The Day After

Yep, that’s our SAG being worked on, taking up some of our tourist time in Portsmouth. The belt tensioner is being replaced to eliminate a loud whine that replaced the one I had fixed before we left home. On the other hand, the Suburban is 20 years old, even if it only has 90,000 miles (“only” given its age).

Needing truck repairs while on the road is a bit of deja vu given that last year the air conditioner and brakes both needed repairing even though both had been worked on within the past year. See a pattern here?

There are of course many differences between Laura’s Ride 2016 and Laura’s Ride North. This ride was longer and had more climbing but despite a few 100 degree days, much better weather. Although I got tired and hot, this time I never got cooked or sick from the heat. Also, I never needed the rain gear I brought because the only real rain we had was at night despite
a number of day time thunderstorm warnings. Nor did I use my warm jacket, long tights or full fingered gloves. In fact, I only used a windbreaker and arm warmers 3 or 4 times. In contrast, I wore arm sun screen sleeves almost daily.

The daily miles were generally longer this year and the rest days were less frequent. I think that both of those factors led to a bit more fatigue, at least mentally. However, I didn’t get lost this year as we did last year. A major reason was that I used an ear piece this time so that I could more easily follow directions. I am sure things would have gone much more smoothly last year if I had had one then too. I also always carried at least 1 external battery for my iPhone and usually another for my Garmin (I like to see how far I have ridden to know how far is left, I like to know my speed and the grade and I find it useful to have access to the time and temperature. Keeping track of how much I have climbed is also useful when I have an idea as to what the day’s total is supposed to be).

Another very significant difference is that this year I rode by myself whereas last year I rode with Nick who of course was my connection to Laura. That made for a number of differences. Although I always met Ale at some point during my daily rides this year for valued ice, nourishment and company, I spent the vast majority of my time on the road by myself. This year I rode with someone else only 3 times: with 2 riders for a couple of miles in Portland, OR, with 1 rider for maybe a mile entering Utica and then of course for 30 miles with Bob when finishing the ride. That meant there was no drafting as Nick and I did at times last year, there was no conversation while riding or during breaks and there was no one to debate directions with, though the ear piece made that much less of an issue anyway. It also meant no arguments with a roommate this year. However, I want to be clear: Nick and I always resolved things and the ride we began as basically acquaintances we finished as friends.

Because of all that alone time, what I think while about riding was a question. Kristina, my daughter, responded by sending me a lengthy list of suggestions, from trying to remember my 5 earliest memories to coming up with your most identifying experiences. While she had many thought provoking ideas, my problem was that I could seldom focus on any one thing for that long because my mind would go to focusing on the road for debris, bumps or cracks that I needed to avoid, to watching cars if there was any traffic around to calculating the number of miles to go to get under 50, under 40, into the 20’s and finally the home stretch of less than 20. When I wasn’t doing that I was often monitoring various body parts to determine how I was doing. Usually that meant my hands, shoulders or, as you have read a number of times if you have been following my blogs, between my shoulder blades.

One result was that I was frequently amazed by how resilient our bodies are. There were a number of times when I would feel a pang in one of my knees and think, “Oh no, I don’t want a knee problem.” But invariably I would change my position or pedaling stroke a bit and the slight pain would go away and I would be fine. (I wish that the upper back issue had been as easily cured but that wasn’t debilitating as a knee injury would have been.) I have also thought that it is pretty amazing that a body can tolerate so many thousands of pedal strokes and that tired legs can recover day after day after day. I was, however, very thankful for a couple of artificial helpers, chamois cream and, when I nonetheless chafed, the Bag Balm that Sandi sent with me. I will say that that stuff is virtually miraculous because there were times when my skin was raw and on the verge of blistering that I used the Bag Balm at the end of a ride with repeated applications before going to bed and by morning I was ready to go again.

A real bonus of this year’s ride was that I got to know Alejandra better and to appreciate even more all of the help she provides. Simply stated, the ride would have been impossible without her. There is no way I would do it self supported as do some of the riders I met along the way. I don’t want to carry the weight, I don’t want to rise the type of bike that requires and I definitely would not sleep on the ground after a day of riding.

