Installing the Mirror – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

The Chuck Harris helmet-mount mirror is so sturdy that you can literally pick up the helmet by the mirror and swing it around without dislodging the mirror. Mounting it is pretty simple, but the geometry of the clamping part isn’t obvious until you actually find the correct orientation. So, I’ve tried to take some photos to make it a bit clearer.

These mirrors are made to be on the left side of your head/helmet for looking over your left shoulder — normal in right-hand-drive situations.

The first photo shows the clamping part the way you should see it when you go to put it on the helmet. To the left is the mirror stem; it should be on the outside of the left-front edge of the helmet.

Here’s another picture of the clamp part, with a piece of wood to show where the edge of the helmet goes. The lumpy part where the mirror stem attaches to the clamp part — that should wind up on the outside of the helmet, just above the edge, above your left eye. Actually a little left of your left eye.

I usually hook the inside part of the clamp (the loop that’s on the bottom in these pictures) on the inside of the helmet, then rotate the clamp so the lumpy part goes over the front of the helmet. At some point, there is usually a ridge of some kind in the helmet’s surface and the clamp will catch there permanently. My mirror doesn’t have the clamp flush with the surface of the helmet’s surface, but it is very firmly in place.

Below are photos of the mirror on my helmet, showing the orientation of the mirror and its position on the edge of the helmet. Click on the photos to see a large version, if that helps. Once you see how the mirror clamps on the helmet, it should be very easy to do it. And, chances are you won’t need to do it again until you get a new helmet.


Helmet Mirror – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

Helmet Mirror

These mirrors are no longer available. I’ve left information about them up purely for historical reasons– a place to remember Chuck Harris and look at his handiwork.

August 2012 — Regrettably, the Chuck Harris mirrors we have are the last we will ever have — Chuck Harris passed away on August 18, 2012, at the age of 76. I’m sad that I never knew him — I only spoke to him on the phone a couple times about getting more mirrors. But, in a way, that’s as it should be; he was a man who kept to the edge of the societal whirl, very much thinking and acting locally and letting the global results come as they may. He was literally world-renowned for the mirrors,  with requests pouring in constantly. But, he never entered the internet to facilitate marketing; rather, you had to contact him personally, by phone or in a letter, in order to get a mirror. He was a down-to-earth, conscientious, and unpretentious guy who took satisfaction in creating something useful out of what others threw away.

As to mirrors — while the originals are gone, the Chuck Harris mirror has a very respectable successor: the Hubbub Helmet Mirror.  This mirror was developed by Hubbub Custom Bicycles in Cleveland, Ohio, in order to increase the supply of helmet mirrors beyond what Chuck Harris was able to provide and, while they were at it, to make a few improvements. It’s not made of recycled materials, but it’s well made and guaranteed for five years. It’s also more expensive. So it goes. Anyway, I can highly recommend the Hubbub mirror and will definitely get one if my original Harris ever gives out. To my knowledge, there is no other producer of comparable mirrors.

September 2011 — For those who got the mirror but can’t figure out  how it goes on the helmet, I’ve put up some pictures that might be helpful: Installing the Mirror

To mirror or not to mirror?

Periodically there is some discussion of whether a mirror is a good or silly idea. Those of us who are too stiff of neck or wobbly of bike to turn around and look, however, have scoured the marketplace for something to make that rearward glance easier. In my experience and opinion, the best solution is a mirror originally made by the legendary Chuck Harris who turned discarded bicycle spokes and scraps of mirrors into a remarkably durable and useful piece of safety equipment. There are many other bicycling mirrors, ones that glue to the side of the helmet, clip onto eyeglasses, attach to handlebars. I’ve found problems with all of them — but all of them have devoted and happy users, so I don’t mean to condemn any product. These are just the personal reasons I find the Chuck Harris-type mirrors good.

  • Attaching to your head is better than attaching to the handlebars because you can “aim” the mirror by moving your head, whereas moving the handlebars is not usually feasible. Also, the angle of view from a small mirror close to the eye is larger than the angle of view of even a large mirror on the handlebars.
  • Attaching to the helmet is better than attaching to eyeglasses because some people don’t wear glasses, some people don’t wear them all the time, and because most people would be attaching and removing the mirror all the time because they probably wouldn’t  want a mirror on their glasses when not bicycling.
  • On the other hand, attaching to the helmet means you can leave the mirror in place all the time and it will always be there when you put on the helmet.
  • Of mirrors that attach to the helmet, the CH-type are best because they will not loosen. The spoke-wire is very stiff and holds firmly once put in place; I can pack my helmet in a backpack with the mirror on, and it will still be in position when I take the helmet out. At the same time, the mirror can be removed if necessary and reattached just as firmly as before.

But, whatever kind of mirror you select, I really urge all club riders to consider getting one. In racing or “serious” riding, a mirror may be unnecessary or even a distraction. Those are very specialized situations drawing on a skill set that is not part of the ordinary cyclist’s repertoire. But, for us ordinary cyclists — biking for recreation, commuting, fitness, etc — a rear view mirror makes no more or less sense than the rear-view mirror in a car. That is to say, a rear view mirror is necessary.

Feel free to comment, below, if you disagree.


