Day 104: Enfield, CT

Monday, 8/19/2019
Miles: 29.1
Average speed: 10.4 mph
Vertical gain: 1,477 ft.
Current Elevation: 56 ft. !

The end is really feeling near!

Today, which was a very good day, I left the Adventure Cycling route in order to take a more direct route to complete my ride and get to the ocean on Thursday.

Once more, my weather luck held out. The day was really nice, a pleasantly warm mid-80s, with blue skies. Then, when I was about 10 miles from my destination, it started to darken off to my left, thunderclouds developed, and I could hear the rumbling. At one point, a huge thunderclap went off right above my head. Still, the sun was shining on me, and I did not feel any rain, yet.

It continued to darken as I approached Enfield. I felt occasional drops of rain. I was peddling Bill as fast as I could. Fortunately, it was mostly downhill, so I made good time. Still, I did not think I was going to make it without getting drenched. Raindrops were starting to fall just as I arrived at the motel. In the end, I don’t know if it rained much at all, or just passed by. I didn’t really care, I was in my room.

Tonight, I am in a Motel 6 in Enfield, Connecticut. Tomorrow, I expect to stay in Sturbridge, where I had originally planned on arriving back on August 2nd. Oh well. Wednesday night, I expect to stay in Hudson. Then, on Thursday, I will ride through Bedford on my way to Revere Beach.

This morning, it was foggy and a bit cool as I packed up my camp and rode an easy and pleasant two miles to a convenience store. There I bought some Gatorade, ate for breakfast the rest of a Clif Bar I started yesterday, and put on my sun stuff. The fog had burned off, and it had become sunny and warm.

Above is a photo of Connecticut tobacco, with drying sheds in the background.

Then it was a very hilly fifteen mile ride to Granby, CT, where I dawdled over a late breakfast and figured out my route and itinerary for the rest of the ride. It was at this point, that I left the Adventure Cycling route, as previously mentioned.

Notice the two fly fishermen wading in the stream above.

Along the way, I passed a group of five bicycle tourists on the other side of the road, coming towards me. They were from Iowa, about my age, three men and two women. They had taken the train to Maine and were riding to New York City, where they were going to take the train home. As always, it was great chatting with fellow bikers and comparing notes. Sorry, no photo.

Although I generally prefer to avoid the national chain restaurants, there are a few exceptions, e.g. Perkins. Olive Garden is another, and I was thrilled to see there was one right down the street from the motel. After a good bowl of pasta tonight, I have no excuses tomorrow.

I hope the weather holds, and I can’t wait to get home!

Advertisements
Posted in Riding | Leave a comment

Day 103: Riverton, CT

Sunday, 8/18/2019
Miles: 46.5
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Vertical gain: n.a.
Current Elevation: 561 ft.

Note: This was written Sunday evening, but not posted until Monday morning, when I finally had good cell service at a late breakfast in Granby.

For the second night in a row, and not by choice, I am camped out. As we speak, I am sitting in my tent in a Connecticut state campground near Riverton. The rain, which did not start until after my tent was set up, has stopped, I think, although I can still hear thunder rumbling in the distance.

The reason I am camped out tonight is the same reason as last night, which is, there are no motels to be found, unless I was willing to ride an additional 25 miles to Windsor Locks, probably arriving after 6:30 or 7. Although I didn’t know it at the time I made the decision, it would have meant riding in the thunder storm. So I’m glad I’m camping.

At least tonight, the campsite has a shower! A shower was worth the cost of carrying a wet towel tomorrow. It felt really good, although I did not use soap, to avoid bug bites (I have learned from experience). There are no laundry facilities, and I am out of clean undies, so I rinsed off a pair in the shower, and it will do for tomorrow.

I saw this beauty in Salisbury, CT. It looked original, including the interior and badges, but the inspection sticker said “2001 Custom”.

I think I’m still on target to hit Bedford and Revere Beach on Thursday.

Today was interesting in that I am still backtracking my trip from seven years ago, and many spots I pass, I remember well. Yesterday I mentioned the rail bridge into Poughkeepsie.

Today, I am reminded that when I did this stretch of the ride last time, it was pouring rain all day. Today was actually a pretty nice day while I was riding. Although it poured last night, and again after I was camped today, the day itself was beautiful.

