August 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm #788549
So, it’s down to the wire and I’m pretty sure I’m Routing thru Upstate New York and attacking NYC from the North, down the Hudson. There was just no good way to get from DC to NYC. Maybe next year. Details-Itinerary to follow.
August 11, 2012 at 8:11 am #789693
(The only thing that’d keep me from the following is a nasty ‘meatball-carpentry’ “accident” where I gouged my left-thumb, at the knuckle, with a phillips-head drill-bit, that I was unfortunately bearing down on with the full force of my right hand. Asinine.)
Leaving Monday, Aug 20th. Should make it to either Pepin (Lake Pepin Campground) or Fountain City Perrot State Park), WI, depending on how late I get out of town.
Tue 21st: Wilton, Wi (Tunnel Trail Campground) near Sparta. This’ll be my 3rd year here. They have a camp store with plenty of candy-bars. They gave me a beer.
Wed 22nd: Lake Mills, WI, (Sandhill Station State Campground, primitive), “secret” shower on Glacial Drumlins Trail.
Thu 23rd: Zion, IL (Illinois Beach State Park), closed last year because of straight-line wind damage. Open now? (I’ll find out, I guess).
Fri 24th: Thru Chi to Hobart, IN (visit Aunt & Uncle).
Sat 25th: Rest Day? Visiting, drinking water, eating food. And beer.
Sun 26th: Kendallville, IN (Bixler Lake Campground: municipal) 3rd year here, too. A friendly place– got stung by bees here last year.
Mon 27th: Bowling Green, OH (Fire Lake Camper Park) The Dude gave me a good rate two years ago, the Chick not such a good rate last year. They don’t get many Bicycles thru here…
Tue 28th: Somewhere this side of Cleveland (NOT the Wahoo Campground!!!). Last year it was at some Bar on the Lake where they really had no Camping Policy tho they were allegedly a campground. I think I ate left-overs and stuff out of a can, but I had some beers at the Bar so it wasn’t a total loss.
Wed 29th: Somewhere the OTHER side of Cleveland. (I’m edging into unknown territory here, usually dropping down to East-Central Ohio after passing thru Cleveland to Ride across Pennsylvania on the Signed State Bicycle Route that runs parallel to I-80, Route V).
Thu 30th: Hopefully I’ll make it to the Canalway Trail that goes from Lockport, NY to Albany, NY. by the 30th.
Fri 31st-Sun Sep 2nd: 300-odd miles to Albany, NY.
When I make Albany I’ll head South down the Hudson to NYC (there are many confusing blurbs on the Internet about this Hudson “Route”. It’ll doubtless be fun to sort them out, both in advance as well as in person.)
Mon 3rd & Tue 4th: 150-odd miles, depending on which side of the River I travel down and how much monkey-business I have to wade thru. (To say nothing of the increased traffic-congestion the closer I get to New York.)
It’s 700-miles from Cleveland to NYC via these combined Routes (using the ACA Route thru Lockport), putting me into NYC on roughly the 4th of Sep, but we’ll see. I got (distant) kin in Syracuse, and a friend of the Misses in Utica. This segment is strictly ad hoc, off the cuff, by the seat of the pants, etc.
And I’ll need to make my HI-Hostel Reservation and my AMTRAK Reservation before I leave, probably for the 4th-7th for Hostel & 8th/9th for the Train Trip home.
Did I forget anything?August 16, 2012 at 5:38 am #789694
Oops! It should read ‘Merrick’ State Park near Fountain City, WI…August 16, 2012 at 5:44 am #789695
Oh, and I signed-up to ‘warmshowers.org’ to maybe bail me out of the Cleveland-conundrum, though I see there aren’t very many members in the Cleveland area.
Guess it’ll be another Adventure in or around the ‘Heart of Rock n Roll’…September 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm #789696
It appears you’re back? I’ve enjoyed your accounts of other tours, would love to hear about this one too.September 26, 2012 at 5:21 am #789697
The Internet (or at least MY Internet) is down, and being as dumb as a bag of hammers when it comes to technology, I’m leaching off of someone in my neighborhood who has unprotected WiFi. (I think I know who it is, and I’m thankful that they’re providing me with this opportunity– I just hope I can write something that goes across the great chasm that both my fans will like…)
So, yeah, I’m back from my 3rd Annual MSP-NYC Bike Tour.
