Monday, November 29, 2010

Soon to end

We had a great 450 mile bike ride this past summer. Kate has pretty much recovered from her very serious accident. Thank goodness for her helmet. And her accident was a lesson for a couple of hundred students in her school district. She may have saved, not only her own life, but with the publicity, many more lives.
As great as it was, this Blog will come down, on or about, December 15th.
We had a GREAT time and it was a great lesson.
Sooo, if you have any further interest in this blog, download, print or whatever by Dec 15th when it shall disappear from public view.
Best wishes, as always,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Final Thoughts

Hey, this is Kate and I have shoved Roger out of his comforable chair to take over for the final blog entry. I just wanted to let everyone know what an incredible journey this summer trip has been. Our trek across New York State from Buffalo to Albany provided us with the opportunities to discover wonderful scenic towns, interesting fun people, and history along the Erie Canal. I will convey much of what I learned this summer to my sixth grade students . Perhaps the most valuable lessons I can share with my students came through my bike accident. The importance of wearing a helmet when biking can never be stressed enough. Equally important, I hope my students recognize the value of completing a task, no matter the obstacles. That is why it was so important for me to drive 3 and a half hours to bike that last 8 miles today.

Thanks to everyone that has shared our adventures with us. I would personally like to thank Roger for being my guide,

Oh and mom, for the record, I have no intention of ever taking up "knitting" instead of biking, no matter the consequences !!!!!!!!!!

Kate thanks Colleen Greene

After completion of our bike ride we backtracked to Hefferen's Tavern in Green Island so Kate could reconnect with one her new BFF's from her accident, Colleen Greene. Immediately after Kate's accident we were looking for ice for her rapidly swelling eye. Colleen provided that and so much more! Her caring, concern and willingness to help a total stranger was above and beyond. So Kate wanted to thank her one more time and update her on her progress. Thanks again Colleen.

We reached the finish line today!

Today we both completed the remaining few miles of our 400+ mile bike ride feeling a sense of accomplishment, but also a sadness that a wonderful adventure has come to an end. It was nice to have Kate along this time, and I didn't have to pick her up at an Emergency Room at the end of today's ride. :-)

Our Erie Canal trek is tehcnically over but we have a few loose ends to follow up on in this Blog so don't stop reading quite yet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Finishing the Erie Canal bike trail

Kate continues to heal from her crash. She is actually happy that the colors of the day are purple and yellow. (Of her bruises) Apparently that means they are healing and she is feeling better daily.
She vowed to finish the entire 400+ mile route and she shall! We have scheduled Saturday, September 25th to ride that final few miles into the Corning Preserve in Albany. That will complete our trip from Buffalo to Albany along the Erie Canal trail.
We don't actually expect anyone there to actually wave the checkered flag, but it is great symbol for her finishing the trip, despite her temporary setback and injuries.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kate's condition + helmet safety

Nearly one week after her accident, Kate texted me about her injuries. "Still very black, blue, green, yellow, purple and sore." But she greeted her 6th grade class, and others (since she was the talk of the school), with all of her visible injuries and her dented helmet. Many of her students are no longer arguing with their parents about having to wear their bike helmets.
We downloaded this picture from the Internet for those of you who may have wondered about the right way to wear a helmet. Had Kate not been wearing her helmet properly, thereby exposing her left temple area to the blunt inpact of the roadway, I think that crash would have been much more severe, if not fatal. So wear a helmet; and wear it correctly!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The aftermath of the crash

Kate texted me today that, "The colors for the day are green and yellow." She was referring to the bruises to her face. :-) But she also texted that she was moving much better as well. I have no doubt that she will greet her 6th graders on the 7th no matter what.

While Kate will heal, the Kodak camera to the right will not. It was also a casualty in a seperate incident last Thursday. While the camera shell was recovered, the chip with all of the photos from our 400 mile trip was not. So this blog and its pics are the only record of our 390 mile trip. A new camera has been ordered. Durability was a big factor in our selection of a new camera!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kate's bike helmet

We didn't get a chance to examine Kate's bike helmet until today. The left side of it clearly had impact marks at the temple area. Had she NOT been wearing her helmet, and wearing it correctly, she would surely have been injured worse. I watched the accident and I can tell you that it took only about a second for that bike to flip and go down. So please spread the word that helmets are well worth wearing even on a casual bike ride.

