14 June (41.4 Miles)
I was up early and rolled out of Charlie’s in the morning sunlight. About a mile or two up SR 186, I took a left turn into the Adirondack Regional Airport for breakfast. The terminal building looks more like a ski lodge than an airport building. There were several other locals in there eating and reading the morning newspaper. The airport restaurant was open and served a very nice breakfast. There was more than I expected and because of the heavy, late dinner, there was no way that I could finish it. In all of my bicycle travels I don’t think that I have ever had a bad breakfast experience in a local restaurant. Maybe an American breakfast is so fundamental, so universal, that it can’t be messed up: anybody can fry eggs and make toast.
Early in the day it was partly sunny and clear so that the promise of beautiful Adirondack scenery was finally being fulfilled. I passed through Bloomingdale in the morning and there was a tandem bicycle rally starting in the center of town. I talked with one of the participating couples and they gave me conflicting advice. She recommended going around Whiteface Memorial Highway and he recommended going for it. Her argument was that there was less of a climb by going around. He said that the scenery was better over the top. I opted for the climb over Whiteface Memorial Highway.
Just before the ascent to Whiteface, I stopped to enjoy the river that feeds Franklin Falls Pond and take a picture. To my surprise, I was soon attacked by black flies. My shirt had long sleeves and that was a good thing. The sleeves were quickly covered with black flies. I took my picture and quickly ran my hands down both of my sleeves to clear away the flies before jumping on the pedals to get out of there. Just before the turn to Whiteface Memorial Highway I stopped to rest at Franklin Falls Pond and fortunately the wind was blowing well enough that the flies were not a problem.
There is a bridge where the lake water flowed to a nearby dam and the bridge led to State Route 18A, ascending to the intersection with Whiteface Memorial Highway. The uphill grade to the intersection is about 6% on average. With my gear load I found it necessary to stop quite a few times, but I made good time. A right turn at the intersection leads to the summit of Whiteface Mountain and a left turn takes you into Wilmington.
From the intersection the descent to Wilmington is steeper, more consistent, and is a nice ride down. The downhill grade into Wilmington before the final ascent into Lake Placid is a little over 8%. That would have been a struggle in the opposite direction. Be sure that your brakes are in good working condition. I don’t like to go too fast with the gear load.
At the first intersection in Wilmington there is a large candy store. There were two female cyclists sitting on a bench in front of the store. I asked them about ice cream. There was no ice cream at this store. Inside I bought some fudge and the proprietor told me that ice cream was just a short ride up the road. The Whitebrook Dairy Bar wasn’t far away and after buying some ice cream there I rested for a while before starting the final leg of the ride into Lake Placid.
The climb into Lake Placid started with a 2.5 mile climb at about 3%, leveling out a tad for the final stretch into Lake Placid at around 1%. The net elevation gain for the day was negligible. The weather was cooperating, although it began to get cloudy and cooler in the late afternoon. There were people training for the Iron Man Triathalon whooshing past me on carbon bikes that sounded like muffled jet planes as they went by.
About two miles out of Wilmington I crossed the Ausable River, which gave me a preview of the white water. Another two miles up the road I could see High Falls Gorge. It can be partially seen from the highway, but it was clear that I needed to hike alongside the falls to appreciate it. It was worth the time and the $11 admission. The park that contains the falls is privately owned, which is a bit unusual. The walks, bridges, and viewing platforms were well done, meaning well secured to the rock and well placed for viewing the falls. The total drop of the Ausable River at this point is about 800 feet. This is significant because it happens over a short distance, resulting in a very fast and picturesque cascade of water through the gorge. Further up the river, the water is slow and is famous for trout fishing.
I arrived in Lake Placid at about 4:30 PM. My first stop in town was High Peaks Cyclery to check in with Brian Delaney who was providing my hiking guide for Sunday. He showed me to the Guide House next door where I would meet my guide, Don, in the morning at 8 AM.
After talking with Brian for a while, I went across the street and checked into the Art Devlin Motor Inn. Art Devlin was a World War II fighter pilot and post war ski jumper. He opened the motel when he retired from sport. The lobby has a trophy case full of his war and ski jumping memorabilia. It is a very comfortable hotel that is centrally located. I was within a short walking distance to the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, the place where I had dinner and a glass of their great local brew.