Finally. After nearly a month "off" (from century rides), I finally got a nice weather-window day and jumped at the chance to knock off Century #25. And because of my preference to ride my centuries in daylight, I'm rapidly (or so I thought) running out of daylight to get the last one in before winter. With that in mind, I donned my hi-viz, rigged up the fast FrankenTrek with blinkies and set out before sunrise yesterday. In the city, there was enough light to navigate my way out of town; straight out across the center city and out Lyell Avenue (nicely paved with a bike lane too!) into the country and got to watch a beautiful sunrise in my mirror.
I was headed west. I was determined to return before sunset no matter what. I grabbed the FrankenTrek which I can count on for fast riding, but old 700-23 tires that I'm convinced are jinxed (a flat on most rides is "normal") raise the threat of delays. And what do I do to mitigate the risk? Rather than mitigate, I only increased the odds of flatting, if not sustaining actual damage, by heading to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.
In the flat farmlands roughly halfway between Rochester and Buffalo, there are a pair of land management areas lying in a broad swath of lowland / wetland areas of which the Iroquois NWR is one, and the Tonawanda State Wildlife Management Area just west of there is the other. Our club has a short ride out around the Iroquois refuge (22 miles: RBC#35 - Wild Goose Chase) that we used to run years ago in the spring during the Canada geese migration season. Initially, Having never visited there, I thought of going out PAST the Iroquois refuge to the Tonawanda Area, but that would have added another 15-20 miles to my route further risking my odds of getting home by dark.
Or so I thought.
I had a very slight tailwind as I headed westbound on mostly quiet, flat and reasonably fresh pavement for most of the stretch. I was shocked to find myself entering the refuge on a dirt road (45 miles) in only three hours.
Signs indicated that a bridge was closed ahead, but on a bike, I ALWAYS go ahead to check because bikes can frequently get through / across / around when cars can't. As luck would have it, a "car" bridge doesn't exist over the creek, but a pedestrian bridge does and leads to a short stretch of hiking trail to connect the two ends of Sour Springs Road. And it's "ridable", even on skinnies.
Watching closely for "obstructions" under the tall grass and wet leaves, I proceeded down the trail till I got back on dirt leading to a viewpoint overlooking a marsh jammed with Canada geese and what I believe were loons. I should say "I believe" because although upstate New York is just barely south of the currently recognized range of loons in North America, I KNOW their sound intimately having spent a week vacationing at a cabin in the lakes region in far northern Wisconsin. I witnessed a strange phenomenon; perhaps just a coincidence. As I sat by the marsh eating 1/2 a cliff bar in the sunshine, a cloud passed over putting the pond in shade and suddenly, over the racket of a couple hundred geese, I hear the sound of loons. Spooky man!
STILL hoping to get home before dark, I only paused for a few minutes and hit the road. The southerly winds weren't strong (yet) but were either headwind, tailwinds, or crosswinds depending on which left-right or right-left sequence of turns I made to essentially head east till I snagged the canal trail. Closer to the city, the winds picked up, and heading around the south end of the city on the trail put me squarely into the headwinds. No matter. I hammered out 102 miles in under 8 hours simply because I only stopped twice. The second time to eat the other half of my cliff bar at Long Pond Road where there's a couple benches next to an interpretive sign describing how "The Deep Cut" in the canal was constructed. Worth stopping for if you are out that way.
On the road at 7am and home before 3pm. Guess I could have gotten to the Tonawanda area after all, but I'm happy with the day's ride and now I'm "off-the-hook". With goal #1 exceeded by 15 (I initially planned only TEN centuries this year), I only have 600 miles to ride to hit goal #2: 10,000 miles in 2020.
Or, maybe 11,000?