RBC #222, the Neil's Creek Century, is a real favorite of mine and you can guess my reply to Joe's invitation to go ride it Sunday. Yes, it's a long hilly ride, and with shortening daylight hours, I had to think about what bike to ride. A bike with generator and lights? Go light with the fast bike and try to finish before sundown? These thoughts came to me as I've been getting started on long rides at sunrise, and those have been getting later and later. Sunset too has been getting earlier, so what got into me to suggest a start time of 8am rather than 7am, I don't know. Maybe I figured Joe might not want to start early, but yes … Joe has lights on his rando bike. Maybe I figured it shouldn't be too tough, as it is a "moderate" ride in terms of hill climbing … just over 5,000' over 101 miles. So 8am it was, and I pulled the FrankenBike out in hopes we'd finish before sunset. I shouldn't have been concerned even if we did run past sunset. Joe has good lights and I had front and rear blinkers.
Never mind that we chat a lot and didn't hit the road till 8:14am!
And then there was the wind. 10-15mph headwinds from the south and southwest made for a slow start uphill toward East Groveland. I began to question my bike choice until we hit the top and flew down Groveland Hill. Top speed of 44mph even with the crosswinds. Okay … we're good. I know the rest of the ride is like this. Up. Down. Up. Down. But nothing too brutal. (As long as we avoid Jacob's Ladder!)
We pass through Dansville and start "the climb" of this route. Up Sandy Hill Road through South Dansville, then the turn onto Mack School Road where we top out at just over 2000' elevation. Another wild downhill to Route 21, then the "Main Event" of this ride, Neil's Creek Road (CR6). Payback time. Neil's Creek, in the eastbound direction, is a 7 mile long winding but mostly gentle downhill, twisting alongside the creek which has carved itself a nice canyon-like setting in places.
The competing temptations on this stretch are: 1. Cruise slowly and enjoy the scenery, or 2: Go Like Hell.
(Uh ... spell check!)
We rode somewhere in the middle of the extremes. No rush … we're stopping in Avoca for a pizza break, and then head up to Wallace and pick up Twelve Mile Creek Road north toward Naples. Twelve Mile Creek Road is almost the opposite of Neil's Creek, in that it's a long gently rolling UPhill to Ingleside where we catch the fast downhill to Naples on Route 53. Eelpot Road out of Naples climbs away and back to Route 21 where we pause for a photo at Karen's favorite little store in North Cohocton.
Our second real break is in Wayland after a dead quiet cruise through Atlanta on CR36 to Sawdust Road. While watching the throngs of motorcyclists gassing up at the gas station, I'm approached by a young woman who asks if I've been to Canandaigua. Yes, frequently, why? "I've met you there!" Oh yeah. Maybe I've been spending too much time hanging out at Dalai Java on Main Street.
So we hit the road up Pokamoonshine Hollow to Carney Hollow Road. And guess what? We have tailwinds now and they were a nice help in pushing us up the road. I mentioned to Joe that I far prefer getting up to Webster's Crossing via Carney Hollow rather than climbing out of Springwater on NY15.
We make the drop to water level at Conesus Lake by bombing down Sliker Hill. From there, we have about 5 miles of flat lakeshore cruising …
… before the final grunt of the day UP Reservoir Road back to Geneseo. We make it back to the cars just after 6pm. How about that! 101 miles in just under ten hours.
Just like nearly EVERY other ride we do, we average about 10 miles per hour overall. Flat. Hilly. Windy. No matter. It just always works out that way.
I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather predicted for the day, and the noticeable north-westerly winds dictated a north/south orientation of the route. Then our friend Kathy posted a 45 mile club ride with a start in Honeoye Falls. Too convenient! I could get up early, ride to the start and ride home afterwards, adding whatever miles I needed to get 100+.
I plotted a meandering route both to and from the start with my track file including the RBC route #114, Honeoye Falls - East Groveland. With a ride start at 10:00am, I had three hours from sunrise to ride 25 miles to get there. It turned out, I got there waaaaay early and killed time by killing miles around the area, occasionaly swinging back to the start to check on show-ups. I ended up with 40 miles on the ticker before we even started the ride.
