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Aaaah. Perfection.

Dump the expensive Cytomax, Powerade and nefarious Red Bull from your rehydration regimen.  The best sports drink has been right in front of you since childhood and it is the Slush Puppy. 

Like so many great inventions, the Slurpee was created by accident.  In the late-1950s, Omar Knedlik of Kansas City owned an old Dairy Queen. His machinery was always breaking down.   When his soda fountain went out, he improvised by putting some bottles in the freezer to keep them cold. 

When he popped the soda tops,  the drinks had turned to a syrup slurry.  Folks loved them and started requesting the drinks that were left in the freezer the longest.  Realizing he had a surprise hit on his hands, Knedlik built a machine in the back room using an air conditioning unit from a car that created slushy sodas by combining a flavor mix, water, and carbon dioxide to make it fizz.

A "Name the Product" contest was held and the winning entry was "ICEE."  With help from an engineering and manufacturing company in Dallas, the ICEE machine was redesigned and sold to a few convenience stores throughout the early 1960s.  In 1965, 7-Eleven licensed the machine, but called the drink "Slurpee," by the sound it made while sipping it through a straw.

I used to think that the junk science behind sports drinks was legitimate. I'd pore over the fake statistical evidence about this product or that making claims about electrolyte rebalancing and glycerin absorption. This beverage pseudo-science is just the same regurgitated bullshit fomented by University of Florida "researchers" to promote Gatorade in 1965. 

 In 2010, a less than robust, but no less legitimate study of "ice slurry ingestion on thermoregulatory responses and submaximal running time in the heat," demonstrated positive effects from drinking Icees. It was conducted by New Zealand sports nutritionists.  Of course, I didn't need a study to convince me that the Slurpee is the ultimate cycling drink. 

Call it placebo or short term sugar rush, but it works for me.  My anecdotal experience is pure bliss.  I love the cold rush of artificial flavors pouring down my greedy gullet after 50-60 sweltering miles.  Once "brain freeze" subsides, I feel recharged.  

Popeye had spinach, Count Dracula had the blood of glamorous women, and the Silly Rabbit had Trix.  I have the Slush Puppy--a cosmic power energy source capable of doing almost anything, from re-arranging molecules to making energy blasts, allowing time travel and bringing people back from the dead.

It's also kosher!

Muslims, Jews and infidels can equally enjoy this holy concoction. 

All Slurpee flavors are considered kosher pareve.  That is food considered neither meat nor dairy. Some 7-Eleven stores get the machines themselves certified kosher, which the store owners use as a selling point in places like Borough Park, NY. 

So, you can't go wrong with God's chosen energy drink. 


 
 
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Witches are not welcome in New England.

Miles: 19.8

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1391.1

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill:  3 (1 Frog, 1 Turtle, 1 Unknown.)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Falcon (dec. ) Day 4 

The Adventure Cycling map says, "Be sure to allow extra time for the Middlebury Gap," in reference to the steep climbs through the Green Mountains.  It failed to mention that one should take a healthy amount of leisure time to enjoy the town of Middlebury itself. 


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90 second ferry ride to Vermont. You can also see how much Schatz likes my affection!

This quintessential New England town replete with a pretentious college, "Doctor Professors," creameries, pubs, bistros, expensive bakeries and WASPs begs one to stay and enjoy its charms. Despite pushing only 20 miles up the steep mountain foothills, the site of a real bike shop and a town divertissement cemented a stay in Middlebury overnight.

The Falcon was so inadequate, I'd pay a king's ransom to fix it and I knew that Kathleen would like taking it easy after her long travel to support me.  We hauled the Fargo into a tiny shop where Chaz, "the Monkey," took one glance at my jalopy derailleur and confidently announced he could fix it.  Straight away, I sensed this guy knew what he was doing.  Within 30 minute, he replaced the Falcon with a Deore and I was in business.  Chaz's sobriquet was given to him by other roadies trying to match his climbing ability in the hills and mountains. He's a regular "Vermont Singe."

It was already decided to put the beginning of the serious climbs off until tomorrow.  We paid a few bucks to sample Vermont cheese and wine at a local festival with the unique title, "The Middlebury Cheese and Wine Festival."  I fell for aged horseradish cheddar and kept loitering to "sample" more and more of it.  I considered this my pre-dinner or first supper.

