Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A chautauqua in Chautaqua

Total distance: 381.5 km

Part 1: Thanks, Bicycle-Repair Man!

Well, we've made it to Erie, Pennsylvania. Last night we camped out in a ridiculous windstorm, and we're having a very lazy day waiting for the headwind to settle down so we can head off again. But first things first.

We stayed in Buffalo overnight on Sunday, after a squeaky crank arm was causing trouble on my bike. At the recommendation of the folks in the hostel we headed to a bike repair shop up the road and got everything tightened and our tyres inflated with real compressed air-pressure on Monday morning, then headed out of town. There's a wonderful thing called the Seaway trail which we're following, that runs along the south shore of Lake Erie, although it can be a bit difficult to follow at times, as it disappears onto footpaths and around train tracks in places.

Eventually we found our way onto an easy-to-follow section of the trail that follows Route 5, a smaller road parallel to Interstate 90, with less traffic. Just perfect. Our path took us through Chautauqua county, a name we had only previously been familiar with as referring to a philosophical/educational discussion, used in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Which is wonderfully appropriate, since this bike trip across the USA is partly inspired by ZMM. Eventually we pulled into the town of Dunkirk for the night, having broken our previous km/day record, by exceeding 80 kms. We can definitely feel ourselves getting fitter and more accustomed to the riding. We've had our fair share of "can we do this?" moments, but I think we're starting to get confident that yes, we can.

Part 2: Yana Sundance Barcelona

That being said, we had one of those gruelling bits a few miles before reaching Dunkirk.  Wonderful as the Seaway Trail is, it has its disadvantages.  While the bits of it that go along the waterfront are extremely pretty, they also leave us fairly exposed to the wind, so we have been buffeted by quite a few powerful cross- and headwinds.  Fun.  Still, it toughens us up pretty quickly, and for the most part, we haven't actually been that tempted to quit.  In fact, this morning was the first time, and that's just because we were stationary in one place for too long, and I (Yana) hadn't had my protein fix.  I'm more itching to go now that that has been taken care of.

Anyway, we have seen some fairly nifty things along the way.  The day before yesterday (I think that makes it Monday...?  It's so hard to keep track when the days of the week are irrelevant), we actually crossed paths with no less than seven deer, although they weren't all together.  We seem to have left most of that pesky Ontario rain behind, so we're no longer riding along looking like waterproof convicts in our bright orange rain gear.  Okay, I'm generalising, as Sundance is actually in red and gray, but I'm orange from head to toe as soon as the wet weather gear comes on.  So now instead of the rain, we get to ride into those quadricep-training headwinds, hooray!

Yesterday, we went through a cute little town named Barcelona, which just tickled us.  Ah, New York.  Speaking of which, we have come away from these last few days with a new appreciation for just how large New York State actually is!  I had expected it to be piddly and small, as a line in Crocodile Dundee II states that you can walk across it in two days.  It took us three days to cycle through it!  Admittedly, we weren't going at an absolutely blazing pace, but still, we were riding, as opposed to walking!  Anyway, we crossed into Pennsylvania yesterday, which has been an interesting change in some ways.  Wonder how long it'll take us to reach Ohio, especially with the way the wind has slowed us down.

Ah yes, the wind. Last night we cruised into Erie, Pennsylvania, and arrived at a campground near the entrance to the Presque Isle State Park, just in time for the rain and wind to start. The campsite office was closed, so we wound up cooking dinner in the camp laundry to shelter from the rain. A helpful fellow who was showering informed us there were 40 mph winds forecast for the night, and so we headed to the tent area of the campground (it's almost exclusively caravans), and crawled into our wonderful little blue tent to wait out the night. There was a LOT of wind, and the occasional concern about tree branches blowing off and falling on us, but we had set up camp in a grove of fairly young, flexible trees, so they bent instead of breaking. In the morning it was still cold and windy, but dry at least. And so we've had breakfast, showered, done laundry, and had lunch while waiting for the weather to improve. With food in our bellies we'll probably just push on regardless and see how far we get in spite of the wind. It's supposed to calm down tonight or tomorrow anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Yes We Can. You guys are inspirational and your descriptions leave me tickled - to steal Yana's phrase. What a contrast. You're riding through quadricep-training headwinds and I'm enjoying the best cuisine in the world ... should I feel guilty :)