The the photos include the one I am in with Glenn, Jack and Phil that I referenced last time but couldn’t get down loaded together with some that Sandi and Ale took in Portsmouth. The meals include breakfasts of what my family calls eggs in a frame and an egg and salmon concoction Ale got whose name I don’t remember. Dinner included a cheese plate, beet salad and haddock tacos, all of which were good.

We are now visiting New York on our way home. Home will be good although we will first spend a day or two in DC.

Rick

 

 

The Last Ride Day

August 16, 2017, Wednesday. Manchester to Portsmouth. Although I usually feel fine once I get on the bike, I admit that most mornings have started with a certain degree of reluctance, if not, “Oh no, I have to do this again.” Yesterday, the 16th, was different. While I had had a difficult time sleeping the night before because of various thoughts I was having about the ride and about getting home, I was looking forward to the ride.

For one, I was looking forward to meeting Bob Bernoth who was going to join me for the last part of the ride. (Thank you to Jeff, the owner of Gus’s Bicycles for posting on his shop’s Facebook page which resulted in Bob contacting me.) I also liked the thought that the ride was only going to be around 50 miles, which is considerably shorter than most of the rides I have done over the last couple of months. And of course I was looking forward to the fact that I would be finishing the riding portion of this long journey.

Bob lives in Chester, which is between Manchester and Portsmouth so I met him at his house. The ride there was only 20 miles, but given the route I took – which varied some from what Bob recommended – I rode on 1 1/2 miles of dirt road. The ride also included 2 or 3 10% grades and 1 that reached 12%. Since I knew I wasn’t riding the next day, they were actually kind of fun, especially when they leveled out to 6% or so and that felt relatively easy.

As has been the case for the last few days, the scenery was beautiful. Lots of trees, hills and picturesque homes.

I met Bob at 10:07 and over the course of the day realized how fortunate I was that he was who volunteered to lead me to Portsmouth. The route he chose was great. None of the traffic that had been stressing me lately, good surfaces, pretty scenery, quaint towns and generally good riding. I commented that while we have climbs at home, we have to seek them out whereas here you can’t avoid them. It showed in the way he left me behind when going up some of those climbs.

We had arranged to meet Ale and Sandi at Rye Beach but I texted her to change it to Pearce Boat Launch, which I later learned wasn’t a good decision because it isn’t on the Atlantic. I was told that by Geoff at Gus’s Bicycles when we stopped there so I could visit the shop I had been in contact with. While there, Sandi texted me that they were at the Worcester boat launch. I told that to Bob and Geoff, pronouncing it “Worcester” and they both looked puzzled and said they had never heard of it. Finally, Geoff looked at the text and said, “Oh, you mean ‘Wooster’.” Although it IS spelled “Worcester,” in New England it is pronounced “Wooster.” After we got that straightened out, we decided that Rye Beach was the right choice if I wanted to dip in the Atlantic, so that is what I texted Sandi. Sandi never figured out why her text said Worcester Boat Launch when she meant Pearce Boat Launch. It was a regular comedy of errors but it all worked out.

One photo is of Geoff and Judy of Gus’s. Bob is in the pictures at the beach.

After the tire dipping, we sat on some rocks at the beach and enjoyed the champagne and lobster rolls that Sandi and Ale brought us. VeryNew England and very good!

We then loaded the bikes up and drove to downtown Portsmouth where at Bob’s suggestion we went to Brewer’s Bottle Cellar. Given the beer drinker that I have become, even I ordered one. (Sandi was our designated driver.) When the waitress brought us our drinks, she told us that they were the compliments of the man at the end of the bar. I of course went over to talk to him – Phil – and learned that the drinks were because he admired the cause and the accomplishment. I enjoyed meeting him and his 2 friends, who were equally effusive in their comments. It won’t come as a shock that I left them with a Laura’s Ride North card and I hope to hear from them. Thank you, Phil, it is people like you who help make this ride gratifying. I am in the photo with Glenn, Jack and Phil, in that order.

