I rose with the dawn and expected to go down to the hotel restaurant, eat and be on the trail by 8 AM. When I arrived in the lobby, I received bad news: the restaurant didn’t open until 8 AM. I was steaming mad because of the bad information that I received the night before. I asked the front desk person if there was a local diner. She gave me directions. I decided to walk. I walked to a spot that I thought she had identified that was about where I made my phone call to the hotel last evening. I couldn’t see a restaurant. I walked back to the hotel steaming more. As I went through the lobby, the front desk person was surprised that I couldn’t follow her simple directions.
I went up to my room with the intent of leaving and attempting to find a place to eat on the trail. It was a good thing that I cooled down and thought about her directions once again. I hadn’t gone far enough. I decided to try again, but this time I would ride my bike to save time. I found the place. I ate my usual and followed it with a tall glass of chocolate milk. I was ready for the bridge and the trail.
Back at the hotel after breakfast, I left the bike in the lobby. I decided to bring the stuff down and load the bike in the lobby. I felt that would make my departure easier. I was out of there by 8:30, a little later than I hoped, but I was OK with that. I girded myself for the ride across the bridge back to the trail side.
Close to Schenectady I came upon old Erie Lock 23. Of the fifty plus miles that I rode this day that was all that I saw that was worth the picture. It was hot and I rode through a rain storm and I wanted to get to Albany and home.
I could tell that I reached the outskirts of Schenectady when I passed the General Electric plant. At the edge of Schenectady the trail went cold. The tadpoles were ambiguous and the guide book unclear. I followed the tadpoles in the direction that seemed intuitively correct. This took me across a long bridge. Unlike the one in Amsterdam, this one was less intimidating and had a walk. I rested on the other side when I found a popular drive-in restaurant there. I had a hot dog, and chocolate shake, and two glasses of cold fruit punch. In retrospect, the remainder of the day would have gone better if I had eaten two or three hot dogs. I could have used the protein to fuel the ride. I still had quite a distance to go.
After refreshing myself and resting I needed to get back to the trail. I crossed the bridge again and talked with someone who was having similar problems following the trail. We were not communicating. I discovered that he and his family were going in the direction that I had come from.
I checked a map on the cell phone to try to determine a course of action. Although counter intuitive at the time, I went in the direction away from the bridge into the city and successfully found myself traversing Schenectady. The tadpoles and the guide book were not helpful and I found myself referring to the map on the phone often. I made it through the city and returned to the marked and paved trail.
There was one more section of on-road travel. It was a short section and the remainder of the trip to Albany was six more miles on a paved bike trail along the Hudson. After about two miles I began to get tired and even sleepy. I stopped to rest. The remedy seemed to be to eat some almonds and dried fruit. I took my time and hydrated a little as well so that the effects of the new infusion of protein would begin to take hold. That was what I needed.
I came to the footbridge that spans all of the roads and interstate highway and leads downtown. The bridge empties onto Pine Street, three blocks from the parking garage and my van. I had made it.
I got to the garage and decompressed as I loaded my things into the van. As I worked, I stopped frequently to talk with the garage attendant and his son. They were fascinated with what I had just done and I was happy to tell stories about my trip. It was about 5:30 PM and I was going to sleep in my own bed that night.
This last day was tough, but in perspective it was a great trip. I saw some things that people overlook when they vacation. I didn’t run into a single mean person, except maybe the lady with the baskets in the Laundromat. Upstate New York has great scenery and the ride was mostly bicycle-friendly. There is a lot of history to discover. I at least temporarily satisfied my need for an adventure. I rode over 400 self-supported miles on a bicycle and I had everything that I needed in my panniers except for food and water. I will do it again!
I learned a lot on this trip and made many changes for my later bicycle trips. The most significant change has been my bicycle. I upgraded to a bicycle designed for touring and have been much more comfortable in the saddle for long periods on similarly long trips. On each successive trip I learn a little more about bicycle touring, but not as much as I learned on this maiden trip. I have many fond memories from my first Erie Canalway bicycle tour and highly recommend the route.