"Yeah, we should do that sometime."
"How about Monday?"
That's how it started, roughly. One of the nice things about both of us being retired now is the flexibility to do something at the drop of a hat, most anytime. And as Karen gets more adventurous with her fatbike, I'm right there "supporting her " (AKA egging her on!) So it was that SHE initiated the move to go camping and biking at Ontario County Park.
Full disclosure: I have never gone mountain biking at "OCP". Wanted to for years, and not sure why it's never happened. I've known that our local off-road gang (GROC) has done a ton of work on the trails there and even had BIG gatherings and I'm guilty for having never joined in. Maybe the last six years of road touring has been too much of a distraction. I think that shows in how rusty my single-track skills appeared to be. In any case, we packed up the fatties and camping gear and headed up.
Yeah, up. OCP is sitting on top Gannet Hill (2264') just north of Naples, and is famous among local roadies as the summit of the infamous Bopple Hill / Gannet Hill double whammy of a climb. Most of our visits involve a short break for air at the "jump off" before heading down the long stretch to Naples. But the 17 miles of established trails at the park might be a far tougher challenge.
The trails are a mix of Green, Blue and Black (easy, medium, difficult) rated trails and we played it conservative by starting out "Green", but as the day wore on, we stepped up to Blue trails without significant issues and inadvertently connected on a Black trail for a distance before finding a way to bail out back to a green.
Karen did great handling it all without damage, but I can't say the same. Fortunately, my mishap only involved bodily damage, and not my bike.
Calling it a day, we retired to our campsite for some quiet time before showers and dinner …
… and after a little exploratory hike around the park, we pulled together a little campfire for some evening ambiance.
The next morning, we awoke to a dense fog blanketing the park. Spooky! After breakfast, we hit the road for H.H. Spencer Park … only a couple mountain ridges to the west … to check out some trails over there. It's been years since I've mountain biked there, and Karen has only XC-skied there. With a mix of wide XC trails and a bunch of winding single-tracks, we vacillated between gentle cruising and rocky rooted swoopies. There are plenty of options there, but we ran out of gas before we could get in barely half of what's available there. Another time.
Of course, no visit to H.H.Spencer is complete w/o a stop for a photo at the overlook. Perhaps one of the most iconic views in the Finger Lakes.
Yet another beautiful day in upstate New York! Nice temperatures, low humidity, plenty of sunshine, and Karen suggests a nice bike ride. We spent our 26th anniversary the day before on a motorcycle day ride waterfall-bagging …
… and I was almost feeling guilty for not spending the day with her riding bicycles, so I'm game!
So, "Part Two" of our anniversary … Karen dug up a club map called "Peppermint Kiss", a 52 miler that meanders through the drumlins of Wayne County to Lyons. Familiar territory and familiar roads, as we have a ton of rides in that area and some that visit Lyons, but neither of us can recall ever having done that particular ride. The mystery to us was how the ride got that name. Let's find out!
Starting in Ontario Center and heading west and south, we had some nice tailwinds and made good time getting to Lyons where we crossed over the Erie Canal and stopped at the Subway for lunch. Crossing back over the Erie Canal at Lock E27 …
… we started to make a left turn uphill onto Water Street … OPPOSITE the way we come into town on a different ride. Whoa! We stop. This time, going slow, we see a museum on the corner not noticed before since we usually zoom right past this spot.
Mystery solved! And who would have guessed little old Lyons New York was once "world-famous" for it's production of Peppermint Oil. I had to giggle a bit. I keep seeing ads for trendy health-freak "essential oils" and now realize that the term isn't actually a new-age thing, or at least, it got co-opted. Anyway, there's a really cool mural on the side of the building that is what actually caught our attention.
It illustrates how important the canal was to the business, and in fact the village and farmers of Lyons, like countless other small towns between Albany and Buffalo. And there's another plaque telling the story and making a reference to "Peppermint Pattie" too. Important enough to score a place on the National Register.
Feeling "educated" once again … Peppermint oils, made by the HotchKISS family, hence: Peppermint Kiss … and some history lessons to boot, we meander back toward the start point, more slowly with gentle headwinds, and finish the day exactly on our overall average for a ride … 10mph. 52 miles in five hours. Never changes. I'm good with that.
