Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

The Rains Came Down

The road was wet when we started this morning but it was not raining. So the first miles were pleasant enough once we got out of town. It didn’t take long to reach the Hudson River today. Crossed it at mile 4.5.

Then, just before I reached the top of our first climb, the sky started spitting at me. Soon after I was at our first rest stop and the rain started in earnest. Roel and I stood under the awning at a gas station waiting for the cell to pass. When it eased a bit, we headed down the hill. Roel chooses to ride slow on the downhills so I passed him and kept going. I had been concerned about the climbs since we haven’t had any for many, many miles but they were not an issue. Yay!

The first substantial climb of the day brought me here.

The next milestone for the day was crossing into Vermont. Soon after that, we went through Old Bennington where another cloud dumped on us. The shoulders were bad, the rain was heavy and there was lots of traffic, I chose to use the sidewalk until I couldn’t any more. The rain was coming down so hard and fast, it was difficult to “read” the road. Is that a just a puddle or a pothole filled with water? Will there be pavement under that stream of water or broken asphalt with huge cracks to grab your wheel?

Penny photo bombed my picture. ๐Ÿ™‚

And then it stopped raining. When I reached the second rest stop, it wasn’t raining but Deanna was inside the trailer with all the food trying to stay dry. So, it had rained there earlier.

The next section of the ride was up Hogback Mountain. Roel and I got to the top and it was pouring. There was a scenic overlook but nothing to see today! There was a store there too so we went into the vestibule and waited, hoping the rain would stop again. Roel got impatient so we went out into the rain and started down the hill. Not a wise choice but we didn’t know that until it was too late.  A very busy highway, wet roads, heavy rain, bad to no shoulder…we were very dependent on all the drivers paying attention. I am so glad they did!

As we got to lower elevation and away from the mountain, the sky cleared and the riding became better. The last 20 miles were better but we were both glad to be done with today’s adventure.

The other day we got the “taper” lecture. Start cutting back on eating so much as the body won’t need all the calories once the ride is over. So tonight I had salad, five pieces of pizza and a brownie. I can’t remember the last time I ate that much pizza. So much for tapering.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Mohawk

In spite of the predictions, there was no rain today. It did start out overcast with low clouds obscuring hill tops and the Mohawk Valley. At some point, it looked and felt like we were riding right into a storm but the clouds lifted and we got some sunshine.

One of the riders got this pic of the Mohawk Valley. He went through at a different time than me.

Our first rest stop was at mile 35, Karen’s Produce and Ice Cream. What the name didn’t say was ‘pie.’ Hao bought a blueberry pie and had it transported to the motel. After dinner this evening, he shared it (big smile).

At mile 50, we entered a bike path which followed the Mohawk River. So nice to get off the roads for a few miles. We got off the path to meet at our second rest stop but not too long after that, we were back on the path.

Hooray for bike hike trails.
Mohawk River
Another lock, this one on the Mohawk River.

After the wonderful paths, riding into Latham wasn’t much fun. Rough roads, lots of traffic, having to fight for road position, yikes! Finished the 75 miles today with no hot foot. Maybe that’s my magic number for not getting the burning sensation.

A side note: many of the hotels/motels we’ve stayed at have leaking water problems…either a faucet drips or the toilet leaks. I just finished messing around with the toilet tank in this place. Maybe I’m more aware of this because we’ve just gone through a five year drought where we’ve had to be very careful about our water usage. I do let the staff know but I wonder how many of them follow up on the information.  Maybe I could create a job saving these places big bucks by making sure they fix these problems and spend less on water.  Each place we’ve stayed says they want to conserve water by asking the customers to use towels more than once but do they really???

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Liverpool to Little Falls, New York

As we left the hotel today, we were in a large group. Not good for negotiating through a busy town. I was able to separate from the big group so there were just two or three of us. Makes it easier for cyclists and motorists to get around each other.

Tucker Street! Alan had to stop to get a photo as that’s his last name. SoCal James and I were ruthless, we left him to fight his way back up to us after he got his picture.

Then I had to stop to take my pills, several folks passed me by. I was able to catch on with Roel and Dirk.

