Weekend Tour One, 2008
- Cue sheets: Detailed turn-by-turn directions with distances
- Map, day 1: Cayuga Mall to Fillmore Glen State Park
- Map, day 2: Fillmore Glen State Park to Sampson State Park
- Map, day 3: Sampson State Park to Ithaca
- Photos: snapshots from various sources, in no special order
June 13-15: Weekend Tour — Ithaca – Fillmore Glen – Sampson State Park – Ithaca
At around 4:30 pm last Friday a group of 9 cyclists and 3 support people gathered in the parking lot of the Cayuga Mall in Ithaca. This would be the first FLCC overnight tour of this season where we would be fully embracing self-contained touring (a fancy way of saying we were going to carry all, or nearly all, of our camping gear and weekend supplies on our bikes). Andrejs Ozolins arrived with wonderfully detailed cue sheets and colorful maps for all 3 days of touring. We gathered in the small covered gazebo in the hotel parking lot and started looking at the details: 18 miles to Moravia where we would camp later that evening at Fillmore Glen State Park, 52 miles for the Saturday riding to Seneca Lake and Sampson State Park, and 34 miles for the last leg of the journey on Sunday back to Ithaca.
9 Riders and 8 Bikes
Captain Paul Monkman and stoker Oliver on a red Bike Friday tandem, with Holly Monkman nearby on her own bike fully laden with rear panniers. Scott Smith from Newfield with a beautiful mid-1980’s black Miyata touring bike that he bought recently on Ebay for $200 (I believe he told me) and the seller said had less than 500 miles on it. If anyone has anything to sell or buy on Ebay they should contact Scott because he has story after story of great Ebay deals. Mary Bouchard with her seatpost-mounted rear pack and bright red handlebar bag. Jim Landis with his vintage blue and white beautifully lugged touring bike, and brand new low-rider front rack and panniers. Mark Cordano also had a nicely lugged touring bike with new rear panniers and a matching handlebar bag. Andrejs Ozolins chose his black Bike Friday for this ride, and used the matching suitcase/2-wheeled trailer to very elegantly pull all of his weekend gear. I rode my reliable Trek 520 touring bike with what everyone agreed were the worlds largest panniers (Arkel GT-54s). My bike topped out at nearly 70 lbs — try riding that on the Cacadilla Hill Climb!
Hobit Lafaye and Jacob enthusiastically provided transport for a few stray items that wouldn’t fit on our bikes and was on standby for SAG rider scoop-up (fortunately, not needed). Throughout the weekend Hobit drove ahead to the next campground, handled the check-in process, and was there to greet us as we arrived on our bikes. David Williams joined us for camping Friday night in Moravia, drove back to Ithaca for a wedding on Saturday, and then drove up to the north end of Seneca Lake to help with dinner (thanks for the watermelon) and camping that evening. Diana Ozolins also drove up to Sampson State Park for dinner and camping on Saturday, and had a large tarp on standby in case of the rain that never came on Saturday night. A big thanks to all of these support people.
With the assist of a nice southerly tailwind we covered the 18 miles from the Cayuga Mall to Fillmore Glen State Park in just under 1-1/2 hours. Not bad considering the loads we were carrying, and the fact that several in our group were touring with a loaded bike for the very first time. We followed the published cue sheet route that is used on many of the FLCC Sunday rides to/from Moravia (Warren Rd to Asbury to Benson, etc…., to NY 90 to NY 38). We road in one large group most of the time, with quite a bit of space between us, since we were still getting used to the feel of the loaded bikes. For those interested: In general, a fully-loaded touring bike rides very smoothly, with wider tires (and lower air pressure) than racing-oriented road bikes, and typically a steel frame that soaks up much of the imperfections in the roadway. But it does take some time for your brain to get accustomed to the different steering sensitivity of a loaded bike. We passed the little diner on the right hand side of NY 38 just before we turned into the state park (Andrejs noted that the diner was open until 8 pm and later went back for a meal). We unloaded our packs from our bikes, set up our tents and spread out over the 3 campsites. Fortunately, the 20% chance of rain never materialized, at least in Moravia, so we were able to get the camp setup at a leisurely pace. Hobit setup the big 3-burner camp stove and she and Jacob prepared their dinner (the ever-popular baked beans plus something else I didn’t see). Mark and I rode to the nearby supermarket in Moravia for some freshly canned foods.
