Join Ride with GPS and discover even more new routes and riding buddies. Print turn-by-turn cue sheets so you know where you are heading. And then, log your rides and watch your progress.
Today's main event is packing and getting ready to ride. The ride itself is a short jaunt to Ruth's place for the first overnight.
With my first overnight behind me, but my home and shop on the way to the ACA route, I made a stop at home to do the highest priority things that remained undone. Changed out the front tire for a new one, picked up some paperwork that I would finish during the early days of the ride, and more. I got rolling again around 3pm. At this point there were still items on the checklist that had been triaged off it instead of checked off, but the clock was ticking and I needed to get riding to reach Michigan comfortably by end of day August 4th. My day's destination in Petersham was along roads I've ridden several times in the dark (usually in the opposite direction). As it got to be 6pm, I began communicating with my B&B to let them know I wouldn't be arriving before 9. I called them again at 10:30 to tell them where I was. They then began expecting me as imminently as though I had been in a car. As I neared the end of their very long driveway, my phone rang. The proprietor was calling for a progress update, and was happy to hear I was there. Me too. To my surprise, I then spent several hours unable to sleep, and working on paying bills and doing other chores to do with launching the expedition.
Friends Charlie and Patricia drove to meet me at the General Store in Petersham, where I loaded up on a big breakfast. Charlie and I biked together to a point near Montague, seeing some nice country, and experiencing a fierce thunderstorm with sustained rains and nearby lightning strikes. Charlie demonstrated unfathomable toughness, in that weather with no raingear and a skinny-tire bike with rim brakes not discs. I then rode 50-some solo miles to WIlliamstown, where I finished up and mailed some financial paperwork that had been on my checklist. My departure was complete!
My chain hygiene routine on this tour, where rain was expected, was to use a wet style chain lube, not the dry lube that is now more common. Yesterday's ride had included a lot of riding in the rain, and my drill was to use my water bottle at end of day to rinse the waterborne grit off the chain, with the plan to let the chain dry overnight, and lube it in the morning. I found a nice spot to do that morning lubing on the Williams College campus. Lubed up, I rode through a corner of Vermont and then into New York State. Along the scenic and little traveled county roads in New York, I began running into road closures for bridge repairs. The first such closure I dodged around; I was riding there after end of the construction workday, so I walked the catwalk they had in place for workers. The second closure took me by surprise, and it was not as walkable as the first. I was forced to detour out of the valley -- given some extra climbing, and rewarded for it by some very nice views. As I was confirming my navigation after my improvised detour, I was approached by a passing motorist. When I told him I was headed for Saratoga, he wanted to tell me how to get there. I had to explain to him that I wanted to follow, to the extent possible, the curated backroads route I had. He did seem very knowledgeable about the roads there; it turned out that he was a retired county highway superintendent. Had he still been working, he would have been in charge of the bridge repairs I had seen.
Peak ADK for me. Some very pretty, very quiet stretches in Adirondacks with no cell signal. After trying out the Adirondack Loop both ways from Saratoga Springs, this is my favored direction. (In 2017 I rode counterclockwise from Saratoga Springs). The town of Speculator was fun.
The innkeeper was a friendly old guy in his 80s who during my stay went on two EMT calls with the volunteer fire department.
Pretty Adirondacks high lakes all day, with gratuitous off-route 500 foot climb over the pass to Long Lake because I didn't figure out (before reserving at Long Lake) that I would reach the Northern Tier route at Blue Mountain Lake. Splendid country here, perfectly OK to ride some of it twice.
High lake country, then descending from the Adirondacks, was beautiful. The pay phone is not dead in areas of limited or nonexistent cell service in the Adirondacks. This photogenic one at Long Lake was in an area where Verizon had cell service. I visited a state park yesterday while making ergonomic adjustments to my shoe cleats, and noticed they had two working pay phones in this remote area with no Verizon cell service.
Missed connection with Anne near Boonville; will correct that next time. Laundromat near The Lodge At Headwaters.
On this day I gave back all of my Adirondacks altitude. Around Pulaski began a very long low altitude stretch that would not involve much climbing until after I looped through Michigan and crossed Indiana into Ohio. By this point, just over a week into the ride, I began to experience edema from too much salty food, and I had to get creative about taking in calories without taking in too much salt. I had the fun experience of instantly recognizing, and eating again at, the same Chinese restaurant which on my 2017 tour gave me the inspiration to find low-sodium food by ordering steamed chicken with vegetables with no sauce, no salt, no soy sauce. I think the brain has special memory for food events.