When I sat down, I talked to the 2 men to my right and learned that one is visiting from Sacramento and that the 2 of them are doing some bike riding in the area. Andy, the one from California and in the photo with the green shirt said that he is a 2 time survivor of cancer and enthusiastically asked for a card. I hope to hear from him. The other mentioned how he felt good when he rides 12 miles and that he was impressed by 80 miles a day.

Then Frank walked up and handed me $20 as a donation Frank also rides, including in a local MS RIDE THANK YOU, Frank. As I told him, it is for a good cause and it helps make all of this worthwhile for me.

When I returned to my seat, Sandi told me that Bob had also made a contribution. And that was in addition to the time he had also contributed. As I said earlier, I am thankful that it is Bob who joined me, and not just because of the route he chose. He is generous and was fun to spend the day with. We all enjoyed him. Thank you, Bob!

We ended the day by eating more mussels after having had some with the afternoon beer. When I get home I have to replace the muscles I have lost from not visiting the gym. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)

This post is long enough that I will save some of my thoughts for another time.

If you were waiting to see if I would actually make it before donating, now is the time!

Rick

PS I tried to post a video here but couldn’t. Go to #laurasridenorth

At Last!

oo

One day to go. Then ride. Then once again dipping my Bike’s tires into the Atlantic Ocean, this time just south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Similarly to Astoria, Portsmouth isn’t on the ocean itself so we rode to Rye Beach, which is adjacent to Portsmouth but actually on the Atlantic Ocean to complete this journey.) Then enjoying the champagne that Sandi thoughtfully brought.

For a number of reasons, today was a great day. But it is now 11:10 p.m. and I’m beat so I will leave the details of today, including names and photos of some good people we met, for tomorrow’s post. In the meantime I just wanted to let you know that we have successfully completed this ride

Until tomorrow,

Rick

Growing Paranoia?

Except for the sprinters and those looking to win a stage, the last day of the Tour de France is basically ceremonial. So long as he doesn’t crash, the winner has already been determined. Although I didn’t race, and I certainly haven’t won anything, tomorrow seems basically “ceremonial,” or maybe more accurately, it feels like a mere formality. Unless I crash, I know that I have, or soon will, accomplish what I set out to do. That the last day is less than 50 miles, which will be by far the shortest ride of this trip, that someone is going to ride in with me over the last 1/2 of the way from Manchester to Portsmouth, and that it is the final day all contribute to the feeling that it is merely a formality and not the usual struggle. And having Sandi join us this evening also contributes.

Yes, I am going to tide to a local bicyclist’s home in Chester and ride with him to a beach in Portsmouth for the tire dipping in the Atlantic “ceremony.” I appreciate Bob’s company.

I will do some reflecting on the trip in later posts but want to say a bit about today’s ride.

August 15, Tuesday, Brattleboro to Manchester. Today we entered the 10th and final state of this journey, New Hampshire. And that doesn’t include Ontario, Canada.

The last riding day in Vermont was short, less than 3 miles. But a stretch of Vermont highway set the tone of the day for me. There was nothing remarkable about it, I have probably ridden on hundreds of miles of similar roads. But for some reason, having cars and trucks roar by me without so much as a rumble strip to separate us started getting to me. I’m not sure why this happened because I haven’ suffered any close calls. Unless, of course, you consider having a big big rig go by within 3 or 4 feet to be a close call. If you do, then I have had at least 100 of those. It was as though the cumulative effect caught up with me.

Thankfully that stretch ended within a couple of miles when I turned off on some back roads. But there were times later when I was riding on a narrow shoulder with more traffic than I liked when the thought of catching a ride with Ale was very tempting. However, the idea of catching a ride so near the finish was so distasteful that I just kept going. Though the thought that it would be pretty dumb to get hit because I was too stubborn to get a ride crossed through my mind more than once.

Although Google has generally been great, it’s penchant for dirt roads was a bit of a pain today. The first time it had me turn off of one of those stretches that was bothering me today onto a dirt road. I usually ignore those directions lately but I figured that it would be worth it to get away from the traffic. The problem was that the dirt road dead ended after about a half mile. So I got to backtrack in difficult terrain – the sand was just wet and deep enough to be a challenge for me – and get back on the road I had been anxious to leave.

The second stretch of dirt trail came at the end of a road that had started out just fine. I have included a picture of a stretch of that trail (the 3rd from the last) but you will see the trail only if you look very closely. I was there and sometimes I could barely see it. And when I could I was dodging protruding roots or thick gravel or sand. That lasted for 1 1/2 miles.

I will say that in talking to Bob, the cyclist I will be riding with, I mentioned one of the roads I had been on and he said he had never seen a bicycle there. And for a busy road, that was one I felt the most comfortable on. So maybe I’m not just paranoid.

Except for being routed in circles in a shopping center’s parking lot, the rest of the ride was good. Some good surfaces, country roads with little traffic and the hills were fun. A total of 82 miles and about 4,100 feet of climbing.

The scenery was again beautiful, lush green and some lakes and rivers.

More sushi tonight. I again loved it.

Now there is just tomorrow. Since Bob knows the back roads, that element should be an improvement.

Rick

 

 

 

 

 

THANK YOU!

 

First, let me say HOORAY and THANK YOU! The donation total had a nice increase yesterday and I greatly appreciate that. Of course, the total wouldn’t be what it is but for all of the prior donations as well. Thank you to all of you who have contributed! I hope that there are others who are waiting until the end of the ride to help push the contribution total even higher. Remember, ultimately that is what this is all about.

August 14, Monday, Latham to Brattleboro, VT. Today’s ride started with Ale dropping me of where I ended yesterday which was on a busy 4 lane city street with no shoulder. Actually, I had her take me 2 blocks farther because I saw the start of a bike lane. Great idea except that for some reason the lane lasted less than a mile and then disappeared without the emergence of a shoulder. So I again just staked out the middle of the right lane and hoped that I didn’t annoy anyone. But that was better than tiding to the right of the lane because then cars would share the lane with me by driving far too close. Fortunately, in less than 2 miles a decent shoulder appeared and that problem was solved.

I had been somewhat apprehensive about today’s ride because it was to include 5,050′ of climbing which was the most I had done since Wyoming.

After I got out of the city – Latham is a suburb of Albany – I got on some pretty country roads and the riding was good. I did a lot of shifting because these pretty roads went up and down, though none were more than11% and they were more likely to top out at 7% or so. The climbing, slowed me more than the descents increased my speed so I was making slower than usual progress.

I had climbed a bit less than 2,000′ before I reached Vermont. I had 2 primary thoughts. The 1st was that I had finished 40% of the expected climb and felt good (except for that recurring pain between my shoulder blades). The second was that I had heard how brutal the Vermont hills can be and I wondered how much more difficult they would be than the New York hills I had just climbed.

Although there were a couple of lengthy climbs, they never reached the 12% I had expected. The only real problem I had on the ride was that a large stretch scared me some. There is a definite sense of vulnerability when you are on a 2 lane road with significant traffic, including big rigs because that route was the primary east/west corridor in that part of the state, and no reliable shoulder. The shoulders weren’t reliable because they frequently became unrideable because of debris or cracks and they often disappeared altogether. That is worse than no shoulder because the car and truck drivers see a shoulder and figure that is where the bike should be. The problem if you ride on the good shoulder is that when it turns bad or disappears you have to move to the left, which is where a car is likely to be. I found that riding to be stressful and the thought of having Alecometo get me occupied to me more than once, especially after I had finished the bulk of the climbing so I knew that I wouldn’t be missing that. However, the thought of not finishing the ride overcame my better sense so I kept on riding. I am writing this, so the cars obviously managed to miss me.