Kate was able to go home today. Had she not been wearing that helmet .......? She will spend the next couple of weeks healing up. Then she'll 'll be back do do that LAST 10 miles. She doesn't leave anything unfinished!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not the end, Yet! - Part 2 - Thank you

After the crash, and after she stopped seeing stars, she collected herself and insisted upon trying to ride again. But we knew she needed some degree of medical attention. We rode about three blocks on into the the Village of Green Island. We passed a hand written sign that said, "It's hot outside, but our drinks are cold inside." To me, that said that they probably had ice inside for the swelling of her cheek and jaw, as well as having some of her favorite painkilling liquids available.
Inside T. J. Heffern's Tavern we met Colleen Greene who was absolutely wonderful! She provided ice packs to Kate and even drove to her home to bring back antibiotic ointment for Kate's "road rash" injuries. She referred us to a fire station and paramedics down the road. And thanks to them for evaluating Kate's injuries and giving us directions to the hospital in Troy. And Kudos to Kate for realizing she couldn't finish the ride, yet making it up the hill to "walk" into the emergency room!
And, the ER folks at Samaritan Hospital were great from beginning to end. So, Colleen, Brian, Heather and Terry are all Kate's new BFF's.
Kate is very sore and bruised, but very appreciative of all the help she received from those former strangers who were so willing to help her in a time of need. Thanks to all!

Not the end, yet! - Part 1

Today was supposed to be the final segment of our 400 mile Erie Canal bicycling tour with a party scheduled for the evening to celebrate. All started out well. But with only 10 miles of our summer tour to go, Kate flipped her bike on a hill in Cohoes, tumbling over the handlebars and crashing onto the pavement. With multiple injuries she ended up in the emergency room of Samaritan Hospital in Troy. After a few catscans and x-rays of her head, face, neck and shoulder, nothing was broken but she was badly battered and bruised in those, and even more places. She'll be a while recovering from that nasty crash, but it was stupendous! Leave it to her to go out with a bang!!!!
And, the party had to be re-scheduled, as she has vowed to finish the last segment of the 400 miles, as soon as the doctors will allow her to ride again, which will be a least a couple of weeks from now. We'll keep you posted on her progress.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

33 miles we didn't expect!

We knew that the bike trail was closed coming out of Schenectady. It was advertised as a 4 mile, 1.4 million dollar renovation project that wouldn't be finished until October. Soooooo, I decided to do a reverse segment starting in Colonie, NY. We would travel west toward Schenectady until we encountered the closed trail. I estimated our total day of travel at 7 miles down and 7 miles back. Well, I was a little off! But only by about 20 miles. :-) Turns out the trail was rideable and we made it a very hilly 15 miles into Schenectady. That was good, but then we had to make it another 15 miles back to the truck. It was a much longer day than we had planned, but we were back before dark. So this was our longest travel day at 33 miles and we safely arrived in Colonie, NY. We only have about 20+ miles to go to roll into Albany. But that will have to wait for about 10 days since our lives tend to get in the way of our adventures from time to time. Stay posted f0r the finale!

Amsterdam to Schenectady

After two miles of paved trail out of Amsterdam, we had to hit the dreaded highway 5S. We have gone from stone dust trails to stone dust in the air and on the roadway as we passed stone quarries and stone laden trucks passed us for several miles. But, alas, we finally got back on a paved trail at Rotterdam Junction. There we took some time to relax and wash the stone dust down with a couple of cold ones, while enjoying a view of the Mohawk River. Then it was on to Schenectady. So we's be at roughly 353 miles at this point!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Erie Canal boat tour - Herkimer

After 44 miles of riding our bikes, it was time for a break. So we took a boat tour along the Erie Canal from Herkimer to ....... well, we don't know exactly where we went. But it involved going through the oldest original lock on the improved Erie Canal. The lock was about 100 years old and lowered and raised our boat about 20+ feed. Then we finished our day by biking into Amsterdam, NY. That brings our total mileage to date to about 337, on our way to 400+. In this photo our boat is drag racing with a NY State tugboat. We think our Captain Jerry won that race!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Central NY bicycling

We started in Utica, NY yesterday and arrived in Canajoharie this afternoon. On the way we passed through Herkimer, Ilion, St. Johnbury and got a sub in Fort Plain. Great riding. Our calculations are rough, but we figure we have covered ABOUT 315 miles so far. We're in the Albany segment and looking for the finish line in the next two weeks as time permits. Along the way we have met some gresat people. Here's a photo of young Emil we met along the trail. He's headed from Oswego, NY to Connecticut. Wish him well. He informed us that his name is easy to remember because it is "lime" spelled backward.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Old Erie Canal State Park