And what a ride! Yes, weather was near perfect. 70's, and had winds that helped more than hurt our progress. Small group, just myself, Kathy and Steve, a new rider Christine, and Jack and Lou who did the 25 mile cut. We veered off the route a little bit on the way to Geneseo where we took a break at Byrne Dairy (spicy chicken sandwich!) and enjoyed the free ride with tailwinds down to the turnaround at East Groveland. Even on the return, the winds seemed more cross than headwind, so we continued smoothly rolling along till we bombed down Reservoir Road to the Conesus lakeshore.
One more stop at Lakeville for a drink, and we headed on back to Honeoye Falls.
Returning home, I had a 30 mile loop planned, but as I got in extra miles in the morning, I didn't need to follow it to get my miles which I had "planned" for 100 exactly. I took a cracker break at Mendon Ponds on the way home. I can't seem to avoid riding through the park when heading home from the south. At home, I found 112 miles on the ticker.
Getting Close! Just two more big rides this season and I'm done … with Centuries anyway. Still need to hit my 10K goal but as of this writing, I'm about 8400 miles in. As days are getting shorter, I may need to stick with the fast FrankenTrek to be sure I get my last two centuries in. I think I've got this!
Sometimes, ya just get carried away.
For instance: I've been planning to do a tour of the Erie Canalway Trail from Rochester to the eastern end at the Hudson River / Albany area.
My thinking was I would load up the bike with all the "luxuries" of a loaded tour, including a stove and cook kit and extra sets of on and off-bike clothing, and really comfy camping accommodations like a TWO person tent and warm clothing. The idea was simply to go easy, shoot photos, investigate historic sites, and just have a nice gentle ride. Maybe I'd take 5 or 6 days, then turn around at the end, and maybe spend even MORE time coming back once I got a feel for where things are. Sound Great?
Someone didn't really do his homework. Someone should have planned out exactly how far each day would be and make arrangements for every night's layover. "Winging it" isn't always the best plan.
One the first day out, I figured I'd do maybe 50 miles and camp somewhere near the Montezuma area. I had identified a couple optional sites. I didn't exactly "twiddle" to Clyde, since I've already ridden all that part, so I kinda "made time" to Kee Kee Run Cafe in the town square … by 1pm. After a leisurely lunch, I all too soon found myself at the Richmond Aqueduct Ruins in the early afternoon.
So, I had to decide … call it a day real early and camp nearby with the threat of mosquito swarms …
… or continue on and hope to fall upon a decent camp site a bit down the trail. No acceptable stealth camp options came up between Montezuma and Weedsport, so … back on the canal trail. The trail followed the old "Enlarged" canal route, but not the "modern" (NYS Barge) canal, so the popular option of camping at any locks was not to be. More things to see along the way … cool … but not a chance for any kind of quiet site to pitch a tent.
I reached Route 173 in Amboy at the west side of Syracuse, and by now it was obvious. I was NOT going to find a campsite anywhere in this area, and it's getting late in the day. I followed the "route" into downtown Syracuse and checked the smartphone for hotels. Of course, anything downtown was outta sight, price wise.
Final option: get OUT of the city and find a cheap place. It's dark now, my lights are on, and I'm plodding through residential areas into Dewitt on the east side of the Syracuse metro area, and spot an Econolodge right off the route. I scored a cheap room, got a hot shower after a surprisingly warm and sticky day, and grabbed a sandwich at the C-Store next door.
Checked the GPS: 103 miles.
A Slow Day, huh?
So, Day One of my easy tour didn't go as planned, and neither did much of the rest of the tour, but it turned out to be a Really Great Time™ anyway. And I scored my "Century #22" for the year. Fully loaded, in fact. To read about the rest of the adventure … including the "High Point", visit my journal "The Erie Canal and Bonus Points" on CrazyGuyOnABike.com.