I always stop somewhere to have my mind boggled by the inland oceans that are the Great Lakes. This time it was at the historic lighthouse at Sodus Point, on Lake Ontario, whose clifftop location meant it did not need a tall tower. The photo does no justice to the view I actually saw. This area grows a lot of fruits and berries. I bought a quart of cherries at a self serve stand, put as many as would fit into the side pocket of my Dill Pickle Gear saddle bag, and left about 1/3 quart at the stand. I ate them hours later at ride's end while Facebooking.
At Palmyra, I got onto the Erie Canal, happy to continue past the Palmyra B&B I had stayed at last year, where the room was so full of historic (?) junk that I had no place to unpack my bags but the floor, and no place to do my paperwork but in the bed. Nice rolltop desk in the room was locked rolled up.
A full day on the Erie Canal, capped with a twilight tire repair and thunderstorm headlight failure (which made me happy I had a nice backup headlight on my handlebar ready to switch on). Here I received Lesson 1 in thru-axle tire repair, in the form of a loose wheel bearing making the rear wheel rub the fender or its stay. I figured it out and fixed it, but did not fully understand the thru-axle situation until I received Lesson 2 in a shop in Pittsburgh, where their chief mechanic instructed me to finger tighten the cone equivalents on my thru axle wheel, which can come loose during a tire change.
Left Erie Canal at Lockport, then through Tuscarora Nation's smoke shops to the CA border. Stopped at the excellent currency changing facility on the CA side. Then lunch in Chinese restaurant in the high downtown of Niagara Falls CA, and on to Ft. Erie. A kind local guide outside Ft. Erie rerouted her ride to lead me off my route and through a cyclists' wormhole that went efficiently to my hotel.
Out of Ft. Erie on rail trails, then on roadways along Lake Erie shoreline. Lunch in Port Claiborne on the Welland Canal, which is the route that ships take instead of Niagara Falls. In Dunnville, I met a local rider who guided me to my authentic 1950s motel. This ride put me into position to visit Arris next day at a fairly predictable time.
Lake Erie shore, and nearby farmlands. Visited Arris just past Peacock Point. B&B owner at Port Rowan was building a race car in his garage (not his first by any means).
At Father and Daughters Fish Fry trailer around 34.5 miles, the owner told me there was a cyclists-only detour for the bridge out at Port Bruce -- a decrepit bridge still standing but with auto traffic blocked. Access the decrepit bridge using Jamestown Line. It took an act of faith to believe his vague directions, during which I started thinking of it as Jonestown Line. I did follow his advice and it was a splendid detour, complete with steep (but short) gravel climbs and roads not known to my GPS. However, the GPS problem was my doing -- I had not switched yet to Canada maps and had somehow been coasting on overlap of my USA map. At Port Stanley, I had missed out on staying at Eagles Nest B&B, but I took the steep ride to their cliffside location just to prove to myself I could do it. Next time I'll stay there if possible! (Instead I stayed "downtown", which was noisy).
I arrived in good time after 84 miles riding to Wallaceburg, ON, which takes me away from Lake Erie and puts me into position to enter the USA tomorrow. I did not stop at the Tall Tales Cafe pictured here. A tornado and hail went through near Ridgetown, and so did I, but I went through about two hours after the tornado and hail. I got three warnings about the tornado: from President Trudeau on a cellphone alert blast, from a local standing in his driveway and flagging me down, and from a RCMP officer who pulled up alongside and rolled his window down. Later, I got to speak with an area woman in the tornado town, who is in the habit of speaking with touring cyclists. I rode a few hours wet but had thirty dry miles after late lunch so I checked into the motel dry.
Short day today because I could not get lodging in Yale MI which is further down the road. This was a border crossing day. The ferry was out at Marine City (and is likely to be out for a long time), so I used the First Nation ferry out of Walpole Island that lands at Algonac USA. The ACA-provided detour to use this ferry sent me over some dirt roads that were still full of muddy water from yesterday's rainstorms. Fortunately the rough grass next to the road was rideable next to the deep mud wallows, so I didn't have to retreat, and I didn't even get any on me.
