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Cycle the Erie Canal 2023

Cycle the Erie Canal 2023 was another memorable experience for me in many ways. This was my tenth ride with Parks and Trails New York, the tour organizer. Each time I found ways to enjoy it and as I grow older it is important to me that I am able to accomplish it.

An example of one of the riding surfaces along the Erie Canal (Photo: Eric Wojtaszek)

This eight day, 400 mile ride from Buffalo to Albany began on July 9. There were about 650 riders and 100 volunteers. Many of the volunteers alternate work days with riding days and get to ride for free. The youngest rider was eight years old, the eldest 83, and the median age was 61. The number of electric bikes increased from a handful last year to about 60 this year. Personally I do not have a physical need to ride an e-bike.

Getting Ready to Tour

Last year I did the tour ten months after breaking my femur during a bicycle tour in September 2021. It was a traumatic injury that required partial hip replacement followed by months of rigorous physical therapy. In 2022 I was able to return to my training regimen on my bicycle in April and by July I was ready for Cycle the Erie Canal 2022.

In 2023 I have some lingering pain and a lot of lingering post traumatic stress. Added to that, spring and summer were not optimal for training. By the start of Cycle the Erie Canal I had 1000 training miles behind me for 2023. Yet, because of poor weather, I felt that I only had two or three quality training rides.

My son, Eric, was with me, his sixth time on the tour. Eric is much younger and a much stronger cyclist than me. We see each other in camp, but when he leaves camp in the morning he jets ahead. He is probably one of the stronger riders on the tour each year. Yet, his bicycle is older than mine, a 31-year old Bianchi mountain bike.

In Canajoharie on day six, he was cranking up the notoriously steep hill to the camp site. There was another strong rider in front of him doing the same exercise. Suddenly, a woman on an e-bike breezed past them. As she passed, loud enough for all to hear, she exclaimed, “I’ve been training for this!” Most people have a self-image and apparently hers is that of a finely tuned athlete.

Arrival in Buffalo

Eric and I arrived in Buffalo on Friday, July 7, in a one-way rental car. I leave my car in Albany. Saturday morning we were at the Buffalo camp site by mid-morning. After pitching our tents in our favorite spot, we went downtown to experience Taste of Buffalo, a festival of food tents and food trucks.

In camp later in the day, people we have known from previous years stopped by our tent site. They expect to find us at our spot. Lois, who runs the afternoon rest stops and whose husband Lance drives a luggage truck, said “Hi.” “Cape Cod” Mike arrived on an afternoon shuttle bus from Albany. John “Weck” came by a little later.

Mike and John

Mike is seventy two years old and on his ninth Cycle the Erie Canal tour. We like Mike a lot and shared a few meals with him during the tour. This year he was riding a Brompton folding bicycle. It has tiny 16″ wheels and folds into a small space envelope that would easily fit in an airline overhead bin. By comparison, my full-size bicycle has 27.5″ wheels. The bicycle appeared weird, but he easily rode the entire distance on it with no problems. Eric and I both tried it and found that despite the small wheels, it handled like a bicycle.

Another visitor to our tent site was John “Weck,” an eccentric who rides the least expensive bike on the tour each year. One year he rode a bicycle with one red tire and one green tire, colors from the Mexican flag, that was purchased at a bicycle dealer run by an Hispanic man. We nicknamed him “Weck” because of something that happened the first time we met him.

At that time, John was intent on finding a deli that served roast beef on weck, a Buffalo specialty. That year Eric and I walked to a deli near the Buffalo camp site and found that they served roast beef on weck. We decided to try it.

“Weck” is a hard roll and the top is coated with salt and sesame seeds. The weck was far too salty and we did not like it, but the beef was fine. It turned out that John had only heard about it, but never tried it. We have teased John about this incident ever since.

