Adirondacks (and I don’t mean chairs)

A torrential thunderstorm Thursday night around 11:30. Sirens, but not the tornado siren. Incredible wind, rain inside the tent. Rain on the tent so loud that I had to hold the phone up to my ear to hear the weather radio through the speaker. A real gulley washer, it was over in 1/2 hour.

Had there been a tornado warning, I would have been reluctant to leave the tent – it was raining that hard.

I think I woke up over the rainbow. Everything is in color this morning. Those who slept in the gym were blissfully unaware of the storm. By morning there was no sign of the tempest of the night before. Surprisingly, no bikes were blown over. 

It was cool and breezy to start the day. The breeze was of the unhelpful variety all day. Sitting still it was a pleasant, cool breeze. While riding it let us know we weren’t going to get off easy before the climbing began.

We started the day on roads busier than I like, but the day ended beautifully. I’ve noticed that the last 10-15 miles leave the most lasting impression, so if a ride ends badly, I remember it as a bad ride. If it ends like today, I remember it as a great ride. 

We rode along the Black River early in the day, with about 4 miles on a flat, paved trail.

Entering the Adirondacks, Star Lake (our destination for the day)

We followed the Oswegatchie River upstream later in the day. After about 65 miles we turned onto Oswegatchie Trail, which was noted on our cue sheet as paved. I assumed it was a rail-trail, flat like the morning’s trail. I was wrong.

It was actually a two lane highway and the most significant climb of the day. It was well-paved and a lot of fun. Others may beg to differ.

I’ve noticed we all walk funny at the end of a long ride. We’re bent over at the hips until we get our hip flexors stretched out. We don’t look old so much as weird.

Finger Lakes to Lake Ontario

Thursday, August 9. No WiFi + poor cell connection = text only today.

We were on our own for breakfast this morning.

At the bar where we ate last night, I asked a local couple for breakfast recommendations. She recommended Maria’s Café. He recommended Wade’s Diner. She couldn’t say why; he said it was because of the cinnamon raisin bread. 

I went with his recommendation. Since it was going to be 55 miles before lunch, I decided to eat heartily.

After two eggs over easy, bacon, potatoes, and cinnamon raisin toast, I had two slices of cinnamon raisin French toast with maple syrup. 

After we had finished eating, the waitress mentioned their weekday special of cinnamon swirl pancakes. Greg ordered one and insisted I eat 1/4 of it. it was 10 to 12 inches in diameter. I was glad I did.

I’m happy to say that the food lasted until the lunch stop.

Wayne’s Diner had an interesting backstory. It seems Mr. Wayne was towing a Pullman car in 1938 and was stopped by police at the edge of town. He was told he would need a permit to tow it through town. He left it at the edge of town and found that a permit would take a long time to obtain. 

During the night he acquired a team of horses and used them to tow the car to the location where it stood until 2015 when it burned down. The police asked him how the diner came to be at that location. He said he had no idea. He had not seen it there the day before and asked if anyone had seen it being moved there. Having no witnesses, the police decided to let the matter drop.

The diner was sold in the 1980s and the current owners rebuilt on the same spot after the 2015 fire.

While we were eating breakfast, the weather changed completely. It seems a cold front had blown through. The temperature had dropped slightly, humidity dropped considerably, and the wind had shifted. It was a favorable wind for most of the morning. We wound our way through forested country to the harbor at Henderson.

Lunch was at a state park on the shore of Lake Ontario. The water was great and had I been willing to ride in with wet shorts again, I would have gone swimming. Instead I contented myself with wading and walking on the sand.

Our destination for the day is only 13 miles away and is said to have nothing to do. No one is in a hurry to leave the beach; thus I am writing this at the beach.

Upon arrival at the school I unpacked all my damp clothes. With high humidity all week, none of my bike shorts are actually dry, including the pair I wore today. Today I think I will have 3-4 pair of dry shorts.

