Day 2: Watertown, NY (69.53 miles, 166.09 total miles)
So, before we begin, a few words about the camera I’m using. Last year after viewing some photos and a video I’d taken on the trip, Kathleen Kimball suggested I buy a GoPro. Now, I am not the target consumer for a GoPro; I am not an extreme athlete, I do not regularly jump out of planes or ride my bike down the side of a mountain through the woods, or spend a lot of time in shark cages. And no doubt, I’m using this thing wrong; I just have it mounted in its waterproof casing on the handlebars and use it to take all the photos that you’re viewing on this blog. I have it set to take a 3-photo burst each time on the theory that at least one of the three will have turned out okay. It’s a great little camera and is much better for this ride than lugging around my heavy D40 or using my phone to take every picture; it’s right there and ready to go. Hopefully, you’re enjoying the photos it takes.
(Attention GoPro representatives, I will happily take any compensation you’d like to throw this way for my endorsement.)
I got up this morning, grabbed some breakfast from the Stewart’s and got on the road. It was chilly as I left but the weather was more agreeable than yesterday: clear skies and sunny. The first stretch was a steady uphill climb. It was not terribly steep, but it was unrelenting. Every time I’d come to a crest on the hill, it would turn out to be simply a level patch in what was a continuous incline.
After about an hour and a half of this, I stopped and took a break, getting a Snickers bar and a bottle of chocolate milk. Now, lest you think that I’m regressing to my 10-year old self, chocolate milk is a good drink for cycling as it has a good combination of proteins and sugars for replenishing muscle. I’d had my banana and ibuprofen the night before so my legs weren’t hurting after I’d woken up, but after this steady incline to start the day, they were feeling sore. After the break and the milk, I got back on the road and headed out.
Once I got to Boonville, the route planned through the MapMyRide site took me off the main road and took me on a road that ran parallel to it. I am not sure why the route planning software chose the route, though it may be because it was mostly level rather than rolling. There were a few hills, but they were gentle and not a problem.
I stayed on this route for the majority of the day’s traveling. It was straight and relatively flat and afforded me views of some really wonderful scenery. To my right was the valley through which the larger route traveled and the view out over this valley was terrific. There were some broad expanses that would have the occasional glacier-moved boulder just sitting in the middle of the field. And there were all kinds of wildflowers growing along the side of the road.
There was one curiosity I kept noticing along the route. Every time I’d enter a new township there would be a sign informing me of the border crossing, while simultaneously alerting me to the fact that in this jurisdiction “Building Codes Enforced.” I really began to wonder: for whom are these signs intended? The people who live in the township must already be aware of this and if not, it seems a strange thing to alert them to this by posting signs aimed away from the jurisdiction. Is it for the benefit of people from neighboring towns? Does each town feel that in spite of the fact that they all have the same prohibition, people in the next town over will assume that they can sneak over the border at night and build homes? Is this meant to deter these rogue home builders and nip their criminality in the bud?
The route was lovely, but it was also really rural. The downside of not traveling on the main road was that there were no public accommodations along the road I was on: no general stores, no gas stations, no restaurants, no anything. Not even a single church. As the miles wore on I really needed to stop somewhere and eat, but there was no place presenting itself. In the past when there hasn’t been a diner or similar establishment, I’ve stopped and rested in church yards, but no such place could be found and the only shady spots under a tree were in people’s front yards.
After yesterday’s really long ride, I knew today’s ride would be shorter and after having already gone 45 miles, I had only about 25 left to go. The route I was on remerged with the state highway, but once again the route mapping software had planned a route that appeared to be along a country lane, but as the road I was already on felt sufficiently country to me, I decided to stay on the state highway since I felt my chances of finding a rest spot were better than some country lane, no matter how idyllic.
Finally, after having traveled over 45 miles, I found a spot of someone’s front yard that was just off the road and in the shade of a row of trees that blocked the view from the house. I sat in the shade and made a lunch of whatever food I had with me: Cliff Bars, trail mix bars, Gatorade, and a bagel I had left over from breakfast. I sat there beside the road for about 50 minutes until I was rested and ready to go. If there was anyone at home, they never came out to object to me sitting there at the corner of their property.
I only had about 20 miles to go at this point and headed off down the road feeling rested and refueled. Once again, the planned route pulled me off the main road, but I decided to follow it as it looked to be the most direct way. Of course it turned out to be a dirt road. And at one point was even closed and under construction. Since there was no other way to go I kept moving forward. When I got to the construction site, one of the workers told me there was a side path I could take around the construction and so I did. I walked my bike up the dirt side path and then back onto the pavement and continued on my way.
There was one last major uphill before a series of gentle downhills culminating in a nice long downhill ride into Watertown. I got to the home of former United Methodist Student Association President Holly (Masters) Nichols and her husband Nate around 4 pm. (There is a little known clause in the UMSA constitution that requires current and former presidents to house me in the event I should pass through their towns on a bike trip.)
We went and got dinner at The Crystal, a restaurant and a landmark in town, before getting ice cream and visiting the lake front. The lake is beautiful and I’m looking forward to spending the next several days traveling alongside it. After getting to see the sun set over Lake Ontario we headed back to their house to crash for the evening.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s leg, crossing the St. Lawrence and entering into Canada. But before then: sleep.
Location:Flower Ave E,Watertown,United States