Yeah, I made that up.
I wasn't sleeping well last night and got up (3:30am?), checking news, weather, and virus propagation. Terribly disappointed with fellow American's public health habits, but the nice weather caught my eye. It was looking great for a day of social distance cycling and I quickly opened up my Ride With GPS account to see what I might have missed so far this year.
But I had an "Aha!" moment when I realized …
1. I haven't climbed Bopple Hill yet this year.
2. I haven't climbed Stid Hill in eons.
3. My corona-bubble of friends to cycle with is likely not interested in either.
4. I'm highly unlikely to ride a club ride this season with either in the mix, and certainly not both.
So, if I wanna go play in the ultra-vertical mode, I'm on my own. I hacked out a plan to tie some really cool roads together down there in Bristol Hills Country, without planning the down and back details. I'll just wing it. I didn't get on the road till 6:30am … pretty late for me … but the daylight is beginning to run lower these days. Long rides will slowly get abbreviated in the coming months. And long rides on my Pangea are usually not too quick anyway. Gotta go now. As I was excited about a day of hill-bagging and dirt exploring, I skipped the usual back-road wandering and took a mostly direct route to Bristol Springs, but included Oakmount (a fave road with great views) and a tiny bit of dirt on Lee and Case Roads. At the store in Bristol Springs, (30 miles and 2.5 hours in) I grabbed a breakfast pizza and a coke early enough to be "available" as fuel by the time I get to the base of Bopple. See how this works?
Then it's up into the hills. CR32 to Montanye to Kear and back down the other side of the ridge to NY21 and the "drop-off" on Seneca Point Road. Things have changed recently on Seneca Point Road. We used to blast down that thing (65mph+ on a tandem … no kidding!) because it was so quiet, but no more. Housing developments are eating up the area. As a wise little friend said years ago: "Sucks Man!" In fact, I had to follow a "cautious" driver down the hill who was on the brakes nearly the whole way down and never breaking the 40mph speed limit. I was hot on his tail and wondered if MY brakes were smoking yet.
Not that any inertia there would help propel me up the hill to come. The road levels out at lake level for a while before reaching the climb. Tons of super-pricey properties (and boats) lie along the shoreline and it seems some residents feel somewhat "entitled" to their remote nirvana as a couple walked out into the road right in front of me without even looking either way. I braked (thereby losing ANY inertia) and shook my head as a another couple walking the road nearby witnessed the near collision and shook their heads too.
NO time to delve in bitter thoughts, as the base of Bopple Hill appears in my crosshairs.
And here is why I'm riding my Pangea. Yes, it's heavy. Yes, it's got some fat squishy tires. Yes, I carry too much "stuff". But I ain't no youngster and that insanely low Pinion gearbox is my solution to having a nice day in the hills. Time stamps on the two photos show it took only 15 minutes to climb that sucker, my heart was still in my rib cage and I was still BREATHING at the top. It was an easier climb than with my fancy plastic FrankenTrek that really weighs half as much.
I continue on.
Swinging around the intersection at Bristol Springs, I head north on RT64 a short bit to reach the base of Stid Hill Road. Last visited many a moon ago, it was a crummy dirt road we attacked with mountain bikes. Alas, like many other sweet sweet roads in the region, Stid Hill has succumbed to the ravages of "development" and pavement. It's still a bastard of a climb, but now we have a thing called "traction" that takes some of the fun out of the equation. I share a laugh with a homeowner checking his mailbox. I said it's a "Nice Hill" and he says "You ain't done yet" as I go around a bend and see the road continuing UP! But UP runs out before my energy does, and I get to rocket down Bills Road to RT21 once again. Turning north, I head up to Dugway which I'm certain is still dirt but freaks me out with pavement … for just a little before turning back to crushed gravel. Aaaaah!