Dinner was a feast, with flowers on the tables, real cutlery, and pies – apple, cherry, pumpkin, and strawberry-rhubarb!

I began compiling a “top ten” list (and a “bottom ten” list) for this trip. Look for it at the conclusion of the trip.

Now on to the Adirondacks!

Choose your own adventure!

A light sprinkle Tuesday night turned into heavy dew and fog. We packed up wet (as usual) and headed out. 

The plan was to spend another day touring the Finger Lakes as we made our way north to Oswego, on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Photos: tandem on a climb, bike rainbow, tractor for sale.

It started to rain around mile 30. It was less rain than that the air was so saturated that it started to leak.

The sun came out during lunch at mile 50 and at about mile 65 the rain came back in earnest. 

We arrived in Oswego soaking wet. The van and trailer were nowhere in sight, having been held up by a flat tire. 

We found a spot to stop getting any wetter and stood around being wet for another hour or two. Some folks headed off to a pub. 

We finally got showers and dry clothes on about 4, after arriving around 1. I spread the tent out to dry and it started to rain again. I decided to sleep inside.

I did eventually get the tent dry. My shoes are the big concern. After holding them under the hand dryer, stuffing them with paper towels, then restuffing them after soaking through the first set, they are now in the sun. (And now they’re back inside, as the sky is darkening again.)

Now to the “choose your own adventure” part. Due to missing route markers and missing road signs, most of us took non-standard routes to get here. After I had prevented 4 others from missing turns, I missed one myself. 

 I stopped and asked a guy using a weed whacker in a ditch if the road I’d just passed was Chapman. He said no and he didn’t know where Chapman Road was.

He pulled out his phone to find it and try to find a way to get there. I said that State Highway 321 was really where I was going and Chapman was just a way to get there. 

We found a more direct route to the highway and he said, “but it’s pretty hilly.” I smiled and said, “That’s OK. I like hills.”

He offered a ride in his truck to get there and I said, “Thanks, but I’m 3700 miles into this ride. A few more is no problem.” That’s when the rain came for the first time.

I got in to lunch and there was one rider there. Others trickled in with tales of their impromptu detours. Several had gotten a tour of a nearby town that wasn’t on the route. 

Some gave up on the route all together and went for the direct route, saving about 25 miles.

Dinner tonight was in a sports bar. I learned about two new (to me) sports on ESPN – chess boxing, in which two competitors box a round, then a chess board is set up in the ring and they play chess, then return to boxing. I’m not sure how it is scored or how long they spend in each realm.

The other sport was headis – table tennis played with the head and a soccer ball.

I did not make this up.

Finger Lakes

A beautiful 95 miles through the Finger Lakes, from SUNY-Geneseo to Seneca Falls, NY.

Just my cup of tea – lots of short, steep climbs and descents. On one long descent, dropping several hundred feet of elevation, I realized we would have to earn back every one of those feet. I didn’t mind.

I did wish for another top-end gear or two. With my highest gear a 50/11, there were times I was coasting but wanted still to be pedaling.

It stayed hot all night again, but no dew. A few sprinkles at 6:30 AM dampened the pavement to keep it cool. The forecast was for thunderstorms. It stayed overcast most of the day, which also helped keep it cool.

We saw a storm passing across the north end of Seneca Lake. I was hoping we were riding slowly enough to miss it. Not quite. We had a few minutes of light rain. The entry into Seneca Falls was very bike-unfriendly, but other than that, it was a day of good roads, great scenery, great riding. Arriving at Seneca Falls, it is hot, sunny, and humid. I don’t expect my clothes to dry. My  bike needed a good cleaning.

Early in the day we rode through forests. Later it was wine country. They routed us along lake shores, so it was the scenic route – we probably doubled the distance between the two towns.

The trip took on an international flavor as we passed through Atlanta, Naples, Italy, Middlesex, and Geneva.

Seneca Falls is the birthplace of the first wave of feminism in the US, which is commemorated by a historic site.