Erie Canal Bicycle Tour Day Four

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This was going to be a big day. I would take a detour from the trail to camp on the shores of Lake Cayuga. It was a significant detour, but I wanted to see Cayuga and the thought of camping there was appealing.

But first, breakfast was necessary. I found it in Palmyra only about four miles away. Once again it was the familiar diner scene with the funky decoration. Once again it was great diner food. When I was finished, I crossed the street to the drug store where I stocked up on water.

I also needed to solve another problem at the drug store. My thighs were painfully chafed by this time. From the beginning it was slowly becoming a problem and I was able to endure until this morning. The solution that worked for me was diaper rash cream. It is thick and water resistant with ingredients to calm the angry pink and red areas. I used it for the duration of the trip and the chafed area improved along the way. I was learning the importance of an appropriate bicycle seat.

Water was something that was always high on my list of priorities. I had a water bottle on the bike frame, two strapped to my waist, and one in a pannier together along with an extra unopened bottle of spring water. There were few places where a cyclist could top off with good tasting water from a tap. Warm water will work for me, but if it tastes funny, it’s a non-starter. Hotel tap water is a good example. Most of the time, hotel water tastes stale, like it’s been in the hotel pipe system forever. Put that in a plastic water bottle in a pannier and try to drink it later in the day. It doesn’t get better with age.

At Newark, a long on-road section of the trip was about to begin. I was going to transition from a safe stone dust trail to road sharing with cars. Before getting to that point I saw a few more American ruins, including one used as a foot bridge over the canal.

The long road section started and there was little charming about it. Lock 27 was one of the few charming things. I think all of the locks are things of beauty. After about fifteen miles of highway I took a break in Clyde before turning south toward Cayuga. There was this wonderful ice cream stand and deli calling  to me. I enjoyed a sandwich and a cup of rainbow sherbet.

Two guys on road bike rolled up and they looked like they were going the distance. They had panniers front and back, although the panniers were lighter than mine. My guess is they were staying in hotels. They were moving fast. The claimed they had done 93 miles on the previous day. I knew that I wouldn’t see them again because they were flying.

I asked directions to Jenkins Road, the road south, at the ice cream place and the kids drew a crude map for me. It turned out that I didn’t need their instructions because the tadpoles led the way to Cayuga. I was off again.

The road south was interesting since it wound its way past many Amish farms. There was a field of sunflowers that glowed in the sun at a crossroad. This was not a bike route, so that the road was not wide and didn’t have generous shoulders. It wasn’t busy and that made me feel safer. People tended to be a little more courteous on these local roads as well.

I stopped under a tree to hydrate and from behind I heard, “Ed!” It was the two couples.

“I thought that you left me behind long ago.”

One of the women said, “Too many places to eat.”

She was correct. I was using the same strategy that they were using. Your ride hard and eat when you get an opportunity to eat well at a nice place. That’s why the place in Clyde was too good to pass.

They rode ahead and I wondered if I would ever see them again.

I arrived in Seneca Falls via Waterloo in the early evening. Again I found a thriving city with a busy Erie waterfront. I rode up and down Fall Street where the restaurants are, checking things out and trying to decide where to eat. Up from a side street the two couples appeared in front of me again. We talked a while and took more pictures and this time I got a picture of me with the two guys. We were standing across the street from the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. We parted again.

In the mid-1800s, Seneca Falls was the focus of the women’s rights movement. Elizabeth Stanton lived there for some time and there is a monument showing Stanton being introduced to Susan B. Anthony, which was an event that happened in the streets of Seneca Falls. A rights convention was held there in 1848.

When I was having dinner, the two guys popped into the restaurant and we chatted one last time. They were looking for a bike shop to get some minor things fixed before going further. They were staying in Seneca Falls. One of them asked if I would like to go for a beer and, given my earlier experience with beer and biking, I declined. I suppose I should have joined them and had an Arnold Palmer. It was sad that we parted and would never see each other again. We had fun talking and joking and meeting by accident on the trail for two days. I thought that I might see them again because I was camping up the trail from them and might get a head start. That didn’t happen.

The camp site at Cayuga was again a very good experience. My belly was full and I took my time to set up camp and enjoy the evening. I had an “electrified” site. These are usually reserved for camper trailers so that they can hook up for power. They gave it to me because they were not that busy that evening.

My site was next to one occupied by a beautiful Airstream trailer owned by a retired couple. They were originally from New Jersey, sold their home, and now claim their address as one in Illinois where her brother lives. They watched television in their Airstream and I read a book at a picnic table until it was time for bed.

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