Thinking about a fall trip.
Up at 3am as I can’t sleep, I dunno if its nerves or the afternoon nap I took yesterday. Oh well it’s only an hour before I planned to get up anyway. I’m going to try and wrap this last leg up before noon when some really bad storms are in the forecast for Albany. I stopped at every lock I could find from the trail, some didn’t seem to be accessible so there is large gaps in the photos. All in all the trails are paved but some are very rough due to tree roots. At least most of the trails are paved and mostly descending, although there are some climbs. There were some nice mile marker signs, really made me reflect in just how far I had come. On the other side of GE Research and the Naval Research labs was a grand view of the Mowhak River, I initially mistook it for the Hudson and it was breathtaking. It was also on a huge down hill which was welcomed as the climb to get there was no joke. I passed through an industrial area in Green Island that reminded me of Griffiths. The one notable business in the area was Albany Pipe and Nipple. Pffffttt. I got such a chuckle out of the name. I know it is juvenile of me but maybe having the end in sight is causing me to be punchy too. I am finding myself talking to my bike a little. Albany Pipe just happened to be across from NYS Dept of Taxation & Finance. I took a short break about 1.2 miles from my destination, first nice place with a bench on the Hudson just north of 787. I knew Sandy was a little way away yet so it was a nice respite. I had a little time to reflect.
Some of my thoughts
Random honks of encouragement (including this morning in the drizzle by a pickup going in the other direction), the never ending questions about where I’m headed. The good lucks from passerbys, the nice mountain biker that yielded the trail around the walkers on a hill today, The guy in Rochester who rode aside me for a mile to chat.( He was mentioning an across state ride he was thining to taking that is a north south route.) The countless good lucks and safe trip comments, Texts, FB Instant Messages, and FB posts from strangers and friends meant so much. There were so many uplifting things that happened that it most definitely renewed my faith in humanity, made me want to be a better human and pay it forward.
I can’t thank enough the hot blonde that picked me up in Albany for her love and support. I hit the life partner lottery! All the encouragement from my kids which included forced woo’s to help me get amped, handshakes, and hugs really meant the world to me.
THANK YOU ALL!
So, Yes my bike is a GT 29’r, Yes I am touring with it, Yes it only cost me $170 used compared to your $2k Surly Touring setup, Yes the brakes squeak right now, Yes that’s me squeaking too. We’re a perfect match. Me and my $170 hundred dollar hunny made the FULL 402.9 miles together. That bike is like an extension of me now more so than ever. You done good Selena, were end to enders now.
I’ve never been athletic, like ever. I’ve never been an active person until the last several years. To set this goal and accomplish it is huge for me and all the support was even bigger!
Lets go and Wrap it up John
So I finally reached my destination, I concluded my trip at Jennings Landing in front of an amphitheater. A sign nearby marked NYC at 145 Miles and got me thinking of a trip extension. No not really, just joking I don’t want to go to NYC. I took some photos to mark the occasion and went and dipped my tire in the Hudson. Those tires and my toes touched Lake Erie and The Hudson River much like the barges that traveled the canal. I can’t believe it’s over.
Because it rhymes with “luck.” See, my daddy always told me to be just like a duck. Stay smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath!
Got a very early start this morning after some 4am Omeals Chicken Creole breakfast ( I really do like the Omeals food with Backpackers Pantry coming in 2nd). I was pushing hard to try and beat the rain. Whelp, the first 25 miles of my planned 50 were good. I got to see Ft Herkimer Church it was beautiful and the trails through Little Falls may be some one of my favorites. There was on section of the old rail trail that the rock cut was at least 18 foot high. Then came the rain, ended up riding I about 23 miles of it.
We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain, and big ol’ fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.
