Eight Days a Week

We have 8 riding days left; a week and a half in total time. That gives me an excuse to link to the Beatles.

For more Beatles…I’ve had this song in mind several times and it is appropriate again. This part of New York is full of signs advocating for the repeal of all regulations relating to firearms and in support of a gubernatorial candidate who is campaigning on that issue.

Today was a short (55 miles) and easy ride, mostly along the south shore of Lake Ontario. We have done a lot of north-south riding this week to see the sights – the scenic route to the coast so we don’t get there too soon.

We rode 5.5 miles to breakfast, then another 15 miles to donuts. A roadside convenience store makes their own – simple plain donuts rolled in cinnamon sugar and still warm. Coffee for dunking. Sold only by the half dozen, so I had to enlist some helpers to eat them.

We were often on damp pavement, the result of early morning scattered showers – none of which actually fell on me. That was okay because the dew in Mexico was very heavy and there was a lot of drying needed on arrival – the short day helped.

Picnic was at Sacket’s Harbor and too early to be very hungry even with a lot of stalling. Yellowjackets were swarming the food. My unpleasant experience with a swarm of yellowjackets last summer made me less likely to linger around the food table.

4 riders, 4 countries
Sacket’s Harbor

After a great ride on quiet and well-paved roads through pretty countryside, we entered the urban ugliness of Watertown – busy roads, heavy traffic. We were not routed through downtown, so I saw no places to stop in order to delay my arrival at the school. I rode to the school and checked Google Maps for places to go, then realized I needed to use a bathroom first. By then, the Trail Boss was ready to unload the gear trailer. After unloading, it made sense to get things set out to dry, then it made sense to set up camp, take a shower, and change clothes. By then it seemed too late to go for coffee and too early to go for beer. No place for ice cream nearby…really nothing except a Piggly Wiggly. There is an interesting-looking place that advertises craft beers, but it isn’t open yet and is (per Google) a 10 minute ride or 30 minute walk from here. As a result, this blog entry and charging my phone win out over refreshments.

Tomorrow we are on to Star Lake, and from there to Lake Placid for the weekend. Two more shortish days if they go as planned – 134 total miles over two days, though we will be heading into the Adirondacks for some more up and down riding.

Luther Allison

I have notes for a post about the great musicians I had the privilege to hear/see when they were alive – one of the benefits of getting old. I decided this guy deserves his own.

Luther Allison was born in Widener, Arkansas on August 17, 1939 and died in Madison, WI on August 12, 1997 – 25 years ago today. He moved to Chicago in 1951 and studied at the feet of the masters. When the “blues revival” hit white college kids in the 1960s, Luther was one of the younger players who introduced us to the older generation.

Madison, WI is only three hours from Chicago and Luther made the trip frequently. Madison became a second home. He used a long guitar cord so he could wander into the audience (and he did his share of flirting during those forays). When he released his debut album “Love Me Mama” for Delmark Records in 1969, we knew he was a force to be reckoned with.

Luther signed to Motown Records and put out three albums on that label in the 1970s and then disappeared from view in the US, living in France where American Blues Masters had a more appreciative audience. He burst back onto the US scene with “Soul Fixin’ Man” released on Alligator Records in 1994. For casual fan in the US, Luther was back.

Luther was a player who understood that it’s not how many notes you play, it’s how you play those notes…and how you play the silences in between. After signing with Alligator, Luther divided his time between North America and Europe. His last recorded performance was in Montreal on July 6, 1997. He played a couple more shows, checked into a hospital in Madison WI, and died of lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. You can see and hear that he still had it with five weeks to live.

And finally, the music didn’t die completely with his death. Here is his son, Bernard Allison, born in 1965. I have not yet seen/heard him in person.

Is it a coincidence that so many of these are Elmore James songs?

This is a bonus post, pre-written for the occasion. For those of you champing at the bit, the regular post will follow in one minute. It will be a musical day in half-fast land.