Later in the day, Roel, Dirk and I stopped at the second sag. While I wasn’t paying attention, they left! Alan was at the stop so he and I took off together. While we took turns “pulling,” he really did most of the work. At one point Alan mentioned the “Alabama boys” were catching up so we poured on the fuel so they wouldn’t pass us.

Then, just about two miles from the end, that left foot of mine started with the burning sensation. Alan was kind enough to pull over to give me a chance to give the foot a rest. We’d been there a while when I saw the “Alabama boys” coming. Come on, let’s go! And go we did. We beat them to the motel by a few seconds. They didn’t even know there’d been a race.

Fun day. Tomorrow there’s a good chance we’ll get rain.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I saw hills today. We’ve been in the flatlands for so long, I forgot how pretty the hills can be. I may regret saying that in a day or two when we’re climbing the steep ones we’ve been promised.

Spent the evening exploring the area around Little Falls.

Went thru Main St tunnel to get to the island and the lock.
Water on other side of this wall was above my head. Hope the dike doesn’t fail.
I was there!

Lock No. 17
View on other side of the canal.
Once a school, then a Masonic home, what next?
More unnamed wildflowers
Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Tonawanda!

As we moved from the city to the country, the roads became quieter and the land opened up for us. Our first rest stop was at Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area. It was a pretty area to enjoy.

The sag vehicle at the wild life refuge

This was the first day I had no saddle issues. I didn’t even realize it until the ride was over. Hope the rest of the ride is the same!

We went through several small communities, one was called Alabama. There is a contingent of riders from Alabama (the state) so we thought for sure they’d stop and get pictures but they didn’t even realize they’d gone through Alabama. Sometimes the focus is just on getting through the day.

Speaking of getting through the day, everything went right today. I got off to a good start with some other riders, the roads were smooth, no saddle issues, I was able to catch a draft with several different groups, we had a tail wind…

We are starting to see more rollers so I need to get back into climbing mode. When we get to Vermont, the hills have about 8% grade but aren’t too long (they say). And they’re short, only about a mile long-each.

Today was 86 miles of fun!

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Aaaah, Rest Day #5

I truly felt this was a day of rest. Woke up when my body had enough sleep. Nice, very nice.

My roommate, Barb, and I wandered around the streets for a while looking for a breakfast place. I finally asked some sanitation workers for suggestions. They sent us around the corner. Even with directions, we had trouble finding the place but we did. 

Oooh, pancakes with strawberries and blueberries, whipped cream, drizzled with caramel… Sorry, out of pancake mix – no waffles either. Ok, standard egg breakfast. 

Me: Can we have the check?

Waitress: Oh, thought you were staying in the motel and it would be charged to your room. I’ll get it for you.

Hand waitress two credit cards asking to have meal split evenly on each card.

Waitress comes back: Sorry, our card machine isn’t working, there’s an ATM over there.

Me: That’s ok, here’s a 50 (for a $31 tab)
Waitress:  I don’t have enough change. (Runs around restaurant trying to find to worker to help out. Finally gets her supervisor to get change. Supervisor gives me 10 $5 bills. I pay and we finally get on with our day. Whew!)

American Fall and Bridal Veil Fall viewed from Canada.

We walked over the bridge back into Canada to get photos. I did have to answer some questions of the agent but since I hadn’t done much except sleep since returning to the States, my mind was clear and sharp.

Lots of rocks at the base of the falls
Nice landscaping on the Canada side.
Just missed hearing this band. They were done playing but were posing for photos.
Horseshoe Fall with the mist

We did a lot of walking in the heat and humidity but saw the power and beauty of the water. There are many touristy things to do but I chose to wait and do those when Dan and I come visit together.

View at top of horseshoe fall. The water is not very deep here. I could see the bottom of the river.

After walking back to the US side (it cost 50ยข!), I went back to my room for a nap.

Twice in two days I was welcomed to New York.

Yawn! Time to get up or I won’t be able to sleep tonight. Eventually I went out looking for food. I got a good walk in while wandering around hunting for an interesting restaurant. Guess I went in a big circle as I ended up where I’d been last night. Chain restaurant but you know what you’ll get.

Just as I was finishing my meal, Dale walked in so I invited him to sit at my table. We had a good conversation while I watched him eat. Glad he came in as I’m not sure I’d have done a direct walk to the hotel without him.