Store – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

he Club Jersey 2017

Late last year, we sprang for a reorder of the tried-and-true FLCC jerseys, so we now have a pretty good supply of them on hand. Their “fit” is defined as relaxed fit with a raglan sleeve, which is less binding.

The price of jerseys is now $65 each. Jackets are still $75 because they are still old stock. If you need it sent to you, shipping is of course extra and handled on a case by case basis.

The jersey and jacket are made by Louis Garneau. The jersey runs bigger than expected, so you should probably plan on a size smaller than normal.

FLCC Wardrobe Headquarters is currently being hosted by Margaret Johnson. If you would like to acquire one of these splendid garments, email

Here’s the inventory as of May 22, 2017


  • XS – 5
  • S — 3
  • M —  8
  • L —   5
  • XL — 4

  • XS — 1
  • S — 3
  • M — 0
  • L — 0
  • XL — 0

Helmet Mirror

Another club item you might want is a helmet-mounted rear view mirror. The club has offered such things for quite a few years and there are a lot of people who swear by these things. The current mirrors are a new design/manufacturer and $25 each. In other respects, they’re the same as the old ones described here:

Bike Bells

Because they’re required by state law, but even more because so many of us are now riding trails crowded with other users — joggers, kids, dog-walkers, people just enjoying the view — the club is offering free bike bells. If you want one, just give a holler. Supply is limited, alas.

Jerseys, mirrors, bells — they’re all obtainable from Margaret Johnson,

Below, just a small hint of the worldwide distribution of this memorable design — from Madison to Doha to Trumansburg! How far will the FLCC jersey take you?


Memorial Day 2012 – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

It’s official. The FLCC Memorial Day Weekend Getaway this year is going to be in Ottawa, with lodgings at the famous Jail Hostel. We have 30 beds reserved at about $33/per night. They have assigned us six rooms — three “cells” with bars and other prison-like characteristics, and three modernized rooms; the number of beds varies between four and eight per room.

Signing up: There are two parts to signing up — paying for the hostel and selecting beds. Payment can be made below, using the Paypal form (it takes regular credit card numbers).

Once you’ve paid you need to select the hostel room you want to be in by going to google docs and entering your name on the spreadsheet.

Go to; you’ll see a spreadsheet showing all the beds in the Ottawa Jail hostel. Our reservations are in the rooms with a green header. Just type your name(s) into the bed space(s) you want. Remember, ONLY under the green headings. (Our room assignment was revised on 2/23 so returning participants will find some differences.)


ACA Finger Lakes Loop 2012 – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

Download page for information related to the 2012 Adventure Cycling Association’s Finger Lakes Loop bike tour.

Click on the following links to download:

Click on the link below to download a .zip file that will expand into eight separate GPX track files for Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9:

Clink on the link below to download the official group photo


Young People’s Bike Tour 2012 – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

This trip has been successfully completed.  Click here for a trip report and photos.**

**June 9, 2012 Sign-Up Deadline, see below**

Announcing the opening of sign-ups for the June 23-24, 2012 weekend bike tour along a western portion of the Erie Canal towpath trail, organized by the FLCC Touring Group.

This trip is especially for kids, teens, families, and adult chaperones. Last year’s participants included 21 kids ages 7-15 and 23 adults, and we biked along the Pine Creek rail-trail near Wellsboro, PA. This year we will return to the Erie Canal towpath trail, but a new section to the west of where we last did this trip in 2010. Most of the trip will be on a car-free trail, but a few miles will be on a lightly travelled rural road, that connects the trail to the campground.

This is a great opportunity for first-time bike tourists and campers to experience the fun and utility of bike touring. We will drive to Brockport, NY early on Saturday morning, and then bike along the Erie Canal towpath trail to the campground near Lockport, NY where we will share a group dinner. Along the way we will pass by, and possibly explore, the beautiful canal-side towns of Holley, Albion, Medina, Middleport, and Gasport. We have a group campsite reserved at the Niagara County Camping Resort near Lockport. This is a full-service commercial campground with showers, toilets, etc, and there is even swimming in their lake and mini-golf. On Sunday we will bike back to Brockport, and then drive back to Ithaca, returning Sunday mid/late afternoon. Carpooling from Ithaca to Brockport is encouraged, and we can help facilitate this.

Thanks to a generous subsidy provided by the FLCC, the trip cost is extremely low: $10 per person ($30 per family maximum) which includes camping, rest stop snacks, Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, Sunday breakfast, and Sunday lunch. The meals are kept simple: pasta and salad for dinner, cereal for breakfast, and sandwiches for the lunches. We will also provide vehicle transportation of personal supplies and camping gear to the campground, although we are encouraging kids and adults to carry as much gear on their bikes to highlight the fun and utility of bike touring.

Please note that to participate in this bike tour (and any other FLCC organized bike tour) we require everyone to be a FLCC member. Joining is easy, go to: . The cost is $10 for an individual membership, or $12 for a family membership. These funds are used to support all of the club’s activities and club insurance.

Sign-up for this trip is simple: just download the attached information packet, fill out and mail page 1 (the address is given on the form).  Be sure to do this as soon as possible to assure your place on the tour.

