and on to Bully Hill.
After Hammondsport, the main route goes up over the hill to Lamoka Lake, but I used a parallel to CR114, Fleet Road, that was 50/50 chipseal/gravel. Plus, an unexpected climb. Steepest pitch of the day too … in dirt.
Fleet reconnects with CR114 which passes by the two lakes (Lamoka and Waneta) and brings one to DeCamp Road.
This stretch (DeCamp / Gravel Run Road) is a real joy. Gently rolling, a tailwind. And with a wonderful downhill cruise into Dundee. After a hydration stop, the next “Cool Road” is Chubb Hollow and more tailwind cruising, all the way down to the Keuka Outlet Trail.
Getting back into Penn Yan via the Outlet Trail is supremely pleasant. In the shade, no car traffic, lotsa trail users, and it takes me right to the park where I parked the car.
Great Day. Great Weekend.
There was a group of bicycling couples in our local club who rode tandem bicycles. We called ourselves the “Greater Rochester Eating and Tandeming Society”.
And not your ordinary Schwinn Bicycle-Built-For-Two with a basket of flowers up front. Oh no … THIS group of tandeming couples had to be ahead of their time (and possibly out of their minds) and rode Mountain Bike tandems. Yes, it’s a thing.
And this group of crazy tandem cyclists got together in some combination to go Party-In-The-Park (Allegany State Park, to be exact) every fall season. That party, affectionately known as “FART” (Fall Allegany Rally for Tandems) went on for 25 YEARS! It was a great run of rides, food, fun, laughter and togetherness among our Tribe. Alas, the 25 year party had run it’s course, and so too did the excitement of looking forward to next year’s fall, and seeing all these beautiful people.
We may not be seeing the Allegany trails and night rides in the woods again anytime soon, but we DO still enjoy seeing each other and catching up when we can, and the opportunity presented itself this weekend when Mark and Lynn invited the local core of the G.R.E.A.T.S. to their lakeside cottage. I say “local” because over 25 years, our tribe of tandem mountain bikers grew to include plenty of out-of-state and Canadian members.
I took it as a special invite / opportunity. With the plan of gathering late afternoon at M&L’s place, which is 1/2 way to the Niagara River from my home, I figured I’d take advantage of the early afternoon and get in a ride … 52 miles to the cottage. Not exactly “no sweat”, but no problem.
Even with Karen driving out, the decision would be how to get home. I’m not fond of one-way rides, driving at night, and I hate wasting a beautiful clear, windless night, so with lights on and leaving right at sundown, I hopped back on the bike at 8:25pm and headed south to Albion where I could pick up the canal trail and hot-foot it back to Rochester.
The back roads between the lakeshore and the canal trail were going dark fast before I got to Albion and in 11 miles to Albion, I think I saw ONE car. Albion, at 9:30pm, was dark too. Saturday night, and Main St. Albion has rolled up the sidewalks. No stopping for a coke here. (However, Brockport at 10:30pm was alive and kicking! I exercised extreme discipline and did not stop.)
On the trail, I disconnected the GPS to send full generator power to the light system, kicked it into high gear, and was on my way. Out of town, the canal trail is blacker than black. There’s no moon up, so the clear black sky is bright with stars and I can make out the Milky Way when I stop for a drink. I don’t try reaching for a water bottle while moving, on a narrow trail, next to the canal only 6 feet to my right ... in the dark. Paranoid? No. But when my fellow tour guide Paul told me about one of his Erie Canal Tour participants actually, really, honestly … RODE HIS BIKE INTO THE CANAL in BROAD DAYLIGHT! … I realized yeah, I guess that CAN happen. It could be hard to explain, so I’ll be safe and stop for a drink and enjoy the view of the sky, frequently. It's worth it. There's something really Spooky-Cool about riding in the dark, following your headlight beam, and watching things (including critters) come in and out of the light.
I made it home by 12:30am. I took 5:15 hours to get out there (slight headwinds, warmer, and took a lunch break) and only 4 hours (cooler, no wind, and only stopping for water in / water out) to get back.
So, I finally got in a really nice night ride this year, got to see old friends, and scored a century ride all in one shot.
No, we haven’t been married THAT long (yet) but this anniversary did / does mean a lot.