For mom, who loves flowers.

As I was typing this, I heard boom, boom, boom. What the??? Oh, its the fireworks show. We could see it from our room….cool.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Back In the USA

Most of today was in Canada but we ended by crossing into New York at Niagara Falls.

My start to the day was more of a stop. As I was ready to roll, I realized I had a flat! Since I was still in the motel parking lot, I called on the staff to help me change the flat. Rob jumped right in and took over. He also did some adjusting to my rear brake. By the time all this was done, the only other rider in sight was Deanna, designated sweep for the day. She waited until I was ready and we started out together.

The weather was wonderful, the roads were good, we rode along at a good clip but still never caught up with anyone until we were almost to the end of the ride. I truly enjoyed riding with Deanna.

Great Blue Heron
Playground at West Lincoln where we had our rest stop. Swings!
Had to cross this drawbridge.

As Deanna and I got into the city of Niagara, Ontario, Canada, we saw Dirk and Roel. So the four of us worked together to get through town stopping along the way for lunch. When we finally got to the Rainbow Bridge, we had to get in line with all the cars to make our way up to the customs agent. When we got to the front of the line, the agent called us all up together. He wanted to know if we were the last of the group. We said we thought so but couldn’t be sure. He gave us our passports, after we took off helmets and sunglasses, and sent us on our way. I didn’t have to answer any questions at all!
Tomorrow is our final rest day but the celebration began this evening. At our evening discussion/review, aka RAP, we had the sad news that five riders are ending their journey with us now. Even though one cannot become close with every other rider, there is still a closeness that is created when you ride with the same people day after day. I will miss these five.

Each RAP a plastic duck has been passed from one rider to the next. Tonight I was the recipient of the duck. So, true to me, I sang a portion of “Let Me Entertain You” from the musical Gypsy to the duck as it will be my responsibility to take care of the duck for the next two days before I hand him off.

We were each given a gift card to T.G.I.Fridays for dinner tonight. A group of us sat outside and enjoyed a live band that was playing. Dirk and I got up and danced “swing” to several of the songs. Well, Dirk danced and I bounced around trying to stay with him. I had a great time. I’m afraid some of the other diners may have been concerned that I’d end up in their laps but I did manage not to do that.

Had fun dancing to the music.

It was still early so a few of us walked into the Niagara park area and oohed and aahed at the water and falls. Looking forward to tomorrow when I can go back to see and do more.

Niagara sunset
Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Second Day in Canada

The roads today were better than they have been. The condition of the road really does make a difference in the condition of my body at the end of the day. It also makes it easier to deal with headwinds.

Since it was a “short” ride today (estimated at 69.4 miles), I did not try to ride with a pace line but took my time and ended up most of the day with Roel and, when he showed up, Dirk. I need to explain Dirk. He is an amazingly strong rider. He can shoot ahead, stop to talk to folks along the way (and record it on his GoPro), let us ride on by and then catch up with us as if he’d been there all along. He does this a lot, every day.

First little store where we bought snacks for the road.

As we went through Otterville, I stopped because of the waterfall. As I did a u-turn, I saw a sign for an historical marker. Glad I went back…

Here’s why I turned around.

Beautiful park and waterfall in Otterville.

If you need a two person buggy, I know of one for sale.

Rubber wheels, not wood. Just need one horse.

Just beyond the buggy was this marker for Harold Adams Innis marking his birthplace and providing information on his contributions to the world.

The group had been told about a store/restaurant in Mount Pleasant that had good meals and treats. So, that became our lunch destination. I had a most delicious, light, fluffy spinach/mushroom quiche. I’ve never had a quiche with a philodough pastry crust. It was good!

Entering into Brantford, we were on a bike path which was delightful until it ended. Fortunately for Roel and I, Dirk had his GPS and he found a much nicer route through town than what we started on. Initially we were on roads that were under construction, roads with crazy fast traffic, roads where the drivers just wanted to get going, roads where traffic backed up because of two lanes cut down to one…just a mess!

View from the bike path bridge…much nicer than the roads!

When we re-enter the US tomorrow, we will need to know things like when did you enter Canada? Where did you enter Canada? I had to make notes as things have become a blur and I might not have been able to answer those questions.

