Day 50: Newcomb, NY to Leicester, VT

 

Hudson River


We headed out of Newcomb, NY into a gorgeous day: blue skies, upper 60’s to low 70’s temperatures, and a good tail-wind. The roads were relatively empty as we road through the Adirondack mountains, crossing the Hudson River, and cruising down the elevation decline to Lake Champlain.

crossing Lake Champlain


The ferry across Lake Champlain would take us into Vermont, which we have been looking forward to ever since we left Glacier National Park for the following reasons:

1. Beautiful mountain scenery
2. Maple cremees
3. Co-op grocery stores in nearly every tiny town
4. Maple cremees
5. Bernie Sanders
6. Maple cremees

Entering Vermont also means that we are on our last section of the Northern Tier maps! Just 401.5 miles left! 

Once we crossed Lake Champlain, the scenery looked exactly what we expected out of Vermont: rolling farmlands with mountains in the background, dotted by small towns with churches. 

We also passed some adorable ponies, which Rachel had to stop and pet. We stopped at the first place we saw selling maple cremees, which was a gas station/creamerie. Delicious! 

   

There, we tried to figure out where we would spend the night. We had decided that staying in one more hotel would be a good idea, as Rachel had a video-chat meeting scheduled for the next morning. We called around, and although the bed and breakfast we called in Middlebury did not have any vacancy, the owner directed us to call Lesley, who runs an unadvertised BnB at an organic farm in Leicester, VT. This ended up being the perfect place to stay. When we arrived, Lesley and Jim showed us to our room: the solarium, with a big, fluffy bed and a view of their llamas through the windows!

purple string beans for our salad

We hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so Leslie walked us down to their garden, where she helped us pick out about 15 different greens for our salad. We were very happy to have fresh chard, kale, purselane, lambs quarter, basil, and many other vegetables in our delicious salad. Lesley and Jim also gave us some fantastic lentils and bread, and set us up for a candle-lit dinner in the solarium. It was perfect. After a good night’s sleep, we’re looking forward to getting some work done, eating a delicious breakfast, and meeting the llamas and sheep. 

freshly picked salad for dinner!

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 69.9 mi
time in saddle: 6 hrs, 45 min
total distance: 3,801 mi 

Post script:

Rachel messed up in the scheduling of that meeting, so we ended up having to use the wifi in the late afternoon. We tried to figure out a way to bike and then use wifi elsewhere, but being Sunday afternoon, this was challenging. So we decided to spend an extra night at the farm. Lesley and Jim offered a trade for the second night to help our budget: Rachel would help them with their website in exchange for the second night’s lodging. We had a lovely day off: Rachel got some work done, we borrowed Lesley and Jim’s old Volvo to go into Middlebury, and we met their awesome animals. They have a sheep that is friendlier than many dogs – when Lesley entered the pen, this sheep ran over to cuddle! The sheep also nuzzled with us. The llamas just watched cautiously.

    

 

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Day 49: Inlet, NY to Newcomb, NY

We spent the morning at the motel, getting work done, eating multiple donuts from their breakfast offerings, and waiting for the weather to improve. Around 11, we finally headed out into the rainy, cool weather. We had quite a few climbs up Adirondack mountains, and after just 11 miles, we were ready to stop for lunch. In Raquette, we assumed there would be a place to put some sandwiches together, but we couldn’t find a covered spot to escape the rain. This meant we needed to go out to lunch, joining the crowd at the one restaurant in town. By the time we finished our lunch, the rain had stopped. We continued our hilly ride, eventually hitting some terribly maintained roads, and deciding to stop after another relatively short day in Newcomb, NY. The campground here is run by the restaurant, but it’s actually really nice. They only charged us the primitive site rate, but said we could use the electricity (important for the phones, camera, and tablet) and water at the site. Unfortunately, it began to rain again, and the mosquitoes were terrible! In order to avoid both of these during dinner, we ate in the bathroom. The bathroom was really clean, so it really wasn’t too bad. But it was quite a memorable experience: eating baby kale salad over the sink, and putting together bread, cheese, and tomato while the air freshened automatically sprayed near Nick’s face and the motion-activated paper towel dispenser kept releasing paper towels. We were happy to get back into the tent for the night and get some much-needed rest.