It’s been 50 years since I took that 1st giant leap of teenage-fueled courage and adventure, hopped on my “ten-speed” bike, and rode off “just to visit friends” … 500 miles away! That I had to return home another 500 miles, putting me into “epic” level bicycle touring, was not something I had thought about as a way of life way back in ‘72. Until I did it again the following year as a much more matured 17 year-old recent high school graduate. The stage was set.
With no illusions of ever being as fast as that 16 and 17 year old was (1000 miles in 8 days each time), I’ve been psyched about a different kind of trip. Slower, more remote, still solo, yet bearing the tools of modern technology that propose (no promises) to ease the stress of finding needed resources at appropriate times. A smartphone has replaced a bag of dimes for phone calls. A smartphone has replaced paper maps. A smartphone has replaced the Kodak Pocket 110 Instamatic. And the smartphone has replaced the paper and pen journal.
The Bike is equally as advanced when compared to it’s older brethren. It has generator power to run lights and USB device charging. It has a transmission gearbox rather than chainrings, cogs, derailleurs and chains, and with no chain, the bike can run a belt. And Big Tires. This all spells durability.
Between a super-computer in my hand and a super-BIKE between my knees. I was ready to go.
Vermont’s back roads have been beckoning for years, but an interesting route popped up in the bikepacking circles a few years ago and it appeared that now would be a good time to try it myself. Being a point-to-point route, the adventure was complicated from the start with the need for a costly and time consuming transportation strategy and then would require additional persons to make it happen. OTOH … going solo dialed down the complexity issues. I could simply ride a loop out the door from home.
A Solo tour … just like the first.
Potentially 1000+ miles … just like the first.
Out the door and back … just like the first.
And so it started.
The first two and a half days were a repeat, with enhancements, of the 2020 trip out to Albany on the Erie Canalway Trail. Some sections of the trail have been improved since my last visit, and still, there are sections getting updated. I was a bit faster this time and made it past my last day one stop point, and scored a campsite at Green Lakes State Park.
It was a rough night. A foreshadowing of nights to follow. My neighbors in the site next to me had an issue at 3am when “Darrel” was supposed to get up and go to work. Darrel’s wife loudly proclaimed for all the campground to hear that Darrel would lose his job if he didn’t get up and go right now. This went on for at least an hour, and Darrel never got up. Eventually, I did.
Day 2 got me well past Little Falls (2020 stop) and out to Lock 15 in Fort Plain where one can camp for free on the lock property.
Nice. And that set me up next day for an early arrival in Troy NY at the end of the trail. Checked into a B&B for the night, I set about the errands (laundry, food, fluids, apple pie …) and messaged tomorrow’s bike shop owner about me incoming.
He gave me a great route tip which had me up over the mountain and at the shop before noon on day 4. All the biz attended to, I was underway for the start point of the VTXL, which was only about 5 miles from the bike shop.
The dirt begins.
Very shortly after leaving town. I cross the Massachusetts / Vermont border … in the dirt … and the rest of the day (another 40 miles after town) is spent climbing and descending, on dirt and on pavement, till I reach the end of the day at a small private campground near the Battenkill River. Peter, the guy, shows me to a nice tent site, points out the showers, and asks only $25. Turns out, the best shower of the entire trip was right there. I didn’t see a tip jar anywhere.
That was a fun night. It was perfect weather when I set up the tent, so I left the rain fly off for better air circulation to avoid condensation. Alas, I feel sprinkles at 2am, so I’m UP and guying out the fly just in time.
Day Five began with a 12 mile, 2000’ dirt and gravel climb. Not content with that, the route turns down briefly, then climbs again up into an old overgrown and gated jeep track that’s likely only used by the forest service. This is all U.S. Green Mountain National Forest. Not a lot of people up here.
Over the mountain, it’s a long drop down to the rolling hills of central Vermont. Real food is found at the Winhall Market, but at eye-popping prices. I notice a pattern here. I finish the day at Horseshoe Acres Campground, off route by a mile, and downhill by 1000’. Excited to get a shower, but I find the $35 fee for a simple patch of grass does NOT include a working hot shower that I plugged two quarters into to no avail. I got my 50 cents back in the morning, but I started the day pretty grungy. And sleep deprived. The party with loudspeakers that ran till 10:00pm didn’t help.
