Southbridge, MA to East Providence, RI

May 31, 2018 § Leave a comment

We’re pretty much there!

A nicer ride than the last one. It wasn’t much warmer, but the rain stopped so we stayed dry. We climbed slowly out of the Connecticut River valley for a while, dipped into Connecticut state for about 500 yards, then found a very small back road that went arrow-straight over ten miles mostly downhill directly into the center of Providence.

It wasn’t until this ride that I really felt like we’d made it back to New England. The homes all looked familiar and I’ve driven on several of the roads we biked down — we went by two different buildings where Dad used to work. Of course, the largest indicator was the frequency of Dunkin’ Donuts as we approached the coast. In western Massachusetts we passed two or three over the whole day (and treasured the hot drinks to warm our drenched bodies), but they got more and more common today. First, they were spaced far enough to get a large iced turbo and finish it by the next one, then you could barely juggle a frosted donut and a small coffee, and by the end we reached the mandatory Providence density of two per strip mall.

We reached the edge of the ocean in Providence, pedaling down the downtown Water Fire route before stopping in at NBX Cycles in East Providence, which was originally the East Providence Cycle where we got our bike. Now we have two days of riding left: one to Newport and one to the ocean with family and friends. We’re so close!

We crossed the CT–MA border twice in five minutes.

This one-lane road with no paint is called the Douglas Turnpike. The Pike goes from the state border directly into Providence, where it does look more pikey. Ironically, there are no turns in this turnpike.

Happy Memorial Day! We rode through a parade route before the parade started, and got more attention than anywhere else on the ride. Kids dig the “twin bike.”

Providence!

Easthampton, MA to Southbridge

May 27, 2018 § 3 Comments

There are three different types of fun known to mankind. Type I fun is simply fun — a beach day, a snowball fight, Senior Week before a college graduation (so long, Tufts!). Type II fun sucks in the moment, but it’s fun in retrospect — ice climbing, losing a board game with friends, rigorous exercise. Type III fun just sucks — drowning, hiking in dangerous weather, almost failing a mandatory class in your senior spring (but so long, Tufts!). What kind of fun did the Sayles boys have today?

We started with the friendly guys at Competitive Edge Ski-Bike in Easthampton, MA, ready to take on two of the last three or four days of the ride. A bike trail led us ten or so miles through beautiful farmland and next to Amherst College, then we pushed up and coasted down some rolling hills along the Connecticut River. It was gorgeous. Type 1 fun!

Except it was also 48 degrees and raining all afternoon, so we’re both sore and exhausted. Hmm. Let’s see how fun this looks in retrospect. 🚴🏻‍♂️🚴🏻‍♂️

We got a lift to the start of the bike path. Dad’s jealous of our facial hair.

The bike path was along an old railroad track, and it was super pretty! The canopy also shielded us from some (not enough) of the rain.

Pizza for lunch in Belchertown. We think they gave us extra grease for free.

The pastry shop in the basement of the Publick House in Sturbridge was our last stop before we made it to Southbridge.

👀

Amsterdam to Albany

June 8, 2017 § 1 Comment

Done!
Wow 😄, what a great 🤙🏻 day ☀️ to end 🛑🚳 this segment of our journey 🌎! We got an early start out of the Fright’s Inn and started east, pretty much immediately getting onto the bike path along the canal and following it for 40 miles or so. We were done ✅ by lunch! 

One of the easiest and fastest days of the whole ride. It was in the seventies and the sun was beautifully dappled through the trees along the path, which was an old train  route. We might have climbed three hills of note all day. A total dream of a day. 

We got lunch in Albany before realizing that we’d actually arrived in Albany – we went way faster then we thought, even after making a pit stop to fix an issue with our rear tire. The bike is safely put away at Broadway Bikes in the north end of the city, where it awaits our return towards the end of August! 

The end really is in sight now. From here on out, we can probably ditch our saddle bags and make day trips to edge closer to Newport. This is so exciting! 
On the outskirts of Albany. 

The photo doesn’t do justice to the amazing view of the canal we had from the top of this hill! Nor does it show how tall the hill is – we absolutely bombed down it. 

Pretty New York towns. 

It’s rained for 22 days in the last month. All the gates are open at all the locks along the canal, and boat traffic is shut down! 