Mid trail in the pouring rain I prepped some Omeals Vegetable Chili and ate a chocolate chip cookie Clif bar, Lunch really warmed my soul and renewed my energy to push through the crappy rain and the under construction squishy (wet concrete feeling) crappy trails before Randall. Water logged clothes is a recipe for chafing which I think I kept it mostly under control. I stopped at every lock I was able to locate but I was on the other side of the canal for most as the trail was an old rail road bed. I passed a spring in Minden and you know I topped off my water bottles there. Beyond that nothing to exciting en route, I checked into a roach motel and grabbed a burger at a choke & puke in Amsterdam. I hope my shoes dry.
So even though I didn’t beat the rain entirely and got soaked I’ll call it a W for the day. My favorite quote keep passing through my mind..
“Don’t let your thoughts run away with you, don’t start planning to bail out because you’re worried about the future and how much you can take. Don’t look ahead to the pain. Just get through the day,”
― Marcus Luttrell
While my suffering and endeavors are nowhere as serious as what that American Hero went through I can tell you it helped me greatly. Always Does!
Will post today’s adventures tomorrow after I get the next ride in. I have to get to bed early to get a good jump before foul weather causes me to not put on any miles at all tomorrow. I should have a lot of time on my hands tomorrow afternoon.
Luckily it didn’t rain too hard last night , I slept pretty good in the hammock, the rain fly definately cuts down on the wind flow and hence kept it warmer. I definitely didn’t need the sleeping bag. Korin, I spoke to the lock master in the morning who explained that the big metal beam along the lock is for maintenance purposes. It fits in slots in the lock near the doors to lock them should they need to drain the water down and have folks inside the lock for repairs. It’s one of three on the entire canal and it moves wherever needed by barge or truck. Got a later start than I really planned but it was gonna be ok as I was only planning about 40 miles which will get me to the Herkimer Red Roof Inn. There doesn’t seem to be as many camping places with basic necessities and two days without a proper shower is too long( Salty body chaffing is a real thing) Taken me a while to pack up this morning for two reasons, first time breaking down the hammock rain fly and it needed to dry a little. I think I got going about 8:30 and rode down the trail 7 miles to have breakfast at the race track gas station in Rome. It wasn’t until I left there did I really notice the heavy easterly wind in my face. It was hard pedaling through Rome it was like a wind tunnel down W Liberty Street. Somewhere around the N Charles St area I head loud crackling and a crash as HUGE branch came crashing down from an old maple just missing the house. I was 2nd guessing leaving during these high winds. Passed the old touring couple somewhere 1/4 down the Oriskany trail when it dawned on me that it’s been so nice riding familiar trails since Butternut St in Dewitt and pretty soon I’ll be further east on the trail I’ve ever been. Exciting! So just as soon as I forgot about the wind, I was down the trail about a mile from River St Oriskany when another couple was turning around from a partially fallen hanging limb blocking the whole trail. The nice gentlemen said “Might be able to go around it but I wouldn’t go under it” and they pedaled away. I spent some time watching and studying the limb with heavy gusts. Then I looked for a way around it in the woods and have pricker scrapes to prove it. I finally decided I would go through it. Broke a bunch of branches that make a path through it when large gusts subsided. (Which wasnt 20 to 30 seconds at a time) I was carefully listening and watching for creaks and such) and I finally have a way through but not without stepping over and ducking under sizable branches that either i couldn’t break or left for stability. Off the bags come and I decide to shuttle them though 2 at a time. I watch the wind gusts on a bunch of large trees bout 200 yards down the down the trail and time my passage and I get through to the other side( You know I am a Millbrook Blue Devil Trailblazer