And I got my vanilla shake at Netsins too. Perfect day.
They said it would be windy today. No kidding! Steady 15 mph+ from the west-southwest all day, and slightly stronger in the afternoon. I've been looking for new (this year) places to ride and I'm running out of options, so when I decided that the Silver Lake-Warsaw area was a potential target, I resigned myself to a long slow slog uphill and against the wind, with the promise of a huge payback for the return home.
With a "late start" (6am instead of sunrise), I knew it would be a long day by the time I got to Caledonia. I paused downtown to get a photo to share with my friend Lisa who has a hobby of shooting Post Offices. The library in Caledonia …
… started as a post office. Does that count? Actually, that's just an excuse to pause and catch my breath. Even though I decided to twiddle and take as long as I needed, a short break out of the wind was useful. I took another break at a c-store in Greigsville (routes 36 and 63) (or was that 63 and 36?). Got intercepted by a guy who noticed my bike and started chatting about the Tour de France, Greg Lemond and sharing his cycling and randoneering exploits, but sold his bike and quit after a crash. After hanging a bit too long, I turned the corner to see a steep climb right in front of me … AFTER I had cooled down. Great timing. And truck traffic with a narrow shoulder. Oh fun.
But that was about it for unpleasant riding. Just a few minutes more and I turned onto a sweet little Tuttle Road and about 5 miles of carless roads before getting to a detour sign. Of course, I had to go through to see if it was another "bikeable" closing, which most are, but this one was active with tons of equipment and workers, so I had to turn around. I didn't return to the marked detour route because I found a seasonal use road that offered a much shorter go-around. And yes, like most others, "seasonal use" means dirt.
Back on route, I got to Perry and turned down to Middle Reservation Road. This is one of the really sweet roads near Letchworth our club uses on a couple great rides. Nice to be here again, if only for a short piece, as I turned up Hathaway to cross RT63 onto East Lake Road …
… past Silver Lake and leading to Silver Springs.
Just a couple miles from Silver Springs, I'm at the high point of the ride in elevation, but I'm also at the point where I turn from riding INTO the wind and now headed north with a tailwind. The computer stats reveal just how slow the first 1/2 of the ride went.
But now for the fun. With a tailwind and a nice downhill, I coasted a decent portion of the next 5 miles to Warsaw since I've spun out my top gear! This is gonna be GREAT! A quick stop in Warsaw for a drink and a sandwich and I'm off, flying up the valley for about 7 miles before a turn uphill. Uphill? What uphill? The wind was blowing so strong from the WSW that I barely noticed the short climb up Lemley Road or the the whole sequence of left-right-left turns and rollers all the way to Mumford. Stopping once again for a drink, I cruised on up McGinnis Road …
… and was back in Rochester in no time. 6 hours down, 3 and a half back. I was in town so early and having hardly worked at all for the last three hours, I figured I'd go ahead and bump up the numbers and ride around town a bit and score a double metric century … 127 miles. OK! That's century #13 for 2020 and it's only June!
So once again, the lesson is: Wind can be a cyclist's enemy if you fight with it, but if you accept it's price gracefully, it can also bear wonderful gifts.
Damn, that thing is heavy!
My Surly Long Haul Trucker. Complete with 48 spoke wheels and wide squishy tires, racks, fenders, generator for USB charging and lights, a double legged kickstand and a Wald basket too! Then load it up with three water bottles, a backup battery pack, two iPhones (one dedicated to GPS duties), tools, two spare tubes, a tube of DZNuts, a PB&J and my bikie face mask and off I go into the hills to Branchport, Penn Yan and Keuka Lake. It didn't seem all that heavy until I got to Italy-Friend Road south of Potter. After that climb, it was heavy all day. The bike is a tank, but durable too and oh so comfy with that Thudbuster seat post.
Yet another sunrise start, and knowing that it will be a slow hot and humid day, I was OK to "twiddle" most of the day (except Italy-Friend Road … there's no twiddling there) since it's like the longest days of the year right now. Even if I came home after dark, I got lights, so that could have been good. The "Plan" was to get in a Double Metric Century, 125 miles … or 200K Rando as my buddy Paul reminded me while I stopped for coffee in Canandaigua.
