Author: capejohn

Amsterdam to Schenectady, NY

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The final day of the Erie Canal bike tour.  A short 20 miles on paved path and some roads.

It was another hot day which forced us to make a couple of water stops. On outside of Schenectady ended up being the most interesting.    At the convenience store on NY route 5S we met an interesting clerk from India.  His name was a difficult one to remember, but his story is much better.

When we entered the store he told of how jealous he was seeing us on bikes. He want’s to move to Austin, Texas where Brandon lives and they exchanged telephone numbers.  He had done some some really amazing things before he came down with liver cancer, and is now working at his uncle’s store as a clerk. He is fully cured btw.

DSCN9954He has done some really crazy bike rides in India, running events and has also climbed Mt Everest.  His latest adventure was riding his bike on the ocean floor in full scuba gear.  His videos and photos were incredible.

Fellow touring friends we met on the Erie Canal

2019 Erie Canal Bike Amsterdam to Schenectaty NY from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

 

Erie Canal Bike Day 6. Herkimer to Amsterdam, NY

Brandon and I tend to lollygag in the morning and get a late start. We stopped at a store that shall remain nameless, for him to try to find a tube for his tube less tire. He got four punctures in it and used up all the sealant.

We don’t ride hard at all on tour and we do tend to stop a lot. Mostly to refill our water bottles. The heat and humidity has me going through twelve or so a day.

While having coffee this morning we saw two young guys on BMX bikes balancing small luggage bags on handlebars. We both agreed that they were probably on the run for something. A few miles into the ride, we came upon them on the canal route. They were riding from Newark, NY to Framingham, MA. were they were going to be picked up. Later, as I was take a video of the pigs, (you’ll have to watch it below), they rode up to us obviously in distress. One asked if we could fix his flat tire that he had been riding on for a few miles. The best we could do was to give him a repair kit and send them a half mile back to the nearest town to use the gas station pump. We only had presta valves and they, Schroeder.

When we rode this in 2012 I took some photos and was able to recreate them in 2019

 

One of the coolest things we saw was a dedicated bike bridge. When the town or state built a new one on RT31 which is also Bike Route 5. they left the old bridge for bike use. It’s also on the video.

To get to the hotel we had to go up a hill. A humdinger. I say go up and not ride up for a reason.  It’s a hill that if someone were video taping a bike ride up it the Benny Hill Theme song would be playing.

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Erie Canal Day 6 Herkimer to Amsterdam, NY from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

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Erie Canal Bike Day 5. Canastota to Herkimer, NY

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It was a beautiful mild day for this 49 mile ride to Herkimer, NY.  We had planned on making good time and didn’t begin riding till around noon.  An hour or so into the ride Brandon’s self sealing tire got another puncture.  There was nothing left to seal this time and he had to install a tube.  That was after wiping the inside of the tire to remove the remnants of the sealant.

It got humid later on and we had to stop a few times at service station convenience stores to refill our water.  I was doing 8-10 a day, and Brandon was drinking just a little less.

We struck up a conversation with a guy measuring the gas tank supply with his 10 foot yard stick looking thing.  I asked him the name of this town.
“Frankfurt” he said. We asked if there was a cheap motel around and he gave us a couple of suggestions.  As we were getting directions from Franky Frank, Mike and older guy started to give us opposing suggestions but pretty much saying the same thing.  It’s a knack small town people have I suppose.  Everyone who came into the convenience store knew Mike.  I asked if this was his regular hangout.  “63 years.” The place was once a gas station owned by his father.  Mike lever left.

I also had a 7 year old Erie Canal Guide Book that listed places to stay. Some were still there, some gong and others had changed names and telephone numbers.  Everything close by was booked.  We changed our destination to Herkimer, NY and began calling.  All were booked.  I mentioned to Brandon that it was the weekend and that’s probably normal.

“What could possibly draw people to these towns on a weekend or any other time was his response.”  I could think of nothing.   We were getting antsy until one of the clerks said call Inn Town Motel.  They had one room left and saved it for us.

As we were about to leave, I thanks the slide rule guy.   “I’m Frank. Wanna hear something funny.”

“Of course.” I said

“My name is Franky Frank.  I live in Frankfurt and live on Frankfurt St.”

I told him that if I was a Hollywood producer I would make a movie about him.

“Franky Frank from Frankfurt St in Frankfurt. ” Catchy.

We got to the hotel in Herkimer and low and behold, it was the place we stayed in 2012. The owner came around the corner and I said, “Sarah?”  She was miffed.  I told her that we stayed here in 2012 and she was just a little impressed.  Then I pulled up my crazyguyonabike page and showed the photo I took of her. She had me send it to her phone and gave us a discount on the room.