Our Daily Routine

Every morning, we arose at 5:45 AM. Breaking camp usually takes about thirty minutes. We eat breakfast in camp after loading our gear onto a luggage truck. The only exception is in Medina when we have breakfast at The Country Club. We both leave camp each morning at between 7:00 and 7:30 AM. 

Eric arrives at our next camp in late morning or early afternoon. When he arrives, he finds a tent site for us and carries all of our stuff from the luggage truck. My arrival is one or two hours later. When I arrive, I pitch my tent and go to the shower truck to get clean.

The shower truck is a 53’ trailer that has shower stalls inside. There is a men’s side and a women’s side with about ten shower stalls in each side. It is quite a contraption and provides a good warm shower.

People in line to wash the dust from their bicycles with the shower truck in the background

Dinner is in camp except in Seneca Falls on day three and in Rome on day five. In Syracuse we avoided hot dogs and hamburgers at camp and opted for dinner salads with chicken at a restaurant downtown. Eric, Mike, and I hopped an Uber that evening.

Rigors of Touring

A tour such as this one mixes touring with riding. The touring part includes stops at historic places and enjoyment of the beautiful scenery of central New York state. Local towns along the way are great places to stop to rest or to enjoy a meal. There are many places on the trail where a rider can stop and enjoy silence and scenery.

Most of the time on a tour is spent head down, cranking the pedals with a cadence that will get you to the next camp site. Riders must stay aware, calling to other cyclists and pedestrians when they pass. This custom is observed both for safety and courtesy. When you are not thinking about other trail traffic, you have plenty of time with your personal thoughts. If you are struggling, you spend you time counting the miles.

The First Three Days

On the first day of the tour we have a family tradition. The first camp site is in the town of Medina. We have lunch downtown at a place called “The Country Club,” a local diner. We also start day two with breakfast there the following morning.

Eric and me during our annual visit to the Country Club in Medina, New York (Photo: Eric Wojtaszek)

On the first three days of the tour this year, I did not feel good about my performance and I reminded myself of the SAG option. Support and Gear drivers could take me from the trail to the camp site if I find that I cannot ride any more for some reason. It has been an option that I consider the last resort. Some of my riding energy during the first three days came from my desire to  avoid that option.

As I rolled into Rochester on day three, someone called to me from behind. It was Bob, a cyclist that I met seven years earlier on the Cycle the Erie Canal tour. We follow each other on Strava, a social media site that caters to cyclists. Bob lives in the Rochester area and he noticed that I was posting my daily progress on Strava. He was determined to find me. It was nice that he remembered me and took the time to find me in Genesee Park near the afternoon rest stop. We talked a while at the rest stop in Rochester before he headed home.

Halfway in Syracuse

On the afternoon of the fourth day, I rode into Syracuse feeling very good about my performance. It was the best day of the tour for me so far. That day I happened to manage my nutrition and hydration best. At seventy seven years old, it is strange that I do not have a better handle on those things.

Part of the reason is that our needs change as we age. Another part is that on a tour, you need to establish a routine to follow that is more rigorous than it would be on a training ride. That includes drinking water even when you are not thirsty. Six to eight liters of water per day was adequate for me. Water is not enough and on that fourth day I began popping salt tablets several times during the day as electrolyte replacement.

Feeding My Cravings

Every ten to fifteen miles I stopped to drink water, pop some salt tablets, and eat something. Along the way I fed my cravings. Sometimes it was beef jerky or cookies or ice cream when available. Eating was sometimes situational, such as a pop-up hot dog stand at ten AM. After riding twenty or thirty miles, it is crazy that I can crave a hot dog with onions and mustard at 10:30 in the morning. People in the towns on the route often come out to offer refreshments like that and to raise money for local purposes. There are many opportunities for cyclists to feed their cravings.

Another personal performance rule that I have followed for some time is that I do not spend much time at the planned PTNY rest stops. Most days there are two rest stops that provide water, Gatorade, and snack food. Lingering too long at these places makes it physically more difficult to get back to a meaningful cadence on the trail. Heart rate and muscle activity start from a less optimal point if you linger too long. It is a temptation to linger because rest stops are very friendly places with lots of interesting people.

