Lake Placid

Friday night was marked by another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. Breakfast featured both pancakes and French toast with warm syrup.

Sign in the restaurant. Soon after I saw a banner (maybe 10´x 20´) that said “Democrats suck. This is a liberal-free area.” I did not stop at that house to ask for directions.

It stayed cloudy most of the night (which I know because I was up six times to pee by 1 AM – the price you pay for staying hydrated though this was worse than usual for reasons unknown), which kept the temperature above 50 degrees (10 C). It cleared up just before dawn so the temperature was dropping as we packed up and started to ride.

Ahead on the road was a thick fog bank – the road disappeared and soon, Roberto did as well. I rode into the fog and needed windshield wipers on my glasses and it was cold; much too cold and damp to want to stop and take a picture.

I came out of the fog and the sun was shining ahead, with a mountain peak just peeking out above the next fog bank. I was in the shade so, like the child detective Cam Jansen, just said “click” and the picture is in my head but not available to you.

The morning song

Leg warmers and jacket stayed on until picnic at 9:30 AM or so, mile 36. After that it was warm enough in a long-sleeved jersey. There was no serious climbing, but a lot of up-and-down and gradual elevation gain toward Lake Placid. Traffic was heavy in both directions but we had a wide shoulder until Saranac Lake, when the shoulder became a parking lane and traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, was heavy. Traffic stayed thick with a narrow shoulder to Lake Placid.

Tupper Lake

We paid a visit to Placid Planet bike shop, which is still for sale after four years, if anyone wants a new career. It is a well-equipped shop with friendly staff. We keep them in business. Four years ago we bought them out of their shop jerseys (my size was gone when I got there). Today I saw two riders buying chains and having them installed, one buying cleats, another shoes and several other items. I bought a lock and cable to replace the ones I left behind yesterday and a second long-sleeved jersey in case it stays cold and the one I have doesn’t dry in time. Two spare inner tubes completed the transaction. With a new tire and tube and two new spares, I might even get lazy enough to wait until I get home to patch the leakers I have.

After the bike shop we crossed the street for chocolate malts before making our way up to the high school to camp.

We are camped immediately above the speedskating track where Eric Heiden of Madison WI swept Olympic gold in 1980. Just down the street is the arena where the “Miracle on Ice” took place, when the US hockey team (then amateurs) beat the mighty Soviet professional team.

Olympic speedskating track (minus ice). I am standing in front of my tent. The two staffers are contemplating where to pitch their tents, which they did at trackside. It could probably be a roller-blading venue now.
Mirror Lake (Lake Placid itself is outside of town)
Tent City, Lake Placid High School (from the speedskating track looking up)
Olympic ski jump (lower left) Mt Marcy ( right edge) highest point in NY

Bike, do yer stuff

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know my mind wanders when I ride and songs play into that wandering. Sometimes the overall message of the song is not what sticks for me, but some small part.

In this case, the message (with a slight alteration of the lyric) is in a portion of the chorus. It’s a breakup song, but that’s not what I hear in it:
C’mon bike, take me for a ride.
Send my thoughts a flyin’ high
And let my brain unwind. (Adapted from lyrics by Bill Kirchen)

Why do I ride? That’s one of the answers.

I woke up (according to someone in a nearby tent) at 4:00 AM to the sound of a garbage truck coming to empty a dumpster. I fell back to sleep and was awakened by another truck emptying another dumpster. “That’s reasonable”, I thought; one for trash and one for recycling. After drifting off again, a third truck came to empty the third dumpster. I had no answer for that one, but hoped that no one had leaned their bike against a dumpster last night, or it might now be crushed under said dumpster. It was 47 degrees (8 C).

I woke up again at 6 to the sound of someone dragging their luggage to the trailer – loading the trailer was to start at 6:45, so I slept in. When I got out of the tent, I noted few tents still standing. I went to unlock my bike and found a flat tire. That kicked me into high gear to pack up the tent ASAP so I could change the tire. (And arriving in camp tonight, I realized that this disruption in the morning routine resulted in my leaving the lock and cable threaded through the chain link fence. I do have another, less secure lock.)

The tire was old. The tube was previously patched and had a very slow leak but got me through the days. I was planning to replace both this weekend in Lake Placid. I got my gear to the trailer at 6:48 – three minutes after the theoretical beginning of loading. I was the last to load.

I replaced the tire and tube, which gave me renewed confidence for the day. I was the last person to leave breakfast but passed a couple dozen people before the first water stop so now I felt like one of the gang. Picnic was at 36 miles and there was a good crowd when I arrived.

I headed out with another rider and we rode together for the “afternoon” – I use the term loosely, as the afternoon was from 10:30 to 12:30 or so. We were headed for the Adirondacks, as the weekend will be in Lake Placid.

Oswegatchie River

We rode along the Oswegatchie River and then to the Oswegatchie Trail. Four years ago I expected that to be a rail trail, thus relatively flat. This time I knew that it is mostly uphill with a couple of steep pitches. Someone told me it was 14%. I just said it was fun.

The terrain looks like the north woods of Wisconsin, with tall pines and a chill in the air. Fall is just around the corner. In Ontario I saw a maple tree turning red and sumac already red. The forecast low for tonight is 45 degrees. Tomorrow’s high in Lake Placid is to be in the 60s, and the low 41 (5 C).

We arrived at the school in Star Lake with no sign of the van so continued down the road to see what we could see. We found a bit of town and the usual suspects stopped at a convenience store for pop and chocolate milk. I continued on to see what else there was and found a delightful little coffee shop called “Coffee Fever”. The cool kids were there drinking coffee and eating massive cinnamon rolls that required a knife and fork. I had a cortado and cinnamon roll. The barista didn’t know what a cortado was but it was a credible representation and served in a china cup and not paper, so she earned extra points.

Star Lake

Dinner is in a nearby hotel, as is breakfast tomorrow.

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.