I slowly cruise the minor ups and downs, twists and turns of Dugway before it dumps me back out on RT64 just south of Bristol Center. Now I'm thinking, "let's go home", but I'm short on total miles. I need to do something to check off another century, so I think … what the heck … let's go fiddle about on the rail-trails and relax a bit? I head up the Bristol Valley to Routes 5&20, stop at a c-store for a drink, and find my way up though Holcomb and Victor to hop on the Auburn/Lehigh/Greenway trails to home.
I relaxed all right. Didn't get home till much later than usual for a 104 mile ride, but it was a spectacular day in the Finger Lakes Region!
In several ways. In all these century rides I've cobbled together to amuse myself during the pandemic, my "FrankenTrek" has been out a grand total of once. It's actually a pretty hot bike … light wheels, carbon frame, reasonable gearing, and what I think it the best saddle I've ever, ever, ever had … a Flite Titanium. I have two Flites, one black, one white, and the white one is currently mounted on my fixie. The black one resides on the FrankenTrek simply due to weight, and this is my lightest, fastest bike.
I need to occasionally remind myself of this and after riding around city trails with Karen yesterday on my fattest and heaviest bike (Surly Pugsley) yesterday, hopping aboard the plastic bike was like strapping myself to Saturn 5 rocket. Wheeee! I figured today's Century might be quicker than most. I was not wrong, and if fact, was pleasantly surprised.
I shouldn't have been, all things considered. It was projected to be a cooler day than recent weeks, and near the lakeshore, temps are typically a bit cooler than inland particularly with gentle breezes from Canada. Plus, the route … an out and back of the Lake Ontario State Parkway … is about as flat as anything one can find in upstate New York. All systems go, and at 6am, I was outta here. Destination: Lakeside Beach State Park.
Heading out on the parkway, I made a photo-stop at Cranberry Pond as the low morning sun and clouds were projecting wonderful reflections on the glassy water.
A pit stop at Hamlin Beach State Park about two hours from home, and another stop on the bridge over Oak Orchard River overlooking the Point Breeze harbor cut into my time getting to Lakeside.
But so did road conditions. While the first part to Hamlin Beach and a bit past that was near glassy smooth asphalt, the personality of the road changed shortly after. It turned to concrete, complete with seams, potholes and even grass growing up in cracks as there is almost zero traffic out this far. Past Hamlin Beach, I saw a pickup truck drive past, and one state trooper parked in the median, hoping in vain I'm sure to score some action. The Parkway ends abruptly at Lakeside Beach, so about the only "action" he might see is camper RV's headed to the park. And, that's unlikely to yield any speeding tickets on THAT surface. Even the bridge over the river was closed down to one lane … perhaps to save the better lane for later?
The last time I cycled out this way was during one of our "RARE2K" recumbent rallies at Hamlin Beach, many years ago. I remember that the Parkway was in really crappy condition, but that was sooooo long ago, I assumed that repairs and upgrades must have been done since. Alas, it looks just the same. And felt like it too.
So, I arrived at Lakeshore Beach State Park, 45 miles out from home, in almost exactly 3 hours. Not bad at all. I stopped at the shoreline to eat the banana Karen had VERY conspicuously set out for me, watched a hummingbird flit around the tree next to me, and when he left, so did I.
Heading back to Rochester, I must have felt the power of the banana. I didn't take any breaks and in just over two hours at mile 81 of my ride (36 miles later), I was at the Lake Avenue end of the Parkway in Charlotte. I'm not known as a fast rider, but today, I sure felt (fantasized) like one. I texted Karen: "I'm back in town. Where are you?" "Fixing lunch" "I'm headed south toward downtown on the River Trail" "I'm headed out. Meet you downtown"
We met at High Falls, and I mentioned I was starving. A turkey sandwich for breakfast, a banana, and I'm now 89 miles in. We headed for the street vendor downtown and I scored the best Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and meat sauce I've ever had in my whole life! (And, a Coke!) On down to the Erie Canal, and eventually to a 7-11 for more fluids and eventually back home with 102 miles by 2pm for Century #16 for 2020.
