I was much too tired yesterday to blog. And honestly, I am again today, but if I don’t get my notes down now, it probably won’t happen.
Friday, day 6, was an eventful day for our band of three. We left Utica early under a bit of a fog. The weather was cool but nice. No rain, and that was most welcome.
It didn’t take long for the sun to dry up the fog and make for a beautiful and sunny day. We made a steady pace as we pedaled east. We stopped at several of the locks for a rest or pictures. Right about lock 18, we decided to watch a boat lock through.
The boat is named “Spontaneous”. We struck up a couple of minutes of conversation as they locked through. This couple was on their way to New Hampshire to deliver this boat to new owners. They have had some great adventures but just didn’t have the time to enjoy it any longer. We all decided that a great way to do this trip would be to cycle to one end and have a very relaxing boat ride back. It takes several days to travel the length of the canal by boat. They are restricted to low speed, so it is a relaxed pace.
As we began the day, Zubby just didn’t quite seem to be feeling 100%. By the time we reached the town of Canajoharie, he really didn’t feel well. Looking back, we think he “bonked” – a term that means you’re too low on calories and/or electrolytes and/or fluids. The brain just shuts you down. We got him into a local restaurant and he sipped a bunch of drink and cooled down. We hung out for about two hours. We had about 25 miles left to go, but Zubby decided he was done for the day. After a few unsuccessful attempts at Ubering and Lyfting, we got ahold of someone who was able to drive him forward to our hotel in Amsterdam.
So then there were two…
JB and I pressed on to Amsterdam without much further excitement. We stopped for a few minutes at the entrance to the shrine for the North American Martyrs. This is the site of the 17th Century Mohawk Village of Ossernenon, birthplace of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and the site of martyrdom for three Jesuit missionaries. This particular shrine has importance for me because of some time spent here back in 2010 with my daughter and wife. We were running quite late after helping Zubby so we couldn’t stay long.
We finished our ride and arrived at the Castle in Amsterdam NY. This is an old armory that has been converted into a castle-themed hotel. It was a very fun place to stay and we enjoyed it very much.
So that was the end of day 6. We all regrouped at the hotel. JB and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a local Italian place, Lorenzo’s.
That brings us to today. Last night, Zubby decided he was done for the trip. We had about another 45-50 miles to the end and he didn’t think it was good to continue. So we rearranged his Amtrak ticket so that he would stay in Amsterdam while JB and I finished the trek to Albany.
It was another fantastic, dare I say epic, weather day. Blue skies, temps in the low 80s and no headwinds. Can’t ask for better.
We decided that we wanted to try to find some donuts today. That was high on JB’s list. So we had a light breakfast at the hotel and then decided we would try to find some pastries or donuts in Schenectady. We eventually found a Dunkin’ Donuts and we split a half-dozen donuts between us. They went down really fast.
As we were making our way east, I saw a boat in the distance that looked familiar. We reached to the next lock, and sure enough, it was “Spontaneous” again. We had seen them yesterday and now again today. We said Hi to the owners and then went on our way.
The trail in Schenectady has some ups and downs to it. It diverges from the Mohawk river up and overlooks it, then goes back down to meet the river again. Felt good to do a little gentle climbing after so much flat riding.
The last few miles were uneventful, except that my Garmin had not been tracking my distance from when we left breakfast in Schenectady until we reached the northern part of Cohoes. Annoying. The track made it look like I was able to magically fly across the county.
We arrived in Albany with plenty of time to spare. We had to be at the Amtrak station on the other side of the Hudson by 3:00PM. So we went in search of food and drink. We found great little pub. I had a beer and a fish fry. It was extra delicious today.
After lunch, we made a quick trip over the Hudson to the town of Rensselaer. It was very easy to cross the bridge because it has a dedicated bike / pedestrian area away from traffic.
The Amtrak station in Albany is clean and nice. I took the opportunity to change out of my stinky riding clothes and into some street clothes for the ride home. JB did the same. We boarded the train without too much difficulty. Zubby had a ticket for the same train, departing from Amsterdam.
I had been warned that the Amtrak Empire Service could not handle very many bikes. We had pre-arranged and paid for shipping our 3 (4 originally) bikes. The process for loading was to let the conductor tell us which car had a rack open. We then wheeled the bikes in and hung them in the rack. Not too bad, but not nearly as convenient as the entire bike-friendly train car that I rode from Pittsburgh to DC a few years ago.
I got off the train in Rochester and my dad picked me up. I’m back at their place. Dirty clothes are all in the washer and I’m preparing to head back tomorrow to home. The three of us have decided that it was a very good tour, even with all the challenges that came our way. I will add one more blog post later with some thoughts and tips about riding the Erie Canal. Watch for that in the next day or two.
— Deacon Matt
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