Tour du Lac (Part 3)

Posted: July 19, 2013 in Lifestyle
Tags: , ,

Day Six (132.08k) – Webster to Lockport

The morning started out with our first mechanical issue as Kelly’s back tire was flat when we retrieved the bike from the garage, but we fixed it quickly while the others plotted our route for the day and we were off on time heading towards Rochester (and, ultimately, Lockport) to a wonderful fanfare from our hosts.

Getting directions...

Getting directions…

Leaving Webster, our group of three riders (Kelly, Dan and I) linked up with the Erie Canal Trail in nearby Fairport.  Although being very pretty, riding on gravel is not my immediately favorite thing to do on my road bike so I was happy when we got off it in Pittsford it to ride into Rochester.  I’d like to return sometime to do more of the trail, but I’d rather have my mountain bike which would be infinitely better suited for the task.  Anyway, we navigated through some of nice, green neighborhoods of East Rochester to East Str., and then headed towards the downtown.  After picking our way through the intersections and commuter traffic (not to mention past the small group riding ahead of us who had the misfortune of suffering a flat), we turned left on Lyell Ave. and rode straight into the ghetto.

Double checking those directions...

Double checking those directions…

Obviously, the least scenic of the entire week long route, we didn’t even want to stop at traffic lights lest we should have our bikes jacked to sell for crack money.  We hustled as best we could, careful to avoid the potholes and broken syringes to make our way back out to the ‘New York State Bicycle Route 5’ along Spencerport Rd. which, as it turned out, was very busy with the afternoon traffic.  I didn’t care much for sucking the exhaust from all the passing dump trucks and pitched my case to our navigator (Dan, ‘the Man with the Plan’).  Eventually, after stopping at another Tim Horton’s in Brockport for lunch, the decision was made to alter our route a bit to rejoin the ‘Bicycle Route 5’ to the south and along West Ave. and Holley Rd.  After a few hours of traveling along busy roadways, this turned out to be a great detour, as a barn with a huge happy face painted on its roof greeted us almost immediately.  What a great omen.  We were happy.

Tour du Lac Trip 209

Tour du Lac Trip 210

We carried on through lots more of those little Podunk towns like Holley, Albion, Medina, and Middleport (formerly known as ‘Tea-Pot Hollow’), which, if you had blinked you would have passed right through them without knowing.  Most of these towns were established in the early 1800’s as small shipping villages along the Erie Canal.  Thankfully, the Telegraph Rd., which we were now following almost exclusively, was not so busy and the riding was less stressful and we were able to talk more as well as enjoy the sites and even stop to read some of the historical plaques posted at the sides of the road (well, I did anyway).

Another good omen for the day.

Another good omen for the day.

It was also during this stretch that we also discovered a nearly untouched case of Chocolate and Vanilla Clif gel packets in the back of the SAG wagon.  What a score! For the past five days, we had been, primarily, existing on Shot Blocs and little Clif bars so that I was sure I’d be shitting chocolate chips for another week.  You could say that if I ever see another Clif bar it will be too fucking soon.  So these little gels were a welcome gift from God.  Typically, I’m not a big gel guy, but these things tasted exactly like chocolate and vanilla pudding.  I’m surprised Bill Cosby hasn’t decided to hock these things.  They were delicious.

Tour du Lac Trip 214

Barn along the Telegraph Rd.

We carried on for another hour or so, riding slowly but steadily through Gasport and onward into Lockport where we stayed at the Days Inn, or Best Western, or whatever the hell it was they changed it to while we were there.  We showered and changed quickly as we were overdue at an organized BBQ put on by another local Rotarian group at a local park.  Perfect.  We put away pulled pork sandwiches, pasta salad and a literal mountain of baked beans.

Barn in Tonawanda, NY.

Barn in Tonawanda, NY.

Kelly had successfully completed her second full day of riding and a long day it was: 132.08k, and nearly six and half hours of pedaling.  She was more than pleased with herself as she had now completed nearly 2/3rd’s (approximately 520k) of the entire route, and she was beginning to be greeted by the women we hooked up with as a bit of a hero.  Of course, this also made me pretty proud of her too as it was a real pleasure to see her grown into herself as both a cyclist, as well as an individual who now better knows her own abilities and limitations.  Seeing that fortitude develop was probably my favorite part of the day; only one more to go.

Day Seven (94.97k) – Lockport to St. Catharines

Today was to be our last and shortest day of riding.  We left Lockport and almost immediately rejoined with the Erie Canal Trail which, thankfully, was paved for this section.  We cruised along the canal to North Tonawanda, simply enjoying the day and the remaining hours, and eventually hooked up with the rest of the riders at the Rainbow Bridge to cross back over into Canada.  It was extremely moving to see the mist rising off Niagara Falls in the distance grow nearer and nearer signaling the near end of our trip.

Along the Erie Canal Trail.

Along the Erie Canal Trail.

It was an incredibly moving experience to cross over the bridge and back into Canada as, by this time, together we had covered over 850k’s, washed the nastiness out of our cycling kits no fewer than six times, spent over 37,000 calories (and eaten about the same), and averaged about 133k per day, so we were about ready to wrap up this particular adventure.

Getting closer...

Getting closer…

We cleared customs in no time and proceeded a short way down the Niagara Parkway to Christ Church where we picked up eight other day riders to cycle in with back to St. Catharines.  After a brief meet n’ greet, Kelly and I were anxious to get going to we were the first to leave and continued on down the Parkway for the final 50k stretch home past the Whirlpool Rapids, The Spanish Aero Car, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Sir Adam Beckett Generating Plant, the Floral Clock and Queenston Heights.  I’m sure were both beaming from ear to ear at our accomplishment over the past seven days.  We cycled together through some old time trialing routes of mine through the Lines and Concession Roads of Niagara-on-the-Lake and, after a brief stop at Peller Estates winery we trucked on home to the Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St. Catharines.  Here, as a group, we were formally escorted by a fire truck for the rest of the way back to the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club from whence we started a mere 175.5 hours ago.  Staggering, isn’t it?

Tour du Lac Trip 236Tour du Lac Trip 239Tour du Lac Trip 241Tour du Lac Trip 245

The sheer scope of what we had successfully completed was almost unfathomable at this point, especially for Kelly I suspect.  I have to say, though, my favorite moment of the entire trip occurred right at the very end.  No, it wasn’t riding through the fire hoses in the parking lot; it was getting to see the enormous smile erupt over her face as she hoisted her bike over her head at the end in complete triumph to the cheers and congratulations of family and friends.  That’s my girl!



Seven days and 940k in the making...

Seven days and 940k in the making…

So what’s next?  Well, absolutely nothing…for the next few days anyway.  I’ll inevitably get back into the swing of training and dive back into the pool and maybe even go for a few short runs but, largely, Kelly and I just plan on just being a couch potatoes, catch up on the Tour du France, and enjoy our cats in my favorite comfy chair knowing that the big summer challenge is over.  Heck, perhaps we’ll even start scheming about next year’s adventure together…

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