See ya later, New York. 

Utica to Amsterdam

June 8, 2017 § 1 Comment

There’s just one canal in this Amsterdam. 
Quite a long day for us today! We got out of Utica pretty early and headed east, bouncing between the Erie Canal bike trail and highway 5, which is a New York State bike path in the form of a wide shoulder. Our goal was to make the shortest day possible, using the quiet trail when convenient and the paved highway when it went somewhere more directly on our map. However, that map makes no mention of altitude gains. We wound up hiking around three miles of uphill over the course of the day, because it turns out the canal went around some serious hills. One of those hills was definitely one of the biggest we’ve climbed! After a punishing few hours, we elected to stick to the low, flat trail even if it meant covering a slightly longer distance. 

We had lunch in Canajoharie, whose name neither of us dared pronounce in the presence of New Yorkers, at a lovely family restaurant where our excellent waiter Josh served up quesadillas larger than my head.

Our afternoon was much flatter because we stayed next to the canal. Bless. Much of the trail was a sand-gravel mix, so my back was black by the end of the day. Ugh. 

After at least 65, maybe 70 miles we arrived in Amsterdam. The town definitely saw its better days when the canal was more widely used, and its population has fallen by thousands. Our cabbie, who is also a race car driver, told this to us between texts and calls on our way to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription. 

Dinner was at Bosco’s Italian Restaurant, where we were the only people not seated at the bar. Really good food though! Now we settle into our accommodation at the Knight’s Inn. The bed covers are browned, the mattress covered in plastic and the shower curtain is moldy. I’m trying to touch as little as possible. 
​CAN-uh-joe-HAR-ee? CAN-uh-JOE-er-ee? 🤷🏼‍♂️

​The cotton was falling like snow all day. 

We passed some churches older than America!

Long, winding downhills are fun but terrifying. 

The trail looked like this most of the day! Tons of happy wildflowers because it’s been so rainy in New York. 

BIG FLUFFY FLOOFER

Brutus to Utica

June 6, 2017 § 2 Comments

“Hi, I’m meteorologist Peter Hall, and today is miserable.”

Well, the forecasts were right and it rained all day. We haven’t been known to make many sensible decisions over the course of this ride, but today we decided to leave our protective trash bags behind and drive to Utica with Sydney the cab driver and a rented Ford Super Duty. We’re now back home for the night. 

In all our years, we’ve never been forced to miss an entire day because of weather! That’s a little bit of planning and a lot of luck. It was bound to happen eventually. I just wish it had happened, say, when we were crossing the Continental Divide. 

​The Super Duty we rented had us sitting higher than the roofs of most of the cars we passed. 

The view from our hotel, not quite in the heart of Utica. Maybe the butt. 

zzzz

Fairport to Weedsport 

June 5, 2017 § 3 Comments

Neon underglow does wonders for the face. 

We’re biking for three or four days along the Erie Canal in upstate New York, starting just west of Rochester and hopefully finishing around Albany. This trip we’re finally close enough to Massachusetts to drive out to the start instead of flying! The end is in sight.

After leaving the car in Albany, driving a one-way rental to Rochester, and spending yet another fabulous evening with our unofficial sponsor, we picked up the bike from RV&E and started rolling east. Today and tomorrow have been looking pretty rainy in the forecasts we’ve seen, so we kept a close eye on the skies all day. We caught a few sprinkles in the morning, but missed the larger storms. Phew! 

We were right next to the canal for most of the morning. The bike path winds through a deciduous forest, and the canal was glassy smooth and almost totally free of boats. Quiet! After a quick lunch at a cute café in Lyons, we broke off the canal and went for a mile or so in exactly the wrong direction before switching from a stranger’s directions to a map’s. We followed a New York State bike path alongside highway 31, through farms and small towns, for the rest of the day. 