Day 6 was yet another beautiful day in the woods. I’ve been blessed with warm, but dry weather, meaning road conditions were never “marginal” due to mud. Yes, marginal due to loose gravel and sometimes rocky, but dry and predictable.
Day 6 ended in Woodstock, and this out-of-stater was caught utterly unaware of what the little town of Woodstock represents. Finding food in the late afternoon of a Sunday in a tourist trap like Woodstock was a challenge, but no bigger a challenge than finding ANY kind of overnight lodging ANY where within cycling distance. I was caught captive to the reality of extreme pretentiousness and could only rest my head after coughing up over $200 … and enjoying a “senior discount”, so says the desk attendant at the hotel with the only room left in town. I’ve heard that before. But yeah, I DID get $100 off the room. Yeah … if I wasn’t an old retired senior citizen, I woulda been taken for a bigger ride.
The grocery store across the street was the saving grace in that I could purchase “real food” for dinner and breakfast at only exorbitantly pricey rates that beat what a cooked and served meal would be. And, I celebrated with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, but NOT with my typical Cherry Garcia. Sold Out. Everywhere I looked. I find out later, it was Jerry’s birthday. No wonder.
It was here in Woodstock, after a good meal, a hot shower, and a relaxing chat with Karen while overlooking the river at sunset, that I decided to turn back toward home. By now, I had completely blown past my budget to this point, but the riding alone was almost fun enough to consider throwing the budget out. But the other issue was not as easily written off.
In my earlier posts, I’ve written about my sleep disorder, REM Behavior Disorder (RBD). I had this great idea that biking is so good for me, maybe I could just take off on my bike for days and days of really hard riding, and maybe that alone would be enough to keep the “events” at bay. I decided to “flush” my system, no meds on the tour, and see what my baseline is.
It seems like my baseline is continued dream enactments, some rather disruptive. Fortunately, I haven’t destroyed any hotel property, my tent is still intact, and my right shoulder is feeling better after falling out of bed onto a tile floor. (Note to self: Sleeping on the ground is far safer than motel beds.)
Day 7, I had an early start out of Woodstock and had to go over the Green Mountains once again, this time over the top at Killington, which stood between me and the New York border.
I made it out of Vermont and to Glens Falls where I DID find a more reasonable motel with a laundry and a Subway shop next door.
Day 8 was “goal-driven”. The job today was to get back to the Erie Canal trail at Amsterdam, and cruise up to Fort Plain where I could get a free campsite and re-visit my camp buddy at Lock 15 again.
Day 9 started with no firm plan, but by mid-afternoon, it was obvious I was in top-cog mode and was hammering through the miles toward Syracuse. I realized I could easily make Green Lakes State Park again and messaged Karen to let her know. A misunderstanding of text messages led to the phone call that resulted in Karen making plans to come meet me to camp at Green Lakes.
We had talked about wanting to go visit there, and here was an opportunity. So, I scuttled my Alt. Plan 1 (ride on to Cayuga State Park) as well as Alt. Plan 2 (ride all night non-stop to home … with lights on, of course).
So, we had a nice time camping, swimming, and checking out the park. We hit the road home the following day and I had to face the inevitable arriving home: Unload the bike. That’s when you really feel it. When the bike is stripped down and cleaned up, you know the tour has ended.
This one, anyway.
Interested in the route, stats, and more? Visit my RWGPS Collection: 50th Anniversary Tour.
So, yeah, I did. A club ride got posted for the day after my 1.5 Century, starting from Victor. As luck will have it, the start point is in a park about 19 miles down the Auburn Trail from home, making a “commute” a no-brainer. The route, The Bastions of Bristol, turned out to be a complete opposite of the billiards table west of Rochester. And the group that assembled was peppered with strong, fast and certainly better rested riders than myself. To say I struggled the entire route should be obvious and I was infinitely relieved that the route was only 30+ miles.
Because I still had to get home.
It was a slow roll starting up the trail, but I had enough water and no deadline so I could ramp up the gears as they became “available”. Soon, I was back in Pittsford with a destination in mind before picking off the last few miles (79 total) of the day.