**Scholarships Available** The FLCC will provide scholarships covering the trip cost for needy individuals or families. Please contact me directly regarding scholarships or any other questions regarding this bike trip.

Preview the cue sheet and a map of the route by clicking on this link.

–Steve Powell <>

P.S. Volunteers needed: We are looking for one or two drivers with a large car or mini-van to help transport camping equipment. Also, a person or two to help staff rest stops and lunch stops. Volunteers get to camp and eat free! Can you help?

P.P.S.  Volunteers click here to download mapset and driving directions


Ithaca to Pittsburgh 2010 – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

Bike trip from Ithaca, NY, to Pittsburgh, PA

I had ridden the Great Allegheny Passage, the rail trail from Cumberland, MD, to Pittsburgh, PA, on a previous bike tour (DC to Pittsburgh). In thinking about a 2010 bike tour that could begin at our own doorstep, I came up with the thought of heading due south across Pennsylvania to Cumberland and then turning west to Pittsburgh. Our tours are usually about a week in length, so we couldn’t complete the loop by bike. This is where the idea of using Amtrak came back — we had taken the train back to DC from Pittsburgh on our previous ride along the trail; why not take Amtrak back to Ithaca? Well, it turns out you can take the train to Syracuse; it’s a long trip with a wait for connections in Cleveland, but for an adventure it’s not so bad. When it turned out that Steve Powell had a firm requirement to be back at a certain day, the Amtrak variant became the plan for the group. Steve needed to be back in Ithaca by the 15th, so the departure date became August 5. The main ingredients of the route were Pennsylvania bike route G to go south to Cumberland and the Great Allegheny Passage to get to Pittsburgh. The only additional planning was getting from Ithaca to the beginning of PA route G. There were seven participants committed to the tour — me, Steve Powell, Steve Grossman, John Dennis, Alexey Loginov, Rena Scoggins, and Bob Barnett. The trip was planned to be self-supported, camping each night except for the day or two in Pittsburgh, where we reserved hotel rooms.

Day 1 — Ithaca to Lawrenceville, PA, 77 miles, 2675′ climbing

As so often has to happen, our departure day had the only serious rainstorm in a long time. We were going to leave from Cass Park in the flats of Ithaca around 9:00 am, but wound up waiting to see if the predicted let-up of the rain would make it more pleasant. When we finally left, closer to 11:00 am, we rode maybe 10 miles in light rain and then had nothing but fine weather for the rest of the trip.

Our group of seven consisted of five bikes equipped with panniers and two with trailers. Bob was pulling a BOB and John a Burley Nomad.

Most of this day was through familiar territory south along NY 34 through Spencer to Waverly. From that point it was new, heading west along the state line toward Lawrenceville.

This is really hilly country and the direct route is seldom the best. Whether we found the best is open to

debate, but it took quite a bit longer than we had planned so that we arrived at PA 287 about 5 miles south of Lawrenceville just at dusk and some of us were pretty tired. We had pretty good lights and blinkies on all bikes and pacelined to the campground in the dark.

Our first night’s camping was quite an unusual affair. Google found the “Redhouse Campground” in Lawrenceville, but information on it was very skimpy. When Steve Powell called them, it turned out it was more of a mobile home park but there was a grassy area we could use for our tents right next to an un-occupied mobile home with shower and kitchen. The camping went well, but the inside of the mobile home was a bit hard to take because of the smell of the dogs that had occupied its carpeted rooms. We tried airing it out, but going back out to our tents was really the only thing to do. The camping cost us $7 a piece.

Day 2 — Lawrenceville to Bonnell Flats, PA, 76 miles, 1,680′ climbing

In the morning — a beautiful sunny day — we weren’t much inclined to spend a lot of time over breakfast in the mobile home, so we quickly set off to look for a second, proper, breakfast along the way. This was the beginning of Pennsylvania bike route G as we rode south along PA 287, a fairly big highway with excellent shoulders and not much in the way of hills. In Tioga we found a great breakfast restaurant right at the corner where 287 turns and managed to spend quite a lot of time fueling up. The next leg of the trip took us down 287 to just before the intersection with US 6, where we picked up the beginning of the Pine Creek Rail Trail.

The Pine Creek trail follows a deep gorge that cuts through the steep hills of northern Pennsylvania — known also as “the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” It’s a very pretty, isolated route that has very little road access for miles on end. We had hoped to find at least some snacks available at Blacksburg, but the place we were counting on had closed in the previous year. The route did take us through one small village with an inn and a restaurant. I was riding with Steve Powell and we found a very nice inn across the river — I’ll have to go back there with my wife some time.

It was another long day for us, what with the long breakfast and a stop at the inn. It was dusk when we arrived at the campsite at Bonnell Flats — a very nice, free, camping area with good water available, but no showers or other facilities. A small group of young men were set up at the far end of the campground next to their turcks. Their inexplicably loud mutual boasts and taunts kept us up for a while, but eventually the silence of the remote riverside took over.

The park authorities in charge of camping on the trail published a caution regarding bears in some of the campsites. Bonnell Flats was not part of that warning area, but anyone traveling through this region should keep in mind that bears may be a factor.

Day 3 — Bonnell Flats to State College, PA, 52 miles, 2,000′ climbing

Day three started with about 7 more miles of the rail trail into Jersey Shore, PA, where bike route G emerges back on the highways. Heading west along PA 150, we were again on the lookout for a good breakfast place but it took a while. I’m not sure just where it was, but we did find a superb place on the north side of the road somewhere before getting to Dunnstown.

[singlepic id=121 w=320 h=240 float=left]When I was looking for a camping plan, this night’s paart of Pennsylvania didn’t seem to have anything at all, so I inquired with some friends — the upshot was that they invited all of us to stay at their house in State College, whether camping in the yard or sleeping in their house (which turned out to have indoor space for all of us, but a couple riders preferred to tent anyway).

As a result of putting this destination on our route, we deviated from route G as we approached State College. Route G follows PA 64 for a long way toward State College but takes a left on PA 445 before getting there. I was a bit worried about that bit, which includes a hill that some other riders remarked upon as particularly horrendous. Our trade-off was to put up with a bit more traffic and stay on 64, which becomes 26, until almost in State College, then take a left on Pike St and following it around as it becomes Branch Rd and ends at Atherton near University Drive, very near my friends’ house. Continuing across Atherton on Branch would bring one back onto route G in a short while. This might be a useful modification of the route if you need to stop into State College for any of its ample services.

We had a festive dinner and socializing in the evening and slept in the luxury of actual beds in a house.

Day 4 — State College to Martinsburg, PA, 54 miles, 2,532′ climbing.

In the morning we had a superb breakfast of fresh baked goods and coffee and said good bye to John Dennis, who had decided to return to Ithaca. Our friends got their bikes out to lead us to re-connect with the bike route G. I only wish I had that route for our mapping records, because it was an extraordinarily beautiful small road through very picturesque little hill farms. After about 15 miles, our friends turned around and we continued through one of the prettiest sections of the whole route. It was also a deal hillier than any of our previous route, so the miles began to add up by the time we got near Martinsburg.

Our camping in Martinsburg was free by permit — Steve Powell had obtained the permit beforehand to camp in the municipal park, a most extraordinary place. This quite small town had a park with a huge building for bowling alleys, hockey rink, basketball courts and who-knows-what-else, a very large and elaborate swimming pool and bath-house, as well as various pavillions and additional buildings set among large shade trees. With our permit, we were entitled to use the bathing facilities and camp among the trees. We found dinner down the street at a chain pizza place that everyone we asked had recommended.

Day 5 — Martinsburg, PA, to Cumberland, MD, 71 miles, 3,060′ climbing

This morning we had to choose whether to follow our maps, which were transcribed from the Pennsylvania bike route website, or the signs we found along the streets in Martinsburg. Figuring that signs on the ground must have some basis, we followed them. Rather than heading straight west on PA 164, the marked route went south on 866 for a bit, then west on Cross Cove Rd, then right (north) on  PA 36 until it intersects the mapped route G and PA 164 in Roaring Spring. The next bit of the ride was really hair-raising. Fortunately it was mostly down-hill so we could get it over quickly — a major highway with unremitting truck traffic at high speeds and not much of a shoulder anywhere. I’m guessing that the detour must have been inserted to remove a few miles of this kind of riding from route G — much appreciated! Once in East Freedom we were once again on streets and small roads with virtually no traffic of any kind. Pointing back south again, the route is a tiny road paralleling US 220, which carries all the traffic. Bedford is a very picturesque little town where we stopped for lunch.

At about mile 65 (on our map), just after the intersection of PA 35 and 36, we turn off the highway on a small road climbing gently. This leads to a point where you can access the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail, which is otherwise nowhere near roads. You have to be very careful to follow the cues at this point. The correct route goes up Manteo Dr., an impossibly steep gravel road that looks like just a driveway to the house on the hillside. After an even steeper bump, you’re on the trail which, at that point, is sharply descending toward Cumberland.

We had arranged to camp in Cumberland in a small area across the road from the YMCA. The day had been incredibly hot, however, and there was no sign of it cooling off in the evening so Steve Grossman and I seized the alternative of renting a room in a big hotel in Cumberland. It was right at the terminus of the GAP and the C&O Canal trail.

In retrospect it’s clear that this day’s itinerary was much longer than it should have been. Including some extra miles, we were pushing 80 miles, which would have been a burden even if the temperatures on the road hadn’t been around 100 F. Given the constraints on this trip, we couldn’t really have added a day. But, if I were planning to do this route, I might just see if the entire crossing of Pennsylvania can’t be divided into different portions so that no day is longer than, say, 50 miles.

Day 6 — Ciumberland, MD, to Rockwood, PA, 44 miles, 3,000′ climbing

Passage took us up the same hill we had come in on the evening before. There is no steep climbing anywhere on the entire trail, but this section has the steepest as we climb toward the “eastern continental divide” — the division between watersheds to the Atlantic and to the Gulf of Mexico, iirc. You need to supply yourself with water on this stretch. The first place to resupply is Frostburg, which is off to the left of the trail atop a really big, steep climb. It’s better to have enough snacks and water to continue at least until Meyersdale. Shortly after Frostburg, the climbing tops out at an overpass exactly at the divide. An arts grant has funded the painting of some remarkable murals on the concrete of the overpass, commemorating the historical and geographic uniqueness of the place, worth stopping for a bit to have a look. From there, the path begins a steady descent.