Again, I didn't follow my planned route exactly since toward the end of the day, as the temps reached high 80's with high humidity, I sought the shade of the Canal Trail getting back into town, and ended up with 131 miles … er … 210K.
It was all worth it for one reason alone: Hemlock Road. From the top of Italy-Friend Road, cruising down Hemlock is a biker's dream. It's roughly 3 miles of uninterrupted swoopy downhill and nearly all in the shade.
A turn south at the bottom and a turn west in Branchport leads to the Keuka Lake overlook.
From there, a pass-by of Keuka Park before hitting the Byrne Dairy in Penn Yan for a slice of pizza and a coke, and off again toward home. The "exciting" part of the ride was over but the countryside leading north out of Penn Yan, although nothing spectacular, is mostly pretty, quiet and serene farmland all the way to the Canal. By now, I was slowing down and just enjoying the cruise … except for the heat and humidity. I had to stop in Palmyra for water, and again in Fairport since I was guzzling till bloated.
By the time I got home and on the scales, I had lost 5 pounds today from dehydration. I'll be guzzling all night.
Memory Lane Century
Maybe it's natural to want to look back and see how things have changed, or not, as you age. I'm not immune to curiosity, so my next big day-ride had a theme of checking out my initial entry portal to the Finger Lakes, namely, Waterloo NY. I was ten when my family first moved there from deep in the mountains of Pennsylvania, and we lived there roughly five and a half years … longer than I had lived anyplace prior to my final return to New York in 1991. By "final", I mean that I had moved in and out of the state a couple times before returning for keeps. I'm sure avid cyclists understand the lure of the Finger Lakes that has drawn and kept me here.
With another sunrise start on a perfect weather day, I put the pedal-to-the-metal and zoomed out of Rochester, straight down Route 96 …
and arrived in Waterloo in 3 & 1/2 hours. I caught Karen still lounging at home with a FaceTime call while sitting on the steps of my old elementary school on Main Street where I started 6th grade.
We chatted about if either of us remembered a huge stone memorial in the park. The weird thing about the memorial (which neither of us remembered because it wasn't built yet) was a plaque embedded in stone that listed the names of the "Centennial Committee" recognizing 100 years of high school education: 1886 to 1986. It's one of those plaques that will eventually become corroded and no longer legible. It's already on it's way, just since 1986, and since I left there in 1971, that makes me feel kinda crusty too. But even more so, I read the list of names and recognize one: Roger Meadway.
He was the art teacher at Waterloo High, but more relevant to me, he was my tennis coach. On one of my early bike tours (round trip … Columbus Ohio to Waterloo and back, in '72 at age 16), I stopped and visited a while and we shared tennis stories. I hear he passed away sometime after, but I'm happy to hear how important he was to the community.
On my way around town, I got to "The Place" that first captured this little ten-year-old's fascination in the summer of 1966 as he explored his first day in town on his bike. Just a few blocks from our new home ...
… I discovered the "Coolest Thing I'd Ever Seen". The Cayuga-Seneca Canal Lock 4.
Imagine, a poor little hic kid from the mountains of Pennsylvania discovering this river-thing with the BIGGEST doors on the planet and BOATS rising and falling in the DEEPEST hole in the world and water spraying and exploding all over and … and … HOLY CRAP! That kid spent the WHOLE DAY watching all this excitement!!! (That kid STILL loves watching all this!)
So after waiting a while and no boats were coming through (sniff), I headed out toward Geneva on the (new since I lived there) Cayuga-Seneca Canal Trail. Excellent condition, no trouble riding with inch and a half tires, and shady-wooded almost the entire way to Seneca Lake State Park. One delay: I stopped at the bridge crossing at Kendig Creek for a photo.
Where the creek fills into the canal was a favorite summer swimming hole way back when. There was a tree with a rope, of course, that hung over the water providing tons of fun.
So important to my formative years, I made a point of revisiting the spot on one of my two summer bike tours from Ohio.
