US Blues

Getting up to go to the bathroom during the night, I thought I saw an opossum. I gave it a wide berth and, looking back at it with better light, realized it was a skunk. Later in the night I met it again, this time exploring a fire ring.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls was heavily commercialized. The strip we were on was hotels and fast foods.

Note zip line in foreground of video
Niagara River

We crossed the border to road construction, then someone crossing the street toward me and trying, for likely nefarious purposes, to get me to stop and talk. Next were streetwalkers at work at 7:30 on a Monday morning. That was all in my first 10 minutes in the country.

The first half of today’s ride was urban and suburban riding. The best thing I can say about it is that it was over by picnic. After picnic we were out in the country and it looked like the driftless area of southwest Wisconsin – quiet roads and steep hills; 7 mph up one side, 45 down the other.

The sky was cloudy all day, with chances of rain in the forecast. This never materialized. Arriving in Geneseo, we stopped at a coffee shop. When I got back on my bike I noted very little air in my rear tire. I rode gently to campus, walking the last bit. The cause of the leak appeared to be the rim tape slipping again. While replacing the tube I replaced the rim tape as well. Another tube to patch on the weekend. I just used my last new tube. At least this new tube appears to have a functioning valve stem after several faulty ones in this batch.

I didn’t wash my bike clothes in the shower, as they appeared to have no chance of drying. As I fixed my tire the sun came out. I washed the clothes and they are drying now. It will be a race against sunset.

The rider who left the tour with a detached retina is back after surgery and with vision nearly intact. He says he expects it to continue to improve. The rider who was not vaccinated rejoined us. My neighbor (who I had never met but lives within a mile of me) also rejoined us. Several new riders joined. Some of them have done this before, as they were greeted warmly by other riders.

New York and New England are left between us and the Atlantic Ocean. This week will feel a lot like home with the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes.

Rest Day in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Two imperial pints of red ale and a medium margherita pizza (10 slices, they said – I didn’t count) went a long way to erasing the bad taste in my mouth from Michigan, as well as a long week of riding with threats of bad weather (which weren’t often delivered). A medium pizza for a 135 pound person, you say? Hey, I need all the calories I can get. Four years ago I lost 15 pounds on this ride. I didn’t regain them, so I don’t have many pounds to lose. The Datameister said I got noticeably slower as the ride went on four years ago, as I lost strength. Nothing like a several thousand calorie dinner to help prevent that. So far, I continue to get faster as the day progresses, so I don’t think I’m getting weaker. Last I checked, I hadn’t lost weight. I don’t normally weigh myself, but there was a scale outside my office in the hospital this spring and I’ve come across two in public bathrooms lately.

Returning to the campsite after dinner, it seems to be cooling down. There is a rock band playing covers. I stood to listen for a few minutes but can hear fine from my campsite.

I went to bed before it got dark. At 4:15AM the dew came. It was slightly damp on the walk to the bathroom, wet on the walk back. It cooled off slightly at 5 and I partly covered myself with a sheet. I stayed in bed until after sunrise!

Breakfast is in a Tim Horton’s. A breakfast combo includes a donut. Wifi is free and the coffee is hot enough that I “have to” sit here for awhile. This is the same Tim Horton’s where I spent the afternoon four years ago in order to listen to a live webcast of a concert by the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO).

After breakfast I’ll do laundry, since the laundry room doesn’t open until 8 AM. I’ll clean and lube the bike. After that I have no pressing issues for the day. Is this what being retired is like?

Cannabis store across from the campground. Or is that what retirement is like;)?

Seeing other riders walking through the campground or out on the street on our rest days is like meeting fellow members of a secret society. Others don’t know the bond we share or why we would recognize a random person on the street.

The campground bathrooms are gloriously air-conditioned. They are a welcome respite from the heat and humidity – and you can get dry after a shower. On the other hand, it is disconcerting to hear blaring pop music from a 24 hour radio station piped in – nothing like getting up to pee in the middle of the night and being assaulted by throbbing electronic percussion and auto-tuned generic voices singing emotionally overwrought ballads. Thankfully the laundry room is also air-conditioned and carries only the sounds of the washers and dryers. The dewpoint is 74 degrees (28 c) and the temperature a much-cooler 84 (29 c).

I was able to get one short story to download during my time at the restaurant, so I read for a while Saturday night. If I remember, I may be able to open the book at lunch and get one more story to download.

The tenting area is pretty nice here – grass and trees, a fair amount of shade. There are night lights (dim, yellow lights) to help you find your way back in the dark. Each nightlight is on a post with multiple electrical outlets. I don’t know if the Trail Boss paid for electricity, or if everyone gets it here. There are privacy fences that serve as secure bike locking stations.

