I really did expect 2020 to be a banner year!
With plans to ride the Baja Divide in the late winter (a whole 'nuther story), I knew I would need a LOT of miles beforehand to prepare. No lounging around this winter. Thankfully, Karen and I both got new fat bikes last summer and could spend the early winter playing around in the snow and ice and getting lotsa miles in regardless of conditions. Right from January 1st, I actually started logging my miles … something I haven't done in decades, and between January riding and the Baja, I had logged a gazillion miles by early March with grand plans to hit 10,000 miles this year. All systems go!
And then comes March, sweeeeet March!!!
You might know about the "Golden Snowball Award" and the "Golden Snowglobe Award". It's a fun pair of competitions, online, where Rochester competes against cities in New York and nationally respectively, for the record of annual snowfall totals. I'm thrilled to report that Rochester is, as of this writing, WINNING in both slots, but strangely, even Rochester is roughly 8 inches behind it's average at this date. Why? Because March came in like a lamb and went out like a sniveling iguana!
Cool! To ME, that means early bike season! Let's GO!
So on March 9th, I had an opportunity to make a dent in my 10K. The forecast showed a somewhat windy, but seriously warm day coming (mid-60's!), so I prepped my bike with snacks and water, charged the phone, got my kit laid out, and hit the sack early. Following day, I was up before dawn, fed, and with lights on, hit the road to the coffee shop before the crack of dawn. I had checked out some RBC maps and figured #125 Rush - Stony Brook would be a gentle and quiet ride with services at the right spacing to keep me from stopping too often. Bonus points for the best ever pizza stop in Conesus! But, I had to get TO the ride start in Rush, 15 miles from my house, adding 30 miles round trip to the map. No problem … coffee shop is on the way there!
I realized I had underestimated the warm southerly winds as I turned south on Livonia Center and Federal Roads toward Conesus. By the time I got to Wester's Country Store, I was READY for pizza and really ready for a break. (Half-life of caffeine is pretty sad). I sat there a little too long and felt the burn when I hopped back in the saddle. Bad timing, 'cause I still had a bit of gaining to do. I slowly ramped up Stagecoach Road, diggin' on the warming sunshine and awesome views of our "backyard" before reaching Scottsburg/Liberty Pole, the unofficial start down to Dansville.
In Dansville, I went slightly off-route to get to the Tops market for a coke and pit-stop, but turned at the airport to get back on route. Parker Hill was still ahead, but I had a few miles of re-warm-up riding on flat NY63 plus the payback of a good stiff tailwind. Nice! Up over Parker in no time, I got to Scottsburg Road and paused. The route goes right to Scottsburg. But Barber Hill Road (dirt!) goes straight to Bath Road (more dirt!) which reconnects to the route. I'm on my Co-Motion Pangea with wide tires. Guess what?
Back to the route (NY256), there's more dirt by heading straight over to East Swamp Road (of course) which connects to Sliker Hill and back on-route up East Lake Road. The jacket and tights have been off since Dansville, I still have a tailwind, the sun is shining and all is right with the world as I head up along the lakeside. By the time I get to the Shoreless Acres General Store, I'm thinking a coffee would be nice 'cause it's getting a bit chilly, but it's closed. Bummer. I keep going and realize that southwest wind blowing across the still partially frozen bits of the lake is why I feel like I've jumped into a fridge!
I didn't exactly dawdle up East Lake Road to Lakeville. I didn't want to stop to put tights and jacket back on, but I did stop in Lakeville for fries and a coke while lizardizing in the sunshine. Initially, I figured on a slow ride up Bronson Hill Road, but the weather reports of high wind warnings were no joke … but I was laughing all the same! From Lakeville all the way home, I had tailwinds that had me knock off the last miles of the day in record time! What A Day!! Century #1 (103 miles) for 2020. Hopefully a few more.
