Monday, 31 May 2010

Day 11 Cayuga Lake at Senaca Falls

Sunday 30th May
Daily mileage 29miles Average Speed 11.8mph Ride Time 2.25hrmin
We woke up at about 10am… a cheeky well deserved lay in. We were in no rush to get going today as we think we need a day off but do not want to spend another day here. We therefore decided to take a nice easy ride up the side of the lake. Its 40miles long so we can afford a second night hear just up a bit.
The guy at this site said there was a market 3miles up the road so we though we would stop there for breakfast. Unfortunately 3 miles came and went and after 9 miles we were flaking and came across an ice cream store! It was already 11.30am and another very hot day. People keep saying its July weather.
We stayed at the creamery for and hour and a half as it was air conditioned and had electric sockets and wifi not to mention ice cream! We had a burger followed by cake batter and chocolate fudge brownie flavour ice cream…yum.
We were told there was another camp site at Seneca Falls State Park at the top of the lake about 20miles further north. We decided to crack on leaving at 2pm at the hottest point of the day. We put the headphones on and actually quite enjoyed the flat ride alongside the lake with the cool breeze coming off the water and watching all the locals enjoying the private piers.
We arrived at the campsite at 3.30pm to grab the second to last site. Once paid up we could not resist but to go for a swim in the lake which was lovely. We sat by the side to dry off and got chatting to Peter and Jane a fantastic couple from Ithaca. We talked for ages and they then offered to take us up the road to Seneca town to a Walmart to buy some food for dinner and breakfast.
As we were tackling the great store they further offered to take us out to dinner so we left and went to Abigail’s restaurant which was quite posh especially for us dressed in the clothes we just swam and cycled in for the past week! They still let us in though as we had a fabulous meal. They dropped us back at our campsite and we said farewell. Thanks so much and it was a pleasure to meet you both.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Day 10 Owenga to Cayuga Lake

Saturday 29th May
Daily mileage 43miles Average Speed 10.91mph Ride Time 3hr57min
Stayed in the tent until 8.30am then up and packed and cycled up the road to a McDonalds to grab a coffee and use their free wifi that in the end did not work. We set off on the 96 north toward the finger lakes which everybody have told us are just beautiful and worth the ride.
We stopped after 12miles in Candor at a gas station and while making up some rolls on the forecourt we managed to sneak onto some unsecured wifi to update the blog. We chatted to a guy about our trip and 5mins after he left he came back to say his sister lived 2 miles away and we could stay at hers if we liked. That was another very kind offer but it was way too early to call it a day. Back on the road we cycled a further 18miles into Ithaca at the base of Lake Cayuga. Lots of people had told us this route was meant to be hilly but to be honest we did not even notice any up hills only some lovely long down hills! There was one that went on for 4 miles and parts of it were at 9% which is actually scarily steep especially when I replaced my own brakes on my bike recently!
Ithaca was quite built up and we passed straight through it and got on route 89 north to head up the side of the lake. We reached Taughannok Falls National Park after a further 12 miles. We found a campsite and luckily some plots are reserved for cyclists so we grabbed one and put the tent up. A quick turn around and we were off on a hike up to see the Taughannock Falls which is a 215ft waterfall. We took the north rim hike of 1.5 miles to the falls which was a steep climb and our legs were burning.
We walked back down to the start then walked all the way back again this time on the gorge route which is basically walking along the river bed which was fantastically beautiful. Wading in the ankle deep fresh water all the way to the end was bliss. Right near the end and stood in water a man just in front of us said watch out for those two snakes! We took a look and a photo and quickly stepped up onto the south rim walk for the rest of the way. We showed the photo to one of the rangers on the way back who was shocked to see it. She thought it was a black diamond which are fairly lethal apparently.
We walked to the lake edge and had some dinner before heading back to the tent to relax and plan our route for tomorrow. There are really cute chipmunks running around!
Kris input for todays blog: My legs and bum really hurt!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Day 9 Lenox to Owenga

Friday 28th May
Daily mileage 57miles Average Speed 12mph Ride Time 4hr45min

After an 6.45am wake up call we ate cheerio’s at Wendy’s house and got on the road by 8am. We had been told the road was flat today and we were hoping that was true as we were both exceedingly sore. Unfortunately we had approx 5miles left of the 106 which is the hilly road before route 11 which is the nice flat one. I had plenty to think about on this section of the ride as Ken was telling us last night about the mountain lion that his son saw up on the road 2 days ago and not to mention the big black bear that was up on the road a few weeks back.