The first 10 miles of the day was on the beautiful Harlem Valley Rail trail. Later, in Salisbury, I intersected the Appalachian Trail. There I met a pair of thru hikers, and we chatted for at least 20 minutes. I love this, especially because I myself was a thru hiker at this exact spot 40 years ago this summer.

Later in the morning, I passed the big maple tree under which I sheltered from the rain seven years ago, and the nursery where a kind clerk let me use her floor pump to fix my flat tire.

On the last trip, I stayed at the Riverton Inn, which is about two miles from here. I called there yesterday about getting a room tonight. The message on the phone said “The Riverton Inn will be closed until September 3rd, when it will open under new management.” So much for that!

I’m not at all sure where I’m going tomorrow. Windsor Locks is only 25 miles away, which is too short of a day. But there seems to be another shortage of motels after that. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Posted in Riding | Leave a comment

Day 102: Amenia, NY

Saturday, 8/17/2019
Miles: 41.3
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Vertical gain: n.a.
Current Elevation: 568 ft.

Today was a very interesting day, especially the ending. The weather was really good, up until about 8:00 pm, when the sky clouded over and torrential rain & thunder began. This is especially germane, since tonight I’m camping out. Not to worry, however, because I am comfortable and dry in my tent.

Earlier today, I crossed high over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, on a railroad bridge converted to a rail trail. It was just as wonderful as I remembered it from seven years ago, when I was going in the opposite direction.

One thing that is new from the last time, and in fact not on my map, which is eight years old, is a new rail trail leading up to the bridge. I was navigating the streets, when I saw people on a rail trail parallel to me. I asked a local, who confirmed that this rail trail was only a year old and went all the way to the river. I’m on it! Next time I do this route, I’m buying a current map.

My goal for today had been to reach the town of Millerton, which according to my maps, has lodging. I could not confirm this on Google.

When I reached Amenia, 10 miles prior to Millerton, I decided to stay here, if possible. A sign on the road into town said “Motel 1 1/2 miles”, which agreed with Google. When I got to that motel, it looked incredibly stanky, and the office door was locked. I did not bother to call the phone number on the door, but instead rode back the mile into Amenia.

There was an Italian restaurant called Four Brothers Pizza & Inn at the main intersection of Amenia, and Google seemed to think there was a hotel nearby, the Caravana Inn. But for the life of me, I could not find it. I went into the restaurant and asked if they rented rooms. They directed me to the outdoor snack shop connected to the restaurant.

The girl behind the counter said yes, they had one room available, in an Airstream trailer parked in the back corner of the lot. However, it was booked for the weekend.

Also behind the restaurant was a drive-in movie theater and children’s play area!

I asked her if she knew of any motels in Millerton, and she very helpfully gave me the phone number and address of the Millerton Inn. This did not show up when I searched Google for lodging in Millerton. It was the same address, but different name and phone number, as the lodging listed on my map. I called, but they too were booked for the weekend. So I did not ride on to Millerton.

I then ask the girl if there was any other motels or camping around here. She said I could camp here in the lot, if I had a tent. So long story short, I am camped in the back lot behind this restaurant, next to the Airstream and the drive-in movie theater, which was filling with cars. The two movies tonight were both kids’ movies which I was not interested in watching. Despite the rain, the movies went on. I was surprisingly comfortable in my tent, and slept well, despite the noise outside.

Today was another hilly day, with more ups than downs, and predictably, my mac and cheese strategy at the rib fest last night was not sufficient. Today was definitely a low energy day. None the less, I was very satisfied with both my distance and my speed, climbing fairly well throughout the day.

Dinner tonight was a large bowl of excellent pasta and marinara at the Four Brothers restaurant. I hope to ride strong tomorrow!

I have no idea where I’m going to stay tomorrow night. I called the Riverton Inn, where I stayed seven years ago, and would be a good destination for tomorrow night. However, the recording said they were closed and will reopen in September under new management. So I guess I will have to figure that out tomorrow.

Posted in Riding | Leave a comment

Day 101: New Paltz, NY

Friday, 8/16/2019
Miles: 50.1
Average speed: 10.6 mph!
Vertical gain: n.a. (felt like ~3,000′)
Current Elevation: 239 ft.