A long day, to cover the miles from Marysville to Yale that I would have ridden the prior day and still remain on the pace established in my 2017 ride. These are mostly agricultural areas, mostly corn and soy in the fields, and plenty of silos, and double-trailer truck rigs going by occasionally (with a big wind effect). I woke early and finished my 100 mile ride before dark, giving me some time to play tourist in Frankenmuth, which is a tourist oriented town with a German theme (oompah bands, etcetera), but built atop a real town, with a large grain storage facility. Staying in sync with my 2017 pace made setting daily destinations easier, and made it likely I would get to my family event on time and well rested.
This day took me from solid farming territory to farming-plus-resort territory on the Lake Huron coast. I tweaked the route at one point past Bay City, to avoid the death threat signs I rode past last year ("If you can read this, you're in range") on a stretch of private road that RideWithGps had routed me on.
A short riding day. I had the "usual" thunderstorm coming through Tawas City, after first seeing an amazing Mayfly hatch -- they were covering the walls outside the very nice beachfront public toilet building. I stopped for laundry in Oscoda, nice laundromat, and carried it wet to hang dry at my Lake Huron cottage in Greenbush (Pappas Motel & Cottages, very restful & scenic).
Some Appalachian Trail hikers I met later refer to this as a "Zero Day" -- a rest day spent in one place. I think these are important. This one let me arrive rested at my family event the following day. I also on this day planned out lodgings for the four day sprint that I would do beginning August 12 to arrive in time for my hiking plans with friend Mont. Some of those nights were in resort areas with scarce lodging, so I figured reserving early might be best. That actually worked out pretty well for the situation of needing to be at a particular place by a particular time; I gave away some flexibility but I got efficiency, predictability, and motivation.
This ride went through a mix of the coastal highway (23) , of which I had already seen a lot, and some nice inland routes through farmlands. It took me to a ten day family event in Presque Isle. Along the way I made a shopping and restaurant stop in Alpena. As I neared my destination, I was spotted by an extended family group driving by, who hollered and waved and reported my imminent arrival to the clan back at home base. I was greeted by all my siblings and some of their children and grandchildren, in a wildly enthusiastic "finish line" ceremony at Whiskey Point, 1315 miles into what would be a 3400 mile ride. I hauled my bike up into the rafters in the boathouse and didn't lower it down until I was preparing to resume the ride on August 12th.
I began the return leg of my ride with something of a time constraint: I needed to cover the distance to a meeting point near Sleeping Bear Dune in four days, roughly 80 miles per day.
I used RideWithGPS to route me from Whiskey Pt to Mackinaw City, where my Adventure Cycling Association routing for the rest of the ride would start. The ride was interesting, through a less populated resort area. Rogers City was a low cost resort area. There I ate lunch, managed to successfully donate some uncarryable laundry detergent pods to another shopper, and heard from the pharmacist that he dispensed his last dose of Shingrix yesterday. (I had been inquiring about Shingrix, which is in nationwide short supply, in every drugstore I stopped at). Things got more challenging after lunch, when the route took me through a cool state park instead of along the coastal route. Unfortunately it turned out that due to lack of rain, the sandy gravel roads (roughly miles 53 to 63) were in stretches too soft to ride even with my wide tires. I must have been dismounted by washouts at least a hundred times; I would grunt along pushing the bike until the road seemed it might bear riding, and try again. I did manage to avoid getting injured by the many sudden dismounts that happened as my front wheel would bog down. There was almost no other traffic; one 4wd truck and one 4wd jeep came by in a ten mile stretch during what must have been two hours.
The Jeep driver stopped to ask if I were lost, and in the subsequent conversation he explained the drought-caused situation to me, saying that normally these roads would have a lot more 2 and 4 wheel traffic. This sand washout walking is the kind of adventure that you don't typically have on the Adventure Cycling routes, which are more carefully curated. I started thinking of ACA as Adventure-Free Cycling Association (in a good way).
I checked into tonight's lodging less than an hour after a gorgeous sunset in farm country. Today's Adventure Cycling curated route did not have any surprises such as the sand trap in yesterday's crowd sourced route. This was, at 92 miles, the longest day of the four day push to get to Manistee to hike with Mont. It was cool to go through an extended park in which people just park on the road and walk to an adjacent beach. I rode with delight the Tunnel of Trees, with occasional views of Lake Michigan a hundred feet below. I rode with some annoyance fifteen miles of bike path with Stop signs at every driveway and road crossing. At day's end I was routed through farm country just inland; you don't have to go far to escape the monotony of resort area buildup.
