Monday, March 21, 2005


This was a fully supported tour from Buffalo, NY, to Albany, NY, following the approximate route, and often the actual towpath, of the Erie Canal. The distance given was 400 miles, to be covered in 8 days of relatively flat riding. Luggage was transported from campsite to campsite each day, and meals were included. More information about the current year's tour can be found here.

Daily journal entries are listed in reverse, because of the way Blogger works. I may try to change (hack) this later, but for now, read from the bottom up to stay in chronological order. These entries are as written each evening at the time, and have not been edited in retrospect, other than to add the image links.

I've posted all of these entries after the fact via e-mail, using my Palm Vx, Palm keyboard, Palm Eudora, and Palm modem, as a proof-of-concept for possibly using this approach on a future tour. Results have been mixed. Blogger's Mail-to-Blogger functionality is unpredictable, and often extremely delayed in posting, if the post gets there at all. Sometimes it's really quick and dependable, but other times it can be several days or never.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Day 8 - Niskayuna to Albany

Had dinner and stayed for entertainment (John Kirk and Trish
Miller), then back to Holly's for a good night's sleep, which I got.
Up around 7am, had breakfast, then back to JCC around
8:15-8:30. Passed a ew stragglers once I hit the bike path, but
traffic was generally much lighter than I had expected. Small
crowd at Niskayuna train station, bigger crowd at Colonie Town
Park rest stop. Said a few good-byes there and continued on.
Trail now goes all the way to Cohoes, and is paved. Then, streets
to Watervliet and rejoin trail to Albany. Arrived to a chorus of
"hurrahs" accorded every finisher.

Saw a few more faces, said more good-byes, and continued
on to Rensselaer to get car. Arrived at car around 11:30am.

The numbers:
32.40 miles
14.0 mph average
2:18:52 riding time
~3 hours elapsed time
33.0 max mph

TOTAL DISTANCE 406.09 miles

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Day 7 - Canajoharie to Niskayuna

Got up and went inside for pre-breakfast coffee. Packed up,
oiled chain, and
loaded truck, then had breakfast. Hung around for
announcements, put on
unscreen, and left a little before 7. Long
downhill to 5S from school, then steady 16-19 mph all along 5S to
first rest stop in Fultonville. A few others were there, but I had
passed many on the way at that pace. Continued on 5S to Dufel's
farm, then onto paved bike path. I was alone at the head of
the pack at this point. Somewhere in that stretch, here should
have been access to Schoharie Crossing, but the trail didn't pass
through it, much to my surprise, and no turns were marked going
off-trail to get there. Caught up with the markers, and we just
kept going until suddenly we were in Amsterdam. At this point,
I decided to just head for home, with an ETA of around 10am.
I'd been hoping to burn some time and some film at Schoharie
Crossing, but now I was way ahead of schedule. Went home
(10am), called Holly and said a noon pickup was still OK. Read
e-mail, watered earth box, puttered around, talked to Jay. Rode
to JCC a little before noon, went to Holly's, and now I'm home
doing laundry, unpacking, and drying out. Fixed annoying rattle
(rack at seat stays). Dinner @6:30, other stuff @7:00, then to
Holly's for a night in a real bed, the first since over a week ago.
32+ to Albany tomorrow, and I'll be skipping the Waterford side
trip. Will write more tomorrow, after all is over.

The numbers:
48.88 miles
3:20:34 riding time
14.6 mph average
29.0 mph max
3:30-3:45 elapsed time

Friday, July 11, 2003

Day 6 - Rome to Canajoharie

Up at 5:20 - not raining! Packed up and waited around for 6:00 breakfast. Turned out to be a little inadequate. Cold cereal, mini-muffins, bagels, etc. Small room and nowhere to sit. Grabbed 3 mini-muffins and a coffee and bolted at 6:10am. Janet from Albany was somewhere ahead of me. Light sporadic rain as I rode roads to get to the Canal Trail, and it continued all the way to Utica and beyond. Downed tree at one point blocked the trail completely. Wet bushwhack w/bike to get around it. Turn for downtown Utica got missed somehow - not sure it was marked yet. Wound up on Rt 5 and stopped at Burger King for breakfast. I had passed Janet earlier, and she pulled in a little later and joined me. We both decided to just stay on Rt 5 all the way to Nelliston, where the official route crossed over to Fort Plain. High headwinds and threat of more rain made it a no-brainer to just get to Canajoharie ASAP. I skipped the St. Johnsville rest stop after the one in Little Falls was deserted. Too early. Arrived in Canjo, as it's called here, around 1:30pm. Had stopped in St. Johnsville library and emailed a few. I was the first to arrive. LONG hill from village up to high school. Set up, mostly dried out, and all is well.

This day went much better than I had expected, both in terms of weather and endurance. Forgot to mention the second breakfast at the Waffle House in Herkimer (a full combo), and a great sandwich in a local Canajoharie deli. I also did less than the 67.1 miles of the official route, and despite the winds, Rt 5 is a great route. Hills were less daunting than expected, but the headwind more than made up for that.