Although I’m eager for the trip to be over, it almost seems a shame, because I’m really starting to get the hang of this thing. A reasonably hilly 50-mile day today was just not a big problem (although I will readily admit that if there had been a major climb in the last 10 miles, it may have been a different story).

Of course, the elevation profile today was such that all the hard work was in the first third of the ride, and the rest was relatively easy, if far from flat. Even so, on a day with a lot of ups and downs, my average speed was in double digits. For the hills of New York (which are at least as tough as the hills of Pennsylvania), I’ll take that.

Breakfast was at the Perkins right next to the hotel. That may be the last Perkins on this trip, not sure.

Then, almost immediately, I bagged another state – New York, crossing over the Delaware River again, this time into Port Jervis, New York.

It was really beautiful riding, all day. There were a few navigational difficulties, perhaps due to the fact that my map of this section was bought seven years ago, and it seems like some of the names or numbers have changed. But, I made no serious wrong turns, and there was no going back the way I came by mistake.

In the photo above, you can see the Shawangunk Mountains. Climbers from all over come to the Gunks for world-class rock climbing.

For the third time on this trip, I replenished my supply of peanut butter. But the smallest quantity sold, even in a convenience store, is a 1-pound jar. I don’t need to carry one whole pound of peanut butter. And I don’t want to throw half a pound away. So I had the following conversation with the clerk at the convenience store:

Me: I have a very strange proposition for you. I’m going to remove half the peanut butter from this jar, with a spoon, and put it in my own container. Then I’m going to throw away the rest, unless you will take it.

She: Ok, I’ll take it.

Done.

Then at lunch, at Nick’s Pizza in Otisville, NY, I ordered a turkey sub. It was huge! So before I even touched the sandwich, I offered half of it to a fellow diner, who was apparently a regular here, and had just finished his “usual” meal. The lady behind the counter, Nick’s wife, wrapped up my half a sub, and my new friend had his dinner handed to him.

I hate to throw stuff out, especially perfectly good food.

When riding into New Paltz, I missed a turn, which turned out to be not a problem and very fortuitous, because I passed the Ulster County Fairgrounds, where something was going on. At first, I was afraid it might be the county fair, which would likely mean no hotel rooms available in town. But instead, it turned out to be a BBQ Ribfest. So I knew where I was going for dinner tonight.

After finding a hotel in New Paltz, a Hampton Inn, and taking a shower, I called a Lyft, and rode back out to the fairgrounds.

After paying the $5 admission fee, the first thing I had was a pickle! It was delish! Really salty and crunchy! That is the two proprietors behind me in the photo below. I had the garlic dill, then got a free one later, half sour, as a reward for posting this pic on Facebook. Win-win!

Then to satisfy my requirements for carbs, I had a bowl of mac and cheese. Another hit!

Finally, I had a rib dinner sampler, which consisted of four ribs, baked beans, and coleslaw. Along with a hand pressed strawberry lemonade, it made for a super wonderful meal. I hope I can ride tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I will cross the Hudson River, at Poughkeepsie, on a railroad bridge that has been has been converted to a footbridge. I remember it well from my ride seven years ago. I am planning on riding to Millerton, NY, a distance of 51 miles.

Posted in Riding | Leave a comment

Day 100: Matamoras, PA

Thursday, 8/15/2019
Miles: 45.7
Average speed: 9.2 mph
Vertical gain: 2,691 ft.
Current Elevation: 427 ft.

Can you believe it! It’s been a hundred days since I started this trip! I expect to be home one week from today. I’m ready to be home!

Today was another strong day. Most of the day was spent riding the length of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, a long skinny forested strip around the Delaware River. Although very hilly, it was exceptionally beautiful riding, through dense forest along the river and other streams, with almost zero traffic.

I bagged another state, New Jersey, while crossing the Delaware on the I-80 bridge. (This is the second time I have ridden (actually walked) my bike across this bridge, and it was thrilling both times!) I remained in NJ for the next 39 miles before crossing the Delaware again back into PA at Milford, near the end of my day.

I had my omelette for breakfast at the pancake house next to the hotel, then hit the road at about 8:30.

The day started overcast and foggy, but by mid-morning the sun had come out. At that point, however, I was on the heavily shaded road through the Recreation Area, and so the sun was never much of a factor. The temperature was very pleasant, in the low 80s.

