Thursday, August 26, 2010

Squid on Wheels: Erie Canal Adventure Days 9 and 10

Little Falls to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Albany

As we were warned when we left Senaca Falls, there were far more hills on the eastern end of our journey than on the western side. From the time we left the canal in Clyde, we had ridden more and more on roads and less and less on trail. The roads , while paralleling the canal do not keep the even level imposed on the tow paths. For the most part, the hills are not horrible, and, for some one not toting an addition 20 pounds or so of stuff, might even be enjoyable.

Leaving Little Falls was fairly straight forward though we did make one unnecessary circle getting to the trail, adding all of half a mile or so to the day.By this point in the trip we had established pretty set patterns to our trek. Mike and Squidette took the lead and Little Squid and I trailed behind. Periodically I would get Little Squid singing which worked to quicken his pace -- otherwise he tended to get lost in his thoughts as he looked around and when that happened, he slowed down quite a bit. Since I do the same thing, I really only nudged him forward when I could no longer see Mike and Squidette up ahead. That said, he and I had a great time working our way through a variety of Broadway musicals. West Side Story, by the way, does not really lend itself to quick cycling.Every 5 miles or so, Mike would pull over and wait for us to catch up and we would make a quick assessment of people's needs regarding food, water and bladder status. Stops occurred at other times as well, usually surrounding the last item in that list. We noticed that on the western end of the Canal, there were porta-potties at almost every lock. That was sadly not true for the eastern end and we found ourselves having to go away from the trail to find relief.

The ride to Fultonville, our lunch stop, was uneventful. The journey from Fultonville to Amsterdam, almost so.As we approached Fort Hunter, the trail changed from asphalt (a lovely relief from the stone dust of previous days) to concrete as we crossed an old railroad bridge. I was pondering the change in pavement when I caught up to Mike, who was talking with a couple of riders heading in the opposite direction. One was heading to Buffalo and planning on doing it in 2 days. As it was after 2 when we met him, and we were barely 50 miles out of Albany, I seriously wonder if he was able to make it. The other, was a local who taught us a bit about the area. The bridge we were on was apparently (as I had assumed) an old railroad bridge. The reason it was covered in concrete was because in 1987 a bridge on the NYS thruway had collapsed and this old railroad bridge had been quickly repaved in order to accommodate the necessary detour. Just north of this bridge were the remains of an aqueduct that had carried the Erie Canal over Schoarie Crossing. The aqueduct was still largely intact and was holding up far better than the doomed, modern, bridge.From the bridge, we detoured a few miles to historic Fort Hunter where, after making several wrong turns, we learned more about the canal and got a look at more remains of the old canal.Finishing with the fort, hot and tired, we wearily pedaled into Amsterdam, a town that has seen far better days but which boasts a fantastic Indian restaurant in the hotel we stayed in (the only lodging in town). Here, my brother Mike and his s.o., Maria, joined us for a lovely dinner (which stood up favorably to some of the best Indian food that we've ever had) . Sleep came fairly quickly, to be rudely interrupted by some college kids (an assumption regarding age based on behavior) being very loud and banging doors and basically acting like kids, at 2 a.m. I was very tempted to get my revenge the next morning as we packed up at 7 a.m., but restrained myself in consideration of any other guests.
The last day found us mostly on paved trail, some of which was absolutely delightful to ride. As we rode the last miles into Albany we experienced rolling hills that were actually fun to ride. They reminded me why we were doing this and revived my joy in riding despite my sleep deprived and sore state at that point.

We rolled into Albany around 3:00 and immediately headed to the Amtrak station in Rennsaeler where we traded our tickets for the next day in for tickets for the next train out.

By 4:00 we were safely seated and heading for home.

420 miles over 9 days of riding.
We traversed New York state at its widest point, saw some beautiful scenery and some, sadly run down towns. We met great people and had lots of satisfying meals. No one got sick, injuries were limited to some minor scrapes and we had practically no mechanical problems.

Will we do this again? Maybe. The major drawback with this kind of trip is that every night is in a different place. The pressure to get from one place to the next and to ride a minimum number of miles each day was a little wearing. I, personally, never got to ride at my own pace. I was always either bringing up the rear, with the tired or slower child of the moment, or racing to catch up to the three of them when sudden energy spurts hit Little Squid.

Overall, I had a great time and really feel a sense of accomplishment. I want to do something similar next year.


Anonymous said...

Wow! That was quite a vacation.

Glad everyone was well and you are now home safe and sound.

Penny said...

What an amazing and inspiring adventure!

I need to get more on the bike, and see if Sir E would be game for a mini version of this it sounds to be lots of fun.

Sarah said...

What a great adventure and now so many great memories! Can't wait to see what you do next year!

Together We Save said...

Wow - that is alot of riding!!