My camp neighbor

Niagara Falls

See 2018 post for link to Three Stooges bit about Niagara Falls.

Still no internet connection. There is supposed to be wifi at this campground but it is not strong enough to connect to the internet; therefore, I’m not sure what purpose it serves.

Horses in the mist. Port Dover, Ontario at dawn.

The morning was a beautiful ride along the north shore of Lake Erie on a quiet residential street with the lake to our right and cottages to our left. Most were quite modest. We came to a few mobile home parks and a couple of campgrounds – one with a sign saying “No pets. No tents”. I guess they want to keep the riffraff out.

The first 35 miles were over before we knew it. Riding along a residential street instead of a highway, there was no stress. It  was like going for a ride in the neighborhood – just one that went on for 35 miles.We eventually returned to a highway, but even the highways were low-stress today. It was a relaxing and easy day of 77 miles after 190 miles in the previous two days.

We crossed the Welland Ship Canal via ferry – a pontoon boat able to carry 4 bikes and riders at a time. Per the crew, a boat took out the bridge 30-some years ago, As part of the settlement, the boat owner agreed to pay for ferry service for 40 years. What happens then, I don’t know. Someone probably thought 40 years sounded like forever.

We are ensconced in a KOA campground a few miles from the falls. We will ride across the falls Monday. I washed my bike clothes today and hope they will dry – along with yesterday’s that didn’t dry and the previous day’s that I had no opportunity to wash until today. With two days to dry, I should be good. It continues to be hot and humid, but might be slightly less so today. 90 degrees (32 c) with dewpoint of 70, now that I have internet.

The Trail Boss has been telling us he secured a much better location in the campground for us than we had four years ago. While setting up, a freight train roared past just on the other side of the fence about 50 feet from us. Unless that’s the only train of the day, I don’t think this is an improvement. If it is, we do have a pretty nice spot in a back corner of the property.

There are two swimming pools in the campground. They are full enough that you might be able to swim without getting wet. We are on our own until 5 PM Sunday so I need to find somewhere for dinner without being able to search the internet. I know there is a Tim Horton’s near here that had internet service 4 years ago, so  I may go there to try to upload all of these posts and eat something while looking for a more suitable dinner spot…or it may be my breakfast spot tomorrow if I can find dinner the old-fashioned way – by walking or riding down the street and looking. Either way, you should see these posts before the weekend is over and I should be able to text my family to tell them I am still alive after being incommunicado for three days (so far).

The campground has a beer garden with Moosehead on tap. I am writing this in the beer garden after drying my stuff, putting up the tent, showering, washing and hanging bike clothes. I was hoping the internet would work here, since it doesn’t from the campsite. No such luck. There are a few riders still trickling in.

There is a cannabis store directly across the street. A local rider tells me there is also a brothel across the street. And all I want is a place for dinner.

Sports bar/pizza place to the rescue. I am briefly back in touch with the outside world.

Back in the US, back in the US, back…

We’ve had The Beatles doing Dylan back in South Dakota (Rocky Raccoon). Now it’s time for The Beatles doing The Beach Boys.

We’re on our penultimate week in this journey. That is sometimes hard to believe.

It was 75 degrees at 5:30 AM. It did not get cooler as the day went on. Many campers had fires going all day Sunday. Must be some primitive urge, as I could see no good reason to have a campfire on a 95 degree day, especially during the daylight hours. The air was thick with smoke.

We started the day by crossing the Rainbow Bridge from Canada back to the US. While looking back from the falls I saw a structure that looked suspiciously like the Space Needle. Rather than looking it up, I’ll ask if any of you know what it is.

Back in the US we ran into a stretch of horrendous road awaiting repaving. I think I accumulated several years worth of head trauma from the shaking.


The first 15-20 miles were urban riding, then mixed urban/suburban riding, suburban/small town (where the suburbs of one town bled into the next). Finally after 50 miles we got into the country with mixed farmland and forest. At mile 58 I heard a train as I approached a crossing. I was across in plenty of time but knew we would cross those tracks again in a few miles. I tried racing the train but its route was much more direct than mine – enough so that I didn’t have to wait; it was already through the crossing.

We had two detours after cue sheets were passed out last night, so we followed arrows on the pavement and not the cue sheet. Mileage was thus unknown until we arrived at SUNY-Geneseo.

We arrived to a darkening sky. Later riders were hit by a thunderstorm. So far here there has been rumbling and a few drops.

Lest any of you think I am writing this in my parents’ basement and faking the photos, check out the Cycle America Facebook page for actual photos of me in various places across the country. Plus, my parents have been dead for years.