I Routed through familiar territory as far as Cleveland; across mapped territory (which I had brought the map along for) from Cleveland to Orchard Park, just outside of Buffalo, New York; vaguely known territory (the existence of which was promised by friends and the interweb) from Lockport, outside of Buffalo, to Albany, New York, largely along the Erie Canal; and on treacherous, unknown, often scary in it’s inhospitability-towards-Bicycles, or just generally rural flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants Routing, from Albany, along the Hudson, down towards NYC.
It only rained on me twice and it was a bit cool for my 53-year-old circulatory-system.
I camped every night save the last (as there was no Campground to be had in Hudson, New York and all indicators said that [heavy] rain was in the offing [which didn't materialize]). Come to think of it I also slept on my Aunt and Uncle’s couch in Hobart, IN, as I have every year, on my only Rest Day of the Tour, about a third into it.
I completed the Trek in 16-days, a distance of over 2,600-kilometers (I added it up but can’t seem to find the piece of paper I wrote it down on– I’ll add it again as I briefly recount my adventures and misadventures along the way). Riding about a hundred-sixty kilometers (100-miles to you) a day is something I struggled with in the beginning, but it seemed ‘natural’ by the end of the journey. I didn’t (and don’t) stop for site-seeing much– people say I miss the sites, that all I do is Ride, and how can that be any fun? But I see many things, and I regularly stop to curse my maps, or fill my water-bottles, or empty my bladder, or eat, or talk to strangers…
I had NO flat-tires or mechanical problems this time (in fact I’ve had only one flat in two-years– over 20,000-kilometers).
So when I have ‘real’ Internet and I can type with reckless abandon and know that it won’t get erased, I’ll regurgitate the cud of my Tour and chew it over, here, for all to share. (Plus I’m remiss in my earlier recounting of my spectacular European Tour, and my RAGBRAI odyssey.) And there’s always next year to dream on and toss feelers out to see if anyone feels like challenging themselves to tag along for the 4th MSP-NYC, a European jaunt, RAGBRAI (if it doesn’t start or end too far away) or perhaps an as yet to be realized Tour somewhere else?September 26, 2012 at 11:59 am #789698
100 miles a day for 16 days straight.
Dayum!September 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm #789699
Depending on timing and ticket prices, I’d be interested in a Euro tour next fall. Are those century-a-day affairs like your domestic tours?December 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm #789700
Well, I have Internet, kinda, at home now, so the only excuse I really have now is my wind-up computer from the previous Century and how S L O W it is, or how it doesn’t work sometimes because the furschlugginner thing is so ancient. But I’m nursing my sick Dog who needs eyedrops every half-hour for 24-hours, so I’m a captive to this couch and should really make a stab at this because it’s so LONG overdue.
Typing it in on my iphone is challenging, but I got time…December 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm #789701
I left as planned, on Aug 20th, but as usual I couldn’t get out of town until late: 10:57. Weighing the Bike, Gear and 4-full water-bottles, it topped-out at 109 pounds (what’s that? like 55-kilos? 54?). Try as I might I can’t seem to winnow it down further, although there’s always a bunch of food/energy bars-n-gels in there that gradually get consumed.
Normally I head South thru Hastings, but this time I went thru Prescott and then down WI 35. I rode until 9:00 PM, eating dinner in Fountain City where all restaurants had stopped serving everything except deep-fried crap. Fries and Fish. Camped in Merrick State Park.
182.40K/17.8kph 60.4-max-speed (all that weight moving downhill in the Mississippi River Valley) 10:11:44 moving on-the-Bike. Groc(eries) $9.98; Dinner $14.12; Camp $12. Train-horns 30-meters away every 20-minutes or so, didn’t hear any after the first two.December 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm #789702
Got out late, again– it’s my M.O. Stayed in bag extra 1/2 hour cause it was COLD in the A.M. Ate as I struck and packed– groceries I’d bought at Kwik Trip gas-station the nite before. Left at 11:03.
Didn’t find a place to buy a Trail Pass until a gas station in Trempealeau where the clerk put the previous days date on it– it’s what I get for not paying attention (but I encountered no problems all day). From Fountain City to the start of the Mississippi River Trail (not far) was the only tar I Rode on all day, the rest was crushed gravel, which is a lot slower to travel on.
Was tired all day, at one point snoozing in the sun on the grass at the side of the Trail. Ate some donuts in LaCrosse at the Kwik Trip. Rode thru the Tunnels on the string of Trails that head East from Wisconsin– good lights pay off again. Took some Instagram pics.