A good day's ride, along the coasts of bay, lake, and Lake, and inland through fields of hay, sunflower, corn. There was a several mile ordeal of bike path, followed by 15 miles of delightful bikepath. Lodging was not plentiful, but at the place I found, the inn staff was friendly and other guests were interesting to talk to.
Approaching the end of my four day sprint, I could not resist the urge to go look at the Sleeping Bear dune that the park service wants you to climb on (so you stay off the other dunes). That trip helped me realize that these hills around here are all filled with sand! I reached my hiking launch point and met up with old friend Mont. Tomorrow will be a hiking day with no biking. Side trip to Meijer store at end of day for unsalted peanut butter, which is hard to find in these parts. (Stores that have it generally carry one brand: Crazy Richard's).
Hiking day with Mont. General plan: Go in through the wooded dunes, and out along the Lake shore. Beautiful country unlike anything I'd spent time in before.
After breakfast with Mont, packed up the bike and then mailed my hiking shoes home from the Ludington Post Office, where a clerk said they not infrequently help cyclists pack such parcels. Saw the ferry in port that I'll likely take next year across Lake Michigan. Then covered a lot of ground inland, away from the coast, much of it on fast, flat bike path (rail trail I believe). Around Mile 52, encountered a place where the Adventure Cycling GPS track disagreed with the Adventure Cycling map cues. The cues in this case were right but the track was out of date, so I circled back a mile or two so I could record a current correct track that I can provide to ACA. At end of day, some grocery shopping and a hotel stay on Muskegon Bay.
After an intentionally short riding day, I arrived for a homestay visit with friend John and his wife, who moved from Boston to his roots-place MI upon retirement. Got a great tour of the area with John as guide, by car and foot. He took me to a couple of interesting beaches, including a town beach with mostly locals, which shifts my perspective on some of what I've been riding by: the shoreline amenities are not just for tourists, but also for local residents who are living an outdoors-oriented life. John reports that towns are investing in touristic amenities in hopes of bringing economic revival by tourism. Tourists arrive by car and also by boat to port towns.
A day's ride near the coastline went by a lot of posted "Private Property". I was relieved to see a nice public park in St. Joseph, MI, where Lake access is not just for shore property owners and boaters. At this park a young couple approached me to ask about my ride. As I spoke with them, another couple they knew spotted them and joined the conversation. All were residents of St. Joseph, a town of 8000+ people. When I described my route, they said it was a dream route. When I told them I didn't have time to visit the brew pub in Sawyer tonight, they told me I should take it slower.
Approaching Sawyer, MI at dusk I saw a threatening situation taking shape in my rearview mirror, so I rode off the road just in case that car behind me didn't have a chance to merge left before it reached me. All told, I did that maneuver just twice in 3400 miles. My wide tire bike is pretty good off the pavement (and in general gives a cushy ride with its 35psi tires.)
Leaving the Lake Michigan shoreline and the Eastern time zone, I went south into Indiana and spent overnight in Central Time. The sweetest section of today's ride was a well paved, low traffic 20+ mile section through farmland. As I examined and photographed some of the interesting equipment used to irrigate fields, it suddenly struck me how capital intensive agriculture is -- I saw almost no people working at it today. I know that changes at different points in the planting and harvesting cycle; today was all about the plants just quietly growing under sun and light rain.
Riding into North Judson I thought "Oh cool, they have an active rail depot here, not a depressing abandoned one" but it turned out to be their Railroad Museum, which is outdoors on railroad tracks.
Today continues the total immersion into primarily agricultural areas that began yesterday. I find this very calming and I welcome it. The scarcity of touristic infrastructure requires some planning ahead, but both days I have found acceptable low sodium foods in one town midway. (Today it was Rochester at 42+ miles). I rode a good stretch on the Nickel Plate trail, named after the railroad whose bed and bridges it occupies. It's now my favorite rail trail so far, despite the trail-narrowing blocker devices at intersections with roads that just barely fit my wide front end with its two large panniers. These devices were custom-built at each intersection, and many of them are leaning, so I couldn't be sure of fitting through any one of them (although I never found one I couldn't ride through).
Rode until just after sunset to move into position for a short ride next day to visit 1st grade pal Sheila and her family. Today I saw lots of agricultural land, from roads and from rail trail. At one point I saw a cement pour in progress for the foundation of yet another giant silo in a cluster of silos.