Stats:

today’s distance: 50.7 mi

time in the saddle: 5 hrs, 12 min

total distance: 3,731 miles

 

Day 48: Osceola, NY to Inlet, NY

Adirondack foothills scenery


When we finished packing up the tent (and avoiding discussing payment with the owners of the campground), the day’s weather was not looking great. We heard distant thunder, and a light rain started just as we removed the rain-fly from the tent. The newly wet roads on the steep, three-mile hill from the campground down to the route were a bit slippery, so we rode down cautiously. Our ride from Osceola to West Leyden felt quite tough. Our quads were burning from the reintroduction of serious hills yesterday, and we were a little concerned that we would need another short day. We reasoned that our timing was good for our end-date in Maine, so we weren’t too worried. We need to average about 62 miles per day to reach Bar Harbor on schedule, which seems perfect for riding through the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire.

energizing second breakfast in West Leyden


In West Leyden, we stopped for second breakfast at the Milk Plant Tavern, which really helped our energy. Despite the onslaught of hills, we rode out of West Leyden feeling strong. Even better, when we reached Boonville, there was a farmers’ market! We were very happy to find blueberries, baby kale, peaches, tomatoes, cheese, bread, and pies to purchase, and ended up adding quite a bit of weight to Rachel’s trailer. 

Boonville farmers’ market


We rode out of Boonville, enjoying the scenery of the Adirondack mountains and lakes, until we reached Old Forge, where we stopped for ice cream and groceries, chatting with vacationers who were curious about our trip. The weather was not looking great for the evening or morning, we hadn’t paid for lodging for 11 nights, and Rachel needed to get some work done, so we decided to get a motel. The Marina Motel in Inlet, NY, was a perfect spot. It’s one of the nicer places we’ve stayed on the trip, and the price wasn’t bad considering that this appears to be a popular vacation spot. We were happy to have wifi for work, blogging, and to video-chat with friends, and of course, a comfortable bed was a treat too. We made a dinner out of our purchases from the farmers’ market, and then walked a few blocks for homemade gelato by the public beach. The weather held out long enough for us to enjoy a beautiful sunset, and we made it back to the room just in time to hear booming thunder outside. 

Inlet, NY sunset


Stats:

today’s ride: 65 miles
time in the saddle: ~5 hrs, 30 min
total distance: 3,679 miles

Day 47: Oswego, NY to Osceola, NY

our awesome host, Dave, ready to ride with us


This morning, our Warm Showers host went riding with us! After a great night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, we packed up our things and headed on the rode with Dave for the first 20 miles or so, to Port Ontario. He also took a video of us riding, including my near-fall when I was looking at Dave rather than at the road:

As we rode, we came upon a very load testing of a siren, which Dave informed us was in case of an accident at the nearby nuclear power plant. He said that two of the three reactors are cooled by Lake Ontario. That sounds tough for the lake’s fish and plant-life…

We stopped for ice cream, and then for lunch in Port Ontario, and then later at a farm to purchase squash for dinner. As we pedaled onward, we grew increasingly tired. The elevation was changing much more than it has for a while, as we were entering the Adirondacks. By the time we reached Osceola, home of the famous turtle races, we had decided to stop for the day. Unfortunately, the campground there was about three miles up an incredibly steep hill. When we reached the top, the campground looked deserted. There were a bunch of RVs, but they had been left there without people or cars, presumably until the weekend. We finally found one family who directed us to the showers and bathrooms. There were no staff, not even at the on-site restaurant. We decided to set up our tent on a patch of grass, cooked dinner, and took showers. Just as we were about to turn off our headlamps and go to sleep, a truck pulled up, and the owners stumbled out of it, clearly after an evening of drinking. They asked if we were ok, told us where they lived if we needed anything, and went to bed. The next morning, one of the owners chatted with us as we packed up, and never asked about payment. We decided not to ask either. This made our 11th night in a row of free accommodations.

Stats:
today’s distance: 52.2 miles
time in saddle: 5 hrs, 24 min (we were slow today!)
total distance: 3,614 miles 

Day 46: Rochester, NY to Oswego, NY

Erie Canal

We headed out of Wes and Shawn’s place, through Rochester, getting back onto the Erie Canal path for most of the morning. The canal continued to be a pretty place to ride, and the weather was perfect. We stopped to make our lunches in a park before leaving the path, sadly departing the flat canal for a hilly afternoon. We biked along yet another Great Lake, Lake Ontario, stopping in Sodus Point to check out the light house. 