 

Erie Canal Bike Day 4. Seneca Falls to Canastota, NY

Brandon races bikes and has a personal trainer and nutritionist working with him, figured out that I was not eating properly.   He had me buying a protein drink twice a day and that fixed everything.  Once I began doing that I could ride for hours on end.  Not fast, mind you, but my endurance returned.

We were following the PTNY bike tour arrows and itinerary for this ride.  They made today a short 39 mile ride to Syracuse, NY.  Followed by a 63 mile ride to Rome the next day.  We wanted to do more miles and set our goal to Canasota, and additional 40 miles. What we didn’t realize that Syracuse was hills, hills and more hills,  I had probably the worse day riding in my life.  Actually, every day was pretty bad.  I was running out of energy by mid afternoon.  The final 20 miles was brutal.

Today we met others on tour.  Tim was riding around Lake Ontario.  His goal was to circumnavigate all five Great Lakes.  Later on we met a trio of woman, a mother and two  daughters riding from Ithaca to Buffalo.

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We had dinner at a local pub and got the best chicken wings evah.  Mike the bartender was a riot and was a spitting image of Steve Wilcos.  I told him these were much better than any wings we had in Buffalo.  Buffalo wings were once the best, but over time, others have perfected the recipe. BTW these were garlic parmigiana.

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Erie Canal Bike Day 3. Egypt to Seneca Falls, NY

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Brandon continued to have problems with punctures on his rear wheel. It’s a tubeless self sealing type and we worry that the sealant will run it’s course.  His gearing was also acting up with the chain shifting on it’s own.

We stopped in the local bike shop in Fairport NY and the owner stopped everything to help us out.  We find on every tour we have done that bike shops put touring cyclist first priority.  We bought some sealant refill and the owner also checked out the derailleur and found it bent. He didn’t want to try and bend it back into shape because if it broke, he had no replacement.  He did recommend a bike shop a few miles down the road.

When we got to Rochester, NY, the gravel path ended and we had a few miles on a paved MUP through the city.  When Brandon needs to stop for whatever reason, I usually continue riding.  I rounded a bend and lo and behold, came upon a brand new REI store that looked a lot like OZ.  It felt like the land of OZ also when the two wrenches stopped working on other bikes and fixed Brandon’s for a mere $9.00

REI Rochester,NY

Brandon Says

After a much needed Dunkin Donuts coffee, we hit the canal at about 10am. Got into my favorite town on this whole trip, Brockport! its about 20 miles east of Albion. We had lunch and got directions to a bike shop that could help me with my tubeless wheel and my derailleur hanger. Come to find out, right after Rochester, there’s a brand new REI with on the canal. Was able to get everything taken care of there. Hopped off the Canal way and onto Bike Route 5 for the last 10 miles in order to cut the ride to the hotel short a few miles. Its been a long day!

Erie Canal Day 4. Egypt to Seneca Falls from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

 

Erie Canal Bike Day 2. Albion to Egypt, NY

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Hot hot hot. Also very humid.   It was a slog to say the least. We filled our water bottles more times than I can count.   Actually it was 5  times.  I read Willy Wier in his book, “Traveling with Willy”.  In the book he tells about how he was treated so much better when he was on his loaded bike as opposed to without it.  We are treated as adventurers or travelers, as opposed to tourists.  People go out of their way to be friendly and helpful. Brandon and I have found this to be true on all of our bike tours.  Today was just another example.

We stopped in the Bicycle Outfitters shop in Brockport, NY on the canal. The owner, Russell checked out Brandon’s derailleur and said it was bent.  He did not want to try to straighten it out without having a replacement in the shop.  He sent us to a shop on our route that probably would have a spare.  In Rochester, we happened upon a REI store. The wrenches were wonderful once they realized we were on tour.  They were able to straighten his derailleur in a few short minutes for nine bucks.

We did 50 miles and spent the night in Egypt NY at a funky Budget Inn. The Uzrati couple were very friendly and especially so when I started to converse in their native language.

We reenacted a photo of Brandon that I took in 2012.

 

 

Our goal today is to get as many miles in before the predicted storms his.  We want to make it to Palmyra, which will keep us on schedule to finish in five more days.  We’ll see.

Erie Canal Day 2 Albian to Egypt NY from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

Erie Canal Day 1. Buffalo to Albion, NY

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We didn’t get to the hotel in Buffalo till 2 AM.  It was a late night 4 mile bike ride on a beautiful night.  Consequently we got a late start and decided to cut some miles by riding busy rt 78 to Lockport.  Twenty miles later we were having lunch with Lock 35 as a backdrop.

