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. 

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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.

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