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We found a huge rock quarry to explore.
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Vermont is Marxist liberal, so in order not to offend the locals, I wore my Russian Aeroflot jersey, lest I be spit on.
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See what I mean? I never knew about the horrors of bovine tail docking until I saw these Vermont bumper stickers. I wonder if my rancher father-in-law is a part of this oppression.

Fun facts:


* John Deere was born in Middlebury.  No one could run like him. 


*
Joseph Battell, publisher and philanthropist, from Middlebury was the author of one of the most bizarre books ever written.  "Ellen--or the Whisperings of an Old Pine," is a conversation between a teenage girl and an old pine tree.  They discuss such gripping topics as the refutation of wave theory sound propagation and Vermont's lush green vegetation.

* Middlebury. College's Lever Grindon rates a 1.8/5 on RateMyProfessor.com and might be the most pretentious instructor in America.

One student writes: 

"This man thinks 'Battlefield Earth' is 'the greatest triumph of modern film,' or 'feelm' as he says it.  If that doesn't dissuade you from taking him, I should also note that he is obsessed with vintage TV merchandise--his 'Welcome Back, Kotter' lunchpail was the subject of at least three lectures."

Sounds like Middlebury might trump the ridiculous elite "Soviet-Harvard" education my sister received at Swarthmore.  If you're reading Christine, please post entertaining anecdotes about the tenured cloistered clerics at your alma mater.



 
 
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My beautiful reinforcement has arrived!

Miles: 88.4

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  4087.3

Weather: Partly Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill:  15 (3 Birds, 6 Frogs, 1 Turtle, 1 Gopher, 1 Beaver, 3 Unknown) 

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Falcon Day 3

In the 1777 Siege of Fort Ticonderoga, the British army succeeded in positioning artillery on Mount Defiance, an 800 foot hill, causing the Americans to withdraw from both Ft. Ticonderoga and Ft. Independence  without a fight.  However, despite the cowardice of the patriots, they call Ft. Ticonderoga, "America's Fort."  

It's really a French fort that was seized by the English and now makes it's way as a museum. I rode by it and assumed that some tour guide with a Jersey accent would tell people, "Yeah, youse all should know that not much happened here, but the cannons are pretty cool and stuff."

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Adirondack Blue Mountain in the near distance. It beckoned to me as I knew I'd see Katy again near the top.

The town of Ft. Ticonderoga is charming, like so many of the villages, hamlets and hovels of New England.  I was especially glad to arrive here since my favorite director sportif, soigneur and domestique joined me for the last stretch of the ride.  Katy flew into Portland and made the long drive to run support.

I'm surprised I made it to Ticonderoga because the Falcon derailleur lived up to its reputation as an epic failure.  It gave up shifting altogether.  This impotent lump of cheap steel forced me to get off the bike at the bottom of steep climbs to manually drop the chain.  I'm from Oregon where mustachioed hipster men and women churn their own butter in 1820's wool garb and pickle vegetables, but there are limits to the Luddite lifestyle.  The Falcon situation was one of them. 

I stopped for service in an outfitter shop in Old Forge.  Eli, the young mechanic in the back of the store, did all he could to get the bike semi-functional.  He did an admirable job, seeing that I made 88 miles today through the foothills of the Green Mountains. 

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Eli and Chris, the accountant.

As a bonus, I had another mechanical issue resolved.  For the last 600 miles or so, I've been plagued by an annoying squeak at every pedal stroke. Velocipedic Chinese water torture!  No fewer than seven mechanics have tried to fix it. I changed pedals. I bought a new seat post. I cleaned and lubed the rear derailleur, disassembled the bottom bracket and checked the wheels for hub issues.  Nothing. 

My desperation strategy was to ignore the sound just like at home when I'm too lazy to change the battery in the fire alarms. Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!  After a while, you don't hear it--just like Muzak, nagging spouses and construction. 

A guy walked in the room and asked to hear the sound. We bounced, smacked and punched the bike to recreate the metal on metal chirp.  Chris, the aforementioned guy, crouched and put his left ear all over the bike.  It's hard to isolate an unwanted noise.  Many cyclists know that sound origin is deceiving as its thrown around the frame ventriloquism style.  Chris stood up and pointed at a tiny bolt on the rear rack. "There, it's right there.  Spray some lube on it," he said. 

Perfect outcome.  No more water torture.

It turns out that Chris is the store's accountant.  Accountant!  Another example of the need to let those outside of one's domain solve problems.  I wondered if Eli could balance some Excel database irregularity for Chris sometime. 

Thankful for the help, I was off like a prom dress to my next destination!

 
 
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Wet, cranky and in need of a hot tub.

Miles: 76.2

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 3792

Weather: Rainy, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill:  13 (3 Birds, 3 Frogs, 2 Snakes, 1 Beaver, 1 Fox, 3 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Falcon Day 2

Downpour.  

"I could stay in and be comfortable and warm or I could shiver and make the miles," I kept telling myself from the comfort of my dorm style twin bed. Each time I looked out of my linoleum and wood paneled motel window, the rain was coming down in buckets. 

Paralyzed like Buridan's Ass, I was nudged in the direction of a swampy ride by a knock on the door. It was the housekeeper and she wanted to finish up early.  I knew this because I was the sole boarder in the joint and it was only 8:30 in the morning. 

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Kid with his cat. Pulaski, NY

I was soaked and chafing but got some relief from the wind which was blocked by the lush Salmon Forest. Traffic was sparse.   I put my head down and listened to Nassim Taleb's rants about "Mediocristan" from his fabulous book, "Antifragile," and ignored the dampness. 

50 miles in, I needed to eat something and spotted a little store festooned with handwritten signs about all manner of things: bait prices, hamburger specials , store hours. One read, "We don't have a restroom, so don't even ask."

I began to park the bike when a churlish woman raced out of the storefront and scowled, "No bikes on the deck!  See the sign?!"


I replied, "No, I'm sorry, but do you have a restroom?"  Then, I turned around and left. Better to be hungry and thirsty than spend my money on unfriendly trolls. 

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Upstate NY. Nice forests, rain, millipedes.

I learned from some equally churlish trolls in the next town that the woman I encounted hit a cyclist with her car not long ago.  Then I got a lecture about how locals don't like cyclists taking up the road and how hard it is to drive around them on downhill corners. I suggested that a motorist could just wait a few seconds until safe passage was possible. 

"We ain't like people from Brooklyn," blurted one of the trolls, "because we don't take no shit!"

I'm mostly sanitized from my Brooklyn roots, but I'm pretty sure my feisty family could give these eannabes a run for their money. When I was tyke in Flatbush, my mother would curse like a sailor and threaten any one that looked slightly predatory--priest or prostitute--and she was tame compared to a few of her sisters!

Nonetheless, I was paranoid that someone would run me off the road when I pedaled off.  The feeling passed when I got to Boonville, NY and met some very loquacious kids and their mom at a pizzeria. We had a typical New York conversation where they would yelled questions for me across four tables in the restaurant and none of the other patrons complained.

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The sweet loud family of Boonville, NY. I feel vindicated as I thought I had the loudest family, but now recognize our title is limited to Oregon where people are quietly friendly.

I got to Old Forge as it grew dark and looked for the motel I frequented 10 years ago when snowmobiling with my pal, Mike and Surrin.  The Christy is a dive, but the nostalgia would overcome the shortcomings of dirty sheets, intermittent hot water and the" maple syrup" drippings on the toilet.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was full.  So,  I found a clean room and set out to get some swill. 

It was nice to see the old Strand movie theater still in business.  It was shutting down for the night and the owner, Bob Card, was putting new titles on the marquee. A friendly chap, he let me inside to look around.  The theater is more than popcorn and sticky floors because it houses hundreds of old cameras and other visual arts paraphernalia.


Bob told me he had been threatened this year with shutting down because of Hollywood's digital transformation demand.  The tab to upgrade is upward of $300,000, which might as well be eleventy jillion to a small business owner in a hamlet.  Miraculously, the town organized numerous fundraisers and the Strand has been spared, for now. 


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Dying breed. The old town theater, the Strand in Old Forge, NY.

Bob, I now recall the movie I saw in 2003. It was the horribly produced "Darkness Falls" about the tooth fairy turned spawn of the devil. It was wonderfully awful and I recall throwing popcorn at the screen with rowdy high school kids. Sorry about that.)