My Touring Milestone

Syracuse marked a milestone for me in my cycling career on day four. On that leg I recorded the 25,000th mile on my bicycle. The bicycle is a Surly Long Haul Trucker that I purchased in 2012 at the start of my bicycle touring career. I bought it at the once famous Harris Cyclery in Newton, Massachusetts, now permanently closed.

The LHT has many newer parts over the years. The frame, fork, rim brake system, headset, racks, and derailleurs are all original equipment. As the years progressed, I began to do all of the maintenance myself. The chain gets replaced every 2000 miles. Tires, believe it or not, can last over 4000 miles. That reminds me that I have not had a flat tire in years.

My Surly Long Haul Trucker in Syracuse after recording the 25,000th mile on it with my tent in the background

Last Half of the Tour

As we departed Syracuse in the morning on the fifth day, I had an unpleasant deja vu experience. Eric and I were crossing a street where we were stopped to wait for traffic. As we began to cross, I pushed off with my right leg once or twice. The front wheel hit the edge of the curb at a bad angle and down I went. It was not the best way to start the day.

The incident was discussed in camp with a number of other riders. The consensus was that if you ride a bicycle, you are going to fall once in a while. Some falls are more severe than others. During the ride, I saw three separate single-bicycle accidents.

The final three days were a joy because I found my groove. At the end of each day I still had energy remaining. I suppose I should write my regimen and save it in a place where I can recall it for a future tour.

Our final night was in Niskayuna, camped at the Jewish Community Center. Overnight it rained hard and the forecast for the day was ugly. Eric and I decided not to ride the final twenty seven miles into Albany on day eight of the tour. I took an Uber to get my car in Albany, returning to the camp site to pack and get Eric.

On day six the Pattersonville Volunteer Fire Department hosts a fundraising cookout for the cyclists, featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream (Photo: Eric Wojtaszek)

The Experience Comes to an End

These rides always leave me sad when they end. The achievement of riding nearly 400 miles is swept away by the ending of the tour experience. We leave people behind, like “Cape Cod” Mike, John “Weck”, Gordon from the Bronx, and Les from the Adirondacks. We have little in common with them other than the ride, but it is always nice to see them each year and to ride with them. They are nice people.

All of the camping gear is put away until next year. Cycle the Erie Canal is an annual event that has become a benchmark for my physical and mental health. I plan to be on the trail next year at seventy eight to relive the experience once again.

Cycle The Erie Canal 2022 Was Significant

This was my ninth consecutive Cycle The Erie Canal with Parks and Trails New York. This year the ride had a special significance. This was my first tour after my accident last Fall.

Having the Accident that I Dreaded

One September 15, 2021, I was four miles into the trail on the fourth day of a fully supported tour from Washington DC to Pittsburgh. That day was our final day on the Chesapeake and Ohio towpath trail. I hit an exposed tree root at a bad angle and my bicycle and I were thrown to the ground violently, breaking my femur. The details are documented in my blog post last year.

For years I thought about the possibility of such an accident and I dreaded the prospect. At 75 years old, recovery could be difficult or impossible. Bicycle riding is low risk, but the risk is there as with many sports. Although I consider myself a cautious rider, the accident happened nonetheless and I found myself in rigorous physical therapy to regain my ability to ride and to tour.

Getting to CTEC 2022

For weeks I did daily physical therapy for an hour and a half or more each day, encouraged by incremental improvements. By early October I transitioned from my walker to a cane. In late October I began to take hikes outdoors, working my way from a quarter mile to two miles daily. I was able to drive my car by November, went back to my twice weekly part-time job, and began to work out on the machines at the senior center in town.

In late December, I successfully made my first attempt to mount my stationary bicycle at home. I transitioned from workouts a the senior center to workouts on my stationary in January. On a mild day in February, I took my bicycle out for a very short ride in the neighborhood. When the trails became clear in March, I began my training rides. Soon I was up to my typical 25 mile training ride. By the time I began Cycle The Erie Canal I had over 1000 training miles.

