This year my son Eric and one of my granddaughters, Sofia, joined me on the ride, my fifth with Parks and Trails New York. This was Eric’s second time on the ride and Sofia’s first. She is thirteen years old and handled the ride very well. I found myself behind her for much of the ride. I was behind not because she was riding faster, but because she was great at setting and maintaining a sustainable pace.
Along the way there were some great, old-fashioned diners where we enjoyed some meals on the road. At each tent city, we pitched and broke camp as a team and got on the trail every morning before 7:30. Sofia assembled a food cache in her panniers with tidbits from each rest stop that she shared with her dad and me. She quickly learned bicycle tour etiquette and contributed to making the ride safe for all of the riders with coaching from dad on the fine points.
At our last camp in Niskayuna, a person came up to me as we were standing outside our tents in the evening. We talked and he asked about our pace on the trail. I told him that we were among the first in camp each day. He expressed his thought that perhaps we were not able to “smell the roses” and enjoy all that the ride has to offer, including the historical sites. In my opinion, the ride is significant in many different ways for different people.
Each year my ride has had a changing significance. During early rides, my focus was on the history and attractions along the trail. Last year, riding with my son during his first Erie ride, my focus was more on performance, trying to keep up with him. He always beat me into camp, but we both arrived in camp very early in the day. We have great memories of sitting at the information tent and talking with others who had also arrived and watching those who were arriving.
This year it was a joy to see Sofia become immersed in the ride. Her energy on the trail was surprising. I watched as she cranked up the mile long hill in Canajoharie without stopping or slowing as she reached the top. We will enjoy talking about our adventure together for some time to come.