May-June 2004 Newsletter
Tour in Upstate New York
by Ken Tuck
Summer of 2003
Kill two birds with one stone. An old adage with philosophical
and practical implications to be sure ... but when considering a
bicycling vacation an economic one, also. So I came up with an
idea — my wife, Teresa, could see her sister in upstate New York
and I could take a self-contained tour. Teresa’s sister, Lisa, lives
in Henderson Harbor, NY, southwest of Watertown, NY, so I planned
a trip from Burlington, Ver., to that area. Teresa would fly to meet
me in Henderson Harbor and spend a few days and we would fly back to
Louisville. What follows is why I love to tour self-contained on a
bicycle: serendipity and the American spirit.
I shipped my bike to a bike shop in Burlington, and what a great
bike shop it was. They gave me a stand to put my bike together,
shipped my container to Teresa’s sister’s for me and pointed me in
the right direction to a motel on the side of town I would be
leaving from in the morning! Southern hospitality in the Northeast!
Day 1: Sixty-six very hilly miles to Ticonderoga, NY. I’ve
toured quite a bit, but on this trip I loaded my bike like a rookie
— way too much weight! I was going to camp and I took a sleeping bag,
tent, stove, pots, etc. Not once did I camp, and I shipped all that
home on the third day. I’m a credit-card tourist from now on! I had
my only flat of the trip this day in front of a house with five little
kids. One thousand questions later and I was on my way. In every town
I stayed I went to the American Legion for local information, and not
to mention a cold “Genny” or two. All the Legion posts were most
friendly and helpful despite my Southern accent. Their accent sounded
funny, too, I thought — American spirit.
Day 2: After a great breakfast, I headed out of town and
turned left at the appropriate highway and looked up and up and up!
Was that the road that led up into the clouds? Were those the
Adirondack Mountains that my maps did not show? Yes on both accounts.
I started up the mountain, but 1/3 of the way up I made a command
decision: this was to be a fun trip, so I coasted back into town to
the American Legion and waited on their doorstep until it opened. I
told my story and where I was headed, and after a flurry of helpful
advice one of the older fellows who hadn’t said much said, “If it were
me, I’d take the Amtrak train all the way to Rouse’s Point, NY, then
bike west and pick up the St. Lawrence River and follow it right
around to Watertown and Henderson Harbor.” I could have kissed him.
Serendipity! I took the train, and what a beautiful ride it was, Lake
Champlain was out my window the whole way. I got to Rouse’s Point and
pedaled to a motel on the lake, had a steak dinner and glass of wine,
turned in and had a great night’s sleep! Anyone want to buy a tent and
Day 3: Picked up Hwy 11 headed toward Malone, some 40 miles
away. Beautiful rolling terrain but a 20-mile head wind out of the west,
which just happened to be the way I was heading for the next three days.
The wind died down after this day, for which I was most grateful. Into
Malone and straight to the American Legion. Same hospitality and a
“Genny.” A nice motel and dinner, and Day Three was in the books.
Serendipity: I rode past a small UPS store and shipped all my excess
home the next morning.
Day 4: From Malone to Massena, 50+ miles. From Rouse’s Point
through the whole trip there was a nice wide shoulder to ride on, which
doubled the pleasure of the trip. This day was the prettiest yet. Again,
rolling land and not much traffic. I was beginning to get my legs and it
felt great, but I was about a day behind schedule. Rolling into Massena
I was feeling good and decided to have a Big Mac from Mickey D’s and I
did! I figured I would ride it off in the next 100 miles. I went to a
Ramada there and was told I could not bring my bicycle into the room
(and they wonder why people don’t ride bikes more). Serendipity again:
She informed me I could keep it at the police station right behind the
motel, safe as could be. Due to some major snafus with my room (it
hadn’t been cleaned yet) they upgraded me to a luxury suite (serendipity
again) — plenty of room for a bike, but still a no-no. Being behind
schedule, as I said, I was in the lounge that night explaining my trip
and I was offered a ride to Ogdensburg some 30 miles from Massena. This
got me back on schedule for my leisurely 50 miles a day. American
Day 5: The trip became spectacular from here on. I was on the
Seaway Trail now, a car, biking and hiking highway along some historic
sites of the War of 1812. The St. Lawrence River on my right was a
beautiful sight with the island homes and major fort sites. I was on
cruise control now, flatter terrain and no wind! Had a great lunch in a
little joint, met the cook from Ottawa, Canada, and had a great
conversation about life — a little Canadian spirit! I rolled into
Alexandria Bay, a great tourist area, and by this time I was ready to
mingle with the local crowds. I had a great dinner and hit a few of the
nightspots — of course, with some direction from the friendly American
Day 6: From Alex Bay (that’s what the locals call it) it was
an uneventful day. It was somewhat hot, and I was coming into the
biggest city to date. I found a motel, had dinner, brought a bottle of
wine back to the room, watched TV and reflected on the trip. I was
feeling a little down because I had only one day left, so I started
thinking about next summer’s trip!
Day 7: The final day. Heading towards Henderson Harbor I had
my first tailwind. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was still loaded going
18-20 mph. Bring on Lance Armstrong! I bet he still never rides with
fully loaded panniers. I was going to have lunch in Sackets Harbor, but
I made such good time I had a late breakfast, and what a breakfast it
was! French Toast Royal! The name of the place was “Tin Pan Galley” and
I ate in a shaded courtyard. It was a stunningly beautiful scene. Sackets
Harbor was a major colonial fort and is a historical tourist attraction.
People I talked to knew all about the Kentucky Derby, as this is where
the owners of Funnycide lived, known as the Sacket Six. The day was warm
and sunny and I was ecstatic. Twelve miles down the road lay my
destination, and I rode more slowly to make it last a little longer. And
so I arrived in Henderson Harbor, where I was greeted by my
sister-in-law, Lisa Pound, and her two children, Lindsey Robert and
Danielle. The kids were incredulous about my ride, but my sunburn
convinced them. Teresa arrived the next day and our visit went well, and
we flew back to Louisville.
This year, Teresa says we will do the trip from the opposite direction
on the Seaway Trail starting from Rochester. We’re planning that ride as
I write about this one.
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web posted: 2 May 2004
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