Day 59: The day we missed the ACA

Day 59, 8/11, Clyde, NY to Verona Beach State Park, NY: 71.4 miles, 2,023 ft elevation gain, 13.6 mph average speed.

Trip Totals: 3,741.9 miles (74.8 mile daily average), 137,602 ft elevation gain, 12.5 overall average speed.

We slept in this morning, in part because we had a relatively short day ahead of us, in part because we like to get our money’s worth when we stay in a motel, and in part because Mark said he’d prefer to take us to breakfast later (the breakfast part of the Erie Mansion B&B is him taking us out to a diner in town).

The first thing on my agenda was to fix my yet-again-flat tour tire. I don’t think I mentioned this in my last post, but the dollar bill I put in my tire in Traverse City lasted a week until it was eaten through right before we made it to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I replaced that one with a combination of duct tape and a new dollar bill, confident that I could get through another week to make it home. Turns out I was wrong. The other dollar bill was eaten through now, so I replaced that along with my tube.

  

Dani packed up our stuff as I was changing my tire, and it was time for breakfast when I finished. Mark drove us the few blocks to the diner in an antique rat rod, and we were disappointed to see that he had a Confederate flag sticker in the back. He didn’t seem the type, but I guess some people surprise you. That also brings New York’s Confederate flag count up to four, challenging Michigan (six) for the title. It’s crazy, but we didn’t see a single one in the six states before Michigan.

  
Anyway, the diner in town is called the Hillbillies Paradise Diner [sic], and we were served breakfast by the seven year old child of the proprietor. Breakfast was typical diner fare, but if I had suggested to Dani before this trip that we go eat at a place called Hillbillies Paradise, she would have laughed in my face.

   
 We were eager to get on the road after breakfast, but our plans were temporarily derailed when we discovered that our jar of salsa exploded in our food bag. Salsa everywhere. Yeesh.

We finally did get started around 10:30. We decided to follow the on-road New York state bike route because we didn’t think massive thunderstorms and flooding would make for pleasant riding on the dirt and crushed stone canal path. We found out later that our fears were justified and that riding on the path after the storm was like “riding through peanut butter,” according to a bike tourist we will meet tomorrow. 

The only problem with following an on-road bike route is that you’re on the road with cars and variable shoulders. So the riding was a lot less relaxing today than it had been the past few days. We rode through Weedsport, and then turned a bit north and bypassed Syracuse. We stopped for lunch at the beginning of Baldwinsville, and ended up eating at Subway because we were hot and sticky and wanted to take a break someplace with air conditioning.

   
   Lunch was fine, but then, only a few miles later, we saw our first Chipotle of the entire trip. We love Chipotle. We were already feeling a bit down and stressed out because the shoulder had been minimal and poorly maintained for a while, but the knowledge that we missed our first opportunity for Chipotle was actually pretty devastating. It seems so ridiculous for something so small to have such a big emotional effect, but it did. At least there was a Wegman’s across the street, so we were able to recover a bit while we shopped for dinner food.

Then came some truly terrible and frightening riding. A few miles of no-shoulder, three-lane, strip mall traffic. Cars buzzing by us at very unsafe distances. We’ve met a few people who are plotting their own route instead of using the ACA maps, and I can’t help but think that’s a terrible decision. Yes the maps are a bit expensive, but comparing our experience today to our time following the maps, I think the peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t be riding on horribly dangerous roads is worth it.

We made it through the scariest section and started the last 30 miles of the day. We were feeling a bit drained and it was later in the day than I would have liked with that much distance left, but luckily we had a great tailwind pushing us along and we were able to average around 16 mph all the way until five miles from our campsite, where my tire went flat AGAIN! Turns out that I was wrong to assume this morning’s flat was the result of the dollar bill failing. There were actually several small metal pin-like things embedded in my tire, and one was poking through the inside wall just enough to puncture the tire. We removed everything we could find, and hopefully NOW it will last until we make it home.

   
   After changing the tire, we hustled to the campsite (with a brief cold drink stop at a convenience store) at Verona Beach State Park on Oneida Lake. It was a lovely campsite, and we saw a magnificent sunset over the lake. Dani made spicy chicken soup for dinner and then we washed up, showered, and hopped into the tent.

   
 Tomorrow we’ll approach century territory again, hopefully for the last time!

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