Doing Marrowback the day before, I was feeling kinda tired and achy in the morning. But it looked to be a pretty day and Karen offers up a small adventure that we had on her to-do-and-see list that involved only about 20 miles or so, and all flat. Sounds good! We loaded the bikes on the car and headed west to Albion.
Albion is one of the countless little port towns that grew up around and because of the Erie Canal. So it's an OLD town, and like a number of others, it's a time capsule. The main street downtown is stunning, with old stone buildings from the 1800's.
We started from downtown and followed the route of RBC's Orleans County Tour on State Street out of town. I'm no fan of prisons, but I admit to appreciating the glimmer of razor wire in the sun at Albion's Correctional Facility on the way out of town. Past Eagle Harbor, past Knowlesville, we get to Culvert Road, our first Point of Interest (POI) on the ride.
Yes, it leads to a tiny underpass. But it's more than that …
It's a culvert UNDER the Erie Canal. The only one on the entire length of the canal. Cool! The sign on the right says it's in Ripley's Believe It Or Not. It's also mentioned in Roadside America.
Our turn-around point for the day's ride is Medina, another old canal town, but this one is famous for the red Medina Sandstone quarried here and used in the construction of many famous buildings and even the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as many buildings in Medina's downtown. We wander town for a bit. Karen hasn't been here, but I've served many lunches here to bike tour groups while checking out the railroad museum. I wanted to show Karen the house I've wondered about.
It's been run down, but looks like someone is going to fix it up, and we think it would make a fantastic B&B … or a biker hostel, even better!
After lunch we head to the Erie Canalway Trail and we just have to pause at the Big Apple (this is apple country) …
… before getting to the second POI of the day. A huge concrete aqueduct …
… passes OVER a stream running through the village, and the stream boasts a cool waterfall underneath that I'm certain local kids spend plenty of hot summer days hanging out at.
We follow the canal trail back toward Albion and we stop once more for a POI that, like Culvert Road, should also be in Ripley's "Believe It Or Not".
On a canal that runs east to west across the state? Yes, it's real.
After arriving home, we decide on just one more adventure. We headed out to Hamlin Beach State Park at sundown, away from city lights, and got to see the Neowise Comet! Don't miss it! Next chance is another 6800 years!
Back in June, I wrote about my attempt to ride Marrowback Road (Four Lakes Century) that got derailed by what appeared to be imminent storms, yet never materialized. So I'm at it again. Different route but same objective … get down to Springwater and head north (UP) Marrowback Road. But this time, I'm-a-gonna-do-it no matter what. I don't care what the weather might bring, 'cause I'm takin' the monster bike that can handle all the mud and crap Marrowback could toss at it. My hot little Co-Motion Pangea with the sealed Pinion gearbox and belt drive means the only weakness in the plan would be ME. And since I'm planning to get dirty, why not plan a dirty route?
Since the dirty sections will eat up daylight, I head out early and beeline south toward the hills. The first one, climbing up to H.H.Spencer Recreation Area took a while … about an hour from Honeoye to the park, about seven miles, all UP.
Yeah, I'm not too quick uphill and against the wind, but at least this time I didn't have to climb Cratsley Hill or even Jersey Hill Roads. I'd still be out there. When I got to the dirt road, it was time to lower tire pressures for comfort and traction. First stop of the day at 38 miles out, I pulled into the park and ate my PB&J before heading on up past "the equipment" on Canadice HILL Road.
Dirt roads are even more fun when they go down, like Reynolds Gull Road which connected me to Canadice Road. Not be confused with Canadice LAKE Road nearby. Clear as mud, right? And from there, I got to bomb down East Street to Springwater. Oh, the memories of THAT street! So now, it's across the valley and the turn up Marrowback.
