Louisville Bicycle Club
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From the President
Letter to Metro Parks
Bike-to-Work Week
27th OKHT
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NY Tour
Brad Swope
Bike Handling Classes
May-June 2004 Newsletter

Tour in Upstate New York
Summer of 2003

by Ken Tuck


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 sleeping bag?

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 spirit!

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 Legionnaires!

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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