Arriving in Buffalo

After signing up for the ride, I had some anxiety concerning camping and riding over fifty miles per day. My family, my son Eric who was on the tour with me, and friends were very encouraging. I needed to experience the first day of riding to overcome the angst.

Eric and I arrived at Nichols School in Buffalo early on registration day. The Taste of Buffalo event downtown was a nice way to spend the day before registration in the afternoon. In the afternoon, the camp grew to accommodate 650 riders and nearly 100 volunteers. It was great to see the resurgence of large numbers of people on the tour.

The Taste of Buffalo event on Saturday was a great way to spend the day before registration in the afternoon.

At dinner in Buffalo at Nichols School, a man approached me and said, “Ed, I never expected to see you here!”

It was John from Western Massachusetts, one of the people on the tour last Fall. He was one of the two physicians who stopped on the trail to offer aid after my accident. I was happy to see him and to have the difficulty of my recovery acknowledged. We met in camp several times during the Erie ride.

There were other people that we knew from previous CTEC tours and were happy to spend time with them again. They are Mike from Cape Cod; John from New Jersey; Gordon from New York City; Bob from Rochester; Les from the Adirondacks. It was good to see the familiar faces of the volunteers as well. These were comforting interactions with people before the ride and the people are one reason that the ride is great experience year after year.

Riding as a Personal Achievement

The first day went fine and I arrived in Medina, our first camp, early in the afternoon. Eric and I celebrated with our annual lunch at The Country Club Diner on Main Street. I set up camp following the habits formed by many similar experiences over the past ten years. I slept very well after that first day.

Every year we have lunch in Medina at the Country Club.

Every successive day I felt improved recovery from the previous day. Arriving in camp each day, I had energy remaining to set up camp, shower, and enjoy dinner. Every morning I rose without an alarm clock before 5:30, ready to break camp, eat breakfast, and hit the trail.

Looking Forward to Future Rides

By the time we ended the ride in Albany, I felt that I overcame my anxieties and my severe injury. During the early days of my rehabilitation, I cannot say that I was hopeless, but I needed affirmation that I could still enjoy riding and touring on my bicycle. Cycle The Erie Canal 2022 helped me to achieve that affirmation and the conviction that I will be able to ride for a few more years to come.

Eric and I at the Finish Line in Albany

Cycle The Erie Canal 2021

It has been more than a week since my son and I completed the Cycle The Erie Canal bicycle ride produced by Parks and Trails New York and directed by April and Al. It was my eighth time on the ride and Eric’s fifth. Every ride has been different and each one full of great memories.

This year, there were several things that were especially memorable. In particular, the Storm at Seneca Falls and the Bike Corral at Fort Stanwix. We noticed one more very significant thing about the trail itself. During the time since our previous ride in 2019 and the hiatus of 2020, there have been significant additions to the trail.

There Are Many Trail Improvements

The ride through Syracuse, the ride into Little Falls, the ride out of Canajoharie, and the ride into Albany in particular featured new sections of trail that make the ride safer and more enjoyable. It takes years to negotiate rights of way and funding for these improvements. That is why I am a member and supporter of Parks and Trails New York, the advocacy organization that makes it happen.

The new riders have missed the transformation. The ride into Syracuse was all on-road as was the ride out of the city. The ride out of Syracuse also challenged riders with steep uphill grades. The same was true of the ride into Little Falls and the ride out of Canajoharie, featuring hills and roads. The trail additions make it much more feasible for less experienced riders to experience the trail and to succeed.

Shows Cycle The Erie Canal trail conditions near Syracuse
A section of trail east of Syracuse

The outfall from the pandemic required some changes in camping venues. At Fairport, Seneca Falls, and Rome, we camped at unfamiliar places, but they were all excellent. The logistics at Rome were complex and well planned.

