Sunday, September 2, 2012

Day 78: Syracuse, NY

I can't believe it's Labor Day weekend already, summer's ending, my kids are going back to school, and I'm still on the road. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm ready to be home -- and I'm definitely experiencing a few pangs of regret for not being with my family at this traditional time of seasons (and pace of life) changing.

Not that I'm hopping Amtrak quite yet, mind you. I'm now only seven days away from being back in Manhattan (subject to the vagaries of Isaac-generated storms) and, by my calculation, by the time I get there I will have logged almost exactly 4,000 miles. So I'm finishing up what I started!

Days like today are very helpful to the cause. The weather was perfect for biking (notwithstanding a bit of a headwind) and, having started with low expectations about the likelihood of finding good roads into Syracuse, I was surprised by just how excellent the roads and riding conditions were. Any big road, with traffic, had huge, paved shoulders. And I wasn't on these all that much. There were big roads with very little traffic. There were medium-sized roads, also with little to non-existent traffic, that still had shoulders. There were back country roads, virtually empty (except for one nut in his yellow Corvette who must have zoomed by at over 90 mph). I did a lot of self-routing, as there were a bunch of smaller roads that paralleled Bike Route 5/Erie Canal Towpath and where I wanted to go. So I invariably took them. And didn't even inadvertently add too many hills as a result (although I did get a few 8%, and one 12%, gradients -- but all were short).

I took the crushed limestone Towpath only twice -- each time for a couple of miles at most -- both as a connector between paved roads and as a change of pace. For my tastes, that was just about the right ratio to other roads. Although the Towpath kept throwing up interesting sights, including a rebuilt aqueduct over nine mile creek outside of Syracuse.

All in all, it was a pretty glorious day of biking -- about 45 miles in all -- a distance that, while shorter than most of my days so far, is actually pretty nice to target. In fact, I've tried to plan my remaining route to have more days in the vicinity of this type of mileage. It gives me more flexibility to linger in the morning (finishing up a blog post or having a leisurely breakfast) or to try to wait out a passing storm. Or to get in to my destination early and actually have my hand wash dry by the next morning. Or, as I did today when I got into Syracuse, seek out and get a massage (very tight hamstrings and IT bands)!

Syracuse was in full orange bloom, as today saw a home football game at the Carrier Dome (losing a heartbreaker, 42-41, to Northwestern). Freshmen arrived only a few days ago, and everywhere were parents and kids, the great majority of them festooned in orange shirts or other Syracuse identified attire. They all looked like they were having a pretty good time (maybe too good a time (!), as an aside to Stephen, who, as a senior in high school, is considering applying this Fall).

Otherwise, I think the city was relatively empty due to the holiday weekend. I had dinner at the bar of a lovely, upscale, restaurant -- bc restaurant -- in the Armory area of downtown Syracuse, where I chatted with Ellen, one of the owners, and Mackenzie, the bartender, about things orange and otherwise, as well as a regular patron, Joe, also an attorney (finally, I'm back in a locale where it's safe to talk politics again!). And, although the restaurant was only about 1.2 miles away from my hotel, I took the hotel's shuttle, rather than walk or bike, which was a good decision because I had a lovely time making the acquaintance of the van's driver, Nestor, who was both bemused and awed by my journey (photos of all but Joe are posted below -- hi guys if you're reading this).

So, notwithstanding a bit of homesickness, it was really an excellent day -- both biking-wise and people-wise. On to Rome, NY, tomorrow (actually today, since I'm finishing up this post in the a.m.), where I'm staying at a bed and breakfast that promises to be interesting (a converted former convent).

Here are today's route and metrics:











  1. Man, you are getting close. We gotta have a big "welcome home" dinner when you get back. What's your ETA now?

  2. Steve Froot5:30 PM

    I am now caught up on the blog, and feeling the sense of accomplishment that only comes with the hard work of reading about someone else riding 4000 miles in the elements with gear across the Continental US. BTW, are you really still on the road? Pretty sure I saw you from afar on the UWS Saturday. :-)

  3. mark becker5:31 PM

    wow. honestly wonder what life will be like, how/if things might be different, after such an extraordinary journey, accomplishment. of course, that's the kind of wonder/musing probably reserved to those of us armchair participants who in reality couldn't possibly undertake such a remarkable adventure...and admire the hell out of you for doing so. :)