So I did finish the ride. Although I wasn’t happy with the riding conditions, I will say that what we have seen of Vermont is beautiful. We rode through Burlington which was a very attractive small town. Lush vegetation and some pretty buildings. Brattleboro also has a small town charm and sits next to a large river, the Connecticut River. The restaurant we had dinner at tonight faces the river, has an attractive converted warehouse look and had good food and lots of local micro brewed beers.

I was going to reflect on some of the differences between this year’s ride and last year’s but I need to get to sleep. Sandi is flying into Manchester tomorrow and I want to finish in time to greet her at the airport.

I will mention that tonight I told Ale that if the last 2 days go as the rest of the ride has that I will have accomplished something that I doubt anyone thought I could do. In fact, I would be surprised if many, of any age, have done it. But I told her I wouldn’t tell her what I was talking about until the end of the ride. She immediately made a calendar entry to remind her to ask me what I am talking about.

See you again soon,
Rick

 

I know, I wouldn’t have to spit out so many bugs if I kept my mouth closed. There are a couple of problems with that. One is that I don’t think I could ride far if I didn’t also breathe out of my mouth. The second problem is that I am an attorney. You can’t really expect me to keep my mouth shut for hours on end.

August 12, Saturday, Liverpool to Little Falls. 81 miles and 1,832′ of climbing. It could have been fewer miles if I had followed Google’s bike route. The problem is that then I would have spent the entire day on the Erie Canal Trail and, as I have said before, that is mostly unpaved. I was quite willing to ride farther if I could ride on pavement. So I again followed the car route, highways avoided, and was very satisfied with the result. There were almost always decently wide shoulders with good surfaces and, except when going through Utica, none of those jarring joints about which I have repeatedly complained. All in all, very pleasant riding.

Except that there were 80 miles. That isn’t so bad but sometimes the thought of so many miles is depressing, or intimidating, or both. The thing is, though, that the miles do go by so long as I keep pedaling. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case when I am resting. And I do stop to rest, primarily to try to get rid of the pain between my shoulder blades. I don’t know what I have been doing wrong to keep having that problem, but I am definitely doing something. After the ride I asked Ale to give me a massage concentrating on that area and though it felt great, it didn’t prevent the same thing from happening today, Sunday.

We both agree that the countryside here in northern New York is as pretty as any we have seen on this trip. The total flats that we had been in have give way to rolling hills that feature lots of green trees and fields and because of the hills, sometimes sweeping views after one of the numerous climbs.

A few miles past Utica a rider loaded down with panniers was coming toward me. Because the street wasn’t busy, and because it had been hundreds of miles – back in Wyoming? – since I had seen another long distance rider, I crossed over and got him to stop. It turns out that he and his 3 friends, who soon caught him and also stopped, were riding from NY City with San Francisco as their destination When I asked how they were getting to the coast – because I figured they would approach San Francisco from the north – they said they were going to go through Yosemite. I really have no idea what their route will be. Alexander, Alex, Andrew and (sorry, not Alfred, Albert or A…) Johnny flew to NY with their bikes from Cambridge to make their epic trip. (They are in that order in the photo.) They plan to finish sometime in late October since they are riding around 50 miles a day with a rest day every 5 days or so. I warned them of the possibility of snow in Yosemite then but, based on their research, they thought they would be ok. After confirming that they were from the U.K., which was really pretty obvious from listening to them, I mentioned how we had been in London, had just left Liverpool and would soon be in Manchester.

Although I rode to Little Falls, we didn’t stay there because there were no rooms available since they were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Erie Canal.

When Ale drove me back to the motel, she said that the guy in the room next door had arrived on a bike. Naturally, I knocked on his door to see what he is doing. He is doing a week long ride, essentially from Buffalo to Albany at the rate of about 60 miles a day on the Erie Canal Trail. He is riding a more appropriate bike for that kind of riding than I am. While we were talking, an older couple rode up on very loaded down bikes to get into the room next to us on the other side. I asked where they were riding from and can’t repeat the answer because while they were obviously doing a lot of miles, it was pretty meandering and wasn’t across the country.