Old Erie Canal State Historic Park is a 36 mile linear park that preserves the remains of the historic Enlarged Erie Canal as both an educational and recreational resource. In most places, the park's trail is the old canal's towpath. and that is what we have been riding from East Syracuse to Rome. It is mostly a stone dust trail along that old towpath that so many mules and horses travelled for many, many years in the 1800's. "15 miles on the Erie Canal' is a song school children in New York still learn, since each mule and its handlers did 15 mile shifts on the canal before being relieved of their towing duties. Just thought you'd like to know.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Erie Canal Village - Rome, NY - Part 3

While I am busy tracking history and planning our trek from day-to-day, Kate seems to be on her own agenda. She seems to have an affinity for those quaint little pubs in the canal towns we pass through. She was excited to see Bennets Tavern, expecting more friendly patrons and a pint of their home brew. But, alas, this pub was built in 1835, but currently was not serving a drop of dram in this restored village.

And with that small bit of news, we headed out for Oriskany and ended our trek in Utica for the day, and the week. We're taking a couple of weeks off to deal with our other lives, but we'll be back in Utica soon to continue our fun trek to Albany.

Erie Canal Village - Rome, NY - Part 2

Here they are. The source of silent energy that towed our heavy canal boat along the Erie Canal attached to about 125 feet of rope. Horses could travel faster than mules, but both were limited to a speed limit of 5 miles per hour. If they exceeded that their handlers got a ticket. No radar back then, just a "You travelled too far, too fast" kind of ticket.

Erie canal Village - Rome, NY - Part 2

Here they are! Those silent sources of energy that pull the boat along the towpath attached to about 125 feet of rope. In the 1850's those horses or mules towed heavy boats at about 4 miles an hour. Horses were faster than mules and could actually get speeding tickets if they exceeded 5 miles an hour. No radar, just "You covered the distance in too little time" tickets.

Erie Canal Village - Rome, NY - Part 1

It was back to Rome to do what the Romans DON'T do. And it was another boat trip on the Erie Canal. This time it was in an 1850's era "packet boat" - or passenger boat. It was an interesting 40 minute ride - quiet, smooth and comfortable. It was so quiet because of the power source - no steam, no gas, no noise. Perhaps we should all turn to this mode of power.

Check Part 2 to see this form of silent transportation.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the way to Rome

The directions said to go to Lock 21 and enjoy the persective as we crossed over a VERY narrow bridge over an operating lock. It was a few feet down to the water on one side, and a whole bunch of feet on the other side of this VERY narrow bridge. It wasn't quite an Indiana Jones kinda bridge, but it was narrow.

So when we got to Rome, we did what the Romans would do. We went out for a burger and a couple of beers!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reached Canastota, NY

Today we got east of Syracuse and are now in Canastota, NY with Rome in our sights tomorrow. We toured the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse today and actually walked through a full sized replica of a canal boat. It is actually housed in the last remaining building that was once a weigh station. This is where canal boats would be weighed to determine their tolls based on weight.

The photo to the right was taken at Camillus Landing along the trail roday. It's just a cool old steam tractor.

We're on schedule and it's Albany or Bust! It's just a matter of how much more fun we have along the way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Confusion on the Erie Canal

It was an uneventful day as we traveled about 30 miles from Savannah to Camillus just outside of Syracuse. It was uneventful except for my back being out in the morning, then there were the confusing trail signs in Weedsport that forced us to backtrack in the afternoon. And the day ended with a woman backing into the side of my truck. It was just that kinda day. :-)

But the good news is that we found a sign along the trail that said, "Buffalo - 170 miles." And that's where we started. 170 down and only a little more than that to go to get to Albany.
And the photo here is of a beautiful little park in Port Byron, NY from today.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Your concerns about - The Heat

Thank you to the many friends and colleagues who have expressed concern for our welfare as we bike across New York during the hottest summer on record. Yea, we're "hot."
And it does wear on us on those hot and humid days. As a result, we are not covering the miles we would like to.
But we are still having fun. We are drinking several bottles of water a day, and we are only riding the mileages we are comfortable with.
We were actually "happy" the other day when we had the coolest day of our travels. It only reached 82 that day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tales of the Trail - Good, bad and ugly

As we travel along the Erie Canal bike trail we meet other travelers. As a jounalist, I listen to the tales of their travels. There were the travelers from Pittsburgh who encountered this "Trail Closed" sign in Lockport, NY. With no clear "detour" signs, they headed off as best they could. After miles of being lost, they finally ended up back on the trail via the Canalside Inn in Gasport. They had biked several miles out of their way to cover a mere 6 miles of the trail that was only closed for about a 1/4 mile.