On the bridge, I met a group of three siblings, including Mark Venuti, Geneva Town Supervisor. We discovered in chatting that we had both been at Babcock-Hovey in the same years and he knows John Kenny who was a popular scout leader and now owns a business on the north side of the canal (on RT5&20), renting houseboats for overnights like an AirB&B. How cool. Gotta go pay a visit.
On to Seneca Lake State Park. I took a PB&J break at the shoreline …
… and thought about Rusty. Rusty was a good friend and member of my boy scout troop. I was working on camp staff and my troop came down for a week at camp Babcock-Hovey near Ovid. After their week, Rusty's parents picked him up and they spent the day/evening boating off Geneva when he and his dad were killed by drunk boaters who slammed into their boat, killing both of them. I, and members of our troop, carried him to his burial. Only a couple years later, I enlisted in the Coast Guard.
Out of Geneva, I ran into the Ontario Pathways trail on County Road 4, and "redirected" yet again from my pre-planned route. I'm easy.
Since I'm clearly in "path" mode now, I may as well finish the ride by heading north and taking the Erie Canalway Trail home. I headed up to Newark, connected to the canal trail …
… and followed it home toward Pittsford where, yet again, I rendezvoused with Karen, this time at the dairy barn. But … they were NOT serving milk shakes (my standard post-ride recovery drink), so we headed home and I got my reward at Netsins in my neighborhood.
All is Good! Century #11 today. 118 mostly flat riding miles today. I'll get my hilly stuff later.
Rest Day? Hardly!
I had mentioned to Karen a couple discoveries from yesterday's century. The first of which was what appeared to be a development of a trailhead along Conesus Lake that I had not seen in past rides in the area. Another was a Nature Conservancy property, with marked trails, that I'm certain did not exist the last time I had been on Bald Hill many years ago. Looking for an excuse to chill out and recover gracefully from yesterday's hammerfest, I suggested to Karen we could grab our fat bikes and explore a little and maybe do a "little hiking" as well. Karen was totally up for that. I wondered what I just got myself into.
We headed up to Purcell Hill Road and got to the trailhead of the Canadice Haul Road along the west side of Canadice Lake. Canadice Lake, along with Hemlock Lake, way up in the hills south of Rochester, are the primary water reservoirs for the city. That means the shorelines are undeveloped unlike all the other Finger Lakes, and are surrounded by protected State Forest lands. And they are stunningly beautiful and pristine. The Conesus Haul Road is gated to prevent motorized vehicles, but hikers and bicyclists can easily traverse the 4.2 mile route along the west side of the lake … which we did.
That was sweet … easy flat cruising along the side of the lake and in the woods was too serene. But then we packed the bikes back in the car and headed up to "Rob's Trail". I discovered this yesterday.
The Conesus/Hemlock state forest has a gap of land between the two lakes that got "connected" by the Nature Conservancy. The land creates a bridge between the two lakes enabling hiking shoreline-to-shoreline. So we parked at the trailhead on Bald Hill (NY Route 15A) and initially started hiking Rob's Trail down toward Hemlock Lake because of a trail note about a waterfall along the trail. We saw that NO water was flowing in the gorge, so we reversed course toward Canadice Lake. Gorgeous.
These are steep hills between the lakes … great for biking but for hiking as well!
We plan to return to finish the section going to the Hemlock shoreline, most likely in a future springtime when the water will be flowing. So, 8 miles biking, 4.2 miles hiking, and I expect to sleep well tonight. Maybe tomorrow is a REAL rest day?
Four Lakes Century
I hacked out a plan to visit the four smaller Finger Lakes due south of Rochester: Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus. I did manage to visit each one on today's ride, but not in the way I had planned. My "plan" was based on the local Rochester weather I saw that promised low 70's and little to no chance of rain, although a bit windy. What I didn't plan for was the weather expected for down south!
Heading out, I saw a bit of sprinkles getting south of Pittsford, but it passed quickly. I wish the wind had as well, but I'll take it. As usual, it was a bit of a struggle getting into the hills with significant southwest winds, but as the days are long, I knew I had time to add-on a bit of extra hills approaching Honeoye in the early part of the ride. From Honeoye, the fun really started.
Up Jersey Hill Road.
Down Burch Hill Road.
Up Purcell Hill Road.
Up Lawrence Hill Road.
Down Old Bald Hill Road. (42.7mph!)
Up Johnson Hill Road.
Up Canadice Lake Road.
Down Marvin Hill Road.
Whew! Let's stop for a coke break in Springwater and stand in the rain. Yeah … I'm gettin' rained on since turning onto Canadice Lake Road … PLUS getting blasted by the winds. I ask the young lady at the Dollar General checkout: "Is it supposed to rain today?"
OK … let's think about this. My "plan" was to climb out of Springwater on Marrowback Road, a 6 mile climb on a dirt road. Plus another three miles to Wester's Country store in Conesus, my first chance at shelter if the rain and wind gets dangerous. Never mind the mud on Marrowback. So, thinking like an adult (which I'm not too skilled at), I decide to skip Marrowback … the whole REASON for coming down here … and head straight up NY15A toward Hemlock where I could quickly find shelter if necessary. Five miles later, I'm on the top of the hill and sure enough, the sun pops out!
I decide in Hemlock, I can take Rix Hill Road westbound and reconnect with my planned track, but the bridge over the outlet is under reconstruction. So, I stop at the Hemlock Lake Park to pause and figure out a plan. Nice park, but there's a bronze plaque at the entrance that catches my eye.
It's a historical plaque showing the routes of the Sullivan and Clinton expeditions going through here in 1779, "… against the Hostile Indian Nations …" and "extending westward the domino of the United States." Yeah, I'd bet the native Indian Nations of our area were very hostile to white man coming in, spreading disease, raping their women, destroying their crops and murdering everyone in their quest to colonize the new world. Yeah, I'd be a bit "hostile" too.
Outta there via Adams Road, I eventually reconnect with my route and soon after arrive in Avon. Now, I've ridden through Avon countless times but I admit I've only "noticed" a big statue/memorial in the village's park/traffic circle, but I stopped for a break to eat my PB&J, and discovered yet another historical piece. The huge monument (45' tall) in the center, which was installed/completed in the late 1800's, is a dedication (with names) to the local Union Civil War soldiers who fought for the end of slavery.
Happy to see that, I still left town confused how our leaders (and followers) justified killing one group but fought to save others from slavery. What can explain the confusing morality, or if any exists at all?
Back up into the city, I wrap up century #10 with 103 miles and one helluva tan. The red line in the image below was the plan, and the green line was the actual. And now … What next?
Looking to cobble together another century ride, I noted that our club has only a few rides "out that way" toward Batavia of particular interest. It's pretty farm country for the most part, but lacks the geologic amenities we so love east and south of Rochester. But if one wants a gentle long day ride, there are plenty of nice back roads to be had there. In fact, farm country doesn't have a lot of traffic as compared to other places, so that is a draw in itself. Wanting to take my Pangea out for a spin, it was a good fit. Comfy riding, comfy bike. To get started, I headed out toward Brockport on the Erie Canalway Trail.
Early morning in Brockport, on a Sunday, with Covid-19 restrictions, I assumed the main street in town would be quiet. Correct. But surprisingly, I was able to score a quick red-eye at the only open biz, Java Junction. Only in town long enough to chug one, I was quickly headed south on NY19, aka "Bike Route 19" with it's clean, wide and smooth shoulder for miles and miles. Nearing Bergen, I ran across a previously undiscovered rail-trail and stopped to chat with a guy and his dog (dog wasn't into chatting much) who had just walked out one side of the trail. He shared that although not very long, the West Shore Railroad Trail is a nice quiet trail and he made a point of assuring if not encouraging me that it's open to bikes! (I would hope so!) Pinned it on my GPS for later exploration.
But in the Bergen area, I picked up on clear signage of political leanings. I went past a row of at least 6 or 7 or 8 properties that enthusistically displayed lawn signs and huge flags promoting the current narcissist-in-chief with slogans like "No More Bullshit" and "Promises Made, Promises Kept" making me wonder what un-reality TV shows the owners tune into. Clearly, I haven't made any plans of homeownership and supporting the local tax base in the area. Feeling sad about the neighborhood, I continued on to Batavia.