Sodus Point lighthouse

a fox on our route


The official Adventure Cycling route does not take riders to Oswego, but the Warm Showers host there, Dave, made that a good choice for the day. We hadn’t gotten on the road very early though, so we were a bit nervous when the sun started setting as we realized we were lost just outside of Oswego. Luckily, a motorcyclist directed us the correct way, and then Dave drove out to meet us partway and use his car’s headlights to light our way to his house! We were happy to arrive to his lovely, comfortable home, where we chatted about his tours, his previous guests (like the one who toured from Canada to Peru, with the NY part of the trip during a snowstorm!), and our ride. We were happy to have such a great place to stay for our tenth night in a row of free lodging! 

Lake Ontario sunset


Stats:
today’s ride: 94.9 mi
time in saddle: 9 hrs, 6 min
total distance: 3,562 miles
 

 

Day 45: Niagara Falls, ON to Rochester, NY

We left Tim and Janet’s house a bit later than planned, as we enjoyed a pleasant breakfast and chatting. We rode out of their neighborhood and took a short-cut to the Queenston-Lewiston bridge rather than following Adventure Cycling’s route on the bike path. We reached the bridge, and faced with a long line of cars waiting to cross the bridge and go through US Customs, we decided not to cheat the line and waited behind the cars. After about 30 minutes of inching slowly forward, we met some cyclists who were riding in a large event around the region, and they encouraged us to skip the rest of the wait to take advantage of the special treatment that their ride’s participants had in getting through the border crossing.

Unfortunately, while we were waiting in line, we realized we had left our safety flags for our trailers back at Tim and Janet’s place! We had already biked 10 miles and waited to cross the bridge, so it didn’t seem worth it to turn back. Just at the crossing, some cyclists mentioned that two motorcyclists had tried to ask them to take some flags up to “the cyclists with trailers.” Tim and Janet had ridden their motorcycles up to the bridge to try to get our flags to us! Unfortunately, something was lost in the communication, and those cyclists hadn’t understood what they were being asked to do, so they had declined to help deliver the flags. We hesitantly rode onward into New York without our flags, aware that our trailers were not very visible to drivers. We passed by many items that seemed like they might work as replacements, such as American flags on lawns, and dowels sticking out of fire hydrants, if only they were available for us without stealing.

Greg, who helped us with our makeshift flags


We passed by a home where two plastic poles lay on the ground, the kind that appear to be used to mark driveways for snow plows. A man worked on the garden down the driveway, so Nick rode down to talk with him and see if we might take the poles. The man ended up being Greg, and though the enormous knife attached to his belt was a little frightening, he was very friendly and happy to give us those poles to use as flag poles. We duct-taped the poles to our trailers and tied rags to the tops, and these worked quite well!

makeshift trailer flag


 

entering the Erie Canal path


Shortly after aquiring our make-shift flags, we got onto the Erie Canal tow-path. It’s unpaved, with soft gravel that isn’t too bad for riding. It was flat, and the canal was pretty, so it was a nice ride for the most part. Some sections were poorly marked, and there were areas where families used the path to spread out while fishing, creating some obstacles for cycling, but for the most part, it was pretty easy. We saw many geese, and nearly ran over a cuddle-puddle of ducklings in the middle of the path! We stopped in Lockport for some surprisingly good pizza – it was fast, cheap, and the crust was excellent. 

duckling cuddle puddle


 

When we reached Rochester, NY, we used the maps program on our phones to find the home of Nick’s childhood friend, Wes. Just before dark, we arrived, where Wes and his husband, Sean, greeted us with wine, quinoa salad, and quiche, and showed us to a lovely guest room. We had let them know that we wanted to take a day off here so that Rachel could get some work done. They were incredibly hospitable, cooking for us, letting Rachel use the computer, and being great company. It was a perfect break, despite the multiple days off we’ve taken over the past week or so. We figure it will help us to be rested as we head into the Adirondacks and the higher passes of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Wes and Shawn’s place!!


Stats: