Day 9. 602 Miles. Ain’t Nothin To It But To Do It

I wake up and my body is talking to me. Telling me something. I’ve got twenty minutes to figure it out. I’ve never been more glad that there’s a toilet nearby because I really don’t wanna crap under this tree in the Medina canal park. We pack up and get out earlier than ever — nothing like the final miles to motivate.

Back on the trail. I’ve gone fully native. Shirtless from the start. Stinky and half naked at 10am. Home town hero banners of wherever town this now is dot my optics as we pass another port, Middleport. Geese have made their home on the trail for days. It’s their world and I’m just in it. There. Their. They’re the only goddamn creature on earth enjoying the Erie canalway trail more than I am. There is literally no room for both of us in this town, theses fuckers take up the entire right of way. I bet they’re fucking Canadians. Wild. Animals. For. Sure. First I ring my bell and herd them to one side or the other. Usually it’s more fun to send them toward the canal and watch some of them jump right into the water. After about a dozen of those situations, I now just ride straight through. Like right now. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I part flocks of geese on the Erie Canal like Moses parts the red fucking sea. Some waddle away. Some hiss. Some are sitting in the sunshine, so caught up in their own zen that they don’t see me till the last second. That goose scurries quickly, I had no clue they could move that fast.

With a “short” 40-45 mile day, we cruise along briskly, knocking out 18 of them through Gasport and into Lockport. The giant hill kicks our asses one last time as the crushed stone finally gives way to pavement once again. At the top of the climb we stop into a bomb ass coffee shop. I crush an oat milk latte and a massive cinnamon roll. Massive like a just under the size of small sovereign pacific island nation. Shit is calorically dense and I immediately go into food coma.

Our roll out toward Tonawanda is delayed as a group of the more speedier varietal of bike nerd friends shows up. Like carbon fiber 20-25 mph average speedier. I’ve recently hit 40+ mph on this same fully loaded steel frame war pony last winter back on my San Diego to Jacksonville ride. Whatevs. Anyhoo. The speedsters are continuing on — though two have had enough and decide to take the slow ride back to Buffalo with us! Yes, Christina and Lasse join us and we are now a fivesome, rolling like a minivan on the canal trail out of Lockport and into Tonawanda. Then down the rail trail into Buffalo! Aw yeah!

Just a few miles to home and Main Street Buffalo New York reminds me what a fucked up city and state I live in. The local government can’t even paint lines in the street anymore. Main Street is a 7 lane wide highway without so much as a bike lane and cars fly past me at no less than 50mph with no regard for the sanctity of my life. Kara, Christina and Lasse split off and we say our goodbyes. Damon and I continue downtown, finally rolling in at a trip total of 602 miles. Showers and a reacclimatization ensue, we kick it with friends and damn does my bed feel good at the end of the night.

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Day 8. 556 Miles. Port ‘Port.

Rain sleeps are the best sleeps. And the best rains. If I’m on a long ride adventure and you told me it was going to rain five hours today and asked me exactly what I’d want to happen, I’d say I want it to rain from midnight to five am. Not only do I and my adidas sambas get to stay dry, I’m also afforded a perfectly comfortable slumber. Midnight to five for sure. That’s exactly what it does. I can hear it roll in from under the rainfly on my Big Agnes — who doesn’t pay me. Yes I sleep all night and yes I can hear the rain roll in. I can hear in my sleep. I mean who else would you want your tax dollars paying to hear 911 ring in the middle of the night? Nonetheless, I sleep like the baby each of us really is, the raindrops are an intricate lullaby courtesy of Moms N. I can’t truly articulate how completely and totally refreshing the experience is.

The morning campground is an interesting scene. Mainly because of us. Damon doesn’t like the social stigma still attached to cannabis usage and contends “don’t hate the player, hate the brain”. It’s funnier if you’re there. We’re getting all psyched about a morning trip to the nearby Wegmans and Damon reminds us that there’s also DD not far. He snickers and Kara and I laugh. I think he means it though. We make waste and make tracks out of Newark. I tell Damon, “I’m gonna play some redman”. He’s like “redman? Why?”. “Cuz we’re in Newark”. No sign of Reggie Noble as a greatest hits blend pumps over the airwaves of our first few miles.

We hit the local Wegmans, it is subpar. The egg and cheesy delivers, that’s about it. Spurio standard in effect. That’s all I have to say about that.