OK … I'm feeling pretty good for March. And then I get another chance for a good ride. Forecast for March 19th says cloudy, but mid-50's. Wonderful! I'm thinking Naples this time. But how? No need for a club map this time … I know where I wanna go. I like the terrain south of Mendon and south of Bloomfield. But I need to up the game a bit from the last ride. It was "gentle". Not today.
On the road at dawn again and on the way outta town, I get to the Starbucks in Pittsford. By now, social distancing has kicked in. Starbucks is still open, but for grab and go only. I'm standing outside with my coffee and twice, runners stopped in only to come back out after hearing that the restrooms are closed to customers and both of them run off … quickly. Don'tcha hate emergencies? I'm now imagining what's in store for me as I'm drinking a grande mocha.
By the time I get south of 5&20, I'm clearly "wandering" a bit. Not following a plan, but going by sense of direction what I think is a nice rolling way to Honeoye. But I know the plan AFTER Honeoye. Up Gulick to Mosher. Egypt Valley to Route 64. Up Gannett Hill to Ontario County Park. Visit the Jump Off.
I pause. Geez. That wasn't a very quick climb. Geez. I haven't eaten since breakfast! Eat snacks. Drink Water. A little refreshment. OK … Let's go.
The downhill to Naples just feels unearned. With only a couple minor interruptions, Gannett Hill Road to County Road 12 downhill into Naples is really just one of the sweetest rides in the entire Finger Lakes! And unlike the last windy ride, today was almost totally calm so nothing was slowing a wild cruise to Bob and Ruth's. Oh yeah, that's closed too. No matter … I could stop at the store in Middlesex that has reopened! I turn the corner and head up NY245 and take the backroad along South Hill. I pass Wolfanger. NO BRIAN!! Wrong bike!!! I continue. In Middlesex, I decide I'm not hungry and keep going. (mistake) I decided to pass South Vine Valley and take North Vine Valley Road. I haven't ridden there in a while and it offers an opportunity to take a choice of routes north. I decide to skip Bald Hill and continue down toward the lake because I just LOVE East Lake Road along Canandaigua Lake. It's always quiet and the views are stunning. When I get to Town Line Road, I stop. THAT view! At Town Line, you're at the top of a hill with a steep downhill in front of you that looks like a water slide dropping you right into the lake, and you can see the whole rest of the way to Canandaigua from there. I'm starved! I pull over, park the bike on it's center stand on the shoulder, pull out some crackers and a water bottle and sit on the guardrail.
For a while.
A couple motorists drive by slowly and check me out. I guess to see if I'm OK. (Did I look THAT bad?) We wave. I'm OK. I'm just digging' on the view and recovering while mentally prepping for a long haul back to Rochester. What's the shortest way back I wonder. I'm cutting it close. After I finally get rolling, I kick myself for not thinking to take a photo of that really cool scene of my bike standing up on it's kickstand, longingly facing downhill toward the lake. Would have made a great shot for an Adventure Cyclist magazine cover, or maybe next year's calendar! No matter. That image is certain to be burned into memory forever.
This is why I love living here. Moments and places like this.
Down the road to Canandaigua. Head straight up 332 but take the Auburn Trail to stay south of Victor to avoid NY 96 and the mall. Get to Pittsford and make one last stop for a vanilla shake at the dairy barn. That's just enough fuel to make it into the city via the newly reworked East Avenue. I feel like I've got the whole road to myself. I knocked off 113 miles that day. I started getting really excited that I'm on track to hit my 1st 10,000 mile year in decades. I'm a lucky guy.
Then April comes. COVID-19 hits really hard. RBC rides get cancelled. And the weather turns like it's February again. It snowed again today. I sneak in a few short rides when the weather is a bit more friendly, but have nowhere to go, so I just wander till my fingers and toes freeze, then go home.
Life is like a long bike tour. There are some really phenomenal days. A few crappy ones sneak in once in a while too. But in the end, in the big picture, it's all gonna work out. Bikes teach the value, the paybacks of toughing it out. We can do this.
Be Safe, and we'll see you out there again!
(Story was written April 17, 2020 - sorry for the late posting ... I've been out riding!)