I could feel a transition toward exurban, then suburban, as I approached Greater Indianapolis. Navigational challenges in Carmel arose about finding a good way to go offroute to the hotel, but I persisted and found good routing. The key to getting good off-route routing was to remain with the Adventure Cycling route until I reached its closest point to the hotel. When I did that, the last-mile routing by Google was good. (Asking Google for bicycling directions prematurely had offered me highway routes. No thanks!) Here and the next day I encountered the land of many, many roundabouts (rotaries).
My Adventure Cycling route took to through Indianapolis, but to get to Sheila and Tom's place west of there, I used RideWithGPS to get a route to load into my Garmin. It turned out to be a fairly pleasing ride, through scenic and upscale Zionsville and along the edge of Eagle Creek Park to get me to Avon . I stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Avon and was approached by another diner who started off with "You're living my dream". He was a local rider with hopes of touring someday. When I told him my derailleur cable was failing, he told me I was in a great area for bike shops, and named some shops that could take care of it. After lunch I went up to Sheila's. After a warm welcome, a first round of conversation and a shower, I got a lift from Sheila to a nearby bike shop, which had said on the phone they could do a repair. I am carrying a spare cable and I've done this repair before in my home shop, but getting a shop to do it seemed lower risk than doing the repair myself. Round 2 of conversation occurred while the repairs proceeded. I now have a new shifter cable, very capably installed by Jeff of Gear Up Cycles. I requested a check for chain stretch. It revealed end of life for that chain; Jeff installed a new one and a new cassette.
I wonder if the sand riding and/or rain riding had prematurely worn the chain, which I had replaced "only" about 2000 miles previous. Special immediate-service shop treatment for touring cyclists was very helpful here, and later in the tour too.
After visiting Sheila & family in Avon, rather than take my chances on taking a more direct route back to my ACA route, I used yesterday's known-scenic route backwards to the point at which I had departed from the ACA "Chicago to NYC" route. Along the way I was invited to lunch (in Zionsville) by a group of local riders who have a lot of transcontinental cycling experience together. I wasn't really ready to eat, but I went for the company (and enjoyed a sandwich too). That was fun, and it pointed out to me how very different it would be to be doing a tour with other riders. (For now at least, I prefer the solo experience for its immersive qualities). Resuming the ACA route, I rode at least 7 miles along a very well engineered urban rail trail through Indianapolis. Wow! Then as the trail petered out, I made the fateful left turn that turned me eastward toward home, treating it as a ceremonial occasion and feeling a mental shift happening. The horse was on his way back to the barn! I got as far as Greenfield before stopping for the night.
I planned today's destination in a hurry, on the morning of the ride after fixing a flat that showed up overnight, but it worked out well. The distance I chose was not ambitious, as I had seen rain forecast, and some hills forecast, and I wanted a recovery day after the social whirlwind of the past three weeks. This day had the longest stretch on a single road (Route 40) of the entire trip. I do not bore easily, so that was not a problem, but there was no good place to pee for a very long stretch. At last I came upon a Speedway convenience store, which turned out to meet that need and to also be a source for fresh fruit and boiled eggs -- health food, by convenience store standards. Across from Speedway was the pictured automobile museum, featuring antique cars that I am older than.
This was a transition day: From hard water to soft water, and from flat land to some hilly stuff. I had been impressed by Michigan's rail trails and Indiana's, but Ohio goes beyond with its large network of paths, connecting multiple cities and going seamlessly through them. I spoke with a guy who was doing a four day tour on the Ohio trail network.
He was local, but apparently other people travel from out of state to ride this network, for days at a time. MiamiValleyTrails.org
Lots of exciting views today of agriculture in action, including some corn harvesting. I saw a giant open top semi trailer full of corn come charging out of a field onto the road parallel to the bikepath I was on, apparently making round trips to a silo complex. Most of the 80 miles today were on the bikepath network, including a corridor through Columbus. Rather amazing! Maybe we can build something like that around Boston, given another ten or twenty years.
I emerged from the protective tunnel of Ohio rail trails that has enveloped me for a few days now with about twenty miles to go for the day. Suddenly it got hilly, and I had to focus to keep riding straight in a narrow but doable shoulder. Drivers here are not shy about passing closer than in Michigan and Indiana; maybe they get more chances to practice here.