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It was a slow easy 50 miles to Albion, NY with a couple of stops for refreshments.  Brandon did have a problem with his self sealing rear tire. It continued to leak and seal for the last 20 miles of the ride.  We will stop in Brockport, 16 miles into the ride this morning at the local bike shop and do some laundry and have breakfast.

Day 0 Travel Day

Erie Canal Day 1. Buffalo to Albion from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

Day 2

Erie Canal Bike Tour. Travel Day 2

There was lots of drama today.  Brandon’s flight from Austin to Philadelphia was delayed. It was going to be close, but doable, for him to make his connection to Albany, NY. His 2 PM arrival was more than enough time for us to catch the 7 PM train to Buffalo. Things deteriorated quickly.  He circled Philly for 45 minutes with the threat of being redirected to Pittsburgh.  His plane did finally land at 12:45 and he arrived at his connection flight to a closed door. The plane was still at the gate but about to be pushed out.

He did catch a later flight getting him to Albany at 6:15.  This was going to be a disaster.  When your on a bike, people treat you more of a traveler than a tourist.  That happened at the Amtrak station in Albany.  With a four hour wait for Brandon, I decided to drive to the station and see our options.  It looked like we were going to lose a day.  I was about the change tickets when another employee came over and suggested that if we drove to Schenectady, which was close to equal distance from the airport, it would allow us an additional half hour.  Everything fell into place.

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We had a fun five hour ride on the train, drinking beer and making friends in the cafe car.  We arrived at the Buffalo Station at 1 AM and had a four mile ride to our hotel.  We finally got to bed at around 2 AM, happy as clams at high tide.

2019 Erie Canal Travel Day from John Sullivan on Vimeo.

Day 1 Buffalo To Albion, NY

Erie Canal Tour Travel Day 1

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Breakfast on our 2008 Tour of the Canal.  Notice the high tech phone a year before smart phones went public.

TRAVEL DAY:

I had intended to leave home at 6 AM for the drive to Albany NY to get there in time for the Woman’s World Cup beginning at 11 AM.   There is also the Gold Cup final at 9 PM. This could be a wonderful day for US Soccer.  Then again, it could be a disaster. The ladies are playing Holland for the title of World Champion.  That’s unusual for a US team because many of our teams simply win our league, and declare ourselves World Champion. Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots.  The Revolution doesn’t, well hasn’t yet one a title.  It could happen.  Some day

BEST LAID PLANS:  There are time when it just doesn’t work out.

The plan was for me to stay overnight in Albany and meet Brandon at the airport on Monday when his 2 PM flight arrived.  We were to drive to the Amtrak station and board the 4 PM train to Buffalo.  Lo and Behold, that train has been cancelled.  Now we will take the 7 PM train and arrive in Buffalo after midnight, bike three miles to the hotel and catch a few winks before beginning our bike ride back to Albany on the Erie Canal.

THE CHAOS OF THE BIG BANG:

Things happen in life that may you wonder.  Some call it coincidence, which is crazy, some call it divine intervention, which is just stupid.  Things just happen with no rhyme or reason.  For instance.  Brandon was riding home from the Driveway Series Criterium in Austin TX.  There was a guy on a bike waiting who struck up a conversation.  The subject of blogs came up and Brandon asked if he knew amidnightrider. “Are you Brandon?” he asked.  “Whoa” said Brandon.  It was A Dude ABikes. When Brandon got home he send me a text.  “Guess who I just ran into?” I went through the list of his past lady friends, people I met in Austin, relatives etc etc.  A Dude ABike was not on either my short of long list.   To keep this long story short, they both got a kick out of the meeting.

CRAZY GUY ON A BIKE  A web sight for touring bicyclists from around the world

I found crazyguyonabike.com in 2005 during the internet boom.  When you though you were alone in your fantasies, illnesses, hobbies etc, search engines could find you sites where there were thousand or even millions of like minded people.  It’s a site I use for easy access to all my bike tours, beginning in 2007. I’ll be linking this blog to crazy guy for the next couple of weeks.

Monday Morning Ramble

The word  was spread through the usual social media outlet that a ride was planned for early Monday morning.  Eight showed for the 25 mile easy spin.  We had a couple of hammerheads join us for a recovery ride on quiet country roads of Tiverton RI.

The first remark I got at the meeting spot was “did you bring your camera?”  I wasn’t in the mood to put much effort into this ride which was a repeat of three weeks ago.  Some of the same people to boot.  A few photo opportunities got my attention but nothing earth shattering. A beach, a flat tire and a couple of sheep was pretty much the extent of it all.

I may get one more ride in before leaving for a bike ride of the Erie Canal, end to end, next week with #3 son.  It’s being documented HERE