Meyersdale can be a good place to stop, but the services are down the rather steep hill in town.

We’ve found a small coffee shop on a cross street a couple blocks below the railroad tracks. At 44 miles is Rockwood, with a relatively new hostel. The hostel is operated by the same folks as run the Rockwood Mill Shops — a miniature mall consisting of an ice cream parlor and pizza parlor with great coffee, food, deserts. The hostel is very minimal but has everything the traveller needs for $24/night per person. We had dinner at a restaurant a few blocks east of the hostel.

Day 7 — Rockwood to Connellsville, PA, 50 miles, 1,400′ climbing

After a good breakfast at the Rockwood Mill, we headed back out on the trail to the first destination, Ohiopyle. Some of our group wanted to visit Fallingwater, the house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, which is located only a few miles from Ohiopyle.

Around this time we were a bit worried how we would make the final 10 miles or so into Pittsburgh. The trail stops around McKeesport and the roads into the city are not bike-friendly. We had heard warnings about those roads in previous years and got a bike shop to shuttle us in on our last trip. But, being pretty experienced urban cyclists, we kept thinking, “how bad can it be?” and had decided to just ride those roads and see for ourselves. However, as we met people along the trail, we asked them about that portion of the trip. Without exception, they all warned us against it, saying they would never do it themselves — this, even from natives of Pittsburgh, who presumably would have known best. So, while I was waiting for the others in Ohiopyle, I made an effort to get us an alternative way to finish the route. There is an adventure outfitting company there that does provide van support, but it turned out they were already committed for the days we would need them; and they told me that there really was no other option for us. So, the die was cast — we would be finding out what was so awful about it.
So, while the Steves and Alexey made the side trip, the rest of us relaxed and enjoyed the village and the spectacular river. The temperature was in the upper 80s F, as it had been most days, so I appreciated the opportunity to move very slowly and tend to nothing more strenuous than my hydration.

From Ohiopyle, it was another 20 miles to our campground, a private area about three miles west of Connelsville. We had stayed there previously, so were familiar with its possiblities — a laundry and swimming pool, but no dining potential. We indulged ourselves by phoning for pizza to be delivered at poolside.

Day 8 — Connelsville to Pittsburgh, PA, 55 miles, 1,400′ climbing

Another day on the Great Allegheny Passage, miles and miles along the picturesque river and through tiny villages and parks. It was clear that we were getting closer to a population center as we encountered more people. At mile 36 of our map we stopped at a rail car parked next to the trail just past a highway bridge over the river. As we were looking around at the car, an authoritative person appeared on the scene and asked if we needed information. It turned out to be one of the cycling community who was active in promoting cycling and knowledgeable about routes. He didn’t offer us much encouragement regarding our eventual entrance to Pittsburgh but he did recommend that we leave the GAP at that point, head across the bridge, and follow a newly developed bike path on the opposite side. We followed his suggestion and soon were dodging around on old, river-front streets between commercial buildings of all sorts. After a long, hot pause for a puncture, we continued on our way as clouds moved into the region, threatening rain.

And, then, there we were on a major highway, riding along the right traffic lane as the rain began to fall. We stopped to regroup at a gas station, had some final snacks and water, and then set out on the very last piece of the ordeal, Carson St. This was about a five-mile stretch of a major road of only two lanes — one lane in each direction, and not an inch more of pavement. At our right elbow was a guard rail; at the left, trucks, busses, cars at 45-55 mph. Fortunately, it was slightly down hill, so we could keep a relative speed that wasn’t too bad. But, in order to get past us, all the traffic had to pull into the opposing lane and opportunities for that were relatively infrequent. So, we had big vehicles following us for quite a stretch at a time. It was nerve-wracking. On the other hand, just about everyone we inconvenienced was polite and sensible in dealing with us. No honking, no close calls, no crazy zooming around. Like the other cyclists we asked about this stretch, we don’t recommend anybody bicycle on Carson St. But, neither do we think it’s a death-trap. If you need to ride into Pittsburgh, you can do it this way.

We arrived at our hotel in late afternoon and were very relieved to have survived the ordeal and to be able to wash the road grime off. The main part of our great adventure was finished and we set about enjoying Pittsburgh for a bit before continuing.

Dinner was particularly gratifying on this day — we wanted to have a group gathering to commemorate the completion of the trip.It was to be our last day all together, since Rena and Bob had to rent a car and return home right away. A complication was that two of the participants are vegan and a third is vegetarian. We had managed to find suitable sustenance previously mainly because, as campers, we had the freedom to mix and recombine meals in campgrounds and hostels. But in the city we needed a restaurant. I was sure there was no such place. But, then, providence sent us to “The Doublewide” — a remarkable restaurant built on the premises of a gas station, with a menu including everything from authentic (and excellent) vegan fare to rare steaks and burgers. That, and some superb draught beer. Don’t forget: Doublewide if in Pittsburgh.

Day 9 — Spent in Pittsburgh, looking around, eating, relaxing.