Tackling the hills was a tough way to start the day and get the tired muscles working but we made it slowly. Route 11 was a sight for sore eyes and we embraced the flat road by clocking up another 10 miles before stopping in a gas station for breakfast. A sausage and egg muffin with a big coffee hit the spot.

Back on the road we snaked alongside the rivers edge for a further 15miles before stopping again. Talking of snakes we have seen a water snake where we were camping the other night, forgot to mention before as was side tracked with the bears. We were now making more progress as it was less hot say 71 degrees Fahrenheit and a few spits of rain in the air kept us cool and merely a incline insight there were smiles creeping across our faces. We stopped at a market in Binghamton and purchased some talc powder for our bits! Kris enjoys to stand on the bike to part his legs and air his bits while on the road.

We have seen plenty of road kill so far, lots of beaver looking creatures, a porcupine, squirrels and a massive deer. They are in various states of decay none of which smell or look particularly nice as you dodge them with the bike. As we got onto route 11 I though I was cycling with my brakes on again like the other day when my bar bag slid down and was resting on the brake cable without me realising, but today it was just a slight headwind so I ducked behind Kris to use his slip stream which made my life easier!

Through the town of Binghamton Kris had some road rage with a car that cut him up trying to leave on the slip road. Some nasty words were thrown back and throw and as Kris was bubbling with anger we had to stop at McDonalds for a McFlurry to cool down.

Both feeling shattered we put the music on as the sun came out and cycled as quick as possible the 15 miles left to Owenga as Hickory Park campsite was waiting. We made it, and although it was our longest mileage today it almost felt like a walk in the park compared to the last couple of days. Although we have been told it gets bad again on tomorrows terrain.

We arrived and put the tent up. This campground is massive with very few campers despite there only being 4 plots left apparently. Its nearly booked out as it’s a bank holiday on Monday for memorial day so everyone goes camping apparently. Our tent looks like it is sat just in front of teletubby hills. We both slept for an hour under a tree then cooked pasta for dinner and watched a movie in the tent. Think im gonna sleep well tonight.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 8 Wallenpaupack to Lenox

Thursday 27th May
Daily mileage 44miles Average Speed 9.9mph Ride Time 4hr25min

Camping last night was very hot, sticky, mossie country, and again I was on constant bear watch. No matter how many times various people tell me there’s nothing to worry about, when im wandering off to the loo in the dark on my own from the tent my eyes start to see bears everywhere!!! I’m sure its all in my head and it frustrates Kris but I can’t help it!

We were up quite early but could not leave til 9am which is when the office opened to be able to pay up for the campsite. The 10 miles to Honesdale were again nice riding as it was relatively flat and temperature was cool still. We took breakfast from a gas station while all users of the gas station were telling us how no matter what route we took to our destination for the evening was gonna be hilly. This is not what a girl wants to hear first thing in the morning!

We stopped at Waymart after another 10miles. This time there were hills, hills and more hills. They are long and sloping gradient but they just keep going its like torture on your legs and brain. At Waymart we stopped at a beer shop but stuck to the iced tea! We met Al Young who kindly donated $10 towards cancer research… thanks and good luck with cutting down the 2 big trees! We carried on another 5miles to Carbondale. I know your thinking only 5 miles, but these 5 miles were like hell. At some points I didn’t think my legs could turn the peddles any more. Wobbling left and right as going so slow with no energy as trucks overtaking is not so much fun. Kris is struggling too but he gets to rest at the top of each hill while he waits for me to catch up.
At Carbondale we rested for 45mins under a tree as the temperature was a mere 89 degrees Fahrenheit today. We were told that there was a thunder storm expected today and we could now see the clouds starting to form.