When I saw the pictured Ohio farmhouse on a hilltop, I was reminded of West Virginia. I learned to my surprise last night that my route does run through Wheeling, WV and adjacent areas in that state.
The serious climbing of my return trip began today, my last riding day in Ohio. Within five miles of the start I had faced hills that I initially thought I might might have to stand for, or walk. I had forgotten how much I like having this third dimension to riding. It was also hot; for the third or fourth day in a row I was periodically having to blow bursts of air out through the humidifier/filter I wear over my mouth to blast out enough of the accumulated sweat so that I could breathe through the filter fabric. I feel pretty good after a day of hills, so I may sign up for a longer ride tomorrow, which will take me to Wheeling WV by lunchtime. To some extent it will depend on where lodging is available.
For my viewing today were some stretches where, at higher altitude, water supply pipes were being run along the roadside (replacing older ones). It was so odd to see fire hydrants out in the country; where I come from, remote areas drink well water. I assume the water piping is being run because water wells don't work here. Possibly they don't work because we're in oil shale country (with oil infrastructure starting to show up, which will become clearer in coming days). I didn't see sewer pipes, so it looks like water is supplied but septic systems are used.
This action-packed day started with a brisk 500 foot descent, followed by a much steeper grunt of a climb on a detour that abruptly regained all the altitude. (The nice flat valley route had been declared off limits to bicycles).
I ate a meal in Wheeling, WVa, which is a casino town but wasn't too glitzy. The ride continued with a fairly conveniently located flat tire, some nice paved rail trail, and ended with a really cool downhill ride on a smooth gravel rail trail for about an hour after dark. I had some concern that somebody might enforce the "dawn-to-dusk" rule on the trails, but that did not happen there (or anywhere else I rode rail trails after dark).
I planned a short day because yesterday had been a hard effort, and because I knew I would need to navigate a major city (Pittsburgh) and to stop at a bike shop to buy a replacement for the special insert that properly mates my Ortlieb pannier bag to the hook that holds it onto the bike -- somehow one of the four of these inserts had fallen out. The bike path infrastructure was superb. I got into the heart of Pittsburgh with no problem, and met a helpful local rider in a large beautiful park on the point where the rivers meet. Kindred Cycles, which Ortlieb listed as a dealer, had the parts I needed, and also were willing to tune up my brakes on the spot. There was however a complication that I did not discover until after I rode away. I was hearing a clicking sound from the rear brake when I rode. I spent some time trying to diagnose it, then wondered about whether maybe I should just ride it. But thinking about mountainous descents on a loaded bike, I decided it was best to be sure of my brakes, so I went back to the shop. Upon my return, a team of two took it out for a test ride and confirmed that though it did not tick on the repair stand, it ticked when loaded. An ace mechanic then showed me how to hand tighten those thru axle end bits -- I may have caused this looseness doing my tire repair the prior day -- to eliminate the play in the wheel and stop the ticking from the brakes . Excellent service from Kindred Cycles, nice people too. At this point it was post 4 pm. I was overdue for lunch, but where I was, I found only chi chi places where I couldn't see a way to get the calories I needed, at any price. I decided to ride out of the city while watching for for a place to eat outside the yuppie zone. To my delight my route took me past a Chinese restaurant in a less sanitized part of town. It was mostly takeout, so I ate at a table with the owners' two small children, who were full of questions, including "Why are you eating here?" and "Why is he [my little brother] eating your fortune cookie?". Tanked up on steamed chicken, vegetables, lots of rice, and 2 liters of soda, I headed into Pittsburgh rush hour traffic after 5. There were a few points where I had to ride sidewalks because of heavy traffic flow, but before too long I got out onto good rideable roads. And my newly adjusted brakes were really effective now!
After yesterday's intended recovery day turned out pretty vigorous, it took me a couple of hours of riding to get fully warmed up. I got a full day of riding ridges in Pennsylvania shale country. Very pretty. Tomorrrow looks to be similar.
Another fine day of acquiring altitude and giving it back has ended well. I sleep tonight in Kylersville PA in a truck stop motel where my scenic backroads route crosses I-80.
Sparse lodging choices in this area meant I had to ride 48 miles or 85 today, with no known options in between. (I've been riding 65-70 in these hills).. I picked 48, as I need some rest and I had chores to do. It was the right choice. At around 26 miles I found a wallet on the road. I picked it up and then realized I should hand it off to somebody local instead of trying to contact the owner myself. I found a store across from the pictured Stover's Tea Room, where the staff seemed local and trustworthy, and they gladly accepted the handoff and began working on calling the wallet's owner.