Our Amtrak train was scheduled to leave at 11:59 pm and the only thing that the Steves, Alexey and I had to do before then was to get our bikes to the train station and packed into the Amtrak bike boxes. Although there are countless attractions in Pittsburgh, none of us really had the energy to pursue much. We contented ourselves with another look at the remarkable “inclines” — cable cars that climb the very steep (like, maybe, 45 degrees?) hillsides that rise from the river. A century ago, there were 12 such inclines that carried people from the river level to the residential neighborhoods at the top. Today there are only two left and it seems they are more an attraction for tourists than a transportation utility for natives. The view of the city as the car goes up is truly spectacular and then one can walk along the drive at the top and go out on observation platforms that hang over the cliffside. There are very nice signs put up by the tourism authorities, no doubt, that indicate the location of ice cream and coffee shops, and we obediently followed the directions.

Taking the bikes to Amtrak was, as previously, a pleasant experience. The train officials were very helpful in providing us with boxes and even with tape and markers to finish the packing. They let us check our panniers as luggage and let us store some of our carry-on bags behind their counter. Having left our bikes in the station we walked up to the old Pennsylvania Station which is now converted to private apartments and offices; this is one of the most  remarkable architectural spaces you’ll ever see, both inside the cavernous lobby that used to be a waiting room and outside under the columned hemispherical entryway. It’s really incomprehensible how a nation with this degree of reverential devotion to trains has come to hold them in virtual contempt.

Toward evening we took our time walking around looking for dinner, dragging things out so as not to have too much time to spend sitting in the railroad station. Eventually, it came to sitting around in the railroad station anyway.

Day 10 — Pittsuburgh to Syracuse, 8 miles

Unfortunately, the new scenery that I would have liked to see on the train route was covered in darkness. We found ourselves in Cleveland at something like 3:00 am, waiting for the eastbound connection with the Lake Shore Limited. Not surprisingly, Amtrak had some problems that night and a large number of westbound people were impatiently waiting for their train.Eventually, our connection arrived and we got on the train just about in time for breakfast. I’m a big fan of dining cars on trains, so I was eager to take advantage of the opportunity. It’s amazing that they can serve a pretty good meal these days, since most of the cooking equipment has been removed from the dining cars in favor of pre-cooked items.

Once in Syracuse, we assembled our bikes and headed for Steve Grossman’s house, about 8 miles from the Amtrak Station. Syracuse is a city I grew up in but haven’t been part of for over 40 years now. It was fun picking a route on streets I hadn’t seen in years but that felt so familiar. At Steve’s, we got cleaned up and enjoyed a great meal in his back yard.

Day 11 — Syracuse to Ithaca, 63 miles, 2,475′ climbing

Steve Grossman had taken this part of the trip as his first day — he rode down to Ithaca the day before we left. So, he was finished with the complete loop and only Steve Powell, Alexey and I were left to complete this trip.

The ride from Syracuse to Ithaca is one of the treats in this region. Leaving from the eastern suburb of Dewitt, we headed south to Jamesville and, from there, were in rural New York State in a broad valley gently sloping upward. At Apulia, we shifedt into another valley and continued south through state forest lands, farms, and a ski area. From Truxton, we headed west toward Cortland along the Tioghnioga River valley and, after passing through the city, stopped at Doug’s Fish Fry for a good lunch. Next, we picked up the road that follows Fall Creek almost all the way into Ithaca. Toward the end, Alexey veered off northward to his house northeast of Ithaca; and, a few miles later, Steve Powell veered the other way toward his home on Snyder Hill. I was left to complete the loop with the gorgeous descent down Hanshaw Road and Stewart Avenue to the flats of the city and our starting point on the west side. A half mile more and I was home, too.


C&O Canal — GAP, 2008 – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

This is a summary of the ride by Pam, one of the participants in the bike tour we took from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh, PA. Participants were three FLCC members and three acquaintances from the Bay Area of California. Steve Powell and Joe Lesh worked out all the details of how to get there and back as well as the stops each night.

Although I have only been home for a week, details of our great trip are fading quickly; Therefore, I better get this down while I have a few memories left.

Joe secured overnight lodgings at the French House at Rockwood Manor on secluded conference grounds [about 10 or 15 miles from DC along the C&O canal]. We stayed here both going and returning, some for 1 day, others more, and Joe for 7. They let us leave our vehicles here for the week at no extra cost. This was a real find, Joe. It was only about 1/2 mile from the trail. On Sat the 12th, Joe and I rode to Georgetown and back looking for mile “0.” The New York gang arrived in the afternoon and also rode some of it. Art arrived towards evening. We all went out for dinner at the Hunter’s Inn. I found out then how much these people can eat and still say so thin. I had to get a take-out box, but the others still had room for ice-cream. This set the precedent of the daily lookout for the local ice-cream shop!

