I’ve been thinking of late that 2017 might just go down in my personal history as my “Biggest Year Ever” in terms of bike touring fun!
(Then again … there’s next year …) <<– That’s called “forshadowing”, right?
In my last post, I sadly provided only a brief mention of finishing the Southern Tier tour with Adventure Cycling, and I alluded to another gig to follow. I’ve had little opportunity to write about that one, OR the series of NINE gigs I’ve completed for Wilderness Voyageurs since then. So, let me start with …
Chicago to New York City
Only three weeks after completing the Southern Tier, I was back in Chicago again. Again? Yes … I was downtown at Grant Park last year, finishing up Adventure Cycling’s inaugural Route 66 tour from Santa Monica. Picking up at the same spot this year, our (once again) inaugural Adventure Cycling Chicago-New York City tour group hit the road on June 7th after commandeering the van/trailer rig from THIS year’s Route 66 gang that just arrived a couple days earlier, and led by my buddies and “classmates” Delinda Hood and Ken Exum. The three of us took Adventure Cycling’s Leadership Training Course together back in the spring of 2014. How cool that we could reunite “on the job” as Tour Leaders!
But that wasn’t the only reunion. I was thrilled to once again meet up with one of MY Route 66 partners, Kristina Martin, who lives in Chicago. I’m certain that if THIS tour was a self-contained trip, rather than van-supported, Kristina would have been the first to sign up! Kristina’s local knowledge of downtown steered a gang of us to Miller’s Pub for dinner and brews where stories and recon were exchanged in detail.
Kristina and I have a pact: if the Chicago-NYC ever runs as a self-contained (unsupported) tour, we’re IN.
So, the gang heads out … out of Chicago via a series of rail-trails then into Indiana’s northern farmlands toward Indianapolis. It was hot. And windy. And Flat! It wasn’t long before we reached Indianapolis and it was another time for me to reminisce. I once lived in Indy for a short time, and I bought my first mountain bike there, at a bike shop in the hip and trendy Broad Ripple neighborhood. As luck would have it, our route into Indy was on the Monon rail-trail that passes right in front of THAT bike shop … The Bike Line. I had to stop. One of my group was there already getting assistance from a staff member. Turns out, that staff member, now owner, was the son of the original owner and we both concluded that he was most likely the same guy who sold me my bike … 33 years ago! I told him I still have that Ross Mt. Rainier, and it’s a GREAT bike.
From Indy to Columbus … after passing through Dayton, we took a rest day in Xenia Ohio. The original tour plan was to camp in the local fairgrounds but after discovering that wasn’t available, I took the mental “way-back machine ride” and remembered yet another old haunt. I once went skydiving at Skydive Greene County back in the ’80’s just outside of Xenia and discovered that the drop zone was right on the rail-trail leading out of town! Camping at drop zones is commonplace (and free), so I contacted the owner, Jim West. We’re IN!
Yes … I jumped on my “Rest Day”. Of course. It was a quiet weekday at the DZ and after the jump, Jim and I chatted about the “old days” for a couple hours. He built and has run the place since 1961. Plenty of laughs together. Thanks Jim … was great seeing you again!
The next day, we reached Columbus and again, I reminisce. I graduated from high school in a nearby suburb, and most of my friends went to Ohio State … just because that’s what you do. So, I was familiar with the approach to the city, and the campus area where we stayed at a hostel. I was NOT familiar with the river trail that led us out of the city the next day, but it was GREAT fun.
As was the route, as it starts getting “interesting” in my kind of way in eastern Ohio. As we approached Wheeling West Virginia, the landscapes started getting rugged. By the time we hit Pittsburg, the climbing got serious and stayed that way for most of the remainder of the trip.
More memories … we took our second rest day near State College Pennsylvania. For dinner, the group went into town and I found “the restaurant”. My dad went to college at Penn State, and it was at this place where he first met my mother who was a waitress there. On the road, we next reached Lewisburg. A memory of sorts again … I’ve been through there many, many times having lived in the river valley for the first ten years of my life. But I don’t remember the special part … being BORN in Lewisburg, of course. Danville and Bloomsburg as we continued to the east … yes.
After riding through the Delaware Water Gap and Harriman State Park, we reached the Hudson and crossed into Manhattan. What a trip … riding down the west side trails of NYC to Battery Park and ending the tour by overnighting at the huge hostel near Central Park. And yes … my trip wouldn’t be complete without a detour afterwards to the park to visit Strawberry Fields.
From here, the gang went their ways, with family, friends, or transit home. I went my way back to Rochester … riding home self-contained. Four hundred miles in four days, I was back in my stomping grounds by intercepting my local club’s ride and surprising Karen in Naples NY. That was fun seeing her face as she saw my bike parked in the park.
So, I made it home in time for the 4th of July, but just a week later, I was back on the road! I had two back-to-back tours to do for Wilderness Voyageurs (“WV”) … an Erie Canal and a Finger Lakes Loop tour, before taking a “vacation” with Karen.
We only had about ten days to play with, so we escaped, temporarily, to Canada! Montreal, Quebec City, and Ottawa provided us with some much needed time to relax, bike, and see some beautiful country together. Oh Canada, how we love you!
Back at “work”, the month of August was a whirlwind of four back-to-back “WV” tours.
With a short break between, the last week of September started another round of three gigs for “WV” which was followed by our 24th annual “FART” tandem mountain bike rally weekend!
There! I’m caught up! Yay!
But not done!
This coming weekend, I’m facilitating a new adventure at the old Seneca Army Depot. Let’s go see some deer. White Deer. The biggest herd of White Deer on the planet, right here in my own back yard.
I Love NY!