FANY ride 2004

       The course was basically a lazy S on its side across NYS, sweeping along Lake Ontario, sliding down Cayuga Lake to  Ithaca, sweeping northward to the southern Adirondacks, before curling back to Albany. Chris DeGiovine and I, along with our trusty steeds, challenged the course.
Day 1:  Niagara Falls – Brockport
Day 2: Brockport – Seneca Falls
Day 3: Seneca Falls – Ithaca & Homer
Day 4: Homer –  Rome
Day 5: Rome – Speculator
Day 6: Speculator – Schuylerville
Day 7: Schuylerville – Albany
-- Mileage listed at 88, 77, 69, 74, 66, 76, and 45.  (495)
-- Actual mileage for us: 111, 79, 72, 73, 70, 83, and 45.  (533)

We were given the course of the entire ride on the first night, and we could start anytime we wanted, divert any time or place we wanted, get in any time we wanted (within reason). The paperwork gave mileage and directions on roads, along with maps. Most helpful were Karen’s pink signs confirming the turns.

--Day 1: Niagara Falls, 104, Lewiston, 18F, Youngstown, Wilson, Olcott, Somerset, Lyndonville, Medina, Albian, Holley, Brockport
--Day 2: North Chili, Scottsville, Honeoye Falls, Ionia, Bloomfield, Canandaigua, Geneva, Waterloo, Seneca Falls
--Day 3:  96, 414, 89,  Ithaca, Freeville, McLean, Cortland, Homer
--Day  4:  13, Truxton, Fabius, Delphi Falls, Cazenovia, Oneida, Rome
--Day 5: Barneveld, Ohio, Hoffmeister, Piseco, Speculator
--Day 6: Wells, Northville, CR7, CR13, 29, Middle Grove, Saratoga, Schuylerville
--Day 7: Victory, Mechanicville, CR121, Troy, Albany

Hotels: Howard Johnson (NF), Econolodge (Br), Microtel (SF), Hampton Inn (H), Quality Inn (R), Inn @ Speculator (Sp), Burgoyne (Sc)

       Overwhelmingly, the lodging was the classic two beds in a room, sink in bathroom, swipe card for door, continental breakfast of bagels or muffins or cereal and juice.
       The best breakfast was at Hampton Inn with good cereal and fruit. Skimpy breakfasts were seen at HJ, M, and B. No breakfast was seen at QI .
       A reminder of what not-hotels meant was to visit the campers, who seemed to enjoy that part, except for the rainy nights (Day 2, Day 3, and early evening Day 4).

Food: Energy food for me between meals consisted of PB&J sandwiches (squeezable PB, jelly packets – thank you to Freehold Store, and bread bought every couple of days) (usually two), and a couple of Powerbars.

Breakfast was eaten at the hotel, except at HJ which we skipped, and at QI, where we opted to eat at Sweet Basil’s (Barneveld) after a 17 mile start.

Lunch was often at the 50 or 60 mile mark: Lyndonville (sub shop), skip on Day 2, Ithaca (subs & hot sandwiches),  Oneida (Subway), skip Day 5, Middle Grove (Village Pizzeria), skip day 7.

The dinner meal was often the pre-paid dinner with the campers: pasta and meat sauce, cake and ice cream at Brockport; hamburger and hot dog at Seneca Falls; chicken BBQ at  Rome; and chicken BBQ at Schuylerville. The other nights were a steak house (NF), a Manager’s Reception (Homer – almost the best meal), and beef and burgundy (Speculator).

Fluids usually were no problem, with a Camelback to stock up.

Weather was the big wild card on the tour. The temperature rarely strayed above 80 degrees.
--Day 1: cool, mix of clouds and sun made for pleasant day; headwind entire way
--Day 2: forecast of rain, sprinkles at 30 mile mark, rain at 45; wet for 45 miles
--Day 3: flood watch weather, driving rain with an occasional light rain; soaked entire way
--Day 4: started foggy for 20 miles, broke into sunny, then humid and warm
--Day 5: started foggy for 20 miles, broke into mixed sun, then warm
--Day 6: mix of sun and clouds most of way, except for sunny and humid end
--Day 7: cloudy, with forecast of rain coming; south breeze headwind