Sun,13th, 8 AM we begin at mile 12 1/2. Saw our first of many, many locks (73+), lockhouses, and aqueducts. Lunch was at White’s Ferry (the last on the Potomac) which takes cars and people to Leesburg. I only had pretzels for lunch as the lone proprietor seemed sooo busy. I soon learned this was a mistake on my part, because I had little energy to get to the next stop which was Brunswick where I was able to get a sandwich at the Beans in the Belfry (a church complete with stained glass and pews turned into a coffee house.) I believe it was here that we first met Josh who ended up joining our group. As Joe had a tire bulge, he bought an extra from Josh. Art had his first of three flats. Then came our first (and only) downpour. I had a blowout and Chief Joseph changed it in the pouring rain. We made it to the spiral metal staircase to get onto the bridge which would take us to Harper’s Ferry. This was no small feat. We took refuge in the Secret 6 Tavern leaving 6 puddles on the floor. Since the skies didn’t look promising Joe was able to get us in to the Town’s Inn across the street. This was a charming old (1850) place with a host who even did our laundry. This sure beat setting up tents in the rain.

Mon,14th, we woke up to blue skies. Since I am the slowest member, I try to get a head start on the trail as everyone passes me up eventually. I’ve named my hybrid,”The Big Brown Slug.” It is so heavy; besides I have to blame my slow pace on the bike, not me! This was our longest day at 68 miles. I about fainted from hunger as we didn’t lunch at the Desert Rose in Williamsport til 3 PM and 40 miles. I had another flat! This time Joe changed it in a mosquito infested swamp area while I dabbed Deet on him. I have upgraded his status to Saint Joseph! We made it to Hancock and the “Chicken coop” This was a screened in porch with lots of wooden bunks, ouside showers and toilets and a secure fenced in area behind the local bike shop. As we had done a lot of miles and got in pretty late, made it barely before closing time to Weaver’s.

Tues,15th; After a hearty breakfast up Main Street we checked out the C & O bike shop and most people bought something. Art and I bought spare tubes! Lunch was at Bill’s Place, and Bill was actually there. Ran into another tour group here. Poor Art had his 3rd flat! We got to go through the famous Paw Paw tunnel; We walked our bikes with our lights on. I noticed on the cover of Adventure Cycling, the riders are NOT walking out of he tunnel. We cycled into Paw Paw, W. VA. where it was near impossible to find any wine. Steve and Joe secured supplies for our evening meal. Josh joined us at Town Creek Aqueduct campsite. Great pasta and sauce and cucumber meal. Thanks guys. 42 miles today

Wed,16th; Got off to my early start after a small breakfast. It was so enjoyable to go slow and enjoy all the early morning critters enjoying the pond scum which is actually very nutritious as turtles, frogs, birds, and fish live and eat in it. We ate a big breakfast in the Oldtown Kitchen (a converted high school).
Once again I started off first and almost made it to Cumberland before I decided maybe I was lost. Of course, there was another bike shop at the end of the 185 mile C & O Canal tow path. After a long lunch in town, we began the Great Allegheny Passage on the rail to trails. This gravel made the C & O look like a paved highway! Also it was much more exposed, making for a very long hot ride. Steve and Lorie surprised Joe, Art and me at mile 15 with some much needed gatorade and cookies. After more tunnels, crossing into PA at the Mason-Dixon Line, and reaching the continental divide, we had another 2-3 miles to reach the Mason-Dixon campsite. After thinking I am literally going to die pushing my bike up those last hills and not rolling into camp til 8:30 pm, it is amazing to me how quickly I recover. Had raspberries in Merlot for dinner. Yummy. Josh and Lorie hauled those 2 bottles up that long hill. Thanks a lot.50 miles today.

Thurs,17th; Only had to pedal about 12 miles to first stop, Meyersdale for our 2nd breakfast. at the Java Cafe. Then another 12 miles to Rockwood for lunch after, of course, visiting another bike shop. I reached Confluence first by following the bike path; the others crossed into town instead and purchased supplies for our evening meal to be prepared by Lorie and Art. Not to be outdone by Lorie and Josh carrying wine, Steve carried a watermelon on his bike cushioned by his daughter, Bonnie’s, homemade pillow! This was a fairly easy ride today til we got to Ohiopyle where we all (not just me) had to push our bikes up hill to reach the campsite. Another pasta dinner topped off by the watermelon which Steve sliced with a bike spoke! 54 miles today.

Fri,18th; After a grueling hill to get out of the campsite, we made it to Kentuck Knob, A Frank Lloyed Wright house built in the 50’s. Whee! A fun downhill leaving. Arrived in Connellsville and bought 18 bottles of beer at a tavern. Crazy rules in these eastern states. We Californians are spoiled. Camped at the River’s Edge where Joe and I cooled off close to nature while the others chose the pool. Andrejs and I ordered pizza which was delivered straight to the campsite. This went well with the beer. To heck with that cooking stuff. Here we met Mertie from Seattle who is pedaling all by herself all the way across the U.S. Impressive.

Sat,19th; After another oatmeal breakfast (sick of that) rode to West Newton for another breakfast! This was the slowest service ever. We had a deadline of meeting our ride in McKeesport. I was paranoid of not getting there in time so left without barely eating (had a bite of Steve’s) but made it there first (again). I noticed they all had time to stop for ice cream in Boston! This was essentially the end of our ride. After viewing the nonexistent trail to Pittsburgh we were glad to be in a van. He dropped us off at Duquesne University where we were able to actually take our bikes into the dorm rooms. They gave us very official looking ID cards. I had always wanted to go away to college and live in a dorm! Walked down 211 steps to get to Martini’s for dinner. Joe reminded us that there is a pawn shop on a corner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Anyone figure out the name of that song?