We move from Redman to Red Creek. My mind motivates my muscles as we meander through the Mormon motherland. Not sure how prevalent the religion is here anymore now that Utah is a thing, and no sign of Smith. Or The Smiths. Mormon Morrissey sounds like the name of an experimental hip hop trio featuring Post Malone, Danny Brown and Killer Mike. Whatever, this is the best part of the Erie Canalway Trail, in my opinion. We’re back in nonmotorized-land again, mostly crushed microstone towpath trail and it’s gonna be this way until Lockport. Oh ‘ports. The canal is actually still here and in good shape; folks are recreating on it. Oh yeah it’s the weekend! What day is it? Friday it Saturday or Sunday? Neither Damon nor Kara nor I know. Nor care. Middleport is the long goal. A long amount of miles from here. Ochenta y mas.

First good stop is Fairport. Oh ‘port. Inside this espresso and gelato shop and the woman behind the counter has a thick accent and is so super accommodating that I pretty much forget I’m in America. Super authentic job Royal Cafe. Oat milk latte twenty minute sorta stop. Seperated bike lane off the canal, id guess a bunch of businesses sprouted off outdooristic tourism, of which we qualify. I’m loving it. The hot coffee is perfect even in 80 plus degrees. Kara says the same about the fresh squeezed lemonade. Damon pounds water. Thanks Fairport. Port port. Let’s call them all port port.

Shelter Tetris commences upon arrival into this downtown Rochester park. Rochester. Could have been Rochachaport or something. But no. Anyway, this park is wonderful right now. Trees are too scattered so we look for covered tables. Goddamnit that’s right, it’s 4th of July weekend. Everything is reserved. Foiled again by Uncle Sam. Goddamn guvmint. Far edge of the park gots a small little one table shelter. I am Jack’s unreservable picnic shelter. We lay claim in a throttled punk rock bike gang fashion; a few minutes later the rearrangement is underway. Kara and I hoist and turn and move and drop and done. Effectively it allows for prime sheltered snoozability of all three of us: Damon on the picnic table top steez (a real goto in my book) and Kara and I in hammocks. The gentle breeze and a couple birds singing is just enough to make my mind pretend not to hear the drone of cars on the three overpasses surrounding this location. The sun is in that brutal part of the sky where it is actually wheee it always is. The whole orbital axis rotation stuff is what really sciences the fact that it’s the hottest part of the day. It’s our fault it so hot, global warming be damned. We need to start protesting more things in life. Like ourselves. I’m laying here — no, hanging here in this hammock ready to start a Revolution against myself. Well as soon as I get up..er, down from this hammock. My mind is clearly as melty as a Dali Disney sequel. A little time out of the sun and off the bike is good.

Two miles outside of the ROC and a certain headwind of the 15-20 mph sustained varietal is curated for our enjoyment. I push past the ‘ports. We do. Or rather from ‘port to ‘port. All of us together. Fairport. Spencerport. Brockport. Who in the fuck are Spencer and Brock and why do they get ports named after them? Should be Karaport and Damonport if you ask me. Space doesn’t exist without time. Time doesn’t exist without space. My mind is playing tricks on me. I swallow another RXbar (def don’t pay me).at this point I’m eating them like tic tacs. Pass the ‘port.

Thirty miles to Middleport and I’m not sure we can get there. The sun is quickly retreating behind the horizon and we’ve gotta find water. We can camp anywhere, though we need water. At least to drink. Preferably to shit in as well. At one point we’re all completely gasses, without the fossil fuels. Damon spies Albion as the next town to grab water. We make tracks for then next 15 miles. It is not easy. We get water. Meanwhile Kara is on the internets. Now she’s on the phone. Now we have a place 11 miles up in Funky Cold Medina (pronounced Mah Die Nuh), and this “place” is a small space of grass in the middle of town. There are showers and a bathroom, and the caretaker Jim gives us the door code. Aw right now Jim, you’re an ally. We push into the headwind, determined. The sun is officially set and it’s past even twilight when we arrive. We never meet Jim; his generosity saves the day. We set up and shower and get a quick snack in before I plant myself into the palace, properly pooped. Tomorrow the ‘Ports finalize: Middleport, Gasport, Lockport. Ports on ports on ports.

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Day 7. 474 Miles. No Rest Days.

If you’re following along at home, I’m hitting all my typical tropes. I’m not being very original here. Movie references. Time space travel. Song lyrics. Social snark and political sarcasm. Nothing new and original, not worth much time. Still something feels missing.

I dunno. Yet it is a gorgeous morning here in Green Lakes State Park. Kids and generators wake me up and not much later Mark is back in our campsite, being Mark. For real fir reel. My man loves to talk. So yeah, other than a couple days of extreme heat and one morning of rain, the weather has been wonderful.