We Used Some New Campgrounds

Our usual campground in Rome at Fort Stanwix was closed and we were bused to Oneida Lake and Verona Beach State Park. Our bikes were kept safely within the gates of Fort Stanwix. There were shuttles from the camp site to Sylvan Beach where we enjoyed restaurants, ice cream, a car show, and the start of the annual Sylvan Beach Pirate Weekend, all enjoyable.

There was much more going on at the Rome stop. Box breakfasts were provided at Verona Beach so that we could eat during the bus ride back to Rome to fetch our bicycles. Our bicycles were organized into pods with catchy names so that it was easy to find them.

It Was A Memorable Ride

The ride itself was excellent. We were fortunate that we only rode in the rain in the morning on one day. The forecasts were for rain most of the week. Instead we had clouds and cooler weather that was perfect for riding. The sun made several appearances that were too brief, but that did not detract from the personal achievements of most of the riders in completing the nearly 400 mile ride.

Erie Canal Ride 2019

Each year I find new ways to enjoy the annual Cycle the Erie Canal event provided by Parks and Trails New York. This was my seventh year on the ride with PTNY. In past years I have enjoyed the history, sights, and towns on the route. This year my emphasis was personal performance. I wanted to decrease my elapsed time each day on the route and improve my average moving speed for the week.

This was the fourth year that my son, Eric, joined me for the ride. We have a lot of fun together and we have several ride traditions that we try to maintain. He rides much faster than I do, but we have a lot of time in camp in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

As usual, we arrived in Buffalo on Friday, 5 July, before the Saturday registration. We planned to park our car in Albany on Friday and drive a one-way rental to Buffalo. The approach supported by PTNY is to park in Albany and take the PTNY shuttle to Buffalo on Saturday morning. There is nothing wrong with that approach, but it led to an interesting series of events for us.

The parking situation in Albany changed and PTNY didn’t anticipate Friday arrivals. The PTNY email gave an address for parking and directions to follow signs to the “Dutch Quad”. When we arrived at the address we could not find the Dutch Quad and nobody knew where it was. Eric happened to find a phone number as he searched the Internet for answers. The number was for the campus parking office that luckily was open on the day after the holiday.

The woman in the office gave us a new address that was at least three miles farther out from downtown Albany. The new address was a general address for what happens to be a large SUNY Albany campus. Once we arrived we called again to get directions to the parking office..

Once we found the parking office we explained to the woman at the desk that we were told that there would be a $35 fee to park for the week. She didn’t have any knowledge of that arrangement, but shared that parking enforcement and tickets were suspended for the week. The only fee that she could collect was a $5 for the current day. We left the car parked on the Dutch Quad parking lot with our one-day sticker, thinking that when we returned the car might be impounded.

In Buffalo on Saturday we arrived at the camp ground at Nichols School and I returned the rental, hopping an Uber back to the camp ground. We set up our tents just before the skies opened up and poured rain until mid afternoon. In previous years Eric and I have taken the Buffalo tour to pass the time and enjoy the sights of Buffalo. Each year the tour has taken a slightly different route, always ending up at the water front to relax and eat. This year the tour departed on time at 10 AM in driving rain. There were about a dozen riders who didn’t mind getting soaked, but we reasoned that if we got that wet, we would not be able to dry our clothes until we arrived in Rome. We sheltered under the large dining tent that was set up at the site.

Under the tent we met Volunteer John. John talked about his folding bike, purchased for $200, that he would ride as a bike SAG person. Conversation turned to food and he vowed that he would try roast beef on weck while in Buffalo. According to him, roast beef on weck is as Buffalo as wings.

Roast beef on weck lunch in Buffalo
Roast Beef on Weck

The skies cleared slightly and John went to a meeting. Eric found a deli a few blocks away. We decided to try it since it had good reviews and we were hungry. To our delight the menu included roast beef on weck and we both ordered the same. The first bite revealed the unpleasant fact that it was extremely salty. The weck was like a hamburger bun, but a little more firm, and caked on the top with rye seed and salt. Neither of us will endorse roast beef on weck.