Back on the road we took the extremely hill 106 west to Lenox. The clouds were getting darker and we were feeling the pressure to push on and start asking people where campsites were etc. We barely made it to Clifford when we had to stop for a quick drink as it was still hot despite the wind picking up, headwind that is. This is where we met Wendy who was working in the store. She lives in Lenox and offered us her lounge to camp in and a shower which we jumped at!
Wendy gave us directions to her house so we set off to try make it before the rain came down. There were so many hills in total we climbed 4,033ft, it was a nightmare. Wendy drove home from work and asked her son to drive back to find us to ask if we wanted a lift back to her house and it was awful to have to say no thanks as I was crawling up a mountain! 10miles later we found her street just as a rain shower arrived, but it was actually quite refreshing.
Wendy and Ken took us in and gave us pizza. They made us feel so very welcome in their house, and we cannot thank you both enough! It feels so nice to sit on a sofa.

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Day 7 Layton to Lake Wallenpaupack

Wednesday 26th May
Daily mileage 35 miles Average Speed 9.3mph Ride Time 3hr42min

Hills and headwinds, the kind of conditions that do not make for easy riding. We were up at 6am to meet Tiffany who is Scott’s wife who was out last night. She kindly made us more pancakes with honey than we could eat and we had a great chat for an hour or so as we were all like minded. We cant thank you both enough for your generosity and good luck for your tandem ride!
We set off at 7.30am when it was still misty and cool. We had a lovely and easy ride for 10miles into Milford where we sat for 10mins on a bench for a breather. Back on the bikes the hard work began. The hills were bigger, longer and steeper. Yes they went down a bit but not before they had gone up a lot! Both Kris and I had the bike in the granny gear to tackle the climbs. Overall we had climbed a total elevation of 3,074 ft. Now Kris told me we were cycling USA from east to west so that it is flat from new york to the Rockies! I think not. We made it another 10 miles on where we came across a lake where sat and rested for a while. This was beautiful scenery, and really is God’s country. I could not relax as we were so far away from our bikes and we had walked far through forest I was on constant bear alert. We decided to crack on until we came across a garage where we rested in the shade with cool Pepsi and a roll. We stayed for an hour as it was the hottest part of the day. The sign at the garage said 94 degrees Fahrenheit. At 2pm we decided to hit the road to try make it to Hawley a further 8 miles or so.
However, we only just really left when we came across the biggest hill so far at which we both collapsed at the top in a mans garden that was selling cold coke from his trailer. We sat and chatted to him in the shade and he assured us that there was only one more big hill before Hawley. We took a nose at his lake that was from a spring and was tempted to crash there but the long grass put me off as we were told that deer ticks live in the grass so we forced ourselves to continue.
We definitely climbed more than one more hill before we came across lake Wallenpaupack and almost threw our bikes to the ground as we ran to the lake and jumped straight in. It was beautiful and felt so so good. After cooling down we put the tent up, showered and a quick market trip we were back to the lake to watch the sunset over the lake. Awesome, this is what its all about.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Day 6 Andover to Layton

Tuesday 25th May
Daily mileage 24 mile Average Speed 9.4mph Ride Time 2hr33min

We woke at 10.30am after Paul and Jane had both long gone off to work. We helped ourselves to breakfast and a shower then took a short walk down to their private lake. All the locals use the lake to swim and take out the kayaks, it was massive and very beautiful. I think it looked even more appealing as the weather was a good 28 degrees and very sunny.
We finally managed to drag ourselves away from the house at midday some might say we were reluctant to get on the bikes! Paul had been kindly given some maps so we had our route planned north on the 206 heading for Milford.
The road was surprisingly up and down. Kris described it as slightly undulating hills however my legs were telling me the hills resembled the alps! After an hour or so on the bike we had decided to stop at the next place we came across to grab a nice cold drink and as we pulled in to the car park of a diner we came within 50ft of 2 BLACK BEARS!!! We kept our distance but soon realised they were only interested in the garbage behind the diner and were not bothered by us.
We attempted to take some photos which I thought was particularly brave and I had this overwhelming urge to give them a big hug as they looked so big and cuddly but managed to resist! I am sure you will not be surprised to know that we decided not to stay there and headed slightly up the road to a lovely bakery.
We quizzed the staff about their knowledge of black bears as we had everybody we met so far and were slightly reassured that they are considered as big racoons/foxes that have been forced to the towns to feed. We were told by many that they only want food and are not bothered by us.
Back on the road for an hour or so and we met another cyclist Scott that stopped to chat to us. He was cycling his commute home from work but tours the country regularly. We asked about camping grounds nearby when he kindly suggested we stay at his. We met Tattoo the horse and Rose, Low Rider and Edwina the cats, oh and the 3 chickens. We showered and took a ride in his massive truck into town for Pizza and beer.
It was only a short ride today but we are breaking ourselves in gently and giving my cold a chance to clear. A big thanks to Scott for rescuing us on the side of the road and making us feel so welcome in his home. I hope this amazing hospitality never ends!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Day 5 Andover New Jersey

