It was a Beautiful Day for a Bike Ride today.
OK, a little windy, but warmer, sunshine ... and ... oh yeah ... I'm retired too. Can it get better?
I headed downtown into the west wind (15mph) to get to Java's where I could grab a pound of espresso ground coffee. (I ran outta coffee yesterday morning, so this was an "emergency" errand). After picking up the stash, I headed toward the River Trail and passed by the NOW OPEN skate park under the Freddie-Sue Bridge. Lotsa skaters. Awesome!
Down the River Trail to Genesee Valley Park ...
... I cruise through, down East River Road and back into the trail before popping out onto Crittenden and just get started up the Lehigh trail back toward the Erie Canal and get a phone message. It was the vet's office. I call them back and tell them I'm in the area on my bike, and I'll be right over.
I get there, wait outside the office, and a staff member comes out to hand me a bag. She says she's very sorry, and I can't even speak. I sit down on a bench outside for a while to gather myself before putting the package in my pack and head home sooner than I expected for today. I get to Cobbs Hill Park and see a pretty bed of flowers and think "what a nice picture that would make", so I stop.
I get home and look over the contents of the bag.
Even with the beautiful sunshine, this was a very dark day.
G-Bye Sweetheart. I Love You.
"… 'Cause two out of three ain't bad"
The words went through my head on yesterday's century ride. I had plotted a route to Sodus Point / Sodus Bay area and as I often do, I allow Ride With GPS to make assumptions and serendipitously suggest the way. RWGPS is pretty smart for a brainless web-app, and doesn't often steer me wrong. But it's database isn't 100% up-to-date, so when things change … like roads getting closed … it doesn't always find out.
But I do!
After leaving Sodus Point southbound on Route 14, there's a side street called South Shore Road that I've always wanted to explore but never seem to have made the detour. Alas … RWGPS sent me that way and I dutifully followed my instructions. I immediately sensed that this might not work when I saw the string of fancy vacation homes along the shore with a view of the bay on a narrow street. This does NOT get thru-traffic, certainly. And the "No Outlet" sign confirmed it. But, on a bike "No Outlet" and "Road Closed" signs can often be interpreted in other ways like "Difficulty Ahead", "Hike-a-Bike Required", or maybe "Look Around, Be Quite, Ride Fast".
Sure enough, I came to a spot where the road ended at a driveway, but I could see where the road continued on the other side of a manicured lawn between a couple obscenely expensive properties. It's a weekday, nobody around, and it takes only 15 seconds to cross one-man's land. As I pass the golf course nearby, I calculate the odds that the homeowners are club members as well.
South Lake Road @ Sodus Bay
Shortly after, back out on Route 14, I take a favorite side trip down Red Mill Road and come to Ann Lee Drive. I've looked at that road on a map from the opposite end where it's named Spiegel Drive and remember that there IS a "Dead End" sign there … but not on THIS end. (Yet) Wouldn't you think I'd piece it together that they are two different roads, and thereby two different names.
I didn't, so down Ann Lee Drive I go. Eventually, I DO run by a "Dead End" sign, but I'm already headed downhill with a tailwind and I'm not about to stop. Might as well be prepared to eat it and have to climb back uphill into the wind just for the sake of future knowledge why NOT to go this way. Again, the road (with no thru-traffic happening) ends at a driveway, but with a rusted old gated barrier looking what appears to be an old, now abandoned and grown over driveway. My satellite view shows Spiegel Drive on the other side, but it's not in sight through the woods. I compare the effort of hike-a-biking for a unknown result thru the woods to the long uphill headwind backtrack.
Not entirely fond of "hike-a-bike" in the mud, but I hate "backtrack" as a word. I go. Sticks get caught in my drive-belt, mud cakes up on my shoes and tires and clogs in my fenders and my thoughts revert to Baja California until I see light through the trees. Sure enough, I see pavement connecting to a dirt driveway that leads me past a couple cabin-like homes. I quietly remount at the dirt and spin quickly outta there, out Spiegel and out to Ridge Road.
Ann Lee = Speigel Road ... Sorta
So far, I've done everything RWGPS told me to do!
South and westbound from there I eventually get to Fish Farm Road. I wonder why it's called Fish Farm when ALL the farms around me are apple orchards. Whatever. Then an AHA moment! I recognize the issue I've contemplated before. I've arrived at the entrance to a gravel road that disappears up over a hill headed west off Fish Farm Road, flanked with apple orchards on both sides. Clearly, this must be private property. RWGPS says go that way. But I've looked at this on the maps before and wondered how that could work. I look around. No people anywhere, so I slowly start climbing up the rocky gravel … just to see ya know. Atop the hill, there's a house right next to the road (path?) and there's a car in front and house windows facing the road. I look ahead down the other side and can't tell if the road actually continues or not, but it's certainly private property as far as I can see. Sadly, I give up on the fishy road and return to Fish Farm Road to have another look at the satellite image. It's just not clear. I lose.