Nice Day! No Rain! Getting a bit hot and a bit sticky humid now, but the rocks, gravel and dirt and steep grade are no match for the super-low gearing and wide squishy tires. But I'm no match for the horrendous biting flies that swarm my head and make my shadow on the ground look like I'm in an '80's big hair metal band. Yeah, think Twisted Sister. Twisted is right … I was going nuts riding all-too-slowly uphill, most of the time with only one hand on the bars while the other was helplessly and hopelessly swatting at the little bastards. I couldn't get to the top soon enough. But eventually, I made it to the top with enough blood remaining to finish the ride. Note to self … only ride UP Marrowback when it's snowing.
A stop a Wester's Country Store in Conesus (3rd time this season) for pizza and coke, and it's down Sliker Hill to East Swamp Road (more dirt), to Guiltner Road (more dirt), across NY256 onto Bath Road (more dirt) and … dammit! Those *@#%%!! flies must have followed me! I'm getting swarmed again! I try to pick up the pace to no avail and get to the planned turn UP Barber Hill (dirt) Road. UP as in a seriously wicked steep seasonal use road. I remember coming DOWN that hill once on the motorcycle with full knobbies and dragging the rear as I slid down. Any plans on climbing that thing with the flies chasing me the whole way are scrapped. I jam it on down Bath Road, flies in hot pursuit, till I reach the zig-zag in the road at Bean Hill where it turns to pavement and I can really pick it up and get away for good.
Now, I'm off route getting into Groveland but Groveland Station Road will intercept my planned route north toward Mount Morris. All good. As I pass by the old c-store/cafe that closed years ago, I see a signboard for $4.00 Milkshakes! Cool!!! Turns out, the store now is open as an ice cream shop! Open Tuesdays thru Sundays at 1pm.
I grab a coke in Mount Morris before hopping on the Genesee Valley Greenway. Time to slow down and relax for the long haul (dirt) back to Rochester. I see a hiker ahead on the trail who is bending over with his face in the bushes and I'm wondering: 1: WTF is he doing? 2: Should I call out and alert him to my presence? 3: Should I blast on by hoping he won't spin around in time with his machete? 4: Am I getting dehydrated and delirious now? Alas, he hears me and sees me coming and he has a treat for me … he points out the black raspberries he's been picking!
Too nice! After a couple handfuls, I'm on my way. I get to a road crossing with one of the yellow gates across the trail keeping cars out, and stop to remember days long ago. Days when the Greenway was just a glimmer in trail users eyes. Days when gangs of us bought weed whackers and chain saws to clear trail and when some of us experienced poison ivy in the worst way. Days when me, and Russ Reeves, and Jack Kerson and Al Oberst and fondly, Fran Gotsik and many others formed the Friends of the Genesee Valley Greenway and we had events and meetings all over the Genesee Valley and made a website and newsletters and busted our asses in so many ways to get the state's and Governor Pataki's attention (and MONEY) and made the Greenway a reality and it eventually became an honest to goodness New York State Park!
If I could make a list of the few things that I got into in life that had some kind of lasting impact that I truly valued, this would be right there near or at the top.
More miles of trail. Sometimes across open fields and sometimes in a tunnel of green. It's all good.
As I cross NY5, I see a barrier ahead. The trail has a closure for unknown reasons and the sign points to a detour that uses another old railroad right-of-way and ends up carrying me across the Genny …
… and into Avon. The day is getting late, and after one more stop for a coke and potato chips, I opt to take East River Road (aka: Rochester Street) out of Avon, pump up my tires and head back to the city.
This was one long hard day. 114 miles, (Century #15!) much of it dirt, and somewhat following the plan. Blue lines are the plan, but green was the actual. It worked well, and I slept soundly.
Sunday, July 12th became a "Very Special Day". It was notable for being a remote start ride. It was notable for exceptional weather. But more than anything, it was notable for being the first ride we've both ventured out WITH FRIENDS since the pandemic began. Karen and I have been reluctant to start hanging out with others, but we were certain to be safe with trusted friends Joe and Dana who are plenty adult enough to take physical separation seriously. We haven't yet joined any club rides, but we were happy to do a club route with these two. Karen has been out with friends, but it was my first.
