Friday, August 6, 2010

Pure cycling joy

Day 42. Little Falls to Latham New York. Today was pure cycling joy. We had absolutely perfect cycling conditions. It was sunny, the temperature was warm without being hot, and the humidity was low. We had a kick-ass tailwind (it was like having a turbojet on our bikes). The scenery was beautiful, the company was great, and we even ended the day on a 25 mile picturesque paved bike path into Albany New York (Latham is a suburb of Albany).

If this was an equivalent ski day, it would be 2 feet of champagne powder under sunny skies with no wind and a temperature of about 5-7 degrees Celsius (standard Aspen Colorado weather).

The only thing that marred the day was another spill by one of the ABB cyclists. Apparently Little Margo (from California) was going through one of the small towns that dot the landscape throughout this area and an old guy in a car cut in front of her. In trying to avoid him, Margo fell. This was Margo's second fall of the trip. She cracked her helmet, but aside from some bruises, she's OK. She was just happy she didn't reinjure the ribs she hurt in her last fall. That's the third rider hurt in as many days. Like I said yesterday, this is dangerous business. I'm just glad nobody's been seriously hurt on this ride. With only three days to go, we've all got our fingers crossed for a safe finish for everyone.

It's possible that New York may be my favorite state to ride in so far. There is a great mix of rural areas and towns. A number of the towns we see are somewhat charming and have great old architecture or town layouts (town squares, parks, gazebos, etc.). The countryside has gone from flat-ish in Western New York to rolling and semi-mountainous here in the eastern part of the state. The roads are by far the best we've ridden on. Most are new or well paved, they have broad shoulders, and are removed from the light traffic we encounter along the way. To get a sense for how nice the scenery is here, check out this video of me riding through upstate New York:

The other thing that is nice is the bike paths we've encountered so far. The other day we rode the Erie Canal bike path out of Rochester. Today we hit the Mohawk Valley bike path into Albany. The bike paths they build here are really long. The Erie Canal path must go for 60-70 miles. Today's path was about 25 miles. It was well paved, underused, and very scenic. Here I am riding along the Mohawk River:

For the first part of the morning, I rode with Joe, Jeff, Alex, Dave, and Mark and then that group broke up a bit after we saw the Margo accident. People are starting to leave a little extra space around each other as they ride now that we are closing in on our goal. Then after the first SAG I rode with Mark, Joe, and Dave (who, like me, was quite shaken by what happened to Margo today). Once we entered the bike path system we rode along together for quite some time. As we rode along Joe asked me if today reminded me of the days when we were younger and you and your friends simply grabbed your bikes and went riding somewhere. Anywhere. The sense of freedom we experienced today was truly liberating. It's like we know we have only a few stolen moments left on this trip and that it's all going to end soon. It's not just that the riding will end soon. The whole departure from reality is going to end soon. Like in 3 days.

After we rode for a while, we stopped at a lock on the river for photos. I thought everyone was done taking pictures, so I pressed on, soon to be joined by Gary and the tandem father/son team of Mike and Matt. At our second SAG a group of very odd cyclists who strangely enough are on their way to Toronto (of all places) for some kind of weird bike convention happened to roll by. They kind of looked a little strange to me. You meet all kinds of people out here in America, let me tell you:

We rode through the park system and left it just about a mile or so from the hotel. This Ramada should be nuked. It's kind of dusty and worn down. The internet sucks. I hope I can somehow get my pictures uploaded and get this posting up without getting too frustrated.

FYI – the DQ Blizzard, Snickers, and milk shake count is static today:

13 Snickers
14 Blizzards
6 milk shakes

Now on to today's mail:

Mike and Bernice (former ABB riders I've never met) from (I don't know where) cyberspace write: "Great blog. We did the north ride in 2007. We actually had no rain, sleet, or snow the whole 50 days. Perfect weather. Stay focused. Finish strong. Savor the days left (you will miss them). Be safe." Thanks for the note. I guess you know what we're going through. We've had nearly perfect weather and let's hope it holds for 3 more days.

Marty from Toronto writes: "Not sure if you're going to get this but hang in there. Avra and I have been thinking of you a lot this summer and are amazed at what you've accomplished. You've outlasted me by 40 3/4 days so far and I wish you luck the rest of the way. I bet the last few days are going to seem long so our thoughts will be with you. Just think of the finish line. I'm sure it will feel great. We're proud of you." I did indeed get your note. It's great to hear from you guys. Thanks for the support. It's weird. Each day seems long and short at the same time. How is that possible? By the way, how's your tennis game?

Eric from Toronto writes: "I have no doubt that you will "find it" - the finish line is in sight (if perhaps hidden by a few hills) and I know that even if the body is fading a bit, your sheer will will carry you to the Atlantic. We're looking forward to seeing you back in T.O." If I have to crawl on my supposedly smaller belly these last 200 miles, I will find a way to get there.

Here are my Garmin stats for today's ride:

This is Joe's blog:

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