And today, a rest day. A Special Day. Our 28th Anniversary.
We took a road trip, first to North Tonawanda where we visited the Herschell Carrousel Museum. I first discovered the place when I once had to take a bike tour group to an “alternate activity” due to weather and this place fit the bill.
Karen loved the idea, so while looking up info, we discovered a railroad museum just blocks away, so we visited that as well on our way out of town. And to make a mega-day of it, we lunched at a bar & grill in Medina (great burger!) and spent the rest of the day (till almost closing time) at the Medina Railroad Museum, gawking over the biggest model train layout in the state!
Terrific Day. Much needed. Exhausted.
We often do fun rides on our own and we frequently do bike club rides with friends, but sometimes, ya just gotta bust out and do your thing. And I LOVE long rides.
Like today, for instance. At this solar high spot in our calendar, when we are maxed out on daylight hours pushing close to 15-16 hours, It’s a good opportunity to map out a big ride and still hopefully make it home before dark … or maybe dinner. So, with lights attached to my bike in case of “delays” like flat tires … I AM talking about the FrankenTrek … I hit the road at sunrise to help assure a timely return.
Over 1/2 Way To Buffalo
Oh just a shot at 150 miles or so. A visit to the quiet agricultural plains to the west of the city on a day like today offers pleasant temps, moderate humidity, gentle headwinds heading west, but helpful tailwinds on the return, and on mostly flat to rolling terrain. The secret to a timely finish, for me anyway, is to stay in the saddle. Actual SPEED isn’t as much a factor as TIME. Every time you stop, the minutes add up.
I took only two food breaks (and a stop only to grab fluids in a third stop) and all total only spent an hour of the 10 3/4 hour ride on the side of the road eating. The first stop was in Batavia where the Tim Hortons was packed (I REALLY wanted a breakfast sandwich) so I stopped at a c-store and settled for two taquitos and a chocolate milk. Stop #2 was a Dollar General in Ridgeway on Route 104 where I scored a coke and a Nutty Buddy.
Did you know how much fat is in a package of Nutty Buddy? No wonder I was flying on the return!
The final stop was another c-store at Frisbee Hill Road where I grabbed a 50/50 lemonade/ice tea, drank half, and poured the rest in a now empty H20 bottle. I also paused to get a couple landmarks recorded.
Beautiful Quiet Back Roads
I took a couple screen shots of the map and my progress to send to Karen to give her an idea of when I might be home.
Headed Back With A Tailwind!
It was then I realized how great the day was going, particularly since I now had a slight tailwind … always welcome …and temps were cooler as I brushed closer to Lake Ontario. At the end, I pulled into the driveway HOURS sooner than neither I nor Karen expected. The reward for my “Welcome Summer” ride was a visit to one of our fave Mexican restaurants.
Great day. Should go for a ride tomorrow!
I had a task to perform this weekend. Even though June hasn’t presented me with “optimal conditions” quite the way late May did, I still managed to hit a decent milepost today, more than a week before the end of June: 5,000 miles.
(5,026 … but who’s counting?)
My task, originally conceived as a long day-ride to knock off the last 133 miles in one shot, got scuppered by a couple high wind days and thereby morphed into three short day rides.
If you're wondering if I have any "normal" bikes, the answer is ... "Why?"
Anyway ... I hadn’t made any mileage goals for the year, since I’ve learned that a million variables can impact the effort. I decided late in 2020 to go for 10,000 miles. I hit 11,111. I started to shoot for 10K in 2021, but got stopped early at about 8500 miles in October due to surgery for TWO hernias. (Not related to cycling, certainly?) This year, no “goal”, but having hit 5K in just under six months … even before the big mile months of July and August … is just a confirmation that I could go even bigger if I wanted. But …
What better way to make a summer “special” than to plan a bike tour. Yes, of course, I have one in mind, and having satisfied my meta-goal for the year, I’m ready now to switch my mental gearing to tour prep mode. The body is ready. The route is known. The start date is penciled in. The push now is to dial-in the bike and gear setup for a non-standard route that will require some Extra Effort. Not on the level of the Baja or the Great Divide, but one that makes me Really Happy™ that I have the super-bike of adventure machines, the Co-Motion Pangea, that has served me well.