Weeks of preparation and anticipation finally ended today. Since I bought my Brompton in September of last year, I have been looking forward to taking the bicycle for a self-supported bicycle tour. I've watched hours of youtube videos and carefully prepared, because I have not ever cycle toured before. While I have camped and hiked and love to travel, this is my first swing at cycle touring.
I finished a contract on Thursday last week, and made sure I had the last details ready. My plan was not too ambitious. I backed off on the idea of riding around Lake Ontario; that's a 12 or 14 day trip. This trip had to be squeezed between my mother's birthday and father's day. A 4-5 day trip from Syracuse to Buffalo fit nicely and was a wise choice for a first time out.
I finished packing everything up into the Brompton touring bag and the Kelty backpack,
and I loaded them on the bicycle.
and then covered everything with rain covers. Because I wrap the strap of the touring bag around the front stem to give the luggage block some extra support, I can't use the green cover that comes with the T bag. I use a Sea to Summit bicycle back pack cover instead. I like the bright yellow color. The back pack is covered with an REI back pack cover. While it wasn't raining when I left, 15 minutes later, the rain started.
My plan was to generally ride along the path of the Erie Canal Trail between Syracuse and Buffalo, New York. I will tend to stay off the Canal Trail because the surface, stone dust, slows me down on the Brompton, especially when the trail is wet. Inside the county, I know the roads that parallel the canal. This will be harder as I get farther away. I've looked pretty closely at what google maps can tell me. At the last minute I decided to get some maps from Triple A, the American Automobile Association. They have a regional map for the New York Finger Lakes region and another for the western end of the state that show enough detail to be useful when combined with my iPhone. The maps were huge, and since I only needed the top half of each map, I cut them both in half. This way they were less to carry and fit inside a gallon zippered plastic bag.
The rain kept up for the whole day. Sometimes it was less and sometimes more, but pretty much it kept coming down all day! It got really heavy after I turned south near the Montazuma wildlife refuge. And I was riding on Bike route 5, route 31: heavy traffic with big trucks, but the wide shoulder kept me far enough away. I stopped at Cayuga State Park and set up in the rain.
The triangle is the Kelty Noah's tarp. I had debated about bringing it, because it is heavy. Now I am very glad I did!
While waiting for the rain to stop, I made tea on the Trangia.
I found a local place down by the lake for supper and a few warming libations, The Deerhead Inn. My site was close to the road, so I thought I would be kept awake by the traffic, but I was too tired for that.
On the first day, I went 40.1 miles and averaged 12.2 miles per hour.
June 11, 2013
I packed while making breakfast during a short respite from the rain.
Just as I got things pretty well packed, a long band of very heavy rain stretching from Canada to Pennsylvania rolled across the area. I hung out in the shower room with my bike and took a shower. I waited until about 10:30 before getting started. Met a very nice family who were tent camping and were pulling out toward Albany.
Seneca Falls, Waterloo, Phelps. Oops... turned north at Phelps instead of south... And didn't realize it for 4 miles. There's 8 miles I'll regret at the end tonight.
Second breakfast at the Blue Ribbon Barbeque: eggs and sausage. It looked like the sun might break through, and then the rain came pounding down again.
Newark, Palmyra, and finally Macedon. The last 10 miles were not so fun. Full headwind and the rain had washed all the lube off the chain. Shifting became difficult, and the chain squeaked and creaked like crazy. But the rain finally stopped and the sun came out. :)
50.5 miles riding at 10.4 miles per hour. Headwinds suck :)
I pitched camp alongside the Erie Canal in Macedon. Nice open place with a friendly lock keeper and a port-a-poty. The local volunteer fire department kept me entertained with their drills and training while I washed and lubed my chain. I found an outlet on the garage and was able to charge my phone.
I had planned to go out for supper, but was just too tired. I ate some of my food stash instead.
June 12, 2013
Up in the morning and packed after oatmeal for breakfast. Headed out to Fairport where I found that the Canal Trail does have some stairs.
I found a great diner with a breakfast special for 2nd breakfast right near the trail.
There's a bike shop near the trail as well, and they topped up my tires. Told me my bike was heavy... yes.. nearly 24 kg of gear. Probably too heavy.