We had dinner at a small Italian restaurant that served the first decent dinner bread we have had. We also enjoyed our lasagna.

August 13, Sunday, Little Falls to Latham (which is right next to Albany). I started in Little Falls because that was where I finished yesterday. Before I started the ride, a woman asked if she could take a photo of the back of my Laura’s Ride North jersey (which features a photo of Laura). Of course I said yes and I gave her one of the Laura’s Ride North cards. When she left, a man approached and asked if we needed water or anything and said he would get us a case of water if we needed it. (We were in a grocery store parking lot.) We didn’t need one but I did take the opportunity to give him one of the same cards. He asid he would give it to his wife to make a donation. Thank you!

When I started the ride, I again opted for the auto route to avoid the Erie Canal Trail I had mentioned earlier that it was more than 350 miles long when built and still runs at least to Albany.

This time my choice didn’t increase the mileage but it did increase the climbing. The Canal Trail is essentially flat with a slight decline when going east. In contrast, the route I took had numerous climbs with one getting to 16%. In fairness, though, I have to say that my computer registered 16% for only a couple of seconds. The total climb was 3,333 feet. Despite having to work on the hills, I told myself, even while doing the climbing, that I preferred that riding to being on the dirt path.i am not rushing out to buy a mountain bike.

The scenery was again beautiful. Lots of green, lots of trees, lots of green hills and again many beautiful vistas from the tops of those hills.And there were also some beautiful views of the Canal, something that isn’t always true even when you can see the Canal because there are long stretches where it isn’t particularly pretty.

Some of the roads were as good as I have come to expect in NY but some were of much lower quality. Still rideable but uneven enough to make me go even slower than I usually do on descents.

The approach to Albany when I got into the urban area got uncomfortable because of the increased traffic with no shoulders or bike lanes. I did best when I just staked out the entire right lane but I finally chickened out and got on a sidewalk until I was next supposed to turn. And then, miraculously, Ale appeared. Tomorrow she will drive me back to where she got me since the motel we are staying in is a bit out of town.

Tomorrow is scheduled for 79 miles and 5,000′ of climbing. Together with the 4,500′ scheduled for tomorrow, that has been marked on my mental calendar with a bit of trepidation. We will see.

Tonight was a sea food restaurant. For at least the 4th time, Ale had mussels. Together with a calamari pasta. I had clam chowder and sword fish.

Now, in addition to scenery and food photos, here are a couple pictures of my legs. I know, pictures of Ale’s would be more appreciated but they wouldn’t show how tan I have gotten or the tribute to the ride that now adorns my right calf. Actually, that is a bit presumptuous because it says, “Twice Across America” and I haven’t quite made it the second time. But I will. In a mere 3 days from now.

I will let you know how the 5,000′ go.

Rick

9,929. Or was it 929.

August 9, Wednesday, Niagra Falls to Rochester. The first few miles were on city streets that had ample shoulders and I made good progress. Then I was directed to a bike path that was similar to the last one, meaning that it was hard enough that it was fairly easy to ride on. More tiring, and a bit slower than pavement, but a far cry from earlier gravel roads that were a constant challenge.

This trail was along the bank of a not particularly impressive canal. I stopped to look at an historical marker – something I seldom do – and saw reference to a no longer existing bridge that crossed over the Erie Canal. I confirmed that I had been riding along the Erie Canal for more than 30 miles – all on the dirt path – when I stopped and asked a lady who was walking her dog if the water way had a name. She immediately told me that it was “the famous Erie Canal.” Completed in 1825, it was then the 2nd longest Canal in the world and had a dramatic impact on the economies of New York, New York City and the US through the then low cost means of transporting goods. The Canal was more than350 miles long. By the end of the day, all of which except the last 12 miles or so was spent on that Canal trail, it felt like I had ridden well more than half of those miles. While the Canal trail was great as far as unpaved trails go, riding on it was still way more tiring than riding on a paved surface. I was thankful that as I got closer to Rochester, the trail became paved. The result was that by the end of the 85+ miles I felt better than I had at 70 miles or so because I did some major recovering once I hit the paved surfaces.

