24 7 / 2013
23 7 / 2013
Turned out to be a great trip to Union College/Schenectady, NY. The alumni department took wonderful care of me and Joel by hosting us in one of their apartments and also introducing me to someone from communications to promote the ride. I was also able to have lunch and take a tour of the campus with one of my favorite professors. It’s my 10 year anniversary next year and I can’t wait to get back.
The ride from Sprakers to Schenectady was fairly smooth with a great rail leading into the city. Unfortunately we witnessed another biker take a pretty hard crash over a guardrail. Lucky we were there to help patch him up with some items from our first aid kit. He wasn’t wearing a helmet so hopefully he’ll strap one on in the future.
I didn’t do enough planning towards the end of this trip - essentially my ride down to NYC and where I was going to stay. I turned to some warmshowers hosts last minute in Poughkeepsie - about 100 miles away - but got no response. It was a decent ride down there but most of it took place on road. The beginning from Schenectady to Albany was a great trail but that was only 30 miles out of 115. I did go through some really cool towns though - Red Hook and Rhinebeck in particular.
The most important part of my ride yesterday was that it was solo, Joel and I split up in Schenectady. We would have ridden the trails to Troy together but I had to go up and meet with someone from Union’s communications team. It’s hard to describe what that separation was like. Joel and I spend every second together, besides a short break in Minneapolis, for the past 7 weeks. Until you do something like that, without that person being your significant other, you can’t really relate. You get to know all the positives and negatives about the other, and most importantly, they become your sole support system on the road. Whenever Joel and I split up during rides in the past someone always got a flat tire or had a tough time, so I was not looking forward to it.
Luckily we both faired well yesterday. Joel had to cross the Berkshires and bike over 100 miles, he was done by 6:30. I had to bike over 100 miles through a lot of rolling hills, I came out with no problems. SO, it is possible to ride solo but having a partner is a whole lot more fun. I didn’t get to share any of the experience with someone and couldn’t rehash some the events of the day with anyone who went through the same thing. I’m looking forward to biking with Joel when he gets back from France and we’ll tear up those Boston/Mass roads together.
When I pulled into Poughkeepsie yesterday around 6 pm I started getting a little nervous. This city was a lot bigger than I remembered it when going to Vassar to play their lacrosse team in college. In fact, it’s a fairly large city with a bunch of colleges a bit of a rough looking downtown. We have had luck finding free housing in small towns, but this was going to be a challenge. My first intuition was to look for a microbewery or cool bar, but none to be found. I then headed to a firehouse down on Main St but the guys there had a policy against letting people shower or stay the night. I asked about towns nearby and they pointed me toward a town still in Poughkeepsie but about 10 miles away.
I jumped back on my bike and started the trip. On the way I stopped at a church to see if I could get some luck there but no on answered. About 3/4 of the way to New Hamburg (where the other firehouse was) I spotted a firehouse on my left - this would turn out to be my best experience with a random hosting during the trip.
I spoke with on the LTs and he immediately let me take a shower but had to check on whether I could pitch my tent in the back. When I got out of the bathroom there was a plate of surf & turf (steak and shrimp) plus rice, bread, salad and coleslaw waiting for me. One of the firemen went to the Culinary Institute located in Poughkeepsie so believe me when I say this was damn good. During dinner they broke the news to me that I couldn’t pitch my tent, but instead, could sleep on their spare bed in an air conditioned room with wifi and flat screened TV.
Probably the best part of this experience was the interactions between the guys. They obviously have a great time working together and definitely know how to talk trash. Even better was that one of the firemen was heavily involved, and Director of Strategic Partnerships, with Team Rubicon - an NGO that utilized military veterans, along with some civilians, in disaster relief situations. I couldn’t have picked a better person to speak with about Ace in the Hole and Matt might be able to make it to the event tomorrow. After a great sleep I was offered breakfast at a local diner with Vinny, the LT who arranged for me stay, and continued our great conversations from the night before. I’d really like to think I can find a way to keep in tough with all the amazing people who I met along the way, I will work hard at doing that.
The ride to West Chester today was a hilly one but well worth it with the scenery and the trails. It was split about 60/40 with trails over road and when on road I was climbing and then getting great views. I’ve had the afternoon to catch up on emails and promote the event tomorrow night while waiting for my friend Brian to make it out to his parents place. So technically my ride today isn’t quite over but I only have about 5 miles to go.
I’ve mapped the ride for tomorrow and it will be about 45 - 50 miles, which is refreshing because I thought it was only going to be 20. I would have felt like I didn’t accomplish much that last day if it was a small ride. I still have to find which body of water I’ll dip my feet in - so it won’t technically be coast to coast but my butt isn’t getting on that bike for another 100 or so miles to Long Island or where ever else I could get into the Atlantic - this will have to do.
My hope now is to top $9,000 and I have some ideas on at some point reaching the $12,000 but need to do some planning for that. Thanks everyone for following and can’t wait to email all of my supporters letting them know when I finish!
23 7 / 2013
23 7 / 2013
22 7 / 2013
21 7 / 2013
21 7 / 2013
21 7 / 2013
Unfortunately the Canalway Trail failed us after the first day of riding. Like the ride to Holley, we figured we could stay on the trail for the day and try to get as far as we could - possibly a century day to make our trip to Mohawk, NY shorter. Something I didn’t mention in my last post was how hot it has gotten since we got to NY - the day between Holley and Weedsport was the hottest so far.