On Sunday we rode to Albion for the first leg of the route. On the way through Medina Eric and I stopped at one of our favorite diners, The Country Club Diner on Main Street. It has always been one of our favorite stops and we had a breakfast meal at about noon. After eating we rode the last four or five miles to the fairground in Albion, home of the world’s largest apple pie, where we would camp with the group.

Annual restaurant stop in Medina, NY
Country Club Family Restaurant in Medina NY

On Monday we rode to Fairport with a mandatory stop in Pittsford at Artisan Gelato. On Tuesday the route took us through Clyde before turning south toward Seneca Falls. This was the first day with significant miles on the roads. I dreaded the first hill out of Lyons until I got there and zoomed up at a good speed. Eric and I remember riding up this and other hills, passing other riders struggling to pedal up. There were only a few other riders around as I made my way up and down the hills to Seneca Falls. My guess is that since I was riding a little more aggressively, I was near the front of the group and traveling among better riders.

After turning south I stopped at a lemonade stand run by two young Amish women. As one poured my lemonade the other held up a small black notebook and asked if I knew anybody who might have lost it. I said, “No” and asked “So, somebody left this earlier today?” She replied, “No, last year. The woman who left it mentioned that she was on the ride before and that she was taking notes so that she could talk about things that happened.” I volunteered to take the notebook and to try to find the owner at camp.

The first official ride person that I saw in Seneca Falls was Suzanne, a car SAG volunteer. I told her the story about the notebook and she took my name. She said that I could talk about this at the meeting on the final evening of the ride. I wasn’t sure what this meant and found out days later.

Rider luggage in Seneca Falls, NY
Rider luggage in Seneca Falls, NY

At dinner time we hopped the shuttle to downtown Seneca Falls with our friend of past rides, Cape Cod Mike. Our destination was Parker’s, a favorite among Erie riders. There we met Marty, a semi-retired child psychiatrist in his eighties, and his companion, John, a retired trauma neurology surgeon, also in his eighties. There was entertaining conversation, especially since Marty had a number of colorful athletic accomplishments from his early years, including playing Italian professional baseball.

Sadly, the following day after arriving in Syracuse we learned that Marty and John dropped out, finding the ride too demanding. I couldn’t help but think that an electric assist bicycle is perfect for people like them who want to remain active and experience a ride like this. That’s my plan, although at present I am very able and don’t feel the need for an assist.

In camp in Syracuse, NY
Mike, Eric, and Me in Syracuse

Leaving Syracuse always tests your abilities as a cyclist. The route to rejoin the trail features several relatively steep hills. Since I have experience this before on other trips, I rode conservatively on the first few hills, being passed by at least two overly enthusiastic riders. It delighted me to pass them riding up some of the later hills.

We arrived at Fort Stanwix in Rome in early afternoon. As usual, Eric arrived about an hour before me and I could always count on him to carry my bags to our camp site. We both used the coin laundry near the park to refresh our riding clothes. Eric bought a pizza and we decided to save half of it for breakfast the next morning.

At about 5 PM Eric, Mike, and I strolled to the Savoy for dinner. We were all stoked to try chicken “riggies”, a Rome specialty. All three of us enjoyed a plate of chicken riggies and each of us took a box of riggies left overs back to camp.

Dinner in Rome, NY
Chicken Riggies in Rome NY

Breakfast in Rome is usually served in a YMCA that is not far from camp. We looked forward to our alternative before we left the camp site. Eric and I had a slice of pizza and our left over chicken riggies before leaving camp. The pizza was a little dry, but the riggies were excellent! We were well fueled to hit the trail to Canajoharie.

Once in Canajoharie everybody must face the ascent to the high school that is at the highest point in town. The hill up to the school has grades of over 6% for a distance of half a mile. I chose a “sneak” path that stretches the distance by about a quarter mile,. moderating the grade somewhat.