We passed through Palmyra, Newark, Clyde, Savanna, Montezuma, and Port Byron before stopping at a Days Inn in Weedsport (or maybe the town is Brutus – the signs on the buildings here seem undecided). Most towns had a funeral home and graveyard on their main streets. When we stopped at convenience stores to check the map and weather, people mostly walked out with pizza and American beer. Small town charm was everywhere. I feel like I’m noticing bits of Americana more this year than any other so far – I just returned from a semester in Spain, and although the two countries share the basic structures of Western cultures, all the little things are so different. 
As seems to be the case most days, we were lucky with the weather – as we moved, we dodged some nasty thunderstorms to our north, south, east, and west. It was also great to encounter random people as we went along. The residents of these towns were very kind to us, interested in us, and frequently offered to help us navigate (although two out of three times today they were pretty horrendously wrong).
Let’s see how the weather looks tomorrow! 

Dark clouds seemed to break apart around us today. 

Just once did we stop to hide from a rain shower. An employee here told us we’d be riding for hours and hours to our destination even though it was maybe ten miles away. 

Lots of bridges across the canal are now only open for non-motor traffic. 
Our path along the canal looked mostly like this! 
​Although at one point the trail was this thin. 

Our dinner spot was this super charming local diner in Weedsport/Brutus/Brutsport. We hear they have amazing chocolate milkshakes but of course we’d never eat so sinfully… 🤥

Lockport to Fairport

September 6, 2016 § 2 Comments

Short trip!

IMG_6341.JPG

 

Evan finished 11 straight weeks of work at Camp Belknap in New Hampshire, so he was physically and mentally exhausted. What better way to recover than an immediate road trip to New York for a full day’s ride?

We decided to go for this ride so we could get positioned on the Erie Canal bike path and know what conditions we’ll face as we go towards Albany in 2017. If our next segment looks like what we faced here, we’ll have an excellent time.

The first half of the day was spent at Trailside Bicycles, where we had to replace a broken tube. Once we got rolling we hardly stopped all day, except a quick lunch in Spenceport where we met a pair of bikers crossing the Northern Tier from east to west. The trail was just a few feet off the canal, so we were blessed with wonderful views and flat terrain. Our only hill of the day was a jaunt through Rochester. We rolled up to RV&E Bike and Skate in Fairport, where we’ll store the bike until 2017.

Can’t wait to get going again! We’re the luckiest guys in the world.

 

Erie, Pennsylvania to Dunkirk, New York

June 9, 2016 § 1 Comment

That’s a wrap for this trip!

 

Our very long day put us ahead of schedule, and we had a much shorter route to reach the spot where we’re storing the bike. Another perfect day! The wind was at our backs all day, we never got too warm or too cold, and our entire route had ample space for us to pedal safely. We left Pennsylvania pretty quickly, lunched in Barcelona to prep for my semester in Spain next spring, then made our way to the outskirts of Buffalo. We don’t think we’ll ever bike in the city proper – urban biking is tricky and it would be more direct to head straight east from about where we are now.

Both of us feel great, aside from the usual bike saddle pains. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to a quick tour by car of Buffalo and Niagra, with a jaunt into Canada for Niagra Falls and maybe my very first adult beverage.

In keeping with the “America” part of “Me, My Dad, and America,” I kept an eye on the nation as we traveled past it this week.

  • Ohio wins the Most Patriotic State award – we couldn’t go more than a few miles without seeing a home covered in American flags.
  • Upstate New Yorkers love their guns and hate Governor Cuomo for trying to take them away.
  • 6 Trump signs, plus a moving truck with all sides just covered in his name.
  • 3 Hillary signs.
  • 3 Bernie signs, including two still up after Hillary clinched the nomination. Stay hopeful, you dirty hippy millennial socialists.

 

A million thanks to Susan at Dan’s Moving and Storage in Dunkirk for her great generosity! Greater Buffalo doesn’t have a bike shop big enough to store the bike for us so we had no idea what to do with it, until Susan volunteered some space in her warehouse. Yet another excellent person we encountered along the way.

These four days of our tour have been four of the best we’ve had – strong tailwinds the whole way, gorgeous views, and great conversations on and off the bike. Dad and I learn more and more about each other every time we fly west to bike east, and we’re so privileged to have this opportunity. There are only so many more days ahead of us before we complete what we started over a decade ago, and we plan to make the most of each of them.

Erie Canal, you’re next! See you soon.

 

We spent a half hour at the Mazza Winery for Dad to sample the offerings of the Erie Wine Country. Unsurprisingly, he liked it.

