My Bike Adventure-Day Two

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling great. I dawdled around my hotel room getting my directions for the return trip all set to go, patching tires and repacking my bags. By 11:00 I was on the road again.

The route for the day was simple-stay on the Erie Canal Heritage Trail until I got a bit past Rochester. For the first twenty miles the trail was gravel and followed the Erie Canal as it wended  its way through the woods. It was a pretty trail and very quiet, only three cyclists met me going the other way.DSC01215

As I biked the trail I sang the mandatory trail song.

Every few miles or so the trail would be interrupted by a road to cross and after crossing one road, I was confused as to how to get back on the trail. There was a small park right on the canal, was I supposed to bike through it? So when a man said hello to me as he was walking by, I asked him if the trail went right through the park.

He told me yes, I could bike on the sidewalk and straight through the park to the trail. I thanked him but he was not finished talking to me. He proceeded to give me a rambling lecture about being careful about strangers “grabbing me” as I went along the trail. But his conclusion lacked conviction.

“Now, I don’t know if there are any people around here that would do that…but there are people out there…that do that.”

Got it.

A few miles later I caught up to a group of three cyclists who were obviously on a bike camping tour and from their many bulging panniers, I would guess it was a long one. I was about to pull up beside the cyclist who was trailing the other two but as I went down a slope I hit a huge bump and from the thud, thud, thud of my rear tire I knew I had got another flat.  Sadly, I watched them pedal out of sight.

Here is what I have realized in hindsight, however. All of my other flats on this ride were strategically placed. Therefore, this puncture must have had some purpose. The only thing I can come up with is that these three cyclists were not cyclists at all. They were really murderers posing as cyclists. Had I pulled up to them and started talking to them, I would have been instantly dispatched and then stuffed into a random pannier, never to be seen again. Yup. Having a flat tire clearly saved my life.

I took my time through the afternoon, pedaling slowly, and stopping to take pictures. I passed many folks out walking on the trail. It was a total reversal of roles, for once I was the fast moving vehicle on the “road”, having to watch out for and safely pass the slower moving pedestrians.DSC01231 DSC01227 DSC01218 DSC01239

In the late afternoon, as I neared Rochester, the trail became paved and there were more and more  cyclists, many on nice road bikes in full team kit. They looked ever so pro. I was enjoying the ride but the miles were ticking by pretty fast and I started to worry that I would go too far on the trail and miss my exit off.

I spotted a friendly-looking cyclist by the side of the trail and he didn’t seem in a rush so I stopped to ask him if he knew where 33A West was. He said he didn’t and I was about to go down the trail again but he stopped me and said he had a smartphone, if we went over to the shade he would look it up for me. I thanked him gratefully.

After a few minutes we found out that I still had about ten miles left on the trail before my turnoff. I thanked him again and then asked if I could ride with him. So we went along together chit-chatting a bit about our lives. After a few miles it was time for him to go home but when we stopped, in a wonderful gesture of kindness, he gave me his phone number and told me to call if I had any navigational problems.

I did mention my blog to him so he could find out how my trip went if he wanted to, so Irwin if you are reading, thank you so much, you are a wonderful person!

After Irwin and I parted ways, I paused to take some pictures of cool graffiti. I was clipping in when a cyclist went whizzing by me. And that is when I made a reckless decision-to follow him. This is gonna sound whiney, but I never get to try to keep up with speedy cyclists and here was my chance to do so. In hindsight, even though I stayed far enough back so that if he had to brake suddenly I wouldn’t crash into him, my choice to speed along the path with pedestrians around was not a wise one.

But it was exhilarating. He and I charged down the trail going 22-24 mph. I realized how bad I am at cornering. While he took each turn with ease, I lost time slowing down on each one. But I was kinda amazed at how easy I was keeping up with him, no heavy breathing, no pain. Ha. Just as I became proud of myself for keeping up, I felt a sharp pain in my side. For an instant I thought my side was cramping, but no, it was a bee buzzing under my shirt.

At that moment I had a choice: free the bee and lose the cyclist or keep the bee and keep up with the cyclist. My choice was clear and a few seconds later the bee stung again on the other side of my abdomen. I could feel it buzzing angrily as it started crawling toward my upper back. It was the ultimate suspense waiting for another flash of pain to strike , all the while pedaling like mad to keep the pace of the cyclist ahead of me.

After another mile or so the cyclist veered off the trail to a parking lot and I watched him go rather mournfully. I was happy to stop and release my trapped bee friend though!

Soon I was off the bike trail and on proper roads again, only a few miles from my destination. As I turned the corner onto the last road my tire once again went flat. And no wonder, two little pieces of metal were jammed right into the tire. Cool.

Twenty minutes later I had made it to Roberts Wesleyan College, where the concert was being held. My parents were coming down to Rochester for the concert as well so I called them to find out their status. They were still a distance away so I went off to get some supper. When I returned to campus I realized my front tire was very soft-the first time I have ever had a puncture in my front tire. Good thing I had asked my dad to bring some more tubes!

My mom and dad arrived and we went to the concert together. The band, Rend Collective, was amazing live! They are a group from Northern Ireland with joyful and triumphant songs about life we share in Christ. It was a wonderful experience, worshipping God together with hundreds of other Christians. DSC01241

I was able to stay with a family friend who attends college here and I was able to slip into bed at 11:45, ready to get some rest for the return trip home.

12 thoughts on “My Bike Adventure-Day Two

  1. Great. It made me reminisce about my trip on the Erie Canal. There’s a certificate I can send away to get from NY transportation dept or something called “End to Ender” I biked the whole Erie Canal, Albany to Buffalo, last year camping out along the way. I actually jumped into the canal one day it was so hot. I learned they call swimming in the canal ‘Sludge Jumping’. That gravel trail is what made me realize I needed fenders. I stopped at a bike shop somewhere on the Canal and got fenders. My gears were just all gunked up with gravel. I loved the Erie Canal song you posted. Never heard it. Cool.
    Glad to hear you met many friendly people and didn’t get Grabbed. Fun story!


    • Wow, I biked exactly where you have biked before! That is so cool that you did the whole trail, camping along the way. I am definitely doing that at some point, you will have to give me some tips 🙂 I never saw anyone swimming in the canal but I was wondering if people did it…now I know! I hope you picked a place to swim where the water wasn’t too nasty, between some of the locks the water looks real gross, haha!


      • I swam and lived to tell about it. I asked a guy working at the locks if it was ok to swim. He gave me a look and a shrug and said he guessed so. Everyone I told after I swam shook their heads at me and said, “Sludge jumping” teenagers do it sometimes on a dare. Well, it was darned’ve probably eaten worse pollution than that.
        I have a picture of the Big Russian who suggested Schwalbe tires. I don’t see a place to load it here. Maybe he was telling a big old fish story about riding from Seattle, WA to NY without a flat, but I bit the hook and so far they’ve been great.and better than the Bontragers. I’m sure there are other tires just as good. Homework time, eh?


      • I am not putting sludge jumping on my bucket list, but yeah, if it was super hot I would probably take the plunge too! Sure the pollution might not be the best, but at least you avoid death from heat exhaustion 🙂

        I hope his story was true, the possibility of not having flats for thousands of miles is quite thrilling!


  2. Fab story Bri and a very inspiring one to get me out of my cycling doldrums. Was thinking about cancelling my ride over to the in laws to meet Kate and the boys for lunch but now all fired up! How far is the Erie Canal FCM?


  3. MORE adventures await Girl!! Panniers are next and then a week long ride and then……. There’s no holding back now. It IS cool to be an inspiration to people too. I’m glad you could experience that.


    • You are a brilliant man! My bike loves your comment and she thinks it is a great idea to never go off road again, I have promised her that I will do my very best to make sure it will never happen again, because some of those flats were obviously just because she was mad at me for taking her on nasty roads. I am just glad the only trouble we had was flat tires, it could have been so much worse!

      Liked by 1 person

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