Arriving in Batavia's downtown, I'm further offended by the loud noise of a pickup truck driving down Main Street way too fast, horn blaring incessantly while the owner displayed yet another "Bullshit" flag. Getting closer to the main street, I then see a crowd of people gathering around city hall.
Feeling uncomfortable, you know what I'm thinking now, right?
I was wrong.
Stopping at Main Street, I realize that not all the neighbors in the area agree with the truck driver. In fact, there were at least (my guess) about two or three hundred folks there with very clearly different opinions, and entirely in line with mine. I spent a while in the crowd enjoying the unity of the group protesting, peacefully yet firmly in support of Black Lives Matter.
Batavia, you surprised me, but you made me proud. As the march headed off, I too headed off into the countryside heading back toward Rochester. I took another break at a small park in Leroy, to get rid of a fresh-this-morning PB&J. It was just as good as the two week old one I had on an earlier ride. The rest of the day was really nice with only a slight pushback from northerly winds to slow me down, and once getting back to Scottsville after a glorious cruise on Oatka Trail and North Road, I jumped on the Genesee Valley Greenway to hide from the wind and got back in town to rendezvous once again with Karen who was already out cycling.
One hundred and three miles for Century #9 of 2020, making my biggest mileage week (423) of the year. At 3789 to date, my mid-term goal is to hit 5000 by the end of June.
Wish me luck!
Black Lives Matter
A short recovery ride to downtown.
Make Mine A Double Please
Jumping into the Wayback Machine yet again, I plotted out a track file mostly representing RBC #54, The Lake Ontario Centuries, more generally known as the Lyndonville Century. Because who would want to cut such a great opportunity to knock off an easy century … in fact … perhaps the one that so many old timers cut their "First Ever Century" teeth on?
Knowing from experience how near totally flat this one is, I felt it was a great choice for Old Blue, once again. As you may have read in an earlier post, my Old Blue (built in 1977, yet modded extensively since) has since been converted to a "semi-single-speed". Semi, meaning it's a single cog freewheel in the rear, but employs a crank with two chainrings, most recently switched from a 34/48 to a bigger geared 39/53. And as a "flip-flop" rear end, I can choose to use a 22 tooth cog if I think I need to take it easy, OR in today's case, I can use a 17 tooth for faster rolling.
And fast (for me anyway) it was today. With mostly steady and gentle winds, plenty of sunshine, and perhaps some of the quietest (if not nearly abandoned in places) roads with lightly used surfaces in generally great shape, Old Blue managed the job just fine.
With a sunrise start while it was still cool outside …
... it was a pretty quick cruise out to Lyndonville with only one stop along the way for a coke and a (shortie!) can of Pringles. Fat. Salt. Ya know? On the way, my slightly modified route took me down "Woodchuck Alley" that started out paved, yet soon turned to gravel, thereby explaining the "Seasonal Use Highway" sign that appeared to make no sense, at least initially. So, about a mile of gravel on super-skinny tires isn't the greatest part of the ride, but it revealed a gem of a pretty spot at the Beechwood Cemetery. With my attention split between observing the park, and watching for road hazards, I had an "Oh-Phooey" moment a few miles later for not stopping for a photo. Especially when I learned of it's "history". Check it out:
Onward into the mild headwinds (and thankful for the cooling as the day warmed), I reached Lyndonville, 57 miles out and in just over 4 hours. Yay Old Blue!
Another quick c-store stop, this time for an icy cold chocolate milk, and I'm back on the road heading north toward the Lake Ontario shoreline. Aaaaah … the tailwind I was hoping for! On the way TO Lyndonville, I was switching frequently between the 39 and 53 chainrings, but on the return, it was 53/17 big gear tailwind fun nearly the whole way back to Rochester. The first detour off the planned route was a photo-op at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse …
… and I took another stop in Hamlin Beach State Park to FINALLY eat that PB&J sandwich that I made two weeks ago.
One more coke stop at the corner of Long Pond Road and Edgemere where I texted Karen to let her know I was inbound. She was out on her bike and we rendevoused in the city before heading home. But arriving home, I was JUST SHORT of a double metric century, so we remounted and headed for Netsins Ice Cream. Nice way to wrap it up for the day!
Hmmm .... that's eight centuries so far in 2020. What's Next?