Opportune graffiti on the Erie Canalway Trail. It made me feel welcome.
I'm sure that's not what they really meant.
I was looking for this place for 2nd breakfast. I had visited it a couple of years earlier with some friends, but couldn't remember where it was. It's in Pittsford; I was looking for it in Fairport.
Now this looks like a great way to travel the canal. I'm not sure it's better than by bicycle though.
South of Rochester, I left the Canalway trail and visited one of my favorite brewpubs, the Rohrbach Brewery and Restaurant for lunch and some hydration.
Then through Spencerport and Brockport to Holly where I planned to stop at their community park for the night.
The falls at the community park are really beautiful.
This is the view from the FREE campsite (including hot showers! You just have to ask the bridge attendant for the code to the shower room.)
3rd day out, 52.5 miles at 10.8 miles per hour average. The weather was beautiful, so I poked along. :)
I met a guy with a Walmart bike that was going from the Buffalo side of the canal to Albany. He was staying two sites away. He camped in a minimalist style with a tarp tent; he carried all his things in a backpack on his back. Having just retired from the US Park Service in Florida, he thought it would be better to spend time away from home while his daughter and son-in-law were living in his house. He had just ridden the Great Allegany Passage and the C & O Towpath trails from DC to Pittsburg. I was suitably impressed!
June 13, 2013
The next morning I woke early and saw on my phone that the weather looked dismal again.
Here I'm all packed up in the rain covers again trying to get a few miles ridden before the bands of rain coming from the southwest catch up. This was by 7:00 a.m.
The rain caught me pretty quickly. It came down very hard.
I walked into a diner for a apple muffin and a cup of coffee. The apple muffin was frozen and thawed in the microwave. :( I thought perhaps I deserved better.
I got out in the rain after the coffee and found my first flat tire. To fix it I just put on a new tube I had kept in the main frame tube of the bicycle. I felt very smart, thinking that it was so easy to fix. I did notice that the blue rim tape for which Brompton is famous seemed to be pinching when I put the new tube on.
The rain kept coming...
Then I had another flat. This one I patched behind a restaurant.
Then I had another flat. This one I patched in front of a fire house.
Then, when I made it to Lockport, I had another flat. I was about to try to patch it again, when my buddy from Buffalo called and said he was in the area. He asked if I wanted a lift. I agreed!
Nice Italian car. Nice British bike!
Sad bike with a flat tire. Fortunately, this was just outside a pub, a warm pub with decent beer.
I spent the night with my buddy in North Tonawanda. That evening we drove around the city trying to find 16 inch tubes. That was core, and we didn't really find the right size. He went off to work the next morning, and I investigated my tire, finding I had made a totally rookie mistake. When I looked over the tire carefully, and squeezed open the hole I found on the inside of the tire, I found a piece of glass embedded in the tire that I had to pry out with the tip of my knife. If I had looked the tire over carefully after the first flat, I would not have struggled in the rain fixing two more. Lesson learned.
The blue rim tape also gave me trouble, so I bought some adhesive cloth tape to install and got rid of the plastic blue tape.
4th day out, 38.8 miles at 11.5 miles per hour.
June 14, 2013
The next morning, I thought I would ride from my friend's home in North Tonawanda into Buffalo. I followed the path along the Niagara River on the Riverwalk Trail.
The rain had stopped, and the sun and sky made it a beautiful day for cycling. Then I switched to the Scajaquada trail to Delaware Park where I found the Japanese Garden. What a beautiful place. This park is one of Buffalo's parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
I stopped in front of the Albright-Knox art museum. This is close to the Darwin Martin House, a private home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Eventually I found myself on Elmwood Avenue at a pub called the Blue Monk, Buffalo's premier Belgian beer bar.
I had made arrangements to meet my friend at the Community Beer Works, a micro (micro!) brewery on Buffalo's west side.
That evening we took a culinary tour of North Tonawanda which included this lovely item. I Salen's hotdog wrapped in bacon and deep fried.
And a mac and cheese and bbq pork pizza at Smoke on the Water.
June 15, 2013
And then next day, I packed it all up to get on the train to head back to Syracuse.
Some time soon, I'll be on my way from Buffalo to Toronto and Kingston and back to Syracuse the long way around Lake Ontario!