I felt like a virgin might feel … excited but ________
Naples - Haskinville (RBC #223) was the suggested route and we were sorta faithful to it with a couple alterations, the first of which was taking the wonderfully quiet Atlanta Back Road (yes, that's actually the name) to Cohocton, followed by the climb up CR121 (erroneously labeled CR21 on the map) to NY21. We skipped Mack School Road being an "early season" kinda ride.
Down the gulch of Neils Creek (misspelled "NIELS" on the map) led us toward Avoca. Cruising' down NY415, we almost skipped by the "Jacob's Ladder" alternate. Hey, Bonus Points! Joe and I turned in … or UP, I should say … and crested the particularly challenging hill with a beautiful view of the valley below.
After flying down to the valley, we met Karen and Dana at the c-store in Avoca before taking a relaxing stroll back to Naples via 12 Mile Creek Road and down the infamous NY53 where I shall always remember "The Incident" involving a recumbent bike, high speed, and a deer who failed to respect my right of way. No incident this time.
Wonderful ride of 53 miles … With Friends! At Last! And maybe a couple more on the next ride?
I'm late. Over a week late. I said I wanted to hit 10,000 miles this year and should have 1/2 of that by the end of June. As the warmer weather of summer approached, I started wimping out around the end of June after having a couple brutal hot century rides. So, I missed the mark, and last week, I had two super-hot back-to-back rides (66 and 117 miles) and REALLY felt the aftermath. This week, it's been just short easy rides around town. When I went to write the miles down on my chart …
… a quick mental calculation caught my eye and required a double-check with the calculator. Sure enough, after wobbling all over town today …
… first to the Public Market, then out with Karen for a bit, then a bit more after lunch, I hit my mark: 5000 miles. Plus One. Cool!
And a Bonus! Meandering around Highland Park, I stumbled upon a Rochester landmark that I have never seen, and only heard about: Warner Castle, an 1854 replica of a Scottish castle. In fact, it's now the home of the Landmark Society.
In the back is a sunken garden that again, I've only heard about but never seen.
It pays to wander aimlessly.
The Best of Plans, Right? You look at the weather reports, including wind directions and speeds over the course of the day. You figure out from that, what can you do taking advantage of all that to put together another century and possibly to somewhere new(ish). Wolcott and Chimney Bluffs aren't new destinations … we go there on club rides nearly every year … but I did a century earlier this spring with the idea of going to Chimney Bluffs 1st time this year yet ended up skipping that part, so here's attempt #2.
Winds were looking favorable for a quick and easy cruise eastbound to Wolcott, having 5-8 mph tailwinds from the west in the early part of the day. Afternoon winds were predicted to shift from the west to the north/northwest, so an afternoon return to Rochester along the lakeshore should bring cooling crosswinds off the lake. Perfect!!
The eastern skies were partly cloudy and on fire with the morning sunrise. Beautiful! I took the "Main Route" out to Sodus: Empire Blvd to Webster and Old Ridge Road out Sodus where I caught a glimpse of something reminiscent of last summer's visit to Guffey Colorado on the Trans-America Trail. Lizzie Mae's Shack has eluded my attention all these years, but never again.
Out of Sodus, I forgot about the road closure for a bridge out along my planned route. Karen and I discovered the project on a recent motorcycle day trip but did I remember it when I was trying to plot it out on "Ride With GPS" and the app refused to let me go that way? Noooo. Kudos to RWGPS for it's accuracy while illustrating how my brain functions continue to decline with age. So, with an unplanned detour, I took a significant detour to eventually get back on my route that led me down a road that passed just north of North Rose. By this time, I was really cruising with those tailwinds, so I decided a quick exploration of "booming" North Rose was in order. I have time.