OK … Two Outta Three Ain't Bad.
The re-route around the bogs below turns out to be a really fun ride …. it's on a couple club maps, of course … and I get back on the RWGPS track at Snyder Road and continue on to Marion. At Marion, I get a photo of a spot I'd seen before.
I guess this was as good a place as any if you wanted to be sure there was no place to escape to. I wonder if the people in Marion still feel that way The building had a huge Trump flag drooping above it.
I veered off the RWGPS track after leaving the coke-break stop in Walworth and headed for the canal trail to get back into the city. Again, I prefer to do an intra-muscular injection into the city via the car-free canal trail, rather than expose myself to the detritus of the skin of the suburbs.
It was a long day (108 miles) …
… even with only four stops. First at Kent Park outside Webster to make adjustments. Third (what happened to second?) in Sodus Point: a stop at the historic lighthouse …
… and the out and back to the beachfront where I met an EMT taking a break. I asked her what all the construction work in town was about and she said she just got assigned to this area and didn't know. On my way back out, I met a couple homeowners on the street that was all torn up. They shared that the whole town was getting new utilities, bike lanes and break wall repairs and everything would be done by May. Last stop in town was a Coke and Nacho Cheese Doritos stop at the gas station.
The forth short stop at the gas station in Walworth was a Coke and Reeses Peanut Butter Cup! That should get me the last 30 miles to home.
But the highlight of the day, and the big time loss, was early in the ride at stop #2 when I finally side-tripped into Beechwood State Park. I've been by here a million times but never took the time to check it out. Today was a gorgeous sunny day so, why-not?
Exploring Beechwood State Park
What I discovered is a pine forest that is owned by New York State but managed by the town of Sodus. The property looks like it's been abandoned by the state but in fact is a stunningly beautiful property along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. I ran into a group of hikers from Wayne County's "Trailworks" who were out hiking, and they shared the details. It was once a Girl Scout Camp, long ago, but later handed over to New York State. There's an effort to revitalize the park, and I'm inspired to help by gathering a group of like-minded cyclists for a camping outing sometime this summer. Who's in?
See the photos below and get inspired!
Sheltered Camping! Complete with Fire Ring!
Perfect Tent Campsite!
See the track file and zoom in to check out the Beechwood Park:
Rubber Side Down!
Finished yesterday's Big Bike Adventure a bit tired, but figured a decent night sleep would end up with a full recovery, and the weather report was looking fantastic, so …
It's Time for a Century!
Temps were to hit high 70's and wind were expected to be from the southeast all day, and getting stronger as the afternoon wore on, so I had a plan to use it efficiently by heading southeast first, and using the tailwinds to get back home. I could head to to Middlesex, just east of Canandaigua Lake, and grab a slice of pizza for lunch, then make a loop though Potter before heading home. Yet another great idea that didn't exactly work as planned.
I used the Auburn Trail to get out of town in the direction of Canandaigua, since it's a great way to avoid morning traffic, PLUS … being in the woods for the most part shielded me from the headwinds for the time being. Once in C'daigua, I made my "regular" stop at the Dalai Java for a red-eye and a chocolate chip muffin —>> ROCKET FUEL.
Little did I know how important that fuel might be.
An AHA moment! Karen and I had ridden the section of the Ontario Pathways Trail from Route 96 to Stanley last year, but we had not yet done the section from Canandaigua to Stanley, and the start point was practically right around the corner. It would take me in the general direction to the southeast, and I could swing though Gorham on the way to Middlesex. Plus, it's more trail riding with tree cover for blocking headwinds. Sounds like an easy Century kinda day … Let's go!
Well, you know how it goes when ya gotta plan, right? The Ontario Pathways route is really, really pretty, partly because it's a mostly natural surface trail. No wide stone dust like the Erie Canalway, but rather a mostly dirt and grassy and single track route since it's doesn't seem to get the traffic it deserves. But, that results in a problem in the spring in that the surface is soft, sometimes wet, and pretty slow rolling with narrower tires like I use on my Rivendell. I tended get mired in soft stuff and mud in a few places and it was tiring, no doubt. (Particularly since I determined I had NOT had enough sleep since yesterday after all!) But the trail is pretty and quiet and there's a fun section where words of wisdom from Pooh and friends are posted to a string of trees. Fun to read, but kills time if you're in a hurry. Which Pooh doesn't encourage anyway.
So, I'm chugging along a for a mile or two, I keep hearing a very faint "tink-tink-tink", trying to figure out the source. It get's to me … I stop … I spin the wheels … and find a little stick stuck to my tire. Stuck? Oh! It's got a thorn and it's stuck in the tire. No matter … it's in the thick part of the tread. I pull it out.
That's a first for these tires. Shouldn't be a surprise since they ARE getting worn after so many miles last year. I commence to doing the flat repair, pump up the tire and strangely struggle for way too long to get it back in the frame. I find that with the tire inflated, It doesn't get past the kickstand plate and into the dropouts, so I deflate, mount it, and pump it up again. Finally, back on the trail.