Rode to Tunnel Trail Campground getting in after dark. Restaurant where I’ve eaten before was closed for the evening. The nice folks at Tunnel Trail, who pretty much know me by now, gave me a beer to have with the microwave pizza, candy, soda & ice-cream I bought and inhaled– they’re great every year.
138.44K/17.3kph 07:58:25 on the Bike over 9 3/4 hours. Donuts: $1.00; Camp & convenience-store Dinner: $25.04; Trail Pass $4.00.December 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm #789703
Out at 9:48, “early”, after buying another Trail-Pass. FINALLY put on some sunscreen. Rode to Reedsburg where the off-road Trail ends and ate second-breakfast, Gas-Station Gourmet, before jumping back onto pavement. Some steep hills after the relative flat of gentle Rail-Trail grades. Crossing the August Derleth Bridge in Sauk City and start the attack on Madison after the lonely Bike Bridge that’s connected to nothing as it crosses Hwy 12.
Along the paved Bike Path leading into Madison a Rider who’d passed coming at me 15-minutes previous pulled up along side and we got to talking about Touring, after offering a place to stay, which I declined as I was still on schedule, he offered to guide me thru the cluster-fuck of Madtown, which I gratefully accepted. He Rode with me 3-quarters of the way thru, longer than he’d intended, and I got lost soon after he turned around and headed for home. Using my iphone for BikeNav, my GPS, and the help of strangers including some remarkably unhelpful cops, I muddled thru The Eastern end of Madison– it’s always more difficult in the dark.
On the edge of town I had a singularly unfilling ‘meal’ at a Culvers where I loaded-up on corn-syrup at the self-serve soda-fountain before heading into the countryside searching out the Glacial Drumlins State Trail that would take me to Lake Mills and the primitive campground (with the ‘secret’ shower). Encountered road-construction Detour, which my GPS was key to getting around, tho some ‘hidden’ street signs had me worried for a spell. Finally made the Trail Head and plunged into utter darkness, lit by my great light-set and the light of the Moon as I recall.
Started to wonder how I’d get my ‘end-of-the-road beers’ when a tiny town loomed up out of the night, it’s two roads crossing the Trail at an angle. I stopped into a Bar where some tatted-up, drunken youngsters were playing Pool and talking smack. “I like your outfit, man.” Got 2-cold bottles of New Glarus Spotted Cow and pedaled back into the night.
Made the ‘secret’ Shower (for Trail Users) in Lake Mills at 11:04. After getting bit by a million Mosquitos as I drank and pitched, I was in my tent eating almond M&Ms as fast as I could chew at 12:12. No change for the ‘Honor Box’ campground payment system (and no flashlight to see the pencil or envelope) so that part of my day’d wait for morning.
191.86K/16.9kph 62.6kph-max; 11:18:49 on the Bike in 13 1/4 hrs on the Road; Groc $8.78, Trail Pass $4.00, Dinner $8.22, Camp $14.00, Beers (including tip, being so thankful for the karma) $6.00+1.00.December 15, 2012 at 7:38 pm #789704
Thursday August 23rd
Awoke to the pitter-pat sound of rain on my tent-fly, rolled-over and slept another quarter of an hour or so, not wanting to Ride (or strike) in the rain. Fitfully worrying about how much time it’d take me to Ride to Zion, IL. (I’d checked the weather before crashing the previous night and there’d been only a 20% chance of rain. Checking it again my device indicated rain, mainly before 10:00.)I decided to get up and get moving anyway: Ha Ha– the joke was on me! It was only the sound of the wind krinkling the material of the fly on my new tent! It wasn’t raining at all!
Visited the lovely ‘primitive’ toilet, struck, ate, packed and broke camp– out at 9:54, Rode the couple of kilometers to the (Glacial Drumlins State) Trail where I paid for camping and bought another Trail Pass. Pretty strong Southerly Crosswind. Heading towards Milwaukee the crosswind seemed formidable, but when I inevitably turned into it at the Root River Parkway, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d steeled myself for.
Talked to an old-timer, Tyrone, who’d done a 140-mile Bike-Ride in the 70′s, and gave him what encouragement I could– he was very interested in Touring. Stopped at a seemingly deserted Fire-House and bought a Mountain Dew from their soda-machine next to the big, gleaming Fire-Truck. Ate at a McDonalds in the no-mans-land near I-94. Crapped against a tree in a wayward rest-area along US 32 (those receipts come in handy, again!) Ate at another McDonalds and repeatedly/continually filled my bottles and drank massive quantities of sugary, caffeinated soda.