The numbers:
61.34 miles (329.9 total)
12.3 mph average
25.5 mph max
4:57:11 riding time
7:30 elapsed time

Brooks BBQ for dinner. Good Mohawk Indian speaker and so-so bluegrass band. Called Holly - in bed @ 9:30.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Day 5 - Syracuse to Rome

Up @ 5:50, later than usual. Packed by 6:20, then to breakfast. Pretty good night's sleep under the light and noisy circumstances. Morning announcements, then sunscreen/etc., and on the road just before 7am. Dewitt to Canastota was a very nice ride along the old canal. The word "bucolic" kept coming to mind. Chittenango Canal Museum was interesting - old drydocks, museum.

On to Canastota before 10am,, the lunch stop. Had coffee and muffin, talked with fellow riders from Missouri, bought Post-Standard with article about our group. From Canastota to Rome was monotonous and flat, straight towpath. Stopped @ Erie Canal Village and took boat ride.

Just didn't have the energy to try to see the rest of it. Had ice cream and continued to campsite. Set up on front lawn of Rome Arts Center, using sign as clothesline.

Feeling really tired. Woman next to me (Debbie from Rochester) gave me an extra muffin to tide me over until dinner. Officially 67 miles tomorrow - more on that later.

The numbers:
42.68 miles
11.4 mph average
3:44:49 riding time
7.5-8 hours elapsed time
Couple of beers, to Applebee's for dinner. Bought jersey for $70 in a moment of weakness. This is a one-time event, and I won't get a second chance, so why not?
Tomorrow - 67 miles, mostly in valley. Raining now (9pm) and should continue all night. Weather radio not cooperating at the moment, but I think I can say tomorrow will be wet, and mostly, if not all, road riding. Breakfast looks very cramped. I'm thinking about getting an early start and grabbing breakfast on the road, rather than fighting the crowd here. Will try weather again and see if that makes sense.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Day 4 - Waterloo to Syracuse

Woke up at 4:30 to sound of rain on tent. This was not expected, but I had taken precautions anyway. Packed up everything (started @ 5:20) before leaving tent. All packed and loaded on truck by 5:50, 30 minutes again. Biked to American Legion Hall and had good breakfast. Ready to leave @ 6:20, didn't feel like waiting around for 6:30 orientation, so just left. Got to Seneca Falls and added long-sleeved layer and taillight. Rain continued all morning. Reached Sims Store in Camillus @ 9:10 am, the afternoon rest stop. I was the first one there, and the ladies were all flustered about not being ready for the rest of the horde. Nice lady wiped the stripe off my back before letting me wander around the museum. Museum has come a long way, and is pretty good. Had coffee, hung around 25 minutes until a couple of others arrived. Left via DeVoe Road to Camillus village. Up Camillus Hill, left on Vanida to Mom's house @ 10:00. Showered, rinsed/dried socks (which were pretty miserable), watched weather, talked, called Holly. Lunch @ Friendly's, left @ 1:00pm. To Canal Museum by 1:35 for ceremony, then to LeMoyne College by 2:30 pm. Set up, dried out, rain having stopped while at Mom's house. Couple of beers - that hit the spot!!
The highlight of the day was seeing one of the usual fluorescent pink trail markers spray-painted directly over a dead raccoon on the road shoulder near Port Byron. I must have laughed for almost a mile!
Thursday night and most of Friday now look wet. Break camp in the rain Friday morning, bike 60-70 miles, set up wet tent in the rain. This will take some pre-planning and clever packing.

The numbers:
52.12 miles
3:38:45 riding time
14.3 mph average
8-8.5 hours elapsed time

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Day 3 - Pittsford to Waterloo

Up @ 5:30, packed by 6. Had breakfast, heard orientation and LDS spiel, then on the road at 7am. Arrived in Newark, the proposed lunch spot, at 10am. Kept going to Lyons, had 2 hot dogs, and looked for library to send emails. It was closed. Reached afternoon rest stop in Clyde at 11:30, but nothing was there yet. Refilled water at town hall, and continued on. Arrived in Waterloo a little before 1:00pm. Had Gatorade and set up tent with annex for shade.