I did laundry a few miles later, cleaning and oiling my bike's chain and topping up the tire pressure while the wash ran. I then hung the laundry on the bike to dry, which worked well and provided a festive look while I parked for lunch and during hotel check-in. The cycling shorts made by Assos work especially well for this, as the padded insert is stitched in at front and back but detached in the middle, making it possible to hang the shorts by the pad from the handlebar.
On this day I saw a lot of Amish buggy traffic, including over a steep climb at start of day -- those horses can do an 800 foot climb! Really a gorgeous place to live, all the way from Lamar through the state park where I lunched. As I see it, the Amish like to live in God's country. I overtook a buggy on the steep descent to Madisonburg. On a day with few options for food, I had a surprise snack at the concession stand at Raymond B Winter State Park, around mile 30, which was open because the weather continued good after Labor Day, and again more seriously at Lewisburg, mile 48ish.
Overnighted at Split Rock Resort after a full day of mostly climbing and cruising and descending on mostly delightful back roads. My first lunch opportunity in a long stretch was at Tower Bar and Restaurant, which proved to be a friendly multigenerational place, several of whose customers have also worked there. Second lunch 18 miles later was in a nice warm (I was wet) Chinese restaurant and occurred during the second and more electrical half of a prolonged deluge of a thunderstorm. The sun was shining by the time I finished eating. Reaching my lodging was eventful, because Google Maps was routing me through some private roads that I eventually could not get through (electrically operated gates on the north side of Lake Harmony.) I phoned the resort and they talked me in as the sun was setting -- very helpful staff! The support phone call was not going well (I could not communicate well my whereabouts) until she asked me if I had passed Miss Piggy's restaurant. Yes I had, and I knew how to get back there, and she could direct me from there. Problem solved.
Today I rode in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, the Delaware Water Gap national park, and a thunderstorm that took down a big tree across my path (long before I got there). This begins a portion of the ride that retraces (in opposite direction) a portion of my 2013 ride from Boston to DC on the ACA Atlantic Coast route, so it felt a bit familiar from here on homeward. The thunderstorm was fierce enough that back in the Water Gap backroads, a passing motorist stopped to ask if I was OK. I was. An epic day that I remember fondly.
Due to rain I had the Water Gap roads mostly to myself. On one rough asphalt stretch a pannier fell off the bike at low speed (no damage) and then my Garmin GPS, which I had probably mis-assembled after a battery change, came apart from its mount on my handlebar but miraculously jumped into my hand instead of falling off and smashing. After that I took the potholes slower. Sleeping tonight in Matamoras, PA. The final photos show the last of the twilight, during a beautiful segment of riding that had a sacred feel to it. My rear tire flatted after my arrival at the motel, which was so much more convenient than had it flatted earlier.
A late start after AM flat repair, and a short but somewhat hilly ride took me to New Paltz, NY.
I think it was during the morning repair session that I noticed side play in the bottom bracket, which I monitored during the day's ride, and began to look for bike shops. (ACA maps list them, so looking was easy). The final ten miles were on the Walkill Valley Rail Trail, whose surface is unlike any I've seen before. Long stretches are turf, grass that is rideable, though not as easy rolling as the narrow groove that has been worn through the turf by riders' wheels. My altimeter eventually clued me in to part of why this trail was so fun to ride: it's downhill in the direction I was going. Pretty night sky during that section when the path went through open fields with mountain/hill views. Passing through town of Gardiner, I went and checked out the bike shop (which ACA map had told me about). It was closed. I found two shops in New Paltz the next day.
I was relieved to find a competent bike shop with the necessary bicycle bottom bracket sealed bearing assembly in stock, and ready (for a touring cyclist) to take the job on immediately, even on a Saturday morning. Getting the repair done meant that I could do the coming climbs without wondering if I would learn the hard way what happens at end of life for such bearings. I had been concerned I might be stuck for days waiting for parts. It probably helped that my bike uses fairly common components. I ate breakfast while my bike got fixed. (Note to self: Don't do that again; even the most helpful mechanic can do better work with your advice on your preferences, and can teach you things during the repair process). Once I got rolling, but before I left town, I stopped for a haircut, my first since Whiskey Point. Then I continued riding on roadways and then nice NY bikepath infrastructure. Before the Hudson crossing, I stopped to deal with a shifting problem; I did not have access to my lowest gear, which I absolutely do need for steep climbs. I found a workaround which got me into low (though it was noisy in low, and front derailleur shifts were slower than before). With that compromise the best I could do, I headed for the lovely Walkway over the Hudson, where there was some kind of fun disabled access celebration going on.