After a hugely comfortable nights sleep we were up early as Todd and Maureen had kindly agreed to drive us the 2 hours to Philadelphia in particular to the Museum of Art, but not for the art, we just wanted to run up the steps and jump about on the top punching our arms in the air! This has been a childhood dream of Kris’s and when we got there we found Rocky’s statue standing there and Kris reverted back to his childhood! We run up the steps I don’t know how many times with big grins on our faces. Back in the car we drove the 2 hours back to New York. I have unfortunately caught a bit of a cold so a quick stop at the drugs store to stock up on pills and a lot of power naps were in order.
Back at Zev’s apartment we changed into our cycling gear and packed all our stuff away into cycling mode for the first time as it was time to load up the bikes. I had forgotten how heavy they were. On the bikes we rode over the George Washington bridge into New Jersey where we were met by Paul our host for the night. Todd and Maureen had also stayed to wave us off and had randomly got chatting to Paul as a mere coincidence.
The south cycle lane on the bridge was closed so we had to take the north side that unfortunately did not have any ramps, but did have a shed load of stairs! I cant lift my bike so Kris had to lift them both and all I could do was carry the helmets! Back at Paul’s house which is set in the beautiful forest area we met his wife Jane who had prepared us a lovely meal which we ate outside on the decking. She showed us a photo on her mobile of a black bear that she had taken. The bear was sniffing about on the decking where we were sat. Need I say more.
Paul and Jane are fellow cyclists who are too off on a tour in a months time so we had a lot to chat about. They were a wonderful couple who made us feel very welcome and we feel privileged to have been their first guests. We wish them all the best for their adventure.

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Day 4 Sandy Hook

Today we escaped the big apple and took the train south west to Sandy Hook leaving our bikes in Zev’s apartment. We were met at the train station by Todd who is a friend of a friend named Helen that Kris met in Jacksonville, Florida. Todd drove us around New Jersey to see the highlights. We took a tour of the twin lighthouses then ventured to another lighthouse at sandy hook which is next to a nudist beach that was empty due to the weather being cool and rainy. We picked up a pebble from the beach that we intend to carry across on our journey to drop off on the beach at Seattle.

This lighthouse has only ever been switched off once in its 246 years of operation during World War 2 and almost for a second time today as I nearly leaned on the electricity off switch! The tour guide asked a question about which was the first lighthouse to operate by electric rather than lens and Kris answered correctly the statue of liberty which the tour guide said was the first time anyone has ever answered correctly this was thanks to watching too many daytime TV quiz shows!

Todd then showed us to some local historical forts that were very interesting and we also learned about deer ticks that carry lime disease that live in the tall grass and how to identify poisonous ivy which had never crossed our minds before… if it has 3 leaves, leave it be.

As it approached dinner time Todd took us to an Italian restaurant for more delicious food. Todd’s wife Maureen met us at dinner where we learned that every Costco customer is now aware of our blog address… the pressure is on! We all went along scenic drive which is the home of Bon Jovi, to the harbour where we passed all the huge houses with people that owned huge boats!
We took Brandy Rascal (Maureen’s tiny dog) for a walk, then went back to their place to meet Teebo (The parrot). The glass cabinet holding a collection of skulls was quite amusing, we hoped it was not previous guests of theirs! Kris was impressed as Todd had owned a ‘back to the future car’ and a ‘a car that face had in the A team’. We want to say a massive thanks to both Maureen and Todd to go to such great lengths to fulfil one of our dreams.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Day 3 New York Mission