Last night, in the hotel parking lot, I saw a pair of mountain bikes locked outside. They didn’t look at all like touring bikes, so I didn’t give them much thought. Then this morning, as I was riding out of the parking lot, a fellow at those bikes got my attention. It turns out that he and his wife are from Germany, and they are riding from Chicago to New York.

We spent a fair amount of time riding and chatting throughout the day, although they were much faster than me, and going 20 miles beyond my destination.

They told me their names, but they were very German and I can’t remember them.

Amazingly, one of their bikes came from Walmart, the other from Target! They were both Schwinn aluminum bikes, for a total cost of under $500 for the pair! (They said they will donate them at the end of their ride.) They did bring their own saddles and handlebars. They did not bring their own pedals, instead using the flat pedals that came with the bikes, and they rode wearing Teva-like sandals.

They flew over from Germany to Chicago, bought the bikes, and took off. The husband carries all the luggage, in two Ortlieb bags on the back, similar to mine, as well as a large Ortlieb dry bag on top. No luggage in front. They have no camping gear. She carries only a small day back. They are fast and strong riders! They told me that back home, they ride a tandem, and so the load is spread evenly.

At one point, I felt something funny with my right shoe, and discovered the cleat needed tightening. There was no safe place on the right side to pull over and fix it, so I did what I almost never do, and went to a spot on the left side of the road. I fixed the cleat and started riding, not realizing I was going in the wrong direction.

This was made all the worse by the fact that I had stopped to do the repair at the top of a large hill, so now I was zooming back down the hill I had just climbed.

Imagine my shock when I saw my two German friends walking their bikes up the hill, towards me! How could this be? They had been in front of me. Now they were coming towards me. Did they turn around?

He was waving at me to stop, shouting that I was going in the wrong direction. I stopped, and realized that I had indeed gotten turned around.

[I never did find out how they ended up being behind me, because they definitely had been in front of me.]

We all headed up the hill. My friends were soon far ahead. More than once, I stopped and studied the map and my phone, still not convinced I was going in the proper direction. At one point, I even pulled out my compass and verified that I was in fact riding North.

Lost and Found Department: I got new glasses just before this ride, a spiffy Nike model made of titanium wire. The ends of the temples each have a rubber shrink-fit piece, which come off way too easily. I tried various ways to make it stick, including nail polish and crazy glue, but nothing worked. Today, I finally lost the one on the right temple. Oh well, I’ll just have to live without it.

Once again, there’s a Perkins restaurant right near the hotel. I had an early dinner at a diner as I rode to the hotel, but after a shower, I walked to Perkins for dessert.

Tomorrow, I plan to go to New Paltz NY, a distance of 48 miles. That will be a good long day. The weather looks wet in the morning, but not bad the rest of the day. I will be sure to wear my booties from the get-go.

Posted in Riding | Leave a comment

Day 99: Stroudsburg, PA

Wednesday, 8/14/2019
Miles: 57.1
Average speed: 10.4 mph
Vertical gain: 3,162 ft.
Current Elevation: 509 ft.

Today was a good, strong day! The first half was really hilly, very difficult. The second half was really easy, mostly flat to downhill. The two halves of the ride were separated by a torrential rainstorm while flying down a long steep hill.

I had breakfast this morning at Denny’s, rather than Perkins, because it was a bit closer to walk to. As it was, I got a good early start, leaving the hotel, after eating, at around 7:30.

The first 10 miles were very steep, arriving at the town of Freeland, PA, which bills itself as the highest borough in Pennsylvania.

The photo below shows the map and vertical profile for that section if the ride. Note that I started riding at the “B” marker on both the map and profile, and Freeland is at the “F”.

It was too soon to eat lunch, so I rode on. There were no restaurants, at all, for the next 20 miles, so I had my peanut butter and Ritz crackers while sitting outside of a convenience store in Albrightsville.

It was overcast all morning, but shortly after lunch it cleared up and got sunny. That was just a tease.

If I had been smart, and paid attention to Dan’s Law of Sincere Intent, I would have put my booties on, and otherwise prepared for rain. I did not.

I continued climbing after lunch. Just about as I reach the top, it got really dark all of a sudden, and the skies opened up. I looked for a tree to take shelter under, but there was nothing suitable, and within moments, I was soaked. Oh well, nothing to do but ride, as fast as I could down the hill.

