Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Kanata Nepean Bicycle Club Trip to New York

THE KNBC Bike Trip to Upper State New York 2009

On August 1st, a group of 13 cyclists from the KNBC bike club, led by Barrie Kirk left from Ogdensburg New York to complete some 250km. The bikers were Simone, Allan, Barbara, Deborah, Karine, Phil, Kerry, Sue, Barry, Mary, Christine, Rowena and Frances.

We cycled in glorious conditions on rolling hills to the town of Canton New York where we met with four members of the Canton Bicycle club. The CBC as they are known, agreed to show us some of the backroad routes in upper state New York.

Our lunch stop was at a charming little cafe in Potsdam New York. Potsdam's downtown section has old brick and stone buildings, large churches and most importantly a functioning bike shop. The bike mechanic, a taciturn fellow adjusted my gears after commenting about the 'crap'. After lunch I volunteered to 'sweep' to allow me to take more photographs.

We rode past verdant pastures and large red barns passing Amish farms and the occasional horse and buggy. The Amish were selling cookies and large baskets at the roadside along with fresh produce. At one point, we passed a horse and buggy where two small children were waiting. The boy was about 5 in a large straw hat, and his sister in a lovely white bonnet. According to Will, one of our hosts, the Amish are recent additions having purchased many marginally productive farms. The Amish have flourished as they sell fresh produce.

We stopped in Malone New York at a Super 8. There is something very satisfying about a trip that uses panniers as your entire universe is contained within them. I unpacked, had supper watched a little bit of Annie Hall and waited for Sunday.

On Sunday, the day began with an ominous dark cloud. Once we had embarked on our bicycles, it began to rain. We were riding towards Massena, having decided that a scenic route was not suitable in the rain. We rode mainly along HWY 37 on the wide shoulders.
The US drivers were very courteous despite some of our members riding abreast rather than single file.

Our first stop was at a volunteer fire station in Ft. Covington NY. They were