Many of the subsequent miles, including most of the after-dark miles, were on bikepath. I got into some serious horse country, which was pretty and little-traveled but meant that lodging was expensive and just a touch horsey-bizarre.
Dismal motel breakfast, then good breakfast at North Canaan. Nice lunch stop in Colebrook, at a general store that had sit-down cafe meals and was due to close about an hour after I arrived. This in an area that is scenic, but has few eating places. Today I mostly rode a route that in 2013 I rode in the opposite direction, headed then to a high school reunion in DC. Some sights and roadways felt familiar, but going in the opposite direction makes a difference. Today's section I remembered as the easier of the two days in Connecticut, and today was hilly so I expect tomorrow to be merciless. As I recall, tomorrow's section had in particular some sustained very steep sections, although that could be different in the northbound direction. But I am ready for the climbs; I have lower gears than five years ago, fatter tires, shoes that are better for walking, and today I unexpectedly figured out how to fix the shifting problems that the bike shop yesterday created by accident. (Shop had loosened front derailleur band and rotated derailleur so it was no longer parallel to the chainrings, then tightened it down again. Still to be determined is why they did that).
Based on my 2013 ride traveling this route in the other direction, I expected maximal effort hills (with walking), and I expected this to be my hardest day. I chose a relatively short mileage for the day (60ish). Happily, I did not find myself reduced to walking. Maybe it's because I was northbound, or maybe it's the lower gearing on the current bike. Nice scenery, and a chance to experiment with various wet weather clothing options during a day with sustained, usually light, rains. Stafford's Chinese restaurant was closed for a makeover, but I made out OK in an Italian restaurant. At end of day, I had to descend off the beautiful route to find lodging.
This was a long day, 90 miles and 5000 feet of climbing. But being so close to home, I could not bring myself to make it two days' riding. Much of this day was on roads that I've seen on day rides from home. It was interesting to see how ACA routed me home from familiar points; that allows me to calibrate how close ACA comes to finding the best places to ride. They didn't take the exact routes that local clubs would take, probably for the sake of simplicity -- the club rides take a lot of turns. EIght and a half hours into the ride, I knew I was on home turf as I found myself taking a little excursion offroute to a convenience store that was not on the map but was in my memory of places that feed me. I rolled into my driveway almost 12 hours into the ride. I weighed my panniers for the record, and turned the house's water shutoff valve on and lit the water heater. I weighed myself and found I was emaciated. Next day I would begin a refeeding program.
|Started in:||Arlington, MA, US|
|Elevation:||+ 111164 / - 111151 ft|
|Departed:||Jul 15, '18, 08:34PM|
|Starts in:||Arlington, MA, US|
|Selected distance:||3414.4 mi|
|Elevation:||+ 111164 / - 111151 ft|
|Selection Moving Time:||292:44:53|
|Max Speed:||44.8 mph|
|Avg. Speed:||11.7 mph|
|Max Cadence:||236 rpm|
|Min Cadence:||10 rpm|
|Avg. Cadence:||80 rpm|
Best format for turn-by-turn directions on modern Garmin Edge Devices
Best format for turn by turn directions on Edge 500, 510. Will provide true turn by turn navigation on Edge 800, 810, 1000, Touring including custom cue entries. Great for training when we release those features. Not currently optimal for Virtual Partner.
Useful for uploading your activity to another service, keeping records on your own computer etc.
Useful for any GPS unit. Contains no cuesheet entries, only track information (breadcrumb trail). Will provide turn by turn directions (true navigation) on the Edge 705/800/810/1000/Touring, but will not have any custom cues. Works great for Mio Cyclo. Find GPS specific help in our help system.
Estimated Time shows a prediction of how long it would take you to ride a given route. This number is based on your recent riding history, and represents an estimate of moving time. Each time you upload a new ride, your Estimated Time profile will adjust to reflect your most recent riding. Only rides exceeding 10 miles (16 km) will affect these estimates.Go Basic
Our Basic members have unrestricted access to everything we offer in our mobile apps. Learn more by visiting our Compare Plans page.