The long day grew longer at 1 a.m. as I became glued to CNN's "Our Nixon,"  starring Richard Nixon and filmed by cohort jackals Robert Haldeman, Dwight Chapin and John Erlichman.  This past history Is riveting and revolting, but in retrospect nothing compared to the criminality of our modern presidential administrations. 

Hit steep climbs in the Adirondacks tomorrow.  Concerned about the Falcon. 

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So many flavored "energy drinks" to choose from!
 
 

Miles: 54.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2258.6

Weather: Sunny, Warm

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 7 (4Frogs, 3 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0


Falcon Day 1


Background Information:


Established in 1972 in Taichung, Taiwan, the Falcon Corporation manufactures millions of unexciting copies of Shimano derailleurs.  They adorn bicycles ridden by Asian communists that cannot yet afford cars.  In America, you'll find them on such recognized craptastic brands like Huffy,  Schwinn, Next and Hollandia sold in Wal-Mart and Big Lots chain stores.  


In most cases, if a bike has a Falcon derailleur, even if it's new, you're best off throwing it in the trash and putting a different model on.  Even a $15 entry level Shimano derailleur is preferable because it will engage all the chainrings, at least.  Falcon is so bad that no matter how you tweak it, no matter how long you hurl expletives at it, it will not work.

__________________________

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This guy saved my derrière.

Tracy Doyle is The Man. 

I suited up and left my filthy motel room above the town bar.  Two blocks out of town my chain slipped.  I tried the "shift to the big ring" trick to reengage it to no avail.  My front derailleur came loose and was a mess.  I can repair most nagging problems, but I''m not a mechanic and couldn't figure out how to get this pricey SRAM component reattached. 


I coasted to a convenience store with my legs askew as if on a célérifère, which was very uncomfortable. A hitchhiking parasite in need of a truck, I spotted potential hosts: Tom and Martha were filling up a large pickup with an extended cab. I pounced and asked for a lift after assuring them I wasn't a vagrant or psycho killer. Fortunately, they took pity on me and got me to Doyle's bike shop for service. 

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My "volunteers." Thanks for getting me to a mechanic!

Doyle's is a small shop and it didn't appear they would have a SRAM replacement if I needed it. The owner, Tracy, was busy but he fended off several calls to help me out.   He explained why I probably couldn't fix the problem on my own, even if I had the skills to do so. The diameter of my expensive derailleur was too big for my frame.  It was fastened with a plastic sleeve/shim that was long gone.  Damn!  I envisioned the efficiency hack in the factory that designed the gizmo to fit an imperfect component. Mutha...


Tracy fashioned another sleeve and took a wrench to the derailleur.  I was right next to him when he reasonably torqued the bolt and pow!  The aluminum alloy POS just snapped.  I wasn't angry because he didn't murder the SRAM, it was more like an act of involuntary manslaughter.  Either way, I was really in a pickle. 


Determined to get me mobile, Tracy pointed at tubs of junk on the floor. One of the boxes had piles and piles of chintzy old derailleurs cannibalized from kids bikes and hobo machines.  I started picking and we discovered another layer to our meta-lasagna problem.  My SRAM was a bottom mount with a stubby cage and not a standard item.  This eliminated about 90% of the parts in the rubbish bin. 


Only artifacts older than Methuselah from mass produced toy bikes had a shot at working. Tracy pointed to...a Falcon. Heavens to Murgatroyd, No! Putting such rot on my ride is equivalent to putting a large festering boil on one's own face, but I had no option.  Tracy's shop is the only place I could get help for a hundred miles on my route. 

It took forever to jerry-rig the first Falcon in place. It held promise, but ultimately failed.  Luckily, we found an older, shittier Falcon. It looked like it had been stripped off a torched WWI Royal Enfield, but the cage fit the bill.  As a bonus, most of it was made of flexible steel that fit naturally on the seat tube.  It could be argued that it has appeal over the near plastic alloy of the SRAM. 


Nervously, Tracy and I got to work.  We both got chain lube all over out hands and worked together to jam stuff here and there.  A bit of creative bending with needle nose pliers got us operational. There's a bit of chain rub on the cage in higher gears, but I'm not complaining. It's good enough for government work. 

If necessity is the mother of invention, then crisis must be the father of innovation. I work for corporations that believe they can overcome mediocrity by manufacturing novel advances in "idea incubators." They usually end up creating colorful PowerPoint presentations but no real advances. Experiences like the one I had today with committed blue collar practitioners is where you'll find true vicissitudes. 