We finished the day by having sushi, which was great, and seeing Girls’ Trip, which is probably best described as Sandi put it: it isn’t a good first date movie. Or one to go to with your parents. Or young kids. Or your pastor.

August 10, Friday, Rochester to Liverpool. Today it only took a couple of miles before I was directed to the Erie Canal Heritage trail. That meant more rideable dirt trail  going along the Erie Canal. Today I encountered more people, most walking, many with dogs, and some cyclists. This went on for a number of miles and was taking a toll on my hands. When I came to one of the numerous places where the trail crossed a road that went over a bridge of the Canal I noticed that there was a road off to the left that seemed to parallel the Canal. Since the Canal Path was taking a toll on my hands and was just plain tiring me out, I decided to try it. (I have to give extra kudos to mountain bikers who spend hours riding on much worse surfaces.)

I was able to go along a few miles ignoring Google’s directions to turn back onto the Canal Path. However, a decision had to be made when the road came to a “T”. Was I going to get back on the path, possibly for another 60+ miles, or was I going to rebel? Rebellion won. I deleted the bike directions and asked for car directions that did not involve using major highways. Although that was going to add a few miles, that is what I opted for. And what a good decision that was. All of the roads that I was directed to had wide shoulders and smooth surfaces. Thank you New York! It has probably had the best roads of any state I have ridden in.

Despite the great riding conditions, I still got tired. And although I felt good at the end of the ride, my legs were definitely wobbly.

The only glitch on the ride was that I hadn’t charged my Garmin the previous night and the cable I brought to hook it up to one of those invaluable batteries I got from SPI Consulting didn’t work so it died after 19 miles. Then when I noticed that my phone was dying, which it always does because it is giving me directions, I discovered that I hadn’t brought that cable with me. It was fortunate that I hadn’t forgotten my bike.

Because having my phone die would cause serious problems – not only would I lose my directions, but Ale wouldn’t be able to find me – I turned off the directions, pulled off the road and waited for Ale to reach me since I had texted her earlier to let her know I was going to need rescuing. When she caught me I got the correct cables, connected both the Garmin and iPhone to batteries and felt reconnected to the world. So off I went again with “only” 56 miles to go. It was after that that I got tired. So what did I do then? I kept pedaling. What else could I do? Well, I suppose I could have hitched a ride with Ale, but that wasn’t going to happen, not when I knew I could finish if I just kept pedaling, which I did.

87 miles and a couple of 10%+ climbs and I was done.

Liverpool is a town of 2,228 and apparently all of them eat dinner out, at least on Friday. The first restaurant we went to was very large and still had a 45 minute wait. We walked to another and although we were promptly seated, it was also busy. Catfish tacos for Ale, BBQ ribs and brisket for me. What I get at home is better.

if you look carefully you will see that one of the pictures is of a lavender house which I found unique. There are also a couple of the Erie Canal and it’s Heritage Trail.

Oh, yes. 9,239 or 923 what? Bugs that I have spit out while riding on this trip. I can’t say the precise number because I haven’t been counting but I know it has been a lot.

I have, however, kept a precise count of the number of flat tires I have had on this trip. I will let you know the final tally after the last riding day. Which is now only 5 days away!

Rick

Make Up Photos

The above photos are of the August 8 ride into Niagra Falls. The first 2 are of the unpaved road I mentioned. The next 2 are of Lake Ontario from the paved path that ran along or. The final photo is taken from a table in front of a cafe at which I got a root beer float. I Wes still in Canada. The final photo was after I crossed the border looking back at the crossing.

 

The above were taken by Ale of Niagra Falls and of the Pizza she ordered for dinner. Yes, “she,” not “we.” Though I will say that it took her lunch the next day to finish it.

 

 

 

 

BACK IN THE USA (though it was easier for one of us than the other)

These photos belonged with the last post. Yes, I thought it was going to rain, but it didn’t.

These are from August 8:

The ones I took aren’t being posted  due to internet problems. Sorry.