First stop today was Madison Square Garden which is the arena where so many amazing sporting moments have happened in our history. Kris stood staring at a wall of fame lost in the past of his childhood best memories.
We then took the subway to Grand Central Station which was very Grand indeed. In the basement there was a meeting point of four corridors with high arching roofs that if you stood in one corner and faced the wall while Kris stood in the opposite corner and faced the wall you could whisper and the other could hear it. It was quite freaky how clear it was! We stopped for lunch then ventured to the surface to photograph the Chrysler building from close up.
Our mission then took us over to china town where there were tonnes of people hustling and bustling trying to get a cheap imitation hand bag etc. We carried on walking and found ourselves in Little Italy which was slightly more relaxing with the main street being just for pedestrians and many a restaurant spilling out tables onto the street. We then finally ventured into Soho which is where we hoped back on the subway to Central Park.
Central Park with its 843 acres is even bigger in real life than it sounds! We walked and walked and people watched for several hours. There were so many people either playing softball, rollerblading, cycling, running, throwing a ball, boating or just laying in the sun on the grass. it’s the place to come for New Yorkers to grab some fresh air and keep them sane apparently. We visited Strawberry Fields which is an area of the park dedicated to John Lennon which is just across the street from where his apartment was where he got shot.
We had arranged to meet Zev for a Dinosaurs BBQ dinner which was great then even though we were exhausted we hopped back on the subway to see Times Square by night and again went to the top of the rock Rockefeller Building to view the city skyline by night which was definitely worth it. We crashed in the apartment at midnight… a mission and a half!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Day 2 Exploring New York

Today was a full day of serious sight seeing! We started early to make full use of the day. First stop was Time Square which was crazy. There was a Toys R Us with a proper size big wheel inside, tonnes of NYPD standing about and theatres everywhere. Next stop was the fast elevator ride to the dizzy height of 850feet on top of the rock. The views were ace as the sun beat down on us. We took the subway downtown to the most southern point of Manhattan Island at south ferry. We had intended to take a ferry ride to Ellis island and The Statue of Liberty however the queue was literally a mile long with the temperature soaring we took shelter under some trees in battery park and watched a street display of gymnastics which was pretty amazing.
We then walked up to ground zero and visited the memorial centre which detailed the new plans for the area. It felt very eerie to look up to see a big whole in the skyline. We had a McDonalds for lunch and were serenaded by a man playing a grand piano!

We had learned of another ferry ride leaving from 42nd street which we had hoped would have a significantly smaller queue and were pleasantly surprised to turn up just as a 3hr ferry trip was leaving. We were also very lucky as the ticket guy only charged us for one ticket which was nice! The ferry ride went the whole way round Manhattan Island and went up close to the statue of liberty and under Brooklyn bridge.

On the way back to our base we dined in a grill bar in an area named Hell’s Kitchen. Back at the apartment we met up with Zev and chatted until late.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Day 1 Sunny Gravesend to New York, New York!

The alarm went off at 3.20am, an ungodly hour of the morning. The bikes were loaded into 2 cars as my parents drove us to Heathrow. We checked in without a problem and watched our bikes roll off down the belt. Kris was hoping they would arrive safely in New York while I was secretly hoping mine might not! We were also told whilst checking in that we were not sitting together which meant Kris was gutted he couldn’t polish off his plane food and mine while I was thinking… my plan worked! He managed to sweet talk a stewardess to seat us together in the end.
A few whisky and cokes reduced the price of the flight with one eye asleep and one eye watching the new releases. We touched down and got the bikes ok. However getting them across the city from the airport to our host Zev’s apartment was not quite so straight forward. We both lugged a 23kg bike box each plus 7kg hand luggage with Kris having an additional 18kg rucksack on his back! We got some funny looks from all sorts of funny looking people on the subway!

All our gear filled Zev’s apartment in Uptown Manhattan Island. After a quick chat with our host, he went off to work and left us to play with Jacob the cat and assemble our bikes. A quick freshen up and headed back downtown where Carolyn on the subway recommended pizza for dinner. We sat on a street corner and people watched when having been up for 24hrs took its toll on us and we called it a night.