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This is Taber. I met her in the laundry mat where we struck up a conversation with the Romanian immigrants washing stuff. She'd been to Bend and sweetly had concerns for my soul. I gotta get right with The Lord and read the Good Book more often she says.

I got out the door of the shop and had fears that the Falcon would explode into pieces after a few miles.  It held for 42 and I hope it can go the 600 or so to the finish. If so, I'm gonna leave it on my buxom beauty like a badge of honor. 


I'm tracking the Falcon lifecycle with a new index at the beginning of each entry.  I'm praying to Baby Jesus and all the Saints and demigods that it gets me through the Adirondacks. 

 
 
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Erie Canal boats are cute like the bathtub toys I had as a kid.

Miles: 74.7

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 2398.3

Weather: Sunny, Cool

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 16 (7 Birds, 1 Rabbit, 2 Possum, 3 Frogs, 3 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 1

Animal Rescue: 0


The middle of the ride passed through Palmyra, NY.  It's the birthplace of the Latter Day Saint movement and Mormonism.  Founder Joseph Smith, Jr. lived on a farm here where he claimed to have been visited by "Heavenly Father" and the Jesus Christ in 1820.  This event, known as the First Vision is either true or one of the most successful despotic acts of charlatanism in the modern era.

As a believer in the patent ridiculousness of organized religion, I find this claim no more outstanding than God losing a wrestling match to Jacob in the book of Genesis.  Live and let live. Worship trees for all I care, just like my father's ancestors did. Was that convention so crazy?

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This is where Joseph Smith dictated his second set of tablets to one of his scribes from behind a sheet, lest the unholy be killed by setting eyes upon them.

Joe Smith wasn't the only player getting his groove on in this region of northwestern New York. He had good  company and competition in what became known as "The burned-over district."  It was the religious scene where revivals and Pentecostal movements of the Second Great Awakening took place.  The name was used to denote that the area had been so heavily evangelized as to have no "fuel" left over to "burn" the unconverted. 

William Miller founded the Millerites here and preached that the Second Coming would occur on "October 22, 1844."  He missed the mark and forgot the old showbiz rule, "Always leave 'em wanting more!"

Adventism, the Spiritualist seance movement of communing with the dead, Shakerism, Quakerism, the free love group marriage Oneida Society and the Social Gospel all got started here.  Joseph Smith wasn't the only philandering prophet of his day, but he proved to be the most successful by leaps and bounds. 

This hilly dairy farm region also fostered the abolition movement,  women's rights, and utopian social experiments.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a proto-feminist and suffragette bravely founded the Seneca Falls Convention which is still active today.

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I met Eric, a retiree, floating his boat and riding his bike along the canal, plus some guys touring to NYC fr Seattle and friendly local dudes. Solo, the dog at the bar, liked me because I fed him Slim Jim's.

Now, making my way through, I don't see any evidence colorful whack job religions or social activism present anymore, just a lot of pretty pastoral farms and dying small towns.  It's too bad, really.  I love to be witnessed to by people fervent about the only "true belief system" we all must to abide by, especially if I'm able to annoy them with absurd counterpoints.

I asked two local  pastors in a cafe what they knew about the burned over district. They never heard of it.  That's blaspheme.


I holed up in a shoddy motel room above a bar in Wolcott, NY and really hoped the bed bugs wouldn't bite. 


 
 
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Not in Canada anymore.

Miles: 25.4

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 163

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (2 Birds, 3 Frogs)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

The weather threatened a lot of rain today.  I left Brockport in a medium shower and believed that the local weather forecasters got it right. It was going to be a cool wet mess.  I wasn't thrilled about getting all that fine grime from the Erie Canal Trail in my dérailleurs. Better to avoid future problems by cutting the ride short I surmised.


I found a ghetto Motel 6 near the Rochester airport and took shelter. My room was clean and sterile, like a cinder block freshman dorm room.  It had a residual cigarette and Pine Sol smell. As I listened to an old Russian couple yelling at each other on one side of my room and to the wailing moans of lovers "wrestling" on the other, I considered burning my sixty bucks and jumping back on the bike. Instead, I cleaned up and took a four mile walk to the movie theater to kill time. As fate
would have it, the sun creeped out and the afternoon was perfect.  


