Journals (Start to Finish) Our tours, start to finish

Erie Canal - Day 6

07/03/2003 14:17:46 by Administrator

From: Fort Plain
To: Cohoes
Mileage: 69

Thursday, July 3 was the last day of the trip. We were in for another great adventure. Mary and I have traveled on the Mohawk River Trail from Cohoes (Albany) to Schenectady before, but we lost the trail in Schenectady, so we were excited to finish the trail. We didn't expect the bonus. We had breakfast at the Hungry Bear Cafe in St. Johnsville. I had the pancakes again, and I didn't need another thing to eat until dinner. Dad and Dustin left us off at the beginning of the trail in Fort Plain. Temperatures would be in the Mid 90s today, under another blue blue sky. The trail was beautiful, and went into Canajoharie. Outside of Canajoharie we had to follow 5S to Fort Hunter, but as we biked along 5S, we saw that the state of New York was about to complete the bike path that will connect (almost) Cohoes to Ft. Plain. 70 miles of trail, three hours from home. . Can you say, "Weekend trips!" We couldn't wait, so we got on the new trail outside of Randall, and road as much of the new trail as we could. We got a little ambitious and a little lost outside of Pattersonville and tried to ride beside the railroad tracks, which gave Clyde another flat tire. Stopping in the Progressive Insurance Company, we borrowed their sink and found the hole in the tube. With fresh chilled water and a patched tube, we journeyed into Schenectady and through (thanks to Harvey Botzman's book). The rest of the trip was pure joy. Dad and Dusting met us exactly at the end of the trail (they literally had the motor home parked on the trail). Thanks to their patience and good humor we could not have had a better trip. Somehow knowing you have a bit of a safety net a soft bed and a warm meal at the end of the day makes the sun shine a little brighter.Total mileage 397, we finished the trip two days early.

Preface - Pan Mass Challenge

08/01/2003 15:44:52 by Administrator

Dear Friends,

Everyone has been touched by cancer in their lives. We have lost family members and friends to this disease. Thankfully, due to incredible research and innovation at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, many are becoming cancer survivors. The PMC is an annual fundraising bike-a-thon with a specific goal: to eradicate cancer. Mary and I were honored to ride for "Team Decco" and the many who gave us donations.

Riding for Charity

08/10/2003 15:44:02 by Administrator

From: Wellesley, MA
To: Bourne, MA
Mileage: 89.7

We registered Friday night and found the process very well organized. We were given an ID bracelet that tracked our movement from the start through the water stops and the finish line.

After spending Friday night in Gillette Stadium listing to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, we arrived at Newman Elementary school at 6:15. It was raining and overcast, with temperatures in the upper 60s. Our kids helped get our gear ready and left to go back to the hotel (and more sleep) Clyde lead us to Babson College and the start of the PMC, the rain was steadily coming down but with our rain gear we remained dry and warm.

There were about 2000 bike riders of all abilities, and a number of fellow tandem riders at Babson College. It was quite a scene, we have never witnessed so many cyclist in one place. At 7:30, after stretching, meeting people, and picture taking, everyone lined up for the starting line in three large groups. The experienced cyclist 18 mph and up at the left, the intermediate cyclist 18 - 14 mph in the middle (and the largest group), and the casual riders to the far right. We were to be released one group after another.

Mary was part of team ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors) and I was an adopted member of ABC, because Clyde refused to be split in half. There are 12 members of Team ABC, and 7 members belong in the first group of riders. They wanted all of us to start off together, so Clyde joined them at the start (with a little bit of wariness in his stride). Off we went, under a gray threatening sky. We had removed our raincoats, and would not need them for the rest of the trip. The ABC team was in the back of the elite riders, and the first 2 miles we rode out of Babson in a pack of about 200 riders at a moderate pace. Words cannot describe the experience of riding those first few miles line with people cheering us on. However, the sight of well-wishers did not end at the starting line, during the whole 86 miles, the road had pockets of people cheering us on. Some blew horns, some offered water, some offered support, some saying thanks, some spraying water, and some holding pictures of children that won or loss their battle with cancer. It was a very humbling experience for us.

Clyde usually rides alone, we have our own pace that we go through life. As we reached the 2-mile marker, people began to pass and we pass a few but the pace that Clyde was comfortable was established. Roy, Ivan, and Chris (ABC members) followed us, and we followed them for this journey. Even though we had just a few sprinkles in the first 10 miles, the road was full of puddles and water. Water sprayed like shower nozzles for the bikes in front. Soon our feet would remain wet for the remainder of the ride.

The route was extremely well marked, and at the dangerous intersections the volunteers and police stopped traffic for us. There were 4 water stops spaced about 18 miles from each other. All at schools, offering water, Gatorade, food, massage, bike repair, music, and port-a-johns. Peanut Butter sandwiches never tasted better. For the 4000 riders (2000 riders started at Sturbridge), there was almost 2000 volunteers, and they where GREAT!

