My hosts Casey and Rei in Syracuse, were incredibly gracious. I’ve yet to have a bad experience through Warm Showers (and this is stay number 4). In the morning they made me some oatmeal and some delicious coffee, which really hit the spot. When I stepped out the front door, rain started coming down, my biggest fear of tour. It was a light drizzle and seemed to be slowing down. As I left, the flags were pointing straight to the Pacific Coast as I headed towards the Atlantic, right there I knew it was going to be tough.
Morning, canal.
Goose!

 

The morning wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. The air temperature had risen at first and as I had expected the rain eventually disappeared, but the head wind did not. I pushed forward through more desolate farmland of Central NY. It’s surprising how the further east I go, getting closer to the crowded Hudson and the endless endless sprawl of NYC, things actually ended up seeming less built up. I passed through the tiny canal town of Canastota where I called my host for that night and tried out some handwarmers that Casey and Rei had donated to my trip, I tried to get them on before my toes and fingers got too cold.
A fort in Rome, NY.
The garrison.

 

That was the last good memory of this tour. The beautiful isolation from townships and cars continued, but the wind was defeating my spirit and the rain absolutely killed it. About 20 miles outside of Rome, my legs were feeling the 90 miles the day before and the force to keep around 12 MPH in the wind was wearing them thin. I avoided the path from there on out, hoping the pavement would help me keep up my speed, but once it started pouring on me, I knew this was it. I didn’t want to call it quits, but at this point I was soaked and the wind was ripping through my leg warmers and the hand warmers were not doing what they were supposed to. I hated calling it quits, but it was 60 miles to my hosts’ house that night. I considered the possibility of adding another day, but that would have added several hotel stays, which rapidly increases the cost of the trip, plus the rain was now dipping the temperature in that danger zone of 35 degree rain, frigidly cold and dangerously wet. I just knew I had to quit. I pulled into a Subway, the first vegan friendly spot I saw, and called it in to my host and my mom. I’d hope to catch a train in Rome. Due to some struggles with getting my bike on the train, I ended up having to take a Greyhound from Utica, but I finished the night at 3 AM in my childhood bedroom on Long Island. Erie Canal Tour over.
Last view of the canal.
Last bridge over the canal.

 

Quitting felt weak, but honestly, sometimes you have to know when to end it and it was obvious at that point. I arrived at Utica at 4 PM, with the sun almost down and another 40 miles to go to my hosts that night, which meant I would  be in the dark for at least 3 hours, which sounded scary and unfun. It’s easy for me to say that it was the weather that made me quit, but that’s not true, I was actually hoping for worse weather and snow, the problem was planning 90 mile days in 8 hours of daylight. During my summer tour, doing 90 mile days was not that hard, but I was also taking long breaks midday, which I could not afford to do now with significantly shorter days. Plus, avoiding those long breaks meant I wasn’t seeing much, was it really worth it to ride 90 miles a day and then pass out exhausted and cold? I really didn’t think so. Being defeated has me only antsy for what tour I should do next. I’m looking forward to going back to the Bay Area and hopefully bike camping sometime soon.
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One Response to Day 5: Syracuse to Failure

  1. Laura says:

    You know, I’ve found that even in the summer I prefer 40-mile days. You get to your campsite with plenty of daylight left, which in the winter means maybe riding in the dark for an hour or so. Not that you’ll get terribly far that way, but there is something to be said for finding a pace that allows you to enjoy the trip — and that’s the point, right?

    Kudos for getting as far as you did!

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