Inspired by my love of cinematic atrocities, I considered watching "Grown Ups 2."  I thought it might be unintentionally funny to watch second rate comedians exploit parenthood. I came to my senses and decided I'd have more fun watching the pre-Jew-baiting Mel Gibson in "Mad Max" on my smartphone--the only film that had to be dubbed from English to English for an audience to understand it. 


So, I had an overpriced coffee and watched what dystopia looked like through the lens of the 1980's on a very small screen.  I thought little of the wasted day and capped it off by paying for a ticket to the theater anyway, which left me depressed.  If you can stomach another tale of police abuse, take in "Fruitvale Station."


Sorry to all the cyclists looking for juicy or arcane riding information.  The lesson here is to distrust weather forecasts and to suck it up and brave the elements!

Tomorrow I will be bolder.


 
 

Miles: 65.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 403.5

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (3 Birds, 3 Possum)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 1

Animal Rescue: 0


The Erie Canal in New York runs about 350 miles from Buffalo at Lake Erie to Albany on the Hudson River completing a navigable water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  It only took eight years to complete in an era when things got done. It opened in 1825. If we get potholes filled in that time today, we do backflips.

I make a living as a dolphin shaver and a clown fighter, but in my spare time I call myself am "efficiency expert."  Unlike passing tourists, I was fascinated with all the historic posts along the Erie Canal Trail , a mostly ground limestone path that runs along this engineering marvel.

At a time when bulk goods transport was limited to pack animals and there were no steamships or railways to carry things, water was the most cost effective way to ship. Faster than draft horses, the canal  was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard  and the Great Lakes that did not require portage and cut transport costs by about 95%!  

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That chasm below gave me vertigo and I was too chicken to hold my camera over the railing.

The canal started a population boom in western New York State, opened the Midwest to industrial trade and allowed nutty religious movements  in the "burned over district," which I will be unable to resist writing about in a future post. 

I jumped on the canal trail at Lockport, NY.  It's the site of the tallest lock, which looked like a 500 foot drop to me, but I'm afraid of heights. So, it's probably on the order if a hundred feet.  It's pictured on this post, so you be the judge. 

I had to get used to the transition from pavement to hard pack. It didn't take long and I found that I preferred it to the asphalt sections.  The trail is dotted with small towns at each lock and most of these places are charming.  Near Rochester, I hear that the canal is features outdoor cafes tourist spots for boaters, cyclists and anyone else enjoying leisurely strolls.  


I arbitrarily felt I wasn't making enough progress the past couple of days, so my goal was to ride past Rochester, but the charm of Brockport lured me like the Sirens of Achelous.  It's main street was clean and neat with cafes, ice cram stores, bike shops and a small movie theater. My kind of place.  I made the "mistake" of having a dinner of real New York Italian stuffed shells and that was it. I was in for the night.

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The Siren of Brockport, despite her eastern accent, sent me crashing into a pasta induced coma.

I was warned by the locals that I should avoid the Econolodge because it was a rotten hole. So, I headed there straight away.  It wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was clean enough. The sheets appeared to be unspoiled, even if they might be reused.  When I stay at these joints, I just figure I'm building up my defense system.  I don't need to fend off nasties with Purel anymore.  George Carlin recommended tossing kids into the fecal soup of the Hudson River in Manhattan to strengthen their immunity. 


Not a bad idea. 

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Feeling strong despite the bed bugs, McDonald's restrooms and greasy buffalo wings.
 
 
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Ray and Sandra. Good Samaritans.

Miles: 79.0

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 862.9

Weather: Rain

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 23 (9 Birds, 1 Raccoons, I Possum, 1 Skunk, 1 Snake, I Frog, 9 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0


Riding in the rain really isn't so bad. The worst part is talking yourself into going outside.  I think about Brooklyn summers as a kid and splashing around broken fire hydrants to ready myself.

It was sprinkling just enough to make the road wet out of Port Dover. This condition concerned me because light rain when it hasn't rained for a while can be as bad as snow or ice for a cyclist.  A sheen of oil and road is activated to make things very slick until it gets washed away. 