This event is a model for fund raising, almost all the funds raised (I believe 92 percent) go directly into the fight against cancer, and it was amazing to see everyone along the way giving of their time and energy.

The ride was beautiful and we rode through state forests, farmland, small towns, and neighborhoods throughout southeastern Massachusetts. About 30 miles into the ride, the Sturbridge group joined us. We had merged with the Sturbridge elite riders (because they were on their 50-mile marker). For the whole trip (except for a very small break) we could see riders ahead, passing, or behind us. At one time 20 elite riders, who missed a turn, passed the 5 of us. I guess if the first rider misses the sign, the people behind him/her just ride with faith. Mary and I yelled, and the last two riders hear us and peel off. They then yelled, and the next few peel off, this continued (I can only assume) until they all turned around. They got back together and passed us again about a mile up the road. All giving Clyde thanks for the "heads up".

The weather turned humid, hot, and SUNNY the last 12 miles of the trip. We rode into Bourne, a large crowd of well-wishers, and the finish line around 1:10. The other ABC team riders average 18.6 mph and where waiting for us. After drinking lots of water, and talking with fellow riders and watched other cyclist finish, we headed back towards the Lindsay's restaurant (our pick up spot) off the Cranberry highway We did not have one breakdown, and Clyde, Mary and myself feel very good, with no soreness. We know we just did a big ride, but feel very good.

Average speed: 16.3 mph
Starting time: 7:30 a.m
Finishing time: 1:10 p.m.
No. of Riders: 3,582
2003- Money Raised (as of 8/1/03): $9,400,000

Preface - Around Lake Champlain

06/28/2004 05:33:57 by Administrator

The Champlain Bikeway, a 350+ mile route around the entire Lake and along the Richelieu River in Quebec suggests mostly paved rural roads; however, there are some sections where unpaved roads are used to access superb scenery and services or to avoid heavily traveled paved roads. Within a 50 mile radius of WhiteHall, New York there are many hills. Once you get beyond that radius, the rest of the trip is mostly flat.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 1

06/29/2004 05:36:59 by Administrator

From: WhiteHall, NY
To: West Addison, Vermont
Mileage: 54.8

Mary and I left Milford in the rain about 7:00 am and made it to Whitehall under clear blue skies. I emailed the Chamber of Commerce of Whitehall early in the week, and they recommended parking at the Amtrak station, it is about a city block north of the Skeneborough Museum. This is the "starting point" of the Lake Champlain bicycle loop if you follow the instruction on The small museum houses information about Whitehall (formally known as Skeneborough) and the beginnings of the United States Navy.

After unpacking and getting B.O.B. and Clyde ready, we took off to find the police station. Arriving at the police station, it was locked but it had a non-emergency number to call. We got the Chief in the middle of a court case (I could hear the Judge in the back ground). The Chief of police for Whitehall was extremely nice, so if you see him offer him a cup of coffee! After leaving our names and the cars whereabouts, we pedaled back to the Museum. Next to the Museum is the Chamber of Commerce, which is brand new, and located on the canal. It has showers and rest rooms for the public. You can take your boat from New York City up the Hudson River, through the canal systems and Lake Champlain to Montreal and the St Lawrence Seaway!

The bicycling journey began shortly after 11:00. I had two sets of directions, one going through New York to Quebec and then back down through Vermont. The other set was just the opposite. I handed Mary (I thought) the New York to Quebec route. We started across the bridge, and the canal and I asked Mary if she was reading the directions right. She said she was so we were off. About 7 miles into the trip I saw a farm that offered real Vermont made maple syrup for sale. I asked Mary for the direction and noticing my error, we had a good chuckle. The first really big hill was around the 5-mile mark; the day was a very hilly ride. Clyde was towing B.O.B. and he weighed in at 57 pounds fully loaded. The scenery was legendary Vermont, beautiful rolling hills, Green mountains, wild turkeys, blue herons, red-tailed hawks, many common eastern birds, and tons of farms, views went on and on. We stopped in Orwell Vermont at Buxton General Store. Purchased bananas, drinks, and freshly made chicken salad sandwiches and had a picnic in the park across the street.

After lunch, we headed out again. About 35 miles into this first day, the extra weight of the B.O.B., the Vermont hills, and the lack of excise the previous week; caught up with me and I developed leg cramps in my thighs. As I sit here at D.A.R. state park I can honestly say that everything feels GREAT, but I am concerned about tomorrow. Mary was very patient with me. We walked some hills that normally we would have no problem with. We arrived here around 5:30. We are staying in a lean-to because it looks like it might rain tonight. We enjoyed pizza and salad at the West Addison General Store. I even had a beer, well only about 2/3 of it before I decided that I have lost my taste for beer.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 2