afterall, not that new age horse crap) Okay I can do this so I get back over and the old touring couple pulls up. They say to me we met that othe couple at river st and were waiting for you (meaning me) to come back down the trail towards them and when I didn’t they continued on towards the downed limb. The gentlemen then tells me “so your going through, was that your first thought?” I then explained all the options and that I already have two bags through. If they wanted to do the same I would help them. They agreed and so their bikes, their bags, and riders all passed through safely. After that the trip was mostly uneventful, I stopped at the lock for a break and my companions for 2 miles continued on. I passed under the huge Utica sign I always see from the thruway, kind neat to see it during the day. Not being an area native I had no idea what kind of structure it was until now. After that it was pretty uneventful boring road ride. Skipped lunch went all snack and protein bar heavy. Nice to see Travis Tritt’s truck driver wasn’t too millennial offended to park in the Remington Arms Parking lot. Passed by the “Down under unisex salon” in Mohawk I am wondering what exactly happens at the “Down under unisex salon” Down under what uni-sexually? All that road riding left me to some thoughts on my travels so far. I was thinking bicycling on the trail and passing other riders is like snowmobiling. Most want to wave in place of some verbal salutation. In snowmobiling you have the finger count display to warn of how many riders are behind them. I have a few simple words, DON’T COME AT ME BRO! Seriously taking your hands off the bars of either propelled vehicles is a bad idea. I mean I am loaded on this bike and swerving is not something easily accomplished. We’ll all be safer if you skip the hand gestures in both sports. I pull into Herkimer and the Canal and Mowhak are literally side by side and as I am walking the bridge over both it took great restraint to hold back the 5 yr old in me that wanted to spit in both.
So I am rough outlining this blog post Sun eve when I start to reviewing total trip miles which my bike computer now tells me I am at 299 miles. I only have about hundred more to go. Wow, the Hudson River still seems like it’s so far away but it’s really not. Its roughly a century ride away which is an easy one day excursion unloaded. I am loaded so I am planning on splitting the remaining miles into two separate days due to the weather forcast and my limitation.
I forgot to mention yesterday that I didn’t see the trail again until Port Byron at you guessed it 4:51pm.
Really rough day it started and ended beautifully though. Trail was mint when I was on one. Jordon wins town of the day as they had a beautiful park with a historic kissing bridge. I was routed through Syracuse on city streets, who knew there were so many hills. I mean I can pull those under normal circumstances no problem but with bags.. ugh.. So between slow climbs and poorly maintained sections of roads I had a mechanical issue with my brakes after lunch at Dinosaur BBQ.(Tres Ninos) The first time I stopped to check it out I couldn’t locate the issue but when I got to DeWitt I found a rock between the pad and disc.( Really happy I had my letherman with a file to smooth things over) Luckily the trail I picked up in DeWitt to Rome is one I am familiar with and completely resurfaced for many miles. About 6 or 8 miles down that trail I bumped into a fellow Boonvillian, Brain Rhone. I am on a mission to get to New London Lock 21 today but took several breaks including a liquids resupply. One in Canastota and the other from a rec center in Durahmsaville. Finally made it to Lock 21. Remember I said the day started and ended beautifully, well, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise and a special dinner with most of my home support crew. We had some really fantastic Dicastros take out dinner lockside. Not only did I meet my objective of getting to Rome today(Just about 67 loaded miles) I got to see the family. I am smoked but excited for the hammock tonight which is setup for rain. I plan for an easy day tomorrow maybe only 50 miles to Herkimer and as a result made some reservations for more formal accommodations since there is no amenities at this lock.