I reach a cool bridge over Flint Creek. Clearly a pedestrian bridge as it's so narrow; I have to ride a VERY straight course across to avoid smacking the h-bars on the railings. Pretty cool.
I get to Old Mill Road and as I cross, it seems I have a bit of bounce going on and off the pavement. Stop to check. Tire going soft! Pull it out and verify patch is holding fine, but now I have a valve stem failure! Too many of these lately. Hmmmm ….
Pull out the spare tube, get it in, and rethink plan.
I'm almost to the Stanley crossing … THAT goal achieved. But with no backup in case of another serious failure, going to Middlesex is out. So, I decide to head home, and THAT was a fun decision. Now I've got tailwinds like crazy and it's mostly downhill to Canandaigua. It took me 2 and 1/2 HOURS to get to Stanley from C'daigua, but under 45 minutes to get back … what a difference! I grabbed a coke at the c-store and hit the road as it's getting later. I'm still tired, and I've got miles to home. I head northeast to reconnect to the Auburn Trail but hop off before getting to Victor to go see the new roundabout at the east end of town. Up the hill to Victor Road toward Lollipop Farm where I snag the Trolley Trail into Fairport and use the Erie Canal Trail (no cars during rush hour!) to get back into the city.
I had given up the idea of getting a century, but once in the city, I figured I could be easily rescued if I had another failure, plus … Karen has been out riding, and might not be home yet, so I went to GV Park, up the River Trail and wandered through the city streets on my way home. I guess I'll call this my "Five Trail Century".
And I JUST squeaked it out as I pulled into the driveway. 100 miles, in 10 hours … just like always.
One Coffee, One Coke, and One muffin for the day. Karen had to steady me in the driveway as I got off the bike. Maybe next time I'll get TWO muffins ... one there, one to go!
Century #1 for 2021.
Maybe my last!
When you get a couple back-to-back warm dry days in early Spring, what do you do with them?
Ride … a LOT!
Ride what? Always a good question when you have options, so it's helpful to have a plan. Always "planning" for something new, I've been toying with yet another biking adventure, and Wednesday's (4/7/2021) jaunt was in prep for that. Turn's out, Wednesday's "prep" was an adventure in itself.
A friend had tipped me off to yet another cool map resource called "GravelMap.com" that displays known off-pavement roads as reported by users. A casual look at the map turned into a huge time-suck when I realized how many more such roads exist in our region. But more than just dirt/gravel roads, I discovered that users can input "routes" as well, and I hit the jackpot! One user, who appears to be a rally-car driver, mapped out a 150 mile route in the hills south of Naples, which in MY mind translates to a 3-day bikepacking tour. Oh yeah!
Or, so I thought.
With the idea in mind, but knowing the transitory nature of old dirt roads, I elected to ground-truth the route to determine if it REALLY was a viable route for mountain biking, and if a couple potential campsites would work. I split the route into three sections, with two overnights in state forest properties, hopped on "The Beast" and took off early morning.
An hour later, I refueled in Wayland before heading over to the Atlanta firestation to start recording the route. Paved back roads till Cohocton turned ominously to wet and greasy and crazy steep dirt roads into the hills, causing me to question this whole idea of trying this on the big bike. After a number of tense moments, I eventually relaxed, realizing I haven't lost my skill set and restored my faith in the bike's abilities. For a 500 pound bike, it really is quite nimble in the rough stuff.
So things continued smoothly till I got to an unexpected detour. The guy who initially plotted this route appears to not have actually driven it. On the top of a hill, a narrow rocky trail led me to an intersection where the route pointed straight. I went about 1000 yards and came to gate across the road. The road was narrow enough, and with a steep drop-off on one side, I dared not try to do K-turns under power, so I shut down, got off, and man-handled a series of tiny K's to get the bike turned around without dropping it off a cliff into the woods.
It LOOKED like a Great Idea!
Suddenly, that nimble 500 pound bike didn't feel so nimble.
Back to the intersection, I tried both directions out to find both closed due to a huge natural gas pipeline and storage facility had commandeered the entire hill. The only way out was back down the dirt trail to the highway, where I figured out the shortest path back to the planned track.
Back on route, the rest of the day mellowed out significantly … or maybe it was me. Many of the roads after this point were ones I'd already ridden on mountain bikes, or during a dual-sport event we've ridden called the "Thrills in the Hills" with the Wayne County Motorcycle Club, which they tag as "100 Miles of Bad Roads". Fun time.
Looks Mellow Enough
I finished the 150 mile route realizing a few things:
1. It's a wild good time on a motorcycle.
2. It's far too tough as a three day ride on a bicycle for this old man.
3. I'm dead set and determined to do it anyway.
4. So, I'll have to find a way to break it up into 4 or 5 days!
150 Miles of Sweat and Giggles