 

Another day, another state! That’s three states in as many days, for those of you keeping track.

 

The lake looks much cleaner away from the bigger cities like Cleveland and Erie, PA. Great colors when seen in person!

 

A lone American flag in an unfarmed field. It looked very stoic. I dig it.

 

Mentor, Ohio to Erie, Pennsylvania 

June 8, 2016 § 1 Comment

💨 💨 💨

85 miles, and neither of us hates the other! A long but rewarding day for the Sayles boys. A strong wind out of the northwest pushed us along the lake and kept our spirits high. The first half of the day sped by quickly because we were both pretty focused on keeping track of some pretty complicated directions through the lakefront towns. After refilling our tires at a bike shop in Ashtabula, however, we hardly made a turn for the rest of the day. We had a bland lunch at a Bob Evans full of old people, then decided that even through we’d already covered about the same distance as yesterday we felt ready to double it and get into Erie, PA. A great decision! Today’s ride was one of the best of our entire journey, with perfect riding weather, a state border crossing, and a variety of scenery from farms and forests to great homes and a Great Lake. Dad was excited by the huge vineyards we saw, and embarrassed by the animal noises I made whenever we passed livestock. I loved the photogenic quaintness of the townships we passed through, but almost stood up and left when Dad kept pulling out his corny jokes for the servers at dinner. You give some, you get some.

It was stunning to both of us when we realized that we’d entered our first state with an Atlantic coast. Suddenly the end feels much closer, and that’s pretty bittersweet. Luckily we’ve still got a few more rides, a few more states, and a few hundred miles before we wrap up. Here’s to what lies ahead!

 

An unclaimed bicycle left in the woods of Ohio. We elected to ignore any signs of a bad omen.

 

Dad often has to clarify to people on the other end of his calls that he’s not riding the bike and talking on the phone at the same time.

 

Thanks to the guys at BJ Baker’s for the air and advice!

 

PA, baby! I feel like the Terminator in these glasses.

Cleveland to Mentor, Ohio

June 7, 2016 § 2 Comments

No, not Mentor-on-the-Lake. Just Mentor.

 

A much shorter day than yesterday – we only traveled about 40 miles in total. (Dad prefers that I use terms besides “ride” to describe our ride, since we aren’t sitting idly. Our “adventure,” our “travels,” whatever.)

We started our day with a ride (an actual ride, in a pickup truck) up the road to Cleveland – our map had us on Route 6, which turned out to be way too busy and in really terrible condition, so we elected to skip it. After a delicious breakfast and a quick stop in Joy Machines Bike Shop, we took Dad’s first Uber to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was awesome – we spent way too long in there learning about the history and performers of the music which led our whole country to burn our morals and worship Satan. Amazing how much fear there was about cultural progress in America! Thank goodness that kind of fear-mongering will never ever happen again.

Around 2:30, we left the museum to continue east. Urban biking is much more stressful when on a 12-foot machine that can barely turn! Luckily we got out of downtown quickly, and connected with a nice lakefront bike trail for a few miles. Gorgeous! We wound our way through the suburbs for the remainder of the day, coming to a stop at a Hampton Inn in Mentor. It was a trek of less than 50 miles, but we still rewarded ourselves with Dairy Queen once we had settled in. Then, we punished ourselves with the latest X-Men movie.

Looking back on the day, it stands in such stark contrast to our rides out west. South Dakota was the same scene every day, with no real changes in the landscape or the towns we passed through. Here, the only landscapes we saw were designed by landscapers, and all the towns were remarkably diverse. On the lake side of I-90 we saw enormous, Gatsby-esque homes where the rich spend their summers, and across the highway we biked through a few pretty rough neighborhoods where some homes had holes in their roofs and boards for windows. The disparity between the two sides of town was pretty shocking.

Special thanks to Joe and Jonathan, who gave us that lift to Cleveland. And to the kind sould at Joy Machines and the Hampton who helped us store our beast of a bike. Three more days to Buffalo!

 

At the Hall of Fame. I forgot my razor.

Our first close encounter with the lake!

 

Quick study of the map at lunch.

 

We’ve never dealt with so much traffic!

 

When we checked into the hotel in Mentor, Dad was very excited to see the bridge we crossed as we left downtown.

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