Asked some generally helpful but largely un-informed cops if WI-32 turned into IL-137 at the Border. (It did.) They weren’t sure. Crossed into Illinois in the dark, traveling sometimes on a nice, wide shoulder, other times in the travel-lane due to the complete lack of shoulder. When I hit Zion, I crammed my already bursting panniers with a giant ‘Mississippi Mud’ Beer and a Gyro sandwich with fries, and went to look for the Illinois Beach Campground, that I’d called earlier to inquire on availability and hours the Ranger Station was open.
The large old couple running the check-in booth, a tiny affair on the edge of darkness, asked if I wanted to pitch in the drinking campground or the non-drinking campground (!), and they gave me a spot right near the showers/toilets. I pitched, while eating and drinking, then hustled across the road for a long warm to almost hot shower.
169.66 kilometers, 17.5 KPH at 09:41:19 moving on the Bike over about 11-hours.
CrackDonalds: $5.82; Trail Pass $4; Fire-House soda .50; Beer $3.99; Gyro Basket $6.79; Camping (Illinoi$!) $25.00! (Though I’m still glad they’re there– they were closed for all of 2011 because of a Spring Wind-Storm that destroyed the place, and being that Illinois is broke it was questionable whether they’d reopen at all…)April 23, 2013 at 6:47 am #845032
Oh my! Look at the time! I must’ve dozed off! It’s almost time for the 4th Annual MSP-NYC Tour! I better crank-out last year’s Ride, especially the “O Henry ending”!
Up at an almost reasonable time, ready to go when I cannot find my Bicycle-Computer. Search EVERYWHERE! All pockets, bags, hidden-pockets on handle-bar bags. Twice. Get the bright idea to un-pack panniers. No luck. Un-roll sleeping-bag, look in stuff-sack– did I deliriously caress my computer in the dark as I fell asleep like a tree hitting the forest-floor? (Making almost no sound?) Un-pack tent– it won’t be in here, it’s just “lost”… I’ll have to estimate my kilometerage until I can find a Bike-store on this hectic Friday mash through Chicago. (It’s in the ‘bed-side’ pocket of the tent.) Repack EVERYTHING, cursing, and FINALLY get going.
Ride down the Robert McClory Bike-Path– amazingly intuitive and straightforward in parts and convoluted, confounding, infuriating and provincially-pedestrian in others. Got “lost” in a 50′s Housing-Development and asked for directions out of the cul-de-sacs: got pointed in the right direction by tag-team husband/wife sparring-partners who each had a better way (that was essentially the same set of directions).
Stop in Lake Forest for snacks at the Jewel Grocery Store. Joghurt. A peach. Some grapes (that will eventually ferment in the rack-trunk and grudgingly get partially-eaten by the cheapskate in me and the rest thrown-out by the hypochondriac in me who’s trying to avoid getting the ‘Mississippi-Quick-Step’ on Tour).
I always get bollucksed-up going into Chicago. Maps; GPS; Bike-Route signage; on-lane markings– trying to move East towards the Lake, away from where the McClory-Trail wants me to go seems ‘natural’, but it’s ‘white-knuckle’ every time, and while I follow a combination of options this time, as I do every time, I get there eventually, cursing cars and trucks and their propriety to break every law they can to incrementally move along, only grudgingly accepting the pace I’m grinding out.
Skirting the City as always, traveling South along Lake Michigan, I stop near Soldier Field by the drinking-fountain (and discrete bushes) that I stop at every year to “relax” and steel myself for the South Side, and beyond.
Moving thru a largely desolate neighborhood that leads uneventfully to a Draw-Bridge, which for once is going up for a meandering container-ship I strike-up a conversation with a Pedestrian, tooting my own horn as I am want to do more out of encouragement than braggadocio, and I learn that back in the 80′s she was a Bicycle-Tourist! We chat as we wait for the ship to pass and the Bridge to go back down– I tell her the world is still her oyster before we part.
Going under the Skyway and traveling South and East I cross over into Indiana and get on the both comforting and annoying Erie Lackawanna Rail Trail. Comforting because it’s away from motor-traffic and annoying because it cuts diagonally across a grid-system of roadways AND because it STILL isn’t finished in parts where signage and existing roadway leave you to throw caution to the winds, pray to your pagan gods, and plunge ahead. It turns out to be ‘almost’ complete, and there’s only a wee bit of inconvenience to gain access to the actual Trail, until…
There’s a freight sitting on the crossing I need to avoid late-Friday nite motor-traffic on the overpass (of both the RR & the as-yet unfinished Bike Trail). I ask some motorists if there’s a way around the idling Freight after waiting a quarter-hour, with my light dwindling the well-meaning motorists guide me to the overpass I wanted to avoid. Not wanting to appear ungrateful I dutifully follow their slow-moving car (pretty sweet, if you think about it) and cross the railroad traffic-jam, continuing Southeast to the Oak Savannah Trail.