Misty showers in this campground are the picnic table talk over coffee. I find them a bit disappointing. Kinda weaker water pressure the shorter you are. Damon at 6’3” doesn’t care when Kara and I agree. “Tall people run the world my G”. Kara expresses difficulty in getting the right shower angle, taking about washing her butt… yeah. Same same *butt* different. I chime in that it was at best yoga maneuver to get myself clean. Or a prison rape scene, at worst. This is what our conversations revolve around. The basics. Staying alive and happy and clean. A few lixurious clutch maneuvers thrown in when we can. It is not for the faint of heart. Pimpin ain’t easy but it sho is fun.

Masta Ace’s Born To Roll hijacks my sense of hearing (and good taste), I’m fighting headwinds galore as we roll into Syracuse, in search of calories and coffee.

I find it in the form of a wonderful spot called Melo Velo. Not only do I get my front brake situation handled (yay, two brakes again!); they have a heavenly iced oat milk red eye latte as well as a devilishly delicious breakfast Sammy. All under one roof. Melo Velo is a cafe and a bike shop and the place is dream of, if I dreamt. And again, my words comes up short, as if an entire theme is being overlooked.

We roll on through downtown Orange place to the Erie Canal museum to stop in and say hi to Derek there. We’re waiting in the lobby when Kara is overcome with a urge to provide TMI. This must be a safe space and they’re making us wear masks. So handful of old ladies in Syracuse now know a lot more about ladies riding gear as Kara goes in on farting in her riding chamois padding or something. I’m caught up in the maps on the walls. We chill with Derek a bit and push out of the city, Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere marks a great occasion for us to miss a couple key turns and add seven miles to our already long and exhausting day. Damnit.

A steady diet of locks and lockhouses keeps me entertained, cruise controlling out Syracuse, albeit after those wrong turns. Come on with the come on, get down with the get down, we even got some single track. I can remember so much of this in the other direction from two years ago, yet some of it feels brand new. Nas’ entire masterpiece album, Illmatic, dominates the airwaves hard It’s really going great…

Butt…

Another detour in our way.

That’s it! We’ve entirely gone without my good side for way too long. It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you. Behind schedule. Cheekily sneaking it in now. We get that out of the way, move the sign out of the way, ignore the detour, acknowledge the behind and adventure forward.

We’re taking a prolonged and much needed break in Weedsport. Near Centerport, I think. The return of the ‘Ports. I’m double-fisted. Kara brings me an orange mango electrolyte beverage and Damon grabs me a 9.9% abv IPA. So yeah, the kids would say I’m living my best life. Meanwhile, I spy couples leaving arbys and getting into their car with bags of food. I assume these are typical Americans out for their “daily walk.” Further than the fridge and back, I suppose. It’s a really cardio affair as I intermittently alternate between hydration and dehydration, my life literally hanging in the balance. To an extent. I’m not getting histrionic over here. I type and Damon seals real estate deals on his phone. Kara simply keeps eating. Her 97 pound frame is a calorie machine. It’s back to the upper 80s and we are dog tired. Pushing through what is a long and hard day.

The final 35 miles involve a lot of back-on-the-road life. Essentially, we’re fighting for our lives as truck fly by at preposterous rates of velocity. One could call them deadly. I’m calling them deadly. Hills come with any instance of coming of the historic canal. The canal towpath trail is still there and I can even see it from the slice of road 31 I’m pedaling on right now. I don’t quite understand why we’re not on it. The canal is still there. Why aren’t we on it? Why is the signage diverting us? Property right disputes? Small infrastructure issues? Dumb shit either way, I suppose.

Our original destination of Macedon is looking bleak, the stone and humidity is slowing us down. The wind has calmed a bit, so that’s nice, I guess. Feeling solid yet exhausted we brick city mash on toward Newark New York, desperate to beat the potential rains coming in and hopeful for a tent site at the campground there.

This campground provides us a faulty computer system, we provide cash payment. All this happens as the sun is setting. What ensues is dusk pop-up-penthousing, fantastic showering and a red light ramen dinnering. Ooh La La, ah oui oui. Send noodles not noods. I’m hungry as fuck. Im not a player I just crush a lot, of calories. I climb in the tent. 80 miles today and I can feel it. Despite the douchebag in the trailer over disregarding quiet hours with some poor pop mix up of country and hip hop, I pass out within 90 seconds of closing my eyes. It’s just that simple.

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