At the school a local group was offering ice cream sundaes and root beer floats. I enjoyed a root beer float while cooling off before my shower. Eric and I sat under the pop-up tent near the welcome tent until it was time to hop the shuttle to the Arkell Museum for dinner. The barbecue chicken dinner at the museum by Brooks BBQ was excellent.

It was under the pop-up in Canajoharie that I learned that I was an act in the talent show that is always a part of the final evening activities. I laughed because I didn’t have an act: I had a lost black notebook and I promised to try to find the owner. The show announcement poster called my act “Lost and Found”. Suzanne, the person that I told about the black book in Seneca Falls, happens to be one of the principle organizers of the talent show.

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the high school. This was probably one of the better breakfasts. What I like best was the server by the bacon with the tongs who asked, “Load up?” Of course! He grabbed about eight slices of freshly cooked bacon and dropped them on my plate. We watered at the water horse and departed for our last camp in Niskayuna. The trail from Canajoharie to Niskayuna has been improved a lot during recent years. Still, there is some significant maintenance that needs to be done. We encountered rough pavement and about five miles of rough horse hoof prints on part of the stone dust trail.

The high point of this Saturday ride is the cookout at the Pattersonville Volunteer Fire Department. Eric passed the site so early that they were not yet set up. I arrived in mid-morning when they were just getting started. I enjoyed a hot dog and a drink before topping off my water bottles and getting back to the route.

Lock 8 on the route to Niskayuna NY
Lock 8 Near Schenectady NY

Eric and I both arrived at our camp, the Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna, very early in the day. As usual Eric arrived an hour before me averaging about 15 miles per hour! The family that runs the food concession at the JCC set up a table and sold pulled pork, pulled pork cole slaw and corn chip salad, and chicken wings. Eric and I ate our fill. We enjoyed their food so much that we ate little of the catered dinner that evening.

After dinner there were a few announcements and credits to staff and volunteers. When those were completed the talent show started. I was finally called to “perform” late in the show amd I began by telling the story of the lemonade stand. I read one of the notes in the book about someone forgetting to put film in a camera and shooting filmless frames for a day. The notebook also had a story about the author making a bad turn and ending up in a bank drive-through teller lane. The writer went on to say that the lane had a notice that the maximum vehicle height was 10′-5″ and the windshield of the truck she was driving warned it’s height was 10′-6″. I realized that the author must have been a ride volunteer driving one of the rest stop box trucks. They have a height of 10′-6″. She wrote, “I wonder of Al bought damage insurance.” Al is the ride director. One of the show principles rose and said, “That’s mine!” She snatched the notebook from my hand and I quickly got the hook.

Later, Eric, Mike, and I discussed our plan for Sunday, the final day of the trip. All of the end-of-ride arrangements in Albany were new. The parking situation and the end point were unknowns. It seemed there was the possibility of a lot of congestion and confusion. We talked about alternatives. Mike had the idea of riding his bicycle to the parking area, 13 miles away, instead of the finish point, 26 miles away. We retired to our tents after discussing alternatives.

In the morning Eric and I decided I would hop an Uber to the parking lot and he would wait for me at the JCC. We found Mike and he joined me for the ride to the parking lot. He figured that the bicycle ride to the parking lot might be risky since it was a route that was new and unknown.

We arrived at the Dutch Quad and my car was still there. I managed to park for the week for $5 and not get impounded. It was a short ride back to the JCC where we packed and headed home, saying goodbye to Mike until next year.

My average elapsed time on the route this year was five hours each day and my average moving speed was 12.3 miles per hour for the entire ride. Total miles this year on the ride was 357. My mileage usually exceeds 400 because of the Buffalo tour and the ride into Albany on the final day. The mileage on my Surly Long Haul trucker advanced to 16,190 miles and still going strong.

I look forward to doing it all again next year.