Thursday, August 22

The Best Summer Vacation

Maybe I should have titled this post : That Time I Did All The Things On My Summer Vacation but then again what fun would it be to read about everything we did. We took 4 days off from work Thursday - Tuesday, at the beginning of August and loosely planned a bike trip through the Finger Lakes. Erik was in charge of the bikes and the route and I was pretty much in charge of the itinerary and the most important aspect of the trip, in my mind at least, where we would eat.

When coworkers and family members caught wind of what our vacation consisted of I was usually greeted with laughs and a quick reply of "Seriously?" Apparently peoples idea of a vacation weren't what we had planned.

The route Erik planned was roughly 250 miles and would span over 4 nights and 5 days. Erik purchased us each a set of panniers for the back of our bikes which would carry the majority of our things. Erik would also be carrying a large pouch on the front of his bike that would carry smaller items, maps and anything else we might need quick access to. We packed lightly but Erik estimates that our bikes had about 20+ pounds of stuff on them.

Unfortunately I only have pictures from before we left my house and after we got back. It rained the morning we left, hence our beautiful attire. Nothing like starting your trip and being completely soaked within 30 minutes. It was about 60 degrees that day and I started to get quite chilly. Luckily once we reached our first stop, Skaneateles, the sun was out and we were able to dry some stuff out while we ate lunch. We stopped at Dougs Fish Fry and split a meal because no one wants to bike another 25 miles after eating a massive meal.

Erik was still recovering from his Hardcore 24 bike race so we took it easy on day 1. Luckily it stayed dry all the way to Fillmore Glen. Since it was the middle of the week we did not need to make reservations for the campsite and were able to bike it and secure a spot. Of course the park employees got a kick out of our biking trip journey and we very interested to hear all the detail. I had assumed that alot of people travel like this around the area, but apparently I was wrong.

After a quick trip back to town for supplies (and wine) we settled in for the night. Erik made a potato dish with some spices and cheese and we had fresh corn on the cob charred on the fire. We also had some wine and chocolate for dessert.

It became pretty apparent that our packing light plan which had no room for pillows was a not so bright idea. We grouped together all of our clothes and bundled them as a pillow but I spent the whole trip longing for a pillow.

Day 1 Stats:
Miles: 47.1
Elevation: 1760
Ride Time: 3:09:05
Calories Burned: 1330

The morning of Day 2 Erik attempted to make pancakes on our little butane stove but it turned into some weird pancake scramble dish with syrup. Maple syrup makes everything better so I can't really complain. Our plan for the day was to make our way to Geneva where we had reserved a room through Airbnb. After a morning of some big climbs we made our first stop, Man in the Moon Bake Shop. Fresh turnovers and cookies, and coffee for Erik, were the perfect pick me up that morning and fueled our way into Aurora for a early lunch. We stopped at the Fargo Bar and Grill where we had eaten previously with my parents so we knew they be a quick and tasty lunch spot. After lunch we continued our way up north and then west towards Geneva.

We made our way up to route 5 near Montezuma and hit traffic. Of course it also started to pour during this time too so that made things a bit tricky. Erik switched on my blinky light and I prayed no one would drive into me. The wind picked up and a thunderstorm popped up, but we pushed on. By this time we were already soaked so rain wasn't a issue. I started to wish that Erik had fenders for his back tire just so I wouldn't be constantly splashed with water though.

Once we hit Seneca Falls the sun came back out and we made a slight change to our plans so we could visit Sauders Store. Sauders is a pretty popular Amish/Mennonite(?) store that had a massive bulk food section. We loaded up with sour gummy worms and continued towards Geneva. Of course our awesome planning meant we had a address of the house we were staying in but didn't have actual directions there. Luckily we were able to find it eventually.

Since we only brought one cycling kit each we were so excited to be able to wash our jersey and shorts. However, we quickly realized after searching through the house that there wasn't a washer or a dryer. I ended up washing some of our socks in a sink but sadly they never dried.

After much needed showers we put on our nicer outfits and headed out for dinner. We ended up at the Red Dove Tavern where we enjoyed local brews and small plates. After dinner we walked to the movies and saw Two Guns and then stopped quickly at Wegmans for bagels for the next morning.

By the time we got home we were both exhausted and quickly were asleep. I'm sure having real pillows that night helped too.

Day 2 Stats:
Miles: 56.1
Elevation: 1,873
Ride Time: 3:43:33
Calories Burned: 1,557

The morning of Day 3 we were up around 7. We had breakfast and were out of the house by 8-8:30. We headed south towards Watkins Glen and enjoyed the scenery as well as a nice tailwind behind us. Route 14 along Seneca Lake was probably one of the nicer bike routes plus it had some great views. We stopped along the way at a parking area and enjoyed some chocolate for a snack and a few gummy worms. We continued on towards Watkins Glen and about 4 miles out hit a detour which luckily didn't reroute us to far off course, but did lead us right up a hill. Descending into Watkins Glen is tricky thing. The shoulder disappears and traffic flies past you. The road was plagued with bumps and pot holes and the whole time your averaging 30+ mph. Once we safely arrived in town we found a spot by the water to relax before grabbing lunch at The Wildflower Cafe. We've eaten here a few times and there beer is pretty amazing plus their food rocks. After loading up on beer, food and dessert we wandered town for a while and grabbed some groceries and wine.

