Erie Canal Bicycle Tour Day Two

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In the morning I felt refreshed and ready to go. My only reluctance was that I knew I had to travel quite some distance to get back to the trail. I also needed to ride to get to breakfast. That concerned me because I knew that I needed to load up on protein to make it through the morning. I didn’t know how far I would need to ride to get breakfast.

Before hitting the road there were chores that needed to be done. All of the things inside the tent needed to be collected and put away. The pillow and sleeping bag need to be rolled up and placed into a stuff bag. The air mattress needs to be deflated, rolled up, and bagged. The rainfly and tent need to be taken down and bagged.

My attempt at cleanliness and rinsing my clothing didn’t work out so well. The things that I had rinsed in the shower the night before were not dry. The air gets cool and damp at night and things can’t dry. I put the wet items in a plastic bag and packed them into a pannier.

I loaded everything onto the bike and was ready to go. The bike felt good and I felt good. I was encouraged by the good feelings that I had although the distance back to the trail was daunting. I put that thought away and pushed out of the camp and onto the road. It didn’t take as long as I remembered to get back to the canal trail.

Gasport was to be my breakfast stop. It was the nearest town and the guide book showed that the town had a place to eat. When I arrived, I found that Gasport is a town that is nearly dead. The restaurant was a pizza parlor that wouldn’t be open until 11 AM. There was a clean and functional laundry. Across from the laundry there was a weedy empty lot with an empty two story store front located on the left side. To the right was the pizza parlor. A run down house was next to the laundry. On the corner next to that was a second hand store that also sold cold refreshments.  I ate a can of beans while my wet clothes dried.

The next stop would be Middleport, a town that was much better off. There was a lift bridge across the canal joining the trail with the center of town. On the trail side I met a man and asked him for a restaurant. He was wordless as if mute. He pointed to the other side of the bridge. Telepathically I knew what to do. Just on the other side of the bridge there was a diner where I had breakfast at about 11 AM.

This diner became a model for most of the diners that I would use on this trip. The interior colors don’t occur in nature. The patrons were elderly. In this case, the three other people in the diner were probably octogenarians. The place seemed overstaffed with a waitress and a cook. The food was good: it was presented well on the melamine plate and tasted good. My tomato juice was served up cold in an ancient Texan tumbler.

Refreshed again and fueled, I got back onto the trail. The canal wasn’t teeming with activity, but there was an occasional power boat putting along. I was amused by the fact that most of these boats are overpowered for the canal. They were built with more power than is needed on the canal with its speed and wake limitations.

The trail is lined with historic memorials and landmarks. As I rounded a curve in the trail near Medina I spotted a red object that looked like a giant strawberry. As I approached the object that was about fifteen feet tall I read the sign that it was actually a “monumental apple”. The apple sculpture is a tribute to the fruit growers of western New York. I didn’t associate New York with apples, but soon found myself riding past acres of apple orchard. There was a farmer driving an insect fumigator between the rows on one of the orchards. He waved as he turned the corner down into another row.

culvert near Medina is one of the many places that provides a historic perspective of the canal. The culvert was built under the canal in 1823 to allow vehicles and people to pass from one side to another. There are other culverts and aqueducts under the canal, but this one is supposedly the only one intended as a road. Usually the culverts carry water such as a small river or creek under the Erie. This particular culvert was rebuilt several times in its history. The structure as it exists today is nearly 100 years old.

I passed through the town of Albion and found it clean and seemingly flourishing. To me a town is flourishing when it is clean and doesn’t have many empty store fronts. There are unfortunately many towns similar to Gasport in upstate New York that are not flourishing and that have been partially abandoned as people flock to the large cities. I rode up Main Street in Albion looking for ice cream. There is a stately Presbyterian church and the impressive domed, red brick town hall on Main Street just before the intersection with the ice cream shop.

From Albion I trekked to my next encampment at Holley. Holley was one of the two most memorable camp spots on the trip. The camp site was an Erie Canal Port, which had bath rooms, showers, and camp sites right next to the canal. This was a place that had facilities for boats to tie up for the night. The town of Holley is one of those flourishing towns and there was a great family restaurant in the center just a five minute bike ride from the canal. I had dinner there and would also have breakfast there the next morning. They opened early.

There was a couple from Syracuse camping there that night. They had some experience with riding different sections of the canal trail. They were “trying out” the camping experience in combination with the cycling experience. Their technique was way different than mine. All of their stuff was transported in the back of their mini-van. They had a big, heavy tent and foam mattresses. The mattresses were the kind that you carry and store like a slab of foam. They didn’t roll up or collapse, but they were probably very comfortable.

They didn’t know that there was a town center and restaurant just minutes away. Maybe they didn’t care. They ate in camp from the back of their van. He said I could have a beer, but it was warm. After I had my dinner, I bought a cold can of beer from the grocery store near the restaurant.

My beer experience was not good. The thought of a beer was very appealing and I enjoyed it with a cigar at my camp site. The actual result was not so good because of hydration issues, I’m sure. I don’t think it’s a good idea to drink beer when you are working on maintaining hydration. For me, that includes any time on the trail. I didn’t feel well the next morning. I got over it quickly, but vowed to avoid that experience in the future, no matter how good a cold beer sounded.

I fell asleep with the white noise of the canal outfall nearby. There are outfalls all along the canal that release water into creeks along the way. This keeps the canal water moving and I suppose provides some storm relief.

I was finding that falling asleep was a little painful for the first hour or so. I had some pain in my right shoulder and my right leg before finally falling asleep. Once I was asleep, things were alright for the remainder of the night. The pain wasn’t too surprising, given the physical activity during the day. However, later I found that when I slept in a hotel on a bed, I didn’t have the pain experience.

Anyway, I had a great night of sleep at Holley with the knowledge that breakfast in the morning was nearby and the canal trail was right outside my tent.

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