Erie Canal Bicycle Tour Day Three

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I got out of the tent early and saw the mist above the canal toward the bridge. It was invigorating even though I was recovering from the beer. The ambience of he bridge and the canal early in the morning helped me recover, I’m sure.  My plan was to take my camp apart and have everything ready to go before I went into town for breakfast. There would be nothing to do after breakfast except load the stuff onto the bike.

The night had been chilly and there was a lot of condensation inside the rainfly.  I got to thinking how disgusting that is. The condensation is from breathing and sweating inside the tent. The hot gases condense on the cold inside surface of the rainfly. The rainfly was all moist and it felt slimy because of the type of material it is made from. I tried to rationalize, but it still reminded me of a wet handkerchief. I rolled it up wet with the idea that it would dry at the next camp site.

As I departed the camp site, the Syracuse couple was still packing the van. I rode for about thirty minutes and they went whizzing past me. I didn’t expect that. My impression was that they were very green as cyclists. Obviously that wasn’t true. “Goodbye,” I said. Then I realized that I might see them again when they doubled back to return to their van.

As I rode along, I began to see more of what I call the American ruins. Sometimes they were buildings and sometimes broken stacks of limestone from a bridge abutment or a wall. There are many of these unmarked sites along the old Erie and I often dreamed about how they must have looked back in the day.

Alongside these ruins there was life and people enjoying the canal. There were occasional kayakers and the usual power boats. Unlike in the United Kingdom, there were few packet boats and the ones that I saw were replicas rather than restorations. The canal trail always had some hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists.

Two women cyclists passed. It was a moment later that a man pulled alongside and we chatted. They were two couples who were also doing the Erie Canalway Trail from Buffalo to Albany. One couple was from Yarmouth, Maine, and their companions were from Concord, Massachusetts. They were staying in bed and breakfast places on their trip. The guy from Concord and I had some local cycling trails in common because his town is close to mine. They were travelling very light and after chatting for about ten minutes, they pulled away.

I surprisingly met them again several times during a two day period. The first time was at a rail overpass south of Rochester. I stopped to rest on the overpass after a significant uphill climb. As two freight trains crossed below us, they passed and we greeted each other again. Some minutes later I caught them again at Lock 32, where we stopped and took pictures for each other. I caught them again in Pittsford where we both stopped for gelato on a dock overlooking the Erie. They disappeared and I stopped to add some air to my tires at a bike shop that was on the trail.

Getting through Rochester was much easier than I thought it was going to be. The trail passes to the south of the city, which make the transit around Rochester straightforward and fast. The areas of the city that I traversed were industrial, but not intimidating or scary.

My goal was Lock 30 at Macedon where I would camp. The campground had nothing but a porta-potty, which was a big disappointment after Holley. The campground was confusing in a way. It appeared that the designated camp area was on the town side of the lock and it was a place that I didn’t want to be. There were local people fooling around there and I didn’t want anything to do with them. I didn’t feel safe pitching the tent and sleeping there. I deferred my decision on where to pitch my tent until after dinner.

I rode into town and cruised Main Street looking for a restaurant. The only place that was open was a sub shop. I eat light in the evening so that wasn’t a problem. The place made a decent salad with grilled chicken on the top. I asked the guy behind the counter about the unmarked factory across the street. He said it was a manufacturer of plastic film products, such as plastic bags. It looked like the largest business in the small town.

I ate and hydrated while I rested and thought about the evening, the night, and the camping situation. I was going to do without a shower and be a man about it. Breakfast was going to be another problem, but I would deal with that tomorrow morning.

When I arrived back at the lock, I had made a decision. I would camp on the trail side of the lock. The only way to get to the trail side was to cross the catwalk across the top of one of the lock gates. Being across the canal with the catwalk between me and the other side made me feel a little safer. That was a silly rationalization because if I could cross with a bike, anybody could cross on foot just as easily.

I pitched my tent and did my pre-bed routine: take my meds, brush my teeth, and put my stuff away. I rolled into the tent at about 9:30. As I lay there almost dozing off, someone outside the tent said, “Mr. Camper, if you’re still awake.”

I said, “Yes?”

I was a little apprehensive because I was inside the tent and couldn’t see the person who was speaking to me.

“There’s an electrical outlet near where your bike is parked. You can use it to charge something if you need to. Just wait until the lock keeper leaves.”

I laughed; I couldn’t help it, and thanked him. I never saw his face. At about 4:30 in the morning when I got up to pee on the tree, I took the time to plug in the charger to freshen up some batteries.

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