The day begins at the crack of dumpster duty. Daniel is convinced that the dumpster truck guy was being quieter for us – he was apparently emptying dumpsters much more aggressively around town for the last hour. I’m using the term “town” loosely here. But BAM. I’m up before the sun. My body hurts. Partly tight. Partly sore. I pack up, take a crap somewhere that shall remain unspecified, fill my thermos with gas station “high octane” coffee and we set out to burn more rubber on what is a gorgeous non-motorized trail.
Well fuck ain’t going this gone to shit.
Immediately beyond our vagrancy campsite, the trail has a gap and it joins a state road. That thing filled with enormous and loud speeding metal death machines. But but but but but wait it gets worse!
Miles later the canal literally becomes grass. And more miles later the canal itself becomes filled in. At one point – miles later) the residents of whatever town this is used the spacial remains to make a little downstairs flower garden out of the Erie Canal. Oh how cute. The reason my city ever even became a city and one of the initial causes of its complete decline now gets to be somebody’s petunias. History class later. Really though, the flowery town was kinda cool for a hamlet or something. And there are still some great sections of the canal in all it’s original glory.
As we come into the greater Syracuse area, the canal has vanished, Beau Fleuve-style. It’s almost comforting in a weird, kill-you-slowly sort of way. We’re seeking for calories and sanctuary from the sun when out of nowhere Chad’s rear cassette and hub attempt bike tour suicide.
Chad walks a couple miles to catch us under an umbrella on the Wegmans cafe market. Chad is despondent. I’ve been there. It’s a feeling that your entire tour is done and you’re headed to some train or bus station to defeatedly go back home. Fucking failure. I tell him we will figure it out one way another. He wants to eat. We all do. We pack our fuel tanks with calories and nutrients from all sorts of fresh produce and I tell him I’ll take a look. Yup. I pull the wheel off, the cassette loosely flies off and ball bearings pour out of his hub. This is not a field operation He needs a bike shop. I find one a few miles away. Suddenly and without warning, a masked-up senior couple exactly 6 feet away offers to give him ride!! Score one for humanity if you’re keeping track at home. Call it phase three magic; both Cuomo and Trump can suck it!! Chad locks up his one wheeled bike, grabs his wheel and jumps into their little Honda. Damon and Daniel and I head for a hilly stretch into downtown Syracuse; fingers crossed that our 4th wheel can continue.
Syracuse looks a lot like Buffalo, if Buffalo had been a European city that was bombed into smithereens during world war 2 and then rebuilt in some boring way. Starring Robert Moses as all of Nazi Germany. Maybe Syracuse is the London of Buffalo? (BTW, that last usage of Buffalo is plural). Syracuse did keep their one way streets, way to go. I notice that both cities appear to love cute little public murals a little more than public welfare. Not that I dislike murals. But how about both?
Me and the two D’s find a little downtown park to unwind and take a midday nap. We’ve got 50 miles in and we’ve got time. Daniel buys some rum. Damon smokes a joint. I head over to the firefighter memorial park to think and come back to our rendezvous point moments before Chad pulls up on two wheels!! I cheer. Damon cheers. Hilariously, Daniel – in his thick Argentinian-Italian accent – yells out to him: “get a job”!
Our foursome back intact, we head East to get back on the canal trail. Suddenly, I’m solo. I’m navigating this leg, why are we so separated? Damon lagged way back on some hills. Chad and Daniel zoomed ahead and missed the trailhead. I’m feeling like Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs. I think to myself “keep firing, assholes”.
We inevitably rely on our cellular technology and regroup. We hit a lovely stretch of the Canal Trail and by 630pm we’ve secured a campsite at Green Lakes State Park. $20 later and we have water, land and showers. There’s even a plug in the bathroom. Four fucking stars, fan fucking tasting. We’re exhausted. Daniel is offering rum, Damon is offering weed. Chad sums it up best. “I’m so tired that I probably only have about five minutes of consciousness to alter.” I shower. I eat. I clean the trail dust out of my drive chain, climb in the tent and pass out right as the rain comes in at sunset.