06/30/2004 05:38:18 by Administrator

From: West Addison, Vermont
To: South Hero, Vermont
Mileage: 74.3

Last night we donated some blood to the Vermont mosquitoes red cross. It wasn't that bad, but they were pests. Because there was a chance of thunderstorms we brought everything into the lean-to. We have self-inflating sleeping pads that work excellent. Mary's hinny was sore today, but I did not get cramps today. All in all, we feel pretty good. We left camp about 8:30. Saw deer, osprey and more farmland during the morning. There were also some pretty expensive homes in the "middle of no where" with the lake as a back yard. Had breakfast at Eat Good Food on the main street of Vergennes Vermont. The name fit perfectly. The owner was interested in Clyde, and asked me all kinds of questions about our experiences. After breakfast we rode into Shelburne and South Burlington. In South Burlington we lost the route depicted on Most of the route has been marked with Lake Champlain bike signs, but now there are more routes (and more signs). We just stopped reading the directions, and used the Gazetteer maps we took with us. In North Burlington we met an older couple out for their afternoon bike ride. They lead us down a bike path, and we go going the correct direction. After wiggling our way back and forth, we made it to the causeway and the islands. We did ride most of the bike paths in Burlington; the people of that city are very blessed with some very great places to ride without traffic. The hills of Vermont also disappear in this area. I am writing this part sitting in our room at the Sand Bar Inn, South Hero around 4:00 pm. There is a campground next door so you could choose either. We have a beautiful view the lake. There are about 20 units here, and I think Mary and I are the only ones for tonight.

Around Lake Champlain - Day 3

07/01/2004 05:39:30 by Administrator

From: South Hero, Vermont
To: Chambly, Quebec
Mileage: 77.8

Last night we had dinner at the Sand Bar Inn, which was packed! The food was pretty good, and we understand why it was packed. Well rested, we got on the road at 7:00. During the morning packing, we watch the local news (only got 3 channels on the TV) and they were forecasting severe thunderstorms for the afternoon, with wind gust of over 25 miles an hour. We don't like rushing, but thought we could make it to St Jean sur Richelieu by the time it hit. After following the instruction on until North Hero, we decide to stay on Route 2 in search of breakfast. We found another excellent restaurant, named Shore Acres, with a beautiful view of Lake Champlain under blue skies. We were met by the real owner of the place, a gentle aged chocolate lab named Cooper. Mary ordered 1 egg, side of bacon, and 1 pancake which came to 9 dollars. If she just ordered the Champlain breakfast (2 eggs. 2 pancakes, toast, bacon or sausage) we would have paid 4.95. The view of the lake, atmosphere, and Cooper made it all worth paying the extra few dollars. After breakfast we continued on route 2 until we joined 225 and the Border. Prior to the border is a little information/welcome center that we stopped at. The young lady was full of energy, and treat us nicely. We continued up to the customs and were welcomed to Canada by the very friendly boarder guard. Since it was Independence Day in Canada, we got Canadian flag pins and Canadian flag refrigerator magnets. He logged us in as two U.S. citizens and one bike. He thought the people reading the log would ask him about the entry. I think we were one of the few people he saw that day. On the 18 miles we rode on route 225, only 7 cars passed us and they all had Quebec plates. If you have been in the Midwest of the US or Canada, where there are no hills and miles and miles of farmland; then you know what this section of Quebec looks like. It was flat flat flat, and we had a tail wind. We cruised at 18 mph without thinking about it. We stopped at a small cafe at the intersection of route 133 and 225. Had great lunch for fewer than 9 dollars, Canadian. After lunch, we stepped out and looked up. There were very nasty looking clouds in the southwestern skies, and they were heading our way! As we rode the back streets of St Jean sur Richelieu, it started to sprinkle, but soon stopped. We found the entrance of the canal bikeway and began to ride with our eyes looking for a hotel. Exactly 3 pedal strokes from passing under a bridge, the heavens opened up, and it rained extremely hard. We sat under the bridge, at a picnic table, dry, next to the canal and lake, for about 1/2 hour as rain came pouring down. When it finished, we continued up the bikeway looking for a hotel, we knew we were in between downpours. Clyde, B.O.B. and Mary were covered with mud. We couldn't find a hotel in our view of the path, so we kept going. About 2 miles outside of Chambly we got a flat on our rear tire. I used the canal water to locate the leak. It was located on the stem seam, which is not the ideal place to use a patch. I debated on just replacing it, or using the patch. Decided to use the patch. We were under a bridge, again, when we fixed the tire. Again, the skies opened up, and rain. By the time I was finished, the rain again stopped. About a mile up the bikeway, we asked for directions to a hotel from the owner of the cafe that was located next to the bikeway. He did not speak English, but a young couple on bikes helped translate that he knew of one in Chambly, not quite sure where. So we rode on. At the end of the bikeway, in front the lock, we were stopped waiting for boats to go through the locks; the same young couple rode up to us, and asked a fellow biker for directions to the hotel for us. We meet so many great fellow bikers!!! With many thanks to all, we turned around and headed for the Motel which was only a block away from the canal. As we were putting Clyde in the garage for the night it started to really rain again. As I sit in the hotel room, I can't help to reflect back on the great ride we had today, even with a flat.