But that is contrasted by other bikers from PA who arrived in Weedsport to spend a week going along the canal trail to Buffalo and back. Their dilemma was about where to park their car in Weedsport where it would be secure for a week. Somehow they ended up talking to the Mayor of Weedsport who arranged for them to have a parking space for the week, without charge. Hail to the Mayor!
We'll keep sharing their stories with you as we keep heading east toward Albany.
Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Glass

Now, when the image of the day is a photo of a beer glass, you just know there has to be a story behind it. And there is.
It begins in the Erie Canal town of Clyde as we continue our bicycle trek across New York. After our first 14 mile segment, it was 1 pm and we were looking for lunch. In our quest for food, we had to wait for a pizza, and there was this littleplace across the street called the Little Barrel. And it served beer; one of our weaknesses.
Well, Kate fell in love with the charm of the small town bar - and the $2.25 price tag for a pint of draft beer. Oh, yea, AND she really liked the the logo on the glass. She offfered to buy one, but the owner would have none of that and just generously gave it to her.
It is now her most prized trophy of this entire trip. It is now apparently incidental to her that we also passed today through the towns of Newark, Lyons, and Savannah, but they don't count as much as her fond memory of her new favorite bar, the Little Barrel in Clyde, NY.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seneca Falls, NY and stranded

The threat of severe thunderstorms kept us grounded today. But we were able to get out and scout along the Cayuga/Seneca Canal, as well as scouting our future routes once the storms let up. In between raindrops we managed to get over to the Women's Rights National Historic Park and tour that national facility and museum. While I'm highly in favor of women's rights, this was "manhater central" in my opinion if you read some of the material. Luckily, Kate and I completely disagreed about the issues. That's okay, it's her right to disagree with me. But then I snapped her picture at the Sculpture Trail along the Canal. You have to guess which one of the women in the photo is Kate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fairport to Newark - Maps 11 & 12

As we continue to bike eastward we continue to see great views, meet great people on the trails, as well as enjoying great wildlife from ducks to deer. We're leaving the Erie Canal trail tomorrow to explore the Cayuga-Seneca Canal side trails. Eventually it will be a 19 mile trail connecting to the Erie Canal. But we're going to go down to Waterloo, NY and explore what they have done so far. Oh, yea. This little critter says, "Hi." We think it might be Bambi's Aunt.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cruising the Erie Canal

While we are choosing to "bike" the Erie Canal this year, we are seeing rental boats "cruising" the Erie Canal. They may have bikes onboard to access services at the various ports and towns, but they just "cruise" between towns, staying tied up in a different port every night. So we're thinking that might be fun for next year. We could rent a boat and just "cruise" the canals, having our various friends and relatives join us for a few days here; and a few days there. Could be GREAT fun! Let us know via e-mail if you might be interested in "cruising" with us for a day or two here and there.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

100 miles down - 300 miles to go!!!

We made it to Fairport, NY today east of Rochester. That put us over the 100 mile mark on our trek to bike the whole 400 miles of the Erie Canal trails. This photo is of the Trail Junction at the Genesee River and denotes the end of the Buffalo Segment of the trail. We're taking a short break to go home and take care of our real world things. But, as we leave Spencerport we want to thank John Lodge, the owner of Friendly Motel, for his hospitality. His motel certainly lived up to its name in the last few days!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brockport, NY - Bambi and Mom

As we biked a leisurely rural stretch of the Erie Canal today, we came across this scenario of a Mother deer and her new baby. The photo was taken across the canal, so we are presenting it as a larger photo than usual. You can still click on it to see it even clearer. We think there is no greater love than the one expressed in this photo.
Times like these are why we love to explore the great outdoors, along the canal, or not.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gasport to Albion along the Erie Canal