We started moving a little before 9 and managed a good distance before lunch. As we pulled into one of the pretty canal-side towns it started to rain, and then pour. It subsided a bit after lunch and when we were back on the trail but that changed quickly and it turned into torrential downpours. Joel wasn’t feeling too comfortable on the trail at that point so he jumped up to a road that ran along side it. I was hanging fun bouncing through the mud and treating it like a mountain bike path. We met up in Newark, NY and Joel wanted to stay on the road and I was having fun on the trail - splitting up is never a good idea.
Essentially the trail breaks up in Newark but the maps make it look like it keeps going. I spent a while trying to get back on but finally settled on getting on the same road that Joel was probably on 15 minutes before. I was always trying to find my way back on it and that eventually got me a little lost. Another busted tube later (my front tire was basically falling apart) and I felt like I was most likely an hour behind Joel. Because of a wrong turn I found myself in hill country but eventually got back on to a main road that I knew would lead me to where I needed to be.
Joel and I met in Port Byron and both us of us had crashed. It had been a long day. We couldn’t see a good spot in Port Byron to eat or sleep so we moved 4 miles east to Weedsport. When we got there we found a spot for dinner, the Old Erie Restaurant. We chatted it up with some of the locals, had a couple of beers and a pretty good German style dinner. A group of guys came in and asked about our bikes and it turned it out they were big cyclists themselves and were coming from Chicago to see the opening day of races in Saratoga. While we were talking with them about our love for their city (and the great trails in and out of Chicago) the bartender told us that a couple who was at the bar, but had just left, picked up our whole tab! The generosity we have seen on this trip is amazing. During dinner we also got to speak to a policeman about a possible free shower and camping in town and he suggested heading over to the firehouse.
Once again the firemen came through and we got a shower and they let us use their park in town to sleep. It was right down the road, had a bathroom, running water and lots of space to choose from. Before I went to sleep that night and looked at the map for our ride tomorrow and realized that we had a LONG way to go, 99 miles. I felt bad waking Joel up to tell him…but probably wasn’t the best thing to hear the next morning.
We woke up to a tailwind, I broke the news, and we got on the road. We managed 66 miles before lunch at 1:15 pm. During the morning we ran into a detour, a bridge was being worked on in Verona, NY, that took us probably 4 - 5 miles out of the way. Not fun when it was again, the hottest day we had biked so far. The tailwind helped though and we were flying after a short lunch break. We pulled into Utica around 3:30 and I was hoping we could get to Mohawk before 4:30 but after a call to my friend Cliff at 4 pm (when were still getting through Utica) he told us we still had 15 miles to go and if we wanted to get to his parents lake house we had to come up with a different plan.
This was when we did something unprecedented - we turned around and rode into a headwind for 4 miles to meet Cliff west of where we had biked. He promised to drop us off exactly where we ended though. When we saw him we loaded up our bikes into his pick-up and headed 20 minutes north to his lake house.
It was awesome seeing Cliff again. The last time we really got to spend time together was when he was living in LA. He had lived there for 3 years and was moving back to Mohawk soon, so I caught him right before he took off. We had a blast then and I had another great time with him split between his lake house and his hometown, Mohawk. His parents were nice enough to let Joel and I sleep at their house (in AC) and we managed a breakfast with Cliff the next morning. Cliff is getting married to a great girl in October, who I finally was able to spend some time with, and I can’t tell you how nice it was catch up. Like Adam, Cliff has so much going for him up here and I’m very happy for him. Hopefully it won’t be another 2 - 3 years before we see each other again!
While we were in Mohawk we were scrambling to figure out the best place to stay the next day before heading to Schenectady on Sunday. Luckily a warmshowers host came through - we biked to Sprakers, NY that afternoon. We got caught in a downpour again and the Canalway Trail was muddy and pretty tough to ride on at times. It was only a 45 mile ride to Sprakers but it was tiring because we were moving fast to try and get to Janet and Rolan’s house. They needed to be at a pot luck concert at 6 so we were trying to reach their place by 4 or 4:30. Janet had warned us about a hill before the house and she wasn’t kidding. We had about a mile climb before reaching their beautiful home in the woods.
Both Janet and Roland welcomed us with open arms (literally, Janet gave me a big hug when we arrived) and we got to experience some local music from a friend of Roland’s. Roland is an Old Time musician but the music we listened to was more singer/songwriter. The night was perfect for me and Joel because we got to eat as much food as we wanted at the pot luck. The concert took place in the Windfall Dutch Barn, a barn built right before US revolution. It was very scenic and beautiful place.
Today we are making our way to Schenectady where I get to visit my old college, Union. I have a lunch planned with a great professor then meeting with some the alumni department staff later. I was hoping to stay on campus but there are definitely rules against that, but the staff at school has been amazing they are letting us stay in one of their apartments. It’s Joel and my last ride together so we need to make it a good one. It will be short but Janet has written out a nice route for us so I’m excited.
We are nearing the end! I still haven’t fully figured out my route to NYC but I’ll take care of that today.