2019 Epilogue . . . 2022 LA to Boston Day 1: El Segundo, CA

0 miles, 0 feet climbed

After 3 years, here’s the Epilogue I promised back in 2019 at the end of the America By Bicycle America North tour:

If I had profound thoughts to share, I’ve forgotten them. I do believe that the small changes to the route were good–getting off the highway between Astoria and St. Helens on day 1 and the diversion through the Badlands in South Dakota. On the other hand, the narrow stretch of Highway 26 north of the Warm Springs casino, avoided in 2004, was nasty, with narrow or no shoulders and kamikaze logging trucks. The routing the next day between Madras and Prineville wasn’t much better for truck traffic on narrow roads. I hope that some money is freed to maintain the Elroy-Sparta bike trail, a highlight from 2004 and a muddy slog this time.

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Day 49 – Brattleboro, Vermont to Manchester, New Hampshire

79 miles, 4885 feet climbed

Today’s climbing, while less in absolute terms than yesterday’s, felt like more. That was likely due to the slopes being steeper. The route is modified from 2004, skipping two steep climbs according to staff. I remember one of them–Joe English Road–which my friend Andrew and I raced up the 10% grade for nearly a mile only to find a little more 10% after a false flat near the top. The downhill into Manchester was more rewarding than today’s approach. But change is good, right?

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Day 48 – Latham, New York to Brattleboro, Vermont

79 miles, 5696 feet climbed

Today was perhaps our biggest day of climbing, comparable to Teton pass in total, but spread out over more, smaller climbs at lower elevations. While we haven’t climbed this much for weeks, we were still stronger for all the miles we’ve ridden and this did not feel as difficult.

There was no rain in the forecast but dark clouds were hovering over Hogback, our last climb before the descent into Brattleboro. A light rain started at the second SAG, and abated before I topped Hogback.

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Day 47 – Little Falls to Latham, New York

75 miles, 2457 feet climbed

Today we dispensed with the rain of the last few days, though I left my jacket in my seat bag just in case. The day was spent near and sometimes along the Erie Canal, as well as the railroad line that made it obsolete, affecting the small towns along the canal in not so good ways. I could also hear the trains running fairly frequently last night; out hotel was just across the highway and my room faced in that direction.

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Day 46 – Syracuse to Little Falls, New York

79 miles, 1726 feet climbed

Another cool day to start, warming to comfortable levels. Humid but tolerably so. Either rain or at least we roads, depending on where you were in the pack. Near Little Falls, I hit something metallic and hard with my front tire and noticed it going flat right as I rolled up to a group fixing another flat. Though I was expecting a pinch flat–two holes opposite each other as if a snake had bitten it– there was only one hole on the tire seam. Perhaps the hard hit had popped open a weak spot. With several hands to help pull the slippery wet tire back onto the rim, I was back on the road quickly.

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Day 45 – Rochester to Syracuse, New York

89 miles, 2717 feet climbed

Today a steady rain began as we left the hotel and continued for at least two hours. We rode only the first 5 or so miles of the Erie Canal trail and then diverted to Route 31 for 60 miles or so. With the rain and needing to keep moving, I took only a few photos.

At the second SAG stop, Karen showed me the future weather radar track of a heavier storm. That incentivized me to put my head down and make some speed for our hotel. I just about made it when light rains began to fall again, but was able to watch the heavier rains from the lobby.

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Day 44 – Niagara Falls to Rochester, New York

104 miles, 1614 feet climbed

Unlike 2004, out route today took us north from Niagara Falls and along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, then eventually south east to the southern part of Rochester. Thunderstorms were a possibility later in the day. At the third SAG near Spencerport, the rain started. Kees and I took a break at a pizza place for paninies. The sun came out for a while but we got some more rain before we reached Rochester. We finished in sunshine.

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Day 43 – Niagara Falls, New York (Rest Day)

It has taken me a while to get to the backlog of daily reports. Rain on two days and bad WiFi have conspired to prevent me from catching up. Consider this a down payment.

The weather was not that hot but felt hotter due to the humidity. Nothing a shower couldn’t wash away. I started mid-morning at Goat Island, a short walk from our hotel on the New York side of the falls. Eventually I walked back over to the Canadian side.

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Day 42 – Brantford, Ontario, Canada to Niagara Falls, New York

75 miles, 1588 feet climbed

Today was another day of pleasant weather. Headwinds and crosswinds again, but not too strong. We did get to climb a few relatively steep, but short, hills as we approached the Niagara area, the first after days of pretty flat terrain. We’ll have more, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire.

When we got to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, I left my camera in my pocket, knowing that I will return on our rest day tomorrow with the big camera. Look for those in tomorrow’s report.

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