This rural, 20 mile stretch of the canal passes through lush farmlands with the crops of corn, etc in full growth. It's New York's heartland. We managed to dodge torrential rains we found out about at the end of our day! So life is good. Perhaps the most interesting encounter along our trek today was built in 1823, and not surprisingly, LEAKS! It's called the Culvert Road and it is the only road that goes UNDER the Erie Canal. It's in Ripley's Believe it or Not, and here is our photo to prove it. We walked through it, both ways, and we can attest to the fact that it leaks; a lot. We were so traumatized by the leaks that we were forced to back to Gasport and eat Beef on Weck and drink beer at the Canalside Inn.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 3 - Part III - Lockport to Gasport, NY

Okay, we started this trip to BIKE the Erie Canal, not to cruise it. But with that 100 degree heat index, we chose NOT to bike the 26 miles we had planned. But, after careful consideration, we decided to complete Map 4 of our guide with a down-and-back, 6 mile ride to Gasport, NY. That would give us 12 miles of riding, even in the heat, and get us 6 miles further along our Erie Canal trek. So we did. As we arrived in Gasport, NY we looked across the canal and saw a building that had two big signs over its front door. They both read BEER and BEER! On a hot day. What were we to do? We stepped in the door and asked if they had beer for weary bikers and were greeted with wonderful hospitality at the Canalside Inn. Turns out the signs actually said BEEF and BEER, but beef wasn't on our minds at the time.
Maybe next week when we return to continue our 400 mile biking tour of the Erie Canal.

Day 3 - Explore Lockport, NY - Part II

So we decided to take the cruise on the Erie Canal. Parked and, just in the two block, downhill walk to the cruise dock, sweat was just dripping off me. We discussed not biking at all when we got back from the cruise. But the cruise was fun, even if very hot with the sun beating down on that top deck. But, we were sharing the experience with all kinds of other interesting people. It was a shared HOT experience. The locks each raised us up about 25 feet. It was an interesting cruise up and back. The photo is of about a 22 foot cruiser entering the lock behind our tour boat. It gives a perspective on how big and high these locks really are.

Day 3 - Explore Lockport, NY - Part I

Stepped out the front door of the motel and a blast furnace hit me in the face. Brutally hot for this northern NY boy! Probably about a 100 or better heat index that day. But went downtown to explore anyway. Lockport is home to Locks 34 and 35 of the Erie Canal. Together they raise and lower boats 50 feet in a very short distance. That's to get up or down from the
Niagara escarpment and up to the level of the Niagara River and Buffalo. Then it would be out to Lake Erie and the west. After learning about the locks and their purpose, we decided we should experience Locks 34 and 35 firsthand on a canal boat cruise.

Tonawanda to Lockport - Hot!!!

Despite the worst heat wave in years, the next day we chose to go through the Tonawanda Gateway and head towards our hotel in Lockport, NY 18 miles to the east. In the beginning it was through shaded parks on shaded trails. But about the last 7 miles we were on open country roadways, with the sun beating down on us. Hot. No, beyond Hot. But we made it in good time a few bottles of water later. Once in lockport, we decided to cool down with an underground boat ride. Yes, underground. It was 96 degrees outside the underground tunnel, but only 55 degrees inside. It was a welcome respite and a fun adventure.

Map 3 - Tonawandas

Thirteen miles into our bike trip we finally arrived at the actual Erie Canal in Tonawanda. There we found a Gateway Harbor" small park explaining that Tonawanda Harbor had been the Gateway to the West in the 1800's. It's all "east" from here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We're on our way!

We started our 400 mile bike ride today with a tour of Buffalo Harbor, the Buffalo River and the Niagara River aboard the Miss Buffalo tour boat. As we pulled out we passed the Chinaman's lighthouse, so named because the top of it looks like a Chinaman's hat. Built in 1833 it still stands today at the entrance to the Buffalo River. After the 2 hour tour we headed out by bike for The Tonawandas and the official start of the Erie Canal.
Stop by for periodic updates as we head east toward Albany throughout the summer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Biking the Erie Canal - and More - 2010

Throughout the summer of 2010 we will be biking along the Erie Canal in NY State. It's at least a 400 mile trek from Buffalo in the west, to Albany in the east. But it's not just about biking the miles. It's about exploring the side canals, the canal boat tours and the side trips along the way.
It's gonna be fun, so I hope you will follow us along the way. Please check in often. You can even subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed. We start July 5th in Buffalo, NY.