Anyone who knows me well also knows that I’ve had a love affair going with the region I live in for a very long time. I once owned (yet wore out) one of those “I Love New York” T-shirts. Gotta get another sometime.
So I’m sure it’s no shocker to anyone that I was happy to team up with Wilderness Voyageurs (http://wilderness-voyageurs.com/bike-tour.html) to show off my backyard by co-leading tours for them. The first … and SECOND … tours I did for them were four day jaunts down the Erie Canal. My previous post talked about how fun the first one was, and the second running was just as cool.
But with only a two day break in between the last tour and the latest, my co-leader Richard and I set off on a first-run tour of the Finger Lakes with a small but very capable group. We called them the “Beta-Testers” since this was an untested route, and they did a great job tackling some extreme hazards, like … wineries, ice cream parlors, hikes into fantastical places, menus with unfamiliar words, and elegant lodging. Oh … and a couple hills.
This IS the Finger Lakes mind you.
As hinted in the last post, Day One of the Finger Lakes Tour started in downtown Geneva at the north end of Seneca Lake. After passing through the Seneca Lake State Park, and my boyhood home of Waterloo, the officially recognized birthplace of Memorial Day, we took our first break in Seneca Falls, home of the Women’s Rights National Historic Park as well as the “George Bailey” bridge where we stopped for snacks.
Finishing the day, we checked into the Taughannock Farms Inn next to the trail into the gorge of Taughannock Falls State Park and made our way to the base of the 215′ Taughannock Falls.
Day Two was a Challenge! If you ride the lakes in a north/south direction, riding is generally flat and easy. But if you ride east/west, you have to climb the ridges between the lakes. Don’t think of the work, just think of the reward!
Reaching the ridgetop between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes on Searsburg Road took a while, but getting down close to Seneca Lake and the Chateau for a little sampling of local produce took no time at all.
“Fired Up” after a refreshing visit, our next stops included hitting a local peach stand (and guess who got to carry the goods in his panniers?) and “selfie time” at Hector Falls.
Watkins Glen was our lunch stop but we only stayed long enough to eat and relax a bit before heading up to the Glenora Winery, our digs for the night. Not to fear! I couldn’t imagine introducing folks to the Finger Lakes without a visit to “The Glen”, so after dropping our gear and changing into suitable walking shoes, we hot-footed back to the west entrance of the park and hiked down the gorge toward town. In this direction, the experience of the glen starts off spectacular and gets more dramatic with each step down.
Day Three! Getting the idea yet? Now we’re off to Hammondsport at the south end of Keuka Lake, meaning another climb to a ridgetop and another hot descent to lake level. Rain for a part of today kept a lot of cameras under wraps but stops at the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, the Glenn Curtis Museum, and lunch in the town square of Hammondsport were quite a bit of distraction too. After wrapping up the riding day by coming up along the “undulating” west shore of Keuka Lake …
… the gang checked into the ornate rooms of the Esperanza Mansion outside Branchport.
We shared our final dinner of the trip together on the patio overlooking the lake on a beautiful evening.
Day Four … short and sweet, back to Geneva. After three days of the Finger Lakes, the gang earned a second breakfast today at the Penn Yan Diner in town before heading out the road alongside the Outlet Trail and climbing up to Ridge Road. It got a bit windy up there as usual, but temps were perfect and the breeze felt great! With our last sights of Seneca Lake coming into view, the riders scampered down into Geneva, had a bit of lunch and reluctantly said our goodbyes to new friends and the beautiful Finger Lakes.