August 8, Tuesday, Brantford, Ontario to Niagra Falls, USA.

The riding today was different than it has been. For instance, just a few miles into what was ultimately an 80 mile ride I hit an unpaved trail that was a converted railroad track that was actually rideable. While it was of course slower than decent pavement, it wasn’t as jarring as many of the roads with the horizontal joints and there was no gravel or loose sand – or at least not much – so that although my average speed was way down, I often hit 15-16 mph, something I hadn’t been able to do on any of the previous unpaved roads.

The unpaved section of the trail lasted 20 miles or so and went through what seemed to be pretty isolated areas. I say, “seemed to be” because often the vegetation was so dense I couldn’t see on either side of the trail. Other times it went through fields or farmland and at times past homes. After a number of miles I was surprised to see a multistory building ahead of me and realized that I was now in an urban area.

The trail was amazing because of its length and condition. It even turned to pavement when it entered Dundas, a city of almost 25,000. Since I had no idea where I was, I asked what city I was in and was told Dundas.

I liked what I saw of Dundas. I don’t know if it is, but to me it had the feeling of a college town with vegetation. Plus, when I was on the streets, drivers were bike friendly, unlike some I encountered when I crossed back into the US.

The trail led me to Hamilton. a much larger city of 550,000+. (I knew I was in Hamilton only because I again asked someone while stopped at a light what city I was in.) Yes, this was very different than the towns with fewer, often much fewer, than 1,000 people that I have spent most of my time riding through.

A startling experience in Hamilton happened when Google told me to turn right onto a one way street that was going to my left. Just as I got to the intersection, I saw that there was a separate bike lane, with a barrier from the car traffic, that ran in both directions so that I could go the “wrong way” on a one way street. And with the barrier, I could do so and feel safe. Safe, but not particularly comfortable because the road was in poor condition. However, I was able to make decent progress until I was directed to another city street with no bike lane and no shoulder. The saving grace was that there were 2 lanes in each direction so I just staked out the right lane, riding down the middle of it. That was something I did when I rode a motorcycle; claim the whole lane so that cars don’t try to share the lane with you. It worked, too, with all of the cars that passed me doing so by using the left lane.

I was eventually led to another paved bike path that skirted a huge – not big or large, but huge – lake. Because I still didn’t really know where I was, I stopped at a park bench and asked what body of water it was. Turns out that it was Lake Ontario which, unless compared to the ocean or maybe Lake Michigan, easily qualifies as huge.

Although the rest of the ride wasn’t on large city streets, it wasn’t through the remote countryside that had characterized much of this trip.

However, the population density definitely started increasing as I got within 10 miles or so of the border. Google’s response, which I appreciated, was to route me onto residential streets where possible so that I avoided much, but not all, of the city riding. Plus I got a couple of 10% grade climbs that made me work a bit harder.

Approaching the boarder on my bike was interesting. I just pulled in behind a car and took my place in line. I can’t say that the customs officer seemed at all surprised when he saw me. Although he asked me what I had been doing in Canada, he didn’t ask me if I was bringing anything with me that I had bought there. I guess that was pretty unlikely unless I had been carrying diamonds because I wasn’t exactly pulling a trailer behind me and there isn’t any extra room on the bike.

Then, back in the USA!

Crossing the boarder on my bike into New York was exciting. Although I still have 7 riding days and hundreds of miles left, I will admit that the thought of having ridden my bike, alone, from Oregon to New York was exciting.

It turns out that my return to the US was easier than Ale’s. She was stopped, pulled out of line and questioned for nearly a half hour. And then suddenly handed back her passport and told to have a good day. I will say that from what I saw of Ale in the evening, the guard had done a pretty good job of preventing that from happening. She had clearly been stressed. But she did make it and alls well that ends well. Or so it has been said.

The weather has been very cooperative although I have actually worn my windbreaker a couple times, though not for a whole day.

Today we spent visiting Niagra Falls and that was fun. I will post some photos of what we saw but probably not now.

On to Rochester tomorrow.

Rick