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Into Canada

The day started early. Breakfast at 5:30. Load at 6:15. Bikes ready and lined up at 6:30. We were a parade as we made our way to the bridge. Getting across was easy but we had to check in with the Canadians once we got to the other side. 

The parade crossing the span.

After checking all our passports, they did a group photo and sent us on our way. 

We’re in!

This was the first family I saw after entering the country. They sure were cute.

There were some other interesting sites. This reminds me of the VW bug on eight legs in Nevada. Random things one does with old equipment.

The roads were rough and the wind relentless but I still saw some pretty things along the way. Most everyone keeps their HUGE yards immaculate. They must each have their own riding lawnmower. I don’t know how they could keep up without one.

Saw these in Michigan too. Don’t know what kind of bush this is. Found out it’s Sumac.
A thistle of some sort?
Little yellow wildflowers
One of the many interesting old churches we passed.
Mother nature sharing her beauty

84 miles at 12.8mph average. Tomorrow is a shorter day but we will probably be facing the same winds…sigh

Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Complaints

Same complaint as many, if not all, of the riders…the roads in this state are in a horrible state of disrepair. Today was the first day my hands felt almost numb from the thrashing my body has taken over the past three days. Good thing my bike has an FM headset that helps soften the ride or I’d really be in trouble.

Another same complaint is the food we have to choose from most mornings. Occasionally we get to eat in a regular restaurant and order a meal but most mornings our choice is the “continental breakfast” provided by motels. Sugar, carbs, fat, more sugar, processed food, sugar and, if you’re lucky, a piece of fruit.

However, today’s ride was good in many ways. In the town of Millington, they have a fun water tower. Then in Brown City they have a nice memorial for the firefighters who gave their lives helping others during the 9/11 disaster. We were able to peek at Lake Huron as we rode by. When I got into Port Huron, I took the detour and went to see the bridge we’ll be crossing tomorrow to get into Canada. I also spent some time learning a bit about some of the history of the area.

no phone calls or text messages until I’m back in the U.S.

Millington water tower
Memorial for the fire fighters that died because of the 9/11 attack
Another part of the memorial
Blue Water Bridge spans St. Clair river from USA to Canada
Thomas Edison moved to Port Huron at age seven. By 12, he was an entrepreneur.
A lightship instead of a lighthouse.
The lightship Huron – now a museum
Info on construction of the bridge
Posted in 2017 Northern Tier

Tough Night

Made a mistake last night, used A&D ointment on my sore spots. I was miserable all night feeling more pain than usual plus my lower back was hurting… It was not a good night.  When my alarm went off this morning, I turned it off and didn’t get up. Well, I did get up eventually but I sure didn’t jump out of bed.  I could get away with this ’cause everything started later this morning. (Thank goodness)

I started riding with Marty S., Alan and Deb. It became clear to me very quickly that I couldn’t stay with them and keep my sanity. If I had tried, the pain would’ve sent me over the edge. As soon as I slowed down, it didn’t hurt nearly as much.  Not sure how that works but …

I was able to jump on with some other groups for a time but let them go as soon as the pain came back.

Our rest stop today was at the farmhouse belonging to Sandra. She and her husband befriended America by Bicycle staff several years back. They have opened their home to ABB each year since then. Her husband has passed away but she, although living in assisted living, insisted on opening up the premises to us and on being there. So we got to meet her and thank her for her generosity.

Because there were times I was on my own, I stopped for some photos. I learned this blue flower is chickory. Someone mentioned this is the plant they used to make “coffee” during the civil war.

Chickory plant
Chickory, Queen Anne’s Lace, Clover

I ended up riding with Roel and, by default, Dirk. We stopped about 25 miles from the end of the ride for lunch in Brant. When we walked inside, it was filled with bikers! We knew them all.

The Brant Bar-burgers made with Nixon meat. No, it wasn’t ‘crook’ed.

I am amazed at how quickly the miles go by these days. Before this ride, a 74 mile day following a 112 mile day would have taken forever to complete. Total time today, including the lunch stop, was five and a half hours…well above my usual 10mph estimate for a daily ride.

This purple wildflower is new to me. Don’t know what it is.
Crop duster at work
Corn fields and wind turbines abound