Started the day off great with a good meal from muddy waters cafe and found showers at the nearby marina. Started riding about 8:30am and it was smooth sailing. It seems Lyons has three locks and the first included a huge dry dock. It was awesome. The trail was pretty disconnected today in the beginning and I kept just beating a boat to all 3 Lyons locks. I ended up talking to Bill and Marilyn at the 3rd lock in Lyons. They told me they are on a long voyage including traveling the canal and don’t expect to be home for three months. They started in their hometown of Toronto. I was watching them through three locks and Mayriln is an excellent Captain. They are only going as far as Clyde today but plan to get to Sylvan Beach to visit with their son who has a motorhome at a local campground. I Took an alt route north of the finger lake, had me on W. Genesee (Rt 5) , man it’s easier pedaling this road. Made some good time to my next stop in Clyde where I had two awesome slices of pepperoni pizza at Papas Place. I’m upping the calories today. This alt route should allow me to see locks 24 and 25 which are nowhere near the trail. Lock 24 (not well marked,only on some underground door) was on a private road that was once had a quarry nearby that had beautiful stone (Yes Sandy I said, ahh the stone) all around the propperty with what I would estimate to be a 40 acre lake. They also had a giant cross on one end, it was amazing and I wondered if they light it up at night. I’m beginning to wonder if my good luck charm is a blue heron, I must have seen a dozen today. The 2nd half of the the ride today turned out to be complicated (Holy Complications Batman) by a low rear tire and the rolling hills of the Seneca valley on almost exclusively asphalt. (In my Adam West Batman voice I say Must..check..Rear.. Tire.. Daily) I rode completely around Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and got to see several Bald Eagles in their nests. I found myself sprinting to each shady spot which wasn’t that frequent, it was a hot day. I finally made it to Weedsport and located River Forest RV park. I really stand out among all these RV’s, There is literally a tent nowhere else to be seen. The on site restaurant serving me well. Bruschetta appetizzer, prime rib and a Coors light. I am living it up on this 7500 cal day. Got cleaned up and did some sink laundry hope this stuff drys. I’m wrapping up the day with a cup of decaf on the porch of the restaurant a stones throw from my site thinking it might be a while until quiet falls the campground. I seem to be in some pre-teen summer vacation flirting and obnoxious hub. Oh well I’ll try to hit the air mattress anyway.
What an awesome night , best I sleep so far. The hammock was awesome, it dipped down the the 50’s but when I got cold at 1am I blew up my air mattress and put in the pouch of the hammock. That little bit of insulation made all the difference. Got underway about 6:40. Pulled over briefly at 6:50 for a BIG time interview with Big Frog 104. Man I like those two, you can have your golf Polly I’ll stick to two wheels.. Thanks Shannon for sharing this Blog. Did about 10 miles, Passed Brockport on the way, What s nice community , probably say that about most college towns. There was a small boat on the canal and it looked like they were rowing the entire canal. They were sleeping or away otherwise I would’ve stopped to chat with them. Got buzzed by an ultralight and stopped for breakfast in Adam’s Basin. (I recall serving someone a block or so away, 8 have to check my files when I get home). Bike had a mechanical issue in Spencerport right at the lift bridge, a broken spoke. I was so lucky that there was a bike shop only 4 miles away( so I switched my sneakers) so I walked only to find out that the shop didn’t open until 10am so I had about a 45 minute wait but Chip hooked me up had me rolling in about 60 minutes. I highly recommend Sugars Bike Shop, It’s a 2nd generation bike shop and Chip has all his old BMX racing bikes in the wall, needless to say I was impressed. I Passed by Long Pond Rd in Rochester, a name I recognized so I spent a few minutes trying to find IBM and it was literally 50 yards from the trail. (Insert obligatory selfie) I finally started seeing some locks again, man that was a long stretch since the last in Lockport. WOW 130 miles of the same elevation. Met an older fellow at lock 33 who gave me the run down on his end to end journey in 2003. He filled me in on what to expect the rest of the day. Stopped in Pittsford for lunch a place called Coal tower restaurant and had a great burger. That town really embraces the canal as one might expect. I was a little behind so pretty much only stopped at locks to take photos or took them on the go. It was my plan to get to Palmyra today and spend the night at lock 29. Just my luck no water or showers at this lock. But I found some much needed power and will charge my packs. Looks like a total of about 53 miles for the day. Had some Pasta Fagioli for dinner and it was delicious. I could use 4 more packs because as I figure it I’m at about a 3k calorie deficit today. As I write this from my hammock I’m watching a young family fish from the lock. What a nice sight and contrast to the old couple holding hands walking down the trail earlier. Well off to check the weather and hit the hay. Photos may not be posted in chronological order.