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!