The numbers:
59.67 miles
4:26:00 riding time
13.4 mph average
5.75 - 6 hours elapsed time
A lot of road riding today, all after Palmyra. That explains the higher average speed. Oh, and I forgot the flat tire - guess it didn't faze me. 30 minutes out of Pittsford on the Canal Trail. Fixed and underway again in 20-30 minutes. Pump only gave me ~65 lbs., so at the morning rest stop, I topped it off before we hit the road portion of the ride. Dinner and ice cream social from 5:30-8:00 in park in town. Library within walking distance, w/internet access. It's only 2:00pm! Called Holly @ work and left message - try again later.
Called Holly a little before 3pm. Walked to library (actually got a partial ride from a volunteer who saw my t-shirt) Cleared out mail, sent a couple. Weather still looks good until Thursday overnight and most of Friday - the LONG uphill day to Canajoharie. Damn! Gave Mom a 10-11am arrival estimate, and will leave to make 1:30 reception in downtown Syracuse.
Hung out until 5:20, then headed to Lafayette Park for picnic, ice cream social, and band concert. Really nice - small-town America. Sousa marches, flags. Sat with some others of my kind and had a good time. Stopped @ ATM and got more money. Ongoing expenses are very cheap for this trip. Oiled chain - sounds/shifts much better. Remember to check tire pressure in morning.
When covering up bike, discovered rear tire was flat again. Pulled tube, matched against tire, found piece of glass in tire and removed it. Hope it won't do it again now. Need to pick up another patch kit.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Day 2 - Medina to Pittsford

Woke @5:30 to a loud "bump" - the luggage truck was loading nearby. No alarm set - slept pretty well. Broke camp in a stupor, and threw bag in truck @ 6am. Pretty quick! Had breakfast and walked outside to rain. Listened to weather radio - torrential downpours south of Buffalo, expected to clear Genesee Valley between 7 and 8, so stalled for awhile. Started out around 7:45am in the rain. Rain continued to Albion. Stopped at McDonald's for OJ, and took off raingear. Hit Brockport around 10:45 and called John. Then the rain started again, and continued to Spencerport. Ally gave me the house tour and a soda. Sat on porch and read paper until John returned @ noon. Had burgers, chips, ice cream. Gave John his new bike computer and installed it - he was thrilled! Left there around 12:40pm. Arrived Pittsford at some unknown time, probably around 3:00pm. Set up, had shower, called John re: dinner. They're picking me up @ 6pm.

The numbers:
59.75 miles
4:42:04 riding time
12.7 mph average
7-7.5 hours elapsed time

Had dinner w/John, Sue, and Allyson, at a really expensive place in Pittsford. Prime rib and scallops, 2 beers - excellent, and good to see everybody. Back to camp, read some more, listened to live folk music, tried to call Holly several times. Gave up @9:30 and went to bed.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Day 1 - Buffalo to Medina

Took a long time to get to sleep last night.. Not noisy or anything, just couldn't sleep. Finally got about 4 good hours, waking up at about 4:30am. Packed up, had early breakfast around 6am. Rode around Buffalo's Delaware Park, waited around for 8am start. Was lucky to be in the first 20 or so out the gate, and never felt crowded.

Very nice trail along Niagara River eventually brought us to an interesting bicycle sculpture.

Hit Lockport around 10:30am. Good paved trail and flat roads all the way. Had lunch early, around 11:00, after spending what seemed like a lot of time at the locks in town.

The "Cave" seemed to not be open. Hung around restaurant and museum until 12-12:30, then headed for Medina. Flat stone dust trail on the towpath, in bright sun all the way.

Medina thermometer read 88 degrees. Set up tent w/annex for shade, took shower, sent emails.

The numbers:
49.25 miles
3:50:51 riding time
12.8 mph average
6.5-7 hours elapsed time
Everything's dried out from last night's rain. Had roast beef sandwich, beans, potato salad, brownies, and LOTS of lemonade. Will go out for local ice cream shortly.
Went for ice cream with a fellow rider from Slingerlands, NY. We were on our bikes,and were passed by a bunch of fellow riders in a convertible. "Boy, you guys are really hard-core!!" (Well, this IS a bike tour, right?) Came back to campsite, called Holly, watched fireworks in our honor. To bed, earplugs in, NOISY PEOPLE TONIGHT.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Day 0 - Bus from Albany to Buffalo

Arrived @ Rensselaer Amtrak Station @ 8:00am, and was one of the first dozen bikes loaded on the truck.

Walked over to station and got coffee and a danish, then just sat around until the buses arrived @ 9:00 or so. Sat next to Daniel, a software developer from Boston, for the 5-6 hour trip. We talked a little, but mostly read or slept. Lunch @ Warners rest area - pizza - then on to the Nichols School in Buffalo. Set up tent quickly under increasingly threatening skies. That blew over as I registered and got orientation stuff. Read through that, looked at maps, etc. Went to reception, then dinner - ziti w/meatballs, primavera, roll, salad, cookies, and milk. Went back to tent and felt first raindrops sometime before 7pm. Covered bike w/tarp and retreated inside tent. Organized for the morning, read some more, wrote this. Pretty good rain, but no thunder. Tent basically OK - couple of drips under doorway-end roof patch seams. Supposed to end by midnight or so, then sunny, 80s tomorrow and less humid. 45 miles tomorrow.
8pm - Clearing in west - rain stopped for now. Went to orientation, called Holly. Sky still very light @ 9:15 - too early to sleep.