At the bottom, there was a deli with a porch. I got a hot chocolate, and sat on the porch to figure out my next step. Here is my bike draped with my wet stuff.

As I was looking at the maps, the sky lightened and the rain stopped. By the time I started riding, it was warm and sunny. The final 20 miles were very pleasant, almost all downhill, and very easy. I like it when a day ends with an easy 20 miles.

Of course, after checking into the hotel, it rained again.

For dinner, I walked into town (wearing my rain coat), and had a delicious bowl of pasta at Stroud’s Pizza, recommended by a couple of locals.

On the walk back, the rain had stopped, and a rainbow was over top of my hotel.

Tomorrow I ride through the Delaware Water Gap, retracing the route I took 7 years ago when riding from Bedford to Harrisburg. I’m especially excited to ride over the I-80 bridge.

My goal tomorrow is Port Jervis, NY, for a distance of 41 miles.

This trip is getting near the end. Tomorrow is Day 100. My current plan has me riding through Bedford on Thursday, a week from tomorrow (although that might slip by a day), on my way to Revere Beach, where the ride will officially end when I am at the ocean. I can hardly wait!

Posted in Riding | 1 Comment

Day 98: West Hazleton, PA

Tuesday, 8/13/2019
Miles: 40.8
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Vertical gain: n.a. 3,000 ft?
Current Elevation: 1,689 ft.

Today was as good as yesterday was bad. Similar distance, similar hills. Yesterday felt like my worst days in the Rockies, but today I crushed it. Very minimal dizziness, and way less walking than I expected.

Best of all, my weather luck is continuing! The Second Corollary of Dan’s Law of Sincere Intent says “If you put on booties when getting ready to ride in the morning, because it is raining outside, then the rain will stop before you actually ride.” This was certainly true today, and I didn’t get rained on all day! Not only that, but it was overcast and comfortable. I didn’t need any sun gear until after lunch, when I put on my sun hat.

I don’t know my vertical gain today because, once again, Strava messed up. Belts and suspenders.

Breakfast was at Perkins Pancake House, always a treat. I love traveling to Pennsylvania, if only because they have Perkins.

The ride out of Danville was beautiful, a narrow two-lane twisty road, fairly hilly, with a couple of long climbs and descents (1 to 3 miles).

For the first 10 miles or so, on my left was a steep forested hillside. On my right, down an embankment, was a railroad track. Next to that was a wide strip of river bottom forest, with a hiking trail running through it, parallel to the train track. Beyond that was the Susquehanna River.

At other times, I could look down to my right, down a steep embankment, and see a beautiful trout stream. The one pictured here was maybe 20 ft wide and a foot deep. You can see the bottom through the riffles and the current!

All of today, and tomorrow as well, my Adventure Cycling route is coincident with a Pennsylvania bicycling route. It makes navigation really easy.

Here is the map and vertical profile for the middle part of today’s ride.

From the Lost and Found department: I try really hard to check the room multiple times before I leave in the morning, as well as the table before I leave a restaurant. I did lose a baseball cap a month or two ago, probably at a restaurant, which I have since replaced. And just this past week, I lost my helmet cover, but I think that came off while I was riding, not left behind, although I don’t know that for sure. Maybe it will turn up yet.

This morning, I thought I left a somewhat important item back in the hotel room. In my handlebar bag, I carry a ziploc with a package of tissues and some poop bags, borrowed from Ernie. The hotel last night had a complimentary package of tissues, so I snagged that and put it in the ziplock. I thought I put it back in my handlebar bag, but when I stopped on the ride and looked for it, it was not there. Oh well, nothing to do but deal with the moment, and replace it later.

When I checked into my motel room tonight, and unpacked, I was thrilled to find the missing ziploc in my food sack.

On another topic, it’s really interesting how many small towns I have passed through which tout being the home of someone famous, or the birthplace of something or other. Who knew that Danville, PA, was the birthplace of the t-rail.

Now to top off this day, I am in a different Perkins, across the road from my motel, for dessert: caramel apple pie with ice cream. Yum yum!

It is also where I will likely eat breakfast tomorrow morning. How great is that!

Tomorrow looks to be a long day, about 60 miles to Delaware Water Gap. The weather looks a bit iffy, but I expect to ride no matter what.

Posted in Riding | 1 Comment