As I was fiddling with final preparations and ointments at a Tim Horton's, a car pulled up and Sandra and Ray jumped out to wish me well. What a nice surprise that was because I didn't know their names until this moment. They were the generous people that bought me dinner last night!  They spotted me and pulled over.  

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Ashok forced to enjoy a cup of Tim Horton's mediocre fare.

Sandra, Ray, Graig, the Innkeeper lady, Alex Trebec. All nice Canadians that reawakened my desire to have a place in this country. I tried to move to BC with Katy some years ago, but the expatriate and convoluted tax issues for my business was vexing.   I'll just have to settle for frequent visits. 

I made my way toward Ft. Erie in crummy, but not so freezing wet conditions.  I met up with Ashok whom I befriended working in Augusta, GA this year.  Ashok is Canadian, but flies all over the place doing high minded work in industrial automation.  He's often tasked with taking manufacturers out of the 1950's by demonstrating his products work better than the UNIVAC knockoffs they use. 

Ashok gave me lift over the bridge into Buffalo. We talked strategy assuming that we'd be hassled by Customs bullies.  A pasty white guy in spandex with a Canadian citizen originally from Oman surely looks suspicious to our paranoid government.  

We had little trouble and Ashok remarked, "That agent was an old veteran with nothing to prove.  Good thing we didn't get some new recruit with a chip on his shoulder."

The evening ended in a nice, pedestrian fashion. I bought some cheap sunglasses to replace the Tifosi I last earlier in the day and we had wings for dinner.  It's Buffalo, the intergalactic headquarters for wings. 

Rain expected tomorrow. Damn. 

 
 

Miles: 71.6

Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1441.8

Weather: Sunny, Mild

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 22 (7 Birds, 3 Raccoons, I Possum, 1 Skunk, 1 Mouse, 9 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 0

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 0

Canucks will argue with me, but poutine is roughly the same wherever you go. This delicacy of french fries sopped in brown gravy and held together by melted globules of white cheese is a tradition that precedes Tim Horton's.  It's novelty food for tourists, pedestrian fare for Canadians and a source of confusion for the people of New Jersey whom eat "disco fries."


I'm told by my friend Ashok from Ontario that there are more advanced poutine dishes. Pulled pork poutine. Chicken poutine.  Beef, bacon, pepperoni and sausage poutine.  


Epiphany!  Time for gluten free artisanal poutine!  Skinny white women with made up intolerances and mustachioed hipsters will pay top dollar for it. I'll source it "locally" and start my chain of food carts in Oregon.  


I took a lunch break in Port So-and-So and decided to bring balance to my healthy chicken wrap by ordering the poutine.  It was hastily made with canned gravy, but I managed to swill about half of the gelatinous mass down my greedy gullet.  Sports nutritionists will balk, but this tasty swill gave me the energy I needed for the 50 mile haul into Port Dover.

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Windmills power the coast of Lake Erie. I would curse them if they faced the "wrong" way and indicated I had a headwind.

On my way to Port Dover, I was caught by a guy named Graig on a speedy carbon fiber bike.  Friendly and affable, he slowed down to talk and escorted me most of the way to town.  Graig told me about these long cyclocross races up here. 70-100 km efforts on single track and gravel. That sounds more fun than getting lapped by superior athletes. I'd be content to fall back and get lost in the woods, free of glaring spectators. .

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Graig tearing up the road!

I checked into a cottage, cleaned up and went to dinner at a place called Captain Billy's.  A couple from Paris, ON struck up a conversation with me about bike touring, overseas travel and infrastructure.  I learnEd from them that before they became The Band, Robbie Robertson,  Levon Helm, Rick Danko and company were a scuffling party band from Port Dover playing at dives all along the eastern seaboard.

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The Band in prototype form before long hair, great music and The Last Waltz.

You'd never know this picturesque place on the water produced notable rock bands and is a gathering place for thousands of bikers (motorcycle) to congregate Sturgia-like fashion. Apparently, this area of Ontario is home to a big faction of the Hell's Angels.  Who'd of thunk?


My company excused themselves and I finished eating.  I went to pay for my meal and found that it was discreetly taken care if by the people I'd been chatting with. Canadians!  The nicest people on earth. I was both thankful and ashamed that I didn't even get the names of my donors.  Once again, this trip is chipping away at my misanthropy. 

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Yes, Canadian cats are friendlier than American cats. Must be something in the water.