Some of us got up as early as 5:30 am. The rumor was that a weather front with showers and thunderstorms would move through the area mid-day, so there was some motivation to get as much cycling done early in the day. Jim was all packed up by 7:15 am and decided to head out on his own and forge the trail for all of us. Most of the rest of us left an hour later, and headed up the west side of Owasco Lake towards Auburn. The typical FLCC ride around Owasco Lake goes counter-clockwise around the lake, so I enjoyed heading north on the west side of the lake for the first time. Nice views of the lake and the hills as one approaches Auburn at the northwest end of the lake. We picked up a few sprinkles of rain in Auburn and we stopped at the convenience store at the traffic circle for a mid-morning snack. Andrejs plotted a very interesting course through Auburn and westward toward Cayuga Lake, mostly on Genesee St, avoiding the main highway (US 20). At the village of Cayuga we turned onto the very quiet River Rd which took us past lock #1, which connects Cayuga Lake to the Erie Canal system. There is also a spillway system there which is used (I think) to control the lake level. With temperatures in the 80s we enjoyed the occasional light showers. Just enough to cool off a bit, but not enough to get soaked. 5 of us grabbed a take-out sandwich at another convenience store at the north end of the lake, and planned to have a picnic at the nearby Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. As we turned into the entrance road to the refuge, the light showers changed to a more sustained rain. We took shelter under a huge, and I mean huge, red and white canopy — the type used at a large graduation ceremony or even a circus. We later learned that it had been setup for a wine festival for the following day. Very convenient lunch location. The rain stopped just about the time we finished lunch, and then did a quick look around the refuge visitors center. I am not a big bird person, so I didn’t get a lot out of the displays, but Scott, Holly, Paul, and Oliver seemed to enjoy them. All I remember is that the water at the visitors center is not safe to drink, and there is a warning sign only in the women’s restroom (thanks Holly for saving the rest of us).
I see this write-up is getting much too long. So I’ll try to be quick with the rest.
We zipped from Montezuma to Seneca Falls on the evil NY 20 highway (too much traffic, but at least a big shoulder). Picked up some supplies at a large farmstand/local market, and all rendezvoused at Sampson State Park around 3 pm or so. Actually, Mary, Mark, and myself arrived last since we decided to take an extended break at a winery overlooking Seneca Lake. Some wine tasting and refilling of water bottles. I was really impressed how both Mary and Mark were able to fit full-sized wine bottles into their bike packs that just moments earlier appeared to be full. Just before arriving at the state park, we came across Andrejs and Steve Grossman resting at the side of the road. Steve Grossman had hoped to do the entire weekend trip, but due to some needed home repairs had instead opted to ride with us for part of Saturday (he coordinated with Andrejs via cellphone and met up with him in Seneca Falls).
At Sampson State Park we had 3 sites overlooking Seneca Lake. Mark set about preparing an amazing pasta dinner for the entire group that had grown to 13 people. Thanks Mark for coordinating the food purchase with Hobit and cooking all of the food.
At 5:15 am I woke up to the smell of fresh french toast being cooked on the camp stove by master chef Mark. What a treat compared to the usual abbreviated camping food. Jim once again was the first packed up and ready to roll by 7:15 am. The rest of us dribbled out of the campground between 8:00 and 9:00 am. The climb up from Seneca Lake near Willard slowed us, but had the advantage of bunching a group of us back together. We headed east across the ridge between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes on a nice low-traffic road masterfully selected by Andrejs (CR 139). Right turn on NY 89, and south along the shore of Cayuga Lake and back into very familiar territory.
But one last great experience awaited us before returning to Ithaca. We had planned to stop at the Cayuga Creamery along NY 89, south of Interlaken, for lunch. But because we had made such good time cycling, we arrived at 10:00 am, a full 2 hours before it’s usual opening time. We propped our bikes against the front of the building and peered into the darkened ice cream shop. Our fortune quickly changed when the proprietor opened the door, and offered to open the shop early just for our cycling group. We helped setup the chairs in the dining area and even carried some of the supplies from the proprietor’s vehicle into the store. The proprietor and assistant could not have been nicer as they took our sandwich and ice cream orders. They asked some questions about our touring route and we showed them our progress on the laminated Finger Lakes map on the wall of the shop.
Back on the bikes, south on NY 89, Andrejs, Mark, and Mary split off toward Trumansburg, while Scott and I continued to downtown Ithaca, and up the hills to our homes, arriving in the early afternoon. The Monkman trio arrived at their home a little later as they continued to savor the Cayuga Creamery experience. A great weekend.
Until July 25-27, when we will do something similar…..