Our plan for camping that night was pretty iffy. We climbed out of Watkins Glen and continued up 414 along the other side of the lake which I will just call the way less bicycle friendly side. We only had about 10 miles or so until our camp destination but traffic and the steady climb made it challenging. Our plan was to camp at the Blueberry Patch in the Fingerlakes National Forest. Erik, however, neglected to inform me that once we turned off 414 we had a 2-3 mile climb up one very big hill. This was probably my lowest point of the trip, and I was just not enjoying climbing with the extra weight. My body was hurting and I was miserable. I was also stressed because we had no idea what camping at this site entailed. Luckily when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find a pretty normal NYS campground. The only difference was that there was no running water or employees. Basically you looked for a site that was unclaimed and then paid 10 dollars and stuffed it in a locked box. The campground only had about 10 sites so I'm glad we got there early to secure our spot.

We were able to find a large amount of wood and were able to have a nice fire that night. Erik cooked chili for dinner and we had some weird but surprisingly tasty almond/fruit cookies. Plus we had the standard wine (Erik picked a sherry that night) and chocolate.

We explored the campground a bit and found the fanciest outhouses I had ever seen and a giant blueberry patch with ripe berries. Despite no pillow I slept straight through the night...I'm guessing it was the sherry.

Day 3 Stats:
Miles: 47.9
Elevation: 2,524
Ride Time: 3:19:59
Calories Burned: 1,737

After a oatmeal breakfast we made our way up Seneca Lake a bit more before heading over towards Cayuga Lake. We had a pretty tough headwind so I ducked behind Erik and just tried to ride his back wheel. About half way to lunch the weather turned from sunny and blue skies to storm. We quickly pulled over and through on our rain gear and continued through the rain. Luckily it didn't last for long and we were able to hit blue skies.

Lunch was a planned stop at The Copper Oven where we enjoyed some very tasty pizza. I also enjoyed a glass of wine from the attached winery. Cayuga Estates happens to be my favorite winery so I was pretty darn happy. After a long lunch we continued on towards Ithaca and we passed the only other bicycle tourists we'd see on the trip.

While I really enjoy Ithaca as a town, I really hate the traffic there. Making our way to Green Grocery where Erik picked up spices for dinner and then to Wegmans was pretty interesting. Luckily people in that area seem to respect the space of bicyclists. We camped overnight at Buttermilk Falls State Park. The climb up to the campsite was a tough one but after the previous nights climb it wasn't all that bad.

Erik cooked a great meal of curry vegetables and we had a side of Naan. Of course the night ended with the usual wine and chocolate...and maybe a cookie or two.

Day 4 Stats:
Miles: 55
Elevation: 1,671
Ride Time: 3:29:17
Calories Burned: 1,504

Day 5 was our last day and we had no plans on where to go. We could take the short way home, about 25 miles, or the long way, about 50 miles or so. We choose the long way but within 5 miles we hit a issue leaving Ithaca. The road we planned on taking didn't allow bicycles so we ended up going up through Cornell which if you know the area is just all hills. We also hit a ton of construction too but after a hour or so we were out of Ithaca.

We made our way towards Marathon and had hoped to grab a early lunch along the way but after 30+ miles we hadn't stumbled across any diners. Finally we hit marathon and were beyond starving and enjoyed grilled cheese. My real interest was dessert though but once we ordered I was sadden by the fact that we had to split the last piece of blueberry cake. I'm pretty sure my biggest calories consumption during this trip came from baked goods and so to realize that we had to split the last piece of dessert in a whole diner was so depressing.

From Marathon we went north back towards Homer. It was pretty evident that lunch was lacking in calories because I was starting to fall behind. At one point I got in a fight with a bee and Erik didn't notice so he continued down the road and I looked kinda crazy hitting my stomach trying to get the bee out of my shirt. I had a great idea to stop at a bakery in downtown Cortland but our mini detour towards it was unsuccessful since it turned out the bakery was sadly closed. After some construction through Cortland  thanks to the main road being completely torn up, we finally made it back to my house. Oh and yes, in those pictures I am wearing arm warmers. Arm warmers in the second week of August.

We both grabbed showers and changed out of our disgusting gear so that we headed towards a early dinner in town. It was so nice to wear anything other than that jersey and shorts. After 5 days in the same smelly outfit I would have been happy wearing a plastic bag though.

Luckily my town has a pretty good pub that has local beer and tasty dessert. After a beer, pizza, guacamole and a piece of banana cream pie the size of my head our journey was really over.

Day 5 Stats:
Miles: 53.6
Elevation: 2,091
Ride Time: 3:53:09
Calories Burned: 1,608

Overall we held up pretty well over the trip. If I could change anything for the next trip I'll definitely be bringing a pillow or some kind of pillow like object. I'd bring a warmer blanket too. I'd invest in travel sized things like sunscreen and a brush because my full size stuff just took up space.

I thought we did pretty well in keeping the trip pretty inexpensive. We camped all but one night which kept costs low so our main big purchases were food. I thought I ate alot of food and was convinced I would gain about 10 pounds on the trip. Turns out that wasn't the case. Don't worry, I'm sure I more than made up for any poundage lost during that week.

My left calf hurt a bit, but I think it was just because I wasn't used to carrying extra weight on the bike. Whatever it was cleared up within a few days after the trip ended and I was back racing the following weekend. Honestly, the trip was awesome. I can't wait until we go for another bike trip next year.

Total Trip Stats:
Miles: 259.7
Elevation: 9,919
Ride Time: 18:06:02 
Calories Burned: 7,736

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