Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 75: Back, Back in the U.S. of A!

Now I'm definitely in the homestretch. This morning, I crossed out of Niagara Falls, Ontario, on the "Rainbow Bridge," and found myself in....Niagara Falls, New York. Back in the USA for good (at least for this trip)!

Before crossing, I toodled around the Canadian side a bit, taking a picture of the sunrise over the Falls, and then biking north to see a bit more of the river (where it supposedly briefly becomes a class 6 rapids -- is there such a thing?) and the so-called whirlpool rapids (I didn't take the cable car ride over them, however, just a picture or two).

The border crossing itself, and customs, were uneventful, except in a couple of respects. First, the way the bridge works is it basically feeds into an array of toll booths containing U.S. custom inspectors. Not too exciting, except the bridge was jammed full and backed up well into the Canadian side. What's a self-respecting bicyclist to do? Act like a car, and wait an hour or two, or ride between the lanes pretending not to see any nasty looks? I'm sorry to say it wasn't even a close call. I weaved. And promptly ran into (not literally) two of the ladies from the Women's Tour group of the other day, who, I'm pleased to report, were also weaving. We chatted amiably waiting for the last few cars in front of us to clear (you don't want to weave right to the front - the customs inspector might send you back, do not pass "Go," do not collect $200), and then were waved through with no questions.

And I was back in New York State, just like that.

It was less exciting than I thought it would be. I'm still, by my count, at least 10 days away from being home (the route, as of now, goes: Medina to Rochester to Seneca Falls to Syracuse to Rome to Little Falls to Amsterdam to Albany to Rhinebeck to West Point to Home), and part of me just wants to be there already. I think I'll get excited when I hit Albany. That will feel close. The challenge, until then, is to make sure I stay engaged and excited about the days before that. This has been an amazing trip, and I don't want to be in the mode of not focusing on and enjoying the remaining days because I'm yearning to get home.

So I need to remind myself to stay in the present -- and try to get the most out of each day's ride. And part of that is figuring out and trying to optimize the specific day's route. A good route typically equals a good day. For now, the easy choice is simply to follow the Erie Canal Towpath trail, which runs through (or near) all the aforementioned towns and has no cars. But, and it's a big but, it's not paved. I took it for the last 16 miles or so of today's ride (which was a total of 46 overall, into the town of Medina, NY), and felt conflicted. The trail is definitely pretty, serene and isolated. But it's also just a wee bit boring mile after mile. And then there's the crushed limestone/gravel surface. Sigh.

New York State actually has a system of bike routes, one of which, Route 5, runs fairly close to the Towpath and also goes all the way to Albany. Most of the roads have wide, paved shoulders. But the roads can be fairly busy. And the scenery may or may not be better -- although it's likely to be more varied.
My guess is that I will do a combination of both the Towpath and Route 5, and also use my Garmin to try to find smaller and quieter roads that run fairly close by either or both. I'm always invigorated when that works out well (and even, some times, when it doesn't, just for having explored).

To be continued in the days ahead, for sure.

Here are today's route and metrics:







1 comment:

  1. Welcome back to God's country (well, Cuomo country, at least).
    Just hum this song in your mind as you pedal along the towpath: "I had a mule, Her name was Sal, 16 miles on the Erie Canal." Catchy little tune.
    We have beloved relatives galore in Rochester (known to locals variously as Rainchester, Rachacha, Rottenchester, etc.). It's actually a surprisingly nice and livable city (at least at this time of year), with lovely greenmarkets, open air concerts, etc. If you want an introduction to any of the clan (I'm guessing you would be offered a great home-cooked meal and a place to crash), just lemme know.