When we hit Watkins Glen (the town I was going to spend the night in a hotel in), the brothers headed on to the camp site while the rest of us headed to Watkins Glen State Park to see the water falls. Um yeah,it was gorgeous and well worth the side trip.
The next morning I set out to rejoin the group, after backtracking a tad to pick up the sunglasses I left at the place I ate the night before. It was a short but hilly ride, especially towards the end. I did have to walk up a few more hills but I figured out a strategy that ended up working fairly well for me. I would ride until I felt like my quads were about to pop out of my skin, usually focusing on a point on the road and telling myself I had to bike until at least that point, if not farther. Then I would get off the bike and walk, stopping and resting whenever I felt I needed it. And as soon as the hill started to level out, or at least get a shallower grade, I would hop back on the bike and start the process over again.
The rest of the "rest day" was fairly uneventful. A few of us drove into Ithaca (Eric's wife was with us now with her car) and grabbed a few more groceries. When we got back to the campsite, we found that the guys who had stayed behind had found a lot of blackberries and apples in the forest. That night we had berry cobbler and apple sauce to go along with the evil corn whiskey and various boxed wines we picked up in Ithaca and it was all delicious (even the corn whiskey).
Day 6 continued the turnaround for me and was awesome. I was really hitting my stride and didn't have to walk up a single fucking hill all day long! Hooray me! We did have a strong headwind that day, but it was nothing compared to the climbs of the previous days. This was also our longest day but I was feeling so good I was able to pull our pace line for a good 5 miles, my cadence and speed staying pretty steady.
Back to the headwinds for a moment, these are their own form of torture for cyclists. You feel like you've gone pretty far based on the amount of effort you're putting out, but then you look down at your bike computer or map at a rest stop and realize you've only gone 2 or 3 miles, if even that much. Disheartening.
The night we camped um, somewhat illegally, on the coast of Lake Ontario. We didn't even start a fire that night took make it that much harder for any wandering rangers to spot us. In the middle of the night we figured out why camping isn't allowed in that particular park. Evidently there's some prehistoric creature that roams around at night, making lots of noise, sniffing around, and generally scaring the shit out of unsuspecting illegal campers. Or it was some deer. Whatever.
Our night time friend.
On the last day of riding, this weak ass managed to conquer all hills again! There was one last vicious hill just a few miles from Eric's house that I had to stop about 2/3rds of the way up, but that was less due to ability and mostly because I turned to look back and when I turned around again I realized I was about to run into the curb. I took a few seconds to regain my breath then started pedaling again and finished that shit. A few more miles and that was the end. Over 300 miles in one week.
A few end of trip notes:
I think my bike computer tops out at 42 mph. I hit that speed at least twice, possibly 3 times (I didn't look down again after I hit 40 that last time) and I swear I was still accelerating one of those times I looked down and saw 42. What the hell bike computer?
I need (OK, just really really want) a touring frame the next time I do something like this. I don't think it's a coincidence that the only 2 people who got flats (raises hand, twice) were the people on road frames with road tires.
I did a much better job of packing for this trip than I did for Texas 4000 where I mailed a box of stuff home halfway through the trip and left some other things in a church donation box. The only clothing I didn't use was my bathing suit (bike shorts and sports bra FTW) and the only things I over packed on were food and fuel for cooking... 2 things I'd much rather over pack than under pack. Also, forgoing the sleeping bag for this summer trip ended up being a safe bet. A sleeping bag liner and thin sheet, combined with my spare clothes on the colder nights got me by just fine. The one thing I do want to get for future trips is a headlamp. It's an additional thing to pack, but they're small, and it would have been so much more manageable than the bike headlight I was using. Having both hands free can be a useful thing. I should probably also invest in a one-person tent at some point in the future. The 2-person I have is surprisingly small and light, and it was great on the two nights it rained when I could just bring my gear inside with me, but it's still way more space than I need when I'm the only one in it.
All that said and done, I'm already planning my next bike trip.
The rest of my time in Rochester once the biking was over was slow and relaxed and oh so pleasant. The entire trip was a blast and a much needed break for me. I'm glad I got the chance to hang out with old friends and to just get away from the hecticness that has been my work recently. I was joking around with Eric and the others that since my work contract ends soon I was going to go back to work on Thursday to find a pink slip on my desk. Sadly, I wasn't that far off.