So without getting too deep into it, here's a quick update of what has gone on this year. I'll do it in pictures to save myself a few thousand words …
|This past winter, I hired a good friend of mine, a really talented graphic artist, to help design my very own kit. Then a new friend from Death Row put it all together for me. Turned out pretty great!|
|In April, I competed in the Leesburg Bakers Dozen for the third time, and managed a second place with 17 laps in just over 13 hours.|
And that brings me to last week, my vacation week, and a bike packing trip I'd been planning for the last six months or so. About a year ago, a buddy of mine and I decided we wanted to ride part of the Erie Canal Trail in NY. At the beginning of this year, I decided I was actually going to ride all of it. But the logistics turned out to be a much greater obstacle than I anticipated.
My plan was to ride from my home to the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia and catch an Amtrak train to NYC and then another to Albany to ride west to Rochester, where I'd meet my buddy for the last leg of the ride. But it turns out that Amtrak requires you to box your bike for all trains in the east. That left me with a different plan: I would drive to Rochester, ride east to Albany and then turn around and ride back to Rochester in time to meet up for the last section. That meant riding the entire length of the Canal Trail twice.
Ultimately, it wasn't to be. There were two things that made it unfeasible and I ultimately turned around to make it back to Rochester before I was able to get all the way to Albany. The first thing was the trail itself - every time I reached a city, it more or less disappeared and I had to navigate my way through city streets to re-connect to eh other side, This happened in Syracuse, Rome and Utica. Syracuse was especially nasty - there was one road that was incorrectly marked on my guide map, and I spent at least 25 minutes searching for the right route.
The second thing that made it tougher than expected was the heat. Or I should say, more specifically, the sun. It was brutal. The heat was really high and the dew point even higher, but the real killer was the sun itself. It felt like there was nothing filtering it all week. Three days into the ride, I was already trying to ride only int he morning hours to avoid heat stroke.
For the week, I ultimately did just under 500 miles and covered the distance form just west of Schenectady all the way to Niagara Falls. It was a nice trip, but I definitely could have preferred to do it later in the year. A few photos …
|At the start in Rochester ...|
|One of many boats along the canal|
|Trail Bridge ...|
|Some off-trail scenery ...|
|A typical trail section ...|
|Crossing one of the rivers ...|
|A rare section of single track ...|
|Early morning on the trail ...|
|One of the many road sections ...|
|The Falls ...|
|The Falls at night ...|
|The best Pumking I ever had … they rolled the glass in cinnamon!|
The riding itself wasn't super hard, but with the heat and the navigation made it a tough week. Still, I had fun out there. Figuring out how to manage all my gear and all that was a real learning experience, and riding long distances day after day was pretty cool. By the third day, it felt pretty natural. I'd like to do more rides like that, but perhaps more of a mountainbike feel than this ride - there was just too much road on this one. Maybe next year I'll try to do one of those hut-to-hut rides or something.
So that's a rough update of the year so far. I glossed over a lot, but I think I hit the highlights. I'm going to try to stay more up to date from here out. I've got the Fair Hill 50 and Shenandoah coming up and I'm trying to figure out whether I'l be able to swing some other events this fall.
Until then, see you on the trails!