Not much happening in North Rose, but I discovered a future (post-COVID) day-trip. I noticed a sign on an old factory-type building: "North Rose Railroad Company". As I approached for a better look, the owner stepped out the door and we chatted. He has a HUGE model railroad installation inside, normally open to the public for tours but currently only open to close friends during the pandemic. I can't imagine how big this is, but he said he has over 10,000 feet of track, and lots of "animations" including a nine foot tall mountain. Sounds like a real show! I mentioned I have a friend who is a "Live Steamer" hobbiest from the nearby Marengo club and he says he knows that gang … many have visited. (Tim … have ya been there?)
Back on the road, it's a fun cruise on rolly-polly Salter-Colvin Road (Wheeee!) to Wolcott where I stop for a coke at a c-store/gas station. Yup, now the ride changes. I lose my tailwinds. I slow down. It's getting warmer. I head northwest out of Wolcott into … ummm … gentle head/crosswinds. I'm noticing how humid it is. On Lummisville Road, I pass a new historical marker and realize I didn't get the memo and am late for the meeting.
This is orchard county. Apples and cherries and who knows what else. I stop to sample the young cherries next to the road and wish I had something to bag up a few; they were sweet and juicy and I could have delayed there for a while if not for recognizing the change in riding conditions. In the drumlins, my riding slows down even more.
I get to Chimney Bluffs, but add a short detour into the little community on the side of East Bay, just east of the bluffs. There's a loop road that connects to a series of little dead-end side streets with access to the bay and all named after a state. But one has a steep drop-off to a public boat launch.
It was a small challenge getting back UP out of there, but I finished the loop and got to the destination-of-the-day. We have a club ride that starts from this point … Chimney Bluffs State Park. Not the "New" park, but the original spot that has been the access point to the bluffs for what seems like eternity. I won't share details of my old Coast Guard days in the '70's when we drove out here, climbed out to the bluffs, sat out on the edges and … and ... (never you mind!)
Obviously, erosion of the lakeshore along Lake Ontario has taken it's toll over the years but I keep dreaming of the day when the Bridge Will Be Built. It's ONLY 41 miles to Prince Edward County. Can it be THAT hard?
After a brief stop, I head into Sodus Point via the back-roads and am sorta … but not really … shocked by how packed the village, the bay and the beach park are, what with July 4th weekend approaching. Thrilled that the snack bar is open, but heartbroken that it no longer serves my traditional annual Italian Sausage, I settle for a (great) cheeseburger and (lousy) fries and TWO cokes. Yeah, I'm beginning to feel a bit dehydrated, TWO cokes didn't seem like quite enough. I still have plenty of water on the bike.
But by the time I get to Pultneyville about ten miles later, my water is low. I pull into B. Forman park and find NO sources of water. I get into P-ville and take a shade break on the turn near the marina and watch the kids on paddleboards in the water, wishing I was out there cooling off. I finish my water knowing I can refill at the store at the corner. I ask for a liter of water at the window. They are out, and only have ONE bottle of Coke Zero left. I'll take it. I sit in the shade and kill the coke. HEY. I remember there's a cemetery just outside town, and people are always watering flowers. There HAS to be water there and sure enough, I find a spigot with a hose leading to four cans of sprinklers.
Topped off, I head on toward Rochester. I'm soaked in sweat, but safely drinking water as needed until I pull onto Wall Road in Webster where I take a break in the shade of pine trees for a few minutes. I'm beat and feeling a bit dizzy. Dripping profusely in sweat. It's hot and waaaay too humid for my liking. The last few miles home were nearly unbearable, and as I got off the bike at home after even by-passing Netsin's Ice Cream shop, I could feel the first pangs of cramps building up in my legs. Karen pulled out ice-bags, I started drinking cokes, orange juice, tomato juice and cold water from the fridge and massaging my legs to help prevent the inevitable cramps to come. Moderate success. I had a few jolts in the evening, but managed to get through the night in bed without waking in agony.
What I expected to be an easy century turned into a 117 mile death march by the end. Although I've adapted well to dry desert heat in my last several years of touring out in the southwest, I'm increasingly challenged by the humidity of the east.
That which does not kill us …
… might eventually. Be careful out there!