Sun, 20th. said our good-byes and hugs to Lorie who was being picked up by her son. We rode our bikes downtown for a bite at a bagel house and then found our way to the train station where they were extremely helpful at boxing up our bikes for their journey back to WDC. Since Joe and Steve had made all the other reservations, I has wrongly assumed that they had also made the railroad ticket reservations! Luckily, the same helpful guy got me a ticket. The rest of the day was spent on a walking tour of Pittsburgh. Got caught in a “sand”storm before the rain started, but took refuge in the Hyatt for a local beer, Ironside. I guess they thought we were guests of the hotel, because they hailed a hotel van to take us to the incline, a funicular, where, you guessed it, they found the ice cream shop. I even gave in and ate some for the first time of the trip (just to help Joe finish his huge double scoop!) Finished the day with dinner at Houlihan’s.

Mon, 21st. We waited nearly an hour for 2 taxi’s to take us to train station. After a long day of sitting we arrived late at Union Station, WDC. Waited over an hour at this end, too, for our bikes. Art had to leave for his plane which meant we had to leave his bike there. The train employees were none too happy about this. Josh was at the station to meet and guide us back to the trail. Back to the Hunter’s Inn for dinner at 10 PM.

Tues 22nd. Steve and Andrejs took off today. Joe and I drove to Gettysburg. Very educational museum and visitor’s center. The highlight was lunch at Dobbin’s Inn built in 1776 and a stop at a roadside stand for fresh peaches, corn, beans, peppers, and onions. I bought Maryland wine which tasted like grape juice. I now see why most all the wine is from California! Joe cooked a yummy dinner.

Wed 23rd. Met Josh at the Gravelly Point exit to ride the 14 miles up to Mt. Vernon, another educational must-see. We stopped at a Murphy’s bar in Alexandria for dinner. On way back went right over a black snake who proceeded to roll himself up!!! Got caught in rain and dark. Found refuge in the good old Rockwood Manor where we finished off the wine and peaches and discussed what a great trip he and Steve had organized. While a couple of days were grueling for me, I am extremely glad to have done it and actually look forward to the next trip (on a touring bike)! Overall, I have just over 400 miles on my odometer.

Til next time, Happy Biking, Pam


2009 Dish-to-Pass Dinner – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

I’d like to thank everyone who came to the bike touring dinner last night (Jan 10, 2009), and also those that wanted to attend, but couldn’t make it, due to the wintry weather. Despite the weather, we had 29 people attend, including two who arrived at the Ellis Hollow Community Center by bike! Andy Goodell and Jeff Bateman both deserve an award for biking in such challenging weather conditions.

We had an overflowing amount of pizza, since the order was placed several hours before the get-together, when not even one flake of snow had fallen. There was a nice variety of side-dishes and desserts, too — thanks for bringing them. We spent the first hour or so eating and socializing as people arrived at slightly different times, due to the weather. Around 6:15 pm we started the slide presentations. I’ll try to post the slide presentations on a website within the next couple of days, for everyone to view. Here is a list of what was presented:

  • Steve Powell — Recap of 2008 FLCC Touring Group tours, and ideas for 2009 tours
  • Bonnie Powell — Erie Canal photos and proposal for 2009 Kids/Teen tour
  • Lois Chaplin — Bike train trip to Old Forge
  • Steve Bowman — Ridge of the Rockies PacTour bike tour (Canada to Mexico)
  • Jeff Bateman — Lake Champlain and Vermont bike tour
  • Mary Bouchard — Travel and biking in Thailand
  • Juan Salazar — Lancaster County, PA and winter biking in/near Ithaca
  • Kyra Stephanoff — Vermont and Finger Lakes bike touring

Some ideas/suggestions for 2009 FLCC Touring Group tours included:

  • Weekend tours (3 or 4):
    • Ottawa Jail Hostel (Memorial Day weekend)
    • Ithaca to Chenango Valley State Park
    • Ithaca Finger Lakes (Treman, Watkins Glen S.P.)
    • Erie Canal (Fairport to Holley) — especially for Kids/Teens
    • Ludlow, VT Hostel
    • Pine Creek Trail (near Wellsboro, PA)
    • Niagara Peninsula
  • 10 day Tours (1 or 2):
    • Rochester/Lake Ontario/Niagara & back by Erie Canal
    • Ottawa/Montreal/Laurentiens Loop (including Le Petit Train du Nord)
    • Rocky Mountains Loop (WY/ID or Banff/Jasper)

We briefly discussed each of the above suggestions, and will continue the discussion to settle upon the final tours and dates. We will also have a general interest/organizing meeting for the FLCC Touring Group in the spring.

We spent the final half hour last night socializing and doing some bargaining for the bike parts that a few of us brought for the swap. The evening wrapped up around 8:15 pm.

–Steve Powell

P.S. Thanks to those who came early and stayed late for the set-up and clean-up last night (Andrejs Ozolins, Wayne Gottlieb, Steve Bowman, Jill & Bonnie Powell, and everyone who helped with the chairs).


Photos, Memorial Day – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

These are photos taken by various participants in the event.