This is a pretty nice Trail that I’ve actually traversed in daylight, just not on the MSP-NYC Tour, as it’s always night-time when I finally get to it. It moves through some varied terrain: bombed-out and steel-barred Southern edges of Gary, Indiana, firefly-infested swampland that’s pitch-dark, and sleepy rural suburbs of small-town Indiana.
I finally get to Hobart, where my Aunt and Uncle live and troll around town, quizzing a local on where to buy some good beer before stopping at a Bar on the 3-block long “strip” to toss back a couple cold-ones and breathe some second-hand smoke (Indiana!). A stop at the DQ for a pint of soft-serve (Go Brickies! [the High School Football nickname] from the old-days when this area fired bricks), so I’m not showing up empty-handed. And then I’m welcomed open-armed, fed, watered, beered, and shown to a comfortable couch.
152.48K/17.4kph 8:43:48 rolling-time– 10-hours on-the-Bike
. $16.63 on groceries, $4 on Beer, $3.72 on ice-cream.April 23, 2013 at 6:58 am #845033
Hey, it’s a Rest Day. Visiting. Eating. Drinking. Running errands with the Aunt & Uncle (it’s Saturday!). Visiting some more. They won’t let me pay for anything, ever, even tho I’m not a kid by any stretch, but I manage to get another quart of soft-serve (Go Brickies!)
Ice-Cream: $3.94 (maybe there was ‘krunch-kote’ involved…)April 23, 2013 at 8:02 am #845034
As I’m behind the 8-Ball, I’ll try to whiz thru some days until there’s something exciting or unusual to report, or when I diverge from S.O.P. Anyhow, I got out relatively early for me, both because it was Sunday and time to go to church and because it was Sunday and my Uncle Rode part-way with me to avoid going to church. He Rode with me as far as US-6 where I then headed East, spending the rest of the day on this Road.
My string of dry-days was at an end as storm-clouds loomed and soon I was Riding along in a regular deluge– I got soaked, but it tapered-off after an hour and in another hour I was dry.
I stopped in the same 4-corner crossroads-”town” where in 2010 someone put a sack of jellybeans on my table (at a Burger-King while I was in the can) that had a hand-written color-guide for what each jelly-bean represented: Red for jesus’ blood, Black for jesus’ sin, etc. This time I ate at the McDonald’s (having sworn-off my 12-year boycott of same last Summer in France when that was the only place I could get [limited] Internet-Connectivity– don’t ask, it’s a long story). They had an all-you-can drink soda-fountain as most of their ilk now do, which I took full advantage-of getting pepped-up on sugar (probably corn-squeezins’) and caffeine, to wash down value-menu offerings– they probably broke-even on my pit-stop.
Had a nice Tailwind after the rain, but my smartyphone-fidgeting at Crackdonald’s told me a BIGGER storm was going to hit, so I again headed East to a favorite spot, the City Campground in Kendallville, IN. Stopped again for a couple Bean Burritos at a Taco Hell (you can see there’s nothing but the best for my digestive-tract on Tour), and when I finally gained Kendallville I hit the Supermarket, (no Beer Sales on Sunday), also went to Crackdonalds AGAIN (to-go) and hit a Bar on the main-drag for two frosty-mugs of Beer before finding my way to the out-of-the-way Campground.
I pitched, showered, tried to pay (deserted and no-one answering the phone-number to call), ate as many calories as I could squeeze-in, talked to another camper there with her young daughter (she made a point of saying her husband would be joining them later– I inadvertently paid five-bucks of her camp-fee in the morning due to a stupid math-error on my part plus the fact that neither of us had exact-change for the still-absent campground-master). Then I retired to my tent to wait for the still-promised storm.
The storm didn’t disappoint, yet my new tent leaked little and I slept thru most of it.
184.40K/20.1kph 09:09:25 Riding-Time with 10-hours for the trip. Grocery: $16.41, McD: $3.63 & $2.02, Taco Hell $1.27, Beer $5.00, Camp $15+addl 5-clams due to excess calories).
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