Nice weather meant nice and scenic riding, with panoramic views of the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the Ontario Plain farmland, across Cayuga Lake, rolling farmland of central NY, views of the Adirondacks, and the Sacandaga Reservoir.
       The close-up views were just as scenic – of the various towns and cities, farms, forests, a landscaped house, a glimpse of water, etc.
      Another wild card was the people we met. Sometimes, it might be someone we rode with for a few dozen miles (Ralph from Philadelphia on Day 1 – 60 miles; Tom from Westchester – for miles on Day 2’s rain), or the people we conversed with for a mile or two before they passed us or we passed them. Sometimes, it was someone we would see for three or four of the days. We’d often see a few couples from the hotel group – it seemed as if Mike and Dawn kept us company on and off the road most days. The stories of what people biked, or worked at, or cared about were an integral part of the ride, the human part. Discussions on the road and at the campers’ site comprised most of the interaction.
       On Day 5, as we pulled into Speculator and had just parked our bikes in back of the Inn, Deb pulled in, having driven up to see us. We drove to Lake Pleasant to relax, and made reservations for the Inn that night.
      One of my worries of the ride was the concern of health and bicycle shape. I had had five flats before the tour, and was wary of getting more. Day 2 saw two flats near the end, in the driving rain. The first flat was a piece of sharp shale that had driven itself into the tread. The second was caused by my not clearing the shale out until it was too late. And I was holding up Chris and Tom.
      Also, I have not experienced a lot of riding in the rain, something I avoid to a great extent. However, the grit from the road caused a rapid wearing down of the brakes, and by Day 3, my brakes were nearing the end. Fortunately, Ithaca had a shop where I got the brakes replaced and adjusted, as well as had the front tire and tube replaced, just for my peace of mind. No other mechanical things happened, although I was getting a bit of a chucking noise in the bottom bracket that would need checking out when I got home.
       Health-wise, one worries about getting too much sun, bonking, dehydrating, or the other preventable things that could make that day, or the next day, tough. You hope that you don’t get sick, don’t get diarrhea, or have a body part get sore that doesn’t usually get sore. On that account, I came through as good as I hoped. Chris suffered with a sore knee for almost the last three days, a testimony to his toughness.
      We’d often got out of bed 5:30 – 6:00, prepped, gathered breakfast, and were on the road by 7:00 (except Day 3 – 7:30, and Day 7 – 6:30). We’d often get in about 2 p.m., depending on the length of the ride. Day 1 was a long day. And we’d often had lights out around 9 – 9:30.

Sharp memories:
- so many scenic views that it would take hundreds of lines to do justice:
- and I repeat scenic views because they surrounded us most of the time
- Chris’ company the entire way.
- Chris navigating our course
- Viewing  Niagara Falls to start the ride, the early morning roar from the top of the falls.
- illusion of  Lake Ontario appearing higher than shore; local man explaining the regatta on the Niagara River, flat country side,
- I was never lower than Day 3, having to face the rain.
- upset stomach in rain on Day 3, urinating a dozen times
- Showering at end of Day 2 and 3, with the road grit and spray from the ride dirtying everything.
- Showering with our clothes, and throwing our shoes in.
- Augie and his story of his accident in  Vermont.
- Lewistown’s regatta celebration
- Erie Canal reality and my perception what it would look like
- the horror of Rt 20 in the rain on Day 2
- the quiet satisfaction of early sunshine on the body
- riding in the early morning fog on Days 4 & 5
- Favorite day was Day 4, with the sharpest hills and scenic farm land
- dislike for city traffic
- Paul’s explosive tire blowout, and his riding two days on soft tire
- sub-par, but interesting room, at  Inn
- air conditioning – a welcome body temperature control at day’s end
- Karen and Jennie and Katie and Sue: sag wagons
- a couple of missed turns, adding extra mileage
- several steep hills, especially the one by cemetery
- at times, a certain vague numbness to the passing miles, interspersed with the appreciation of what one had seen
- a satisfaction of completing the trip, the voyage, the challenge

One aspect to be learned along the way was the pacing of a tour. Normally, I ride for enjoyment, but when I’m done, I go do something else at home, usually unrelated to cycling. Here, you rode, finished, and found stuff to do. Getting home was not important; being “one with the ride” was. So, time could be taken to see side events, the pace could be slowed below our normal at home, the end was a nebulous concept because there was “later” or “tomorrow”.
      Some of the attractions we side-tripped to were: Chittenango Falls, Fort Stanwix, the walks through the days’ ends’ sites, Saratoga monument, and General Schuyler’s Pantry.
      Another key part was an understanding and appreciation of the physical and mental toughness needed to finish this ride. Although a few parts of the ride pushed us close to a high level performance, it was the steady determination and push that gets one through. It was the staying focused, the ability to enjoy, the acceptance of what any part of the day came your way, the awareness of what your body was saying, the willingness to make someone else’s day a better or more interesting day, the awareness of the testing of self that added up to this tour being more than just a ride of 500 miles. Or, perhaps, a worthy tour of 500 miles means these things.
       Another tour soon? I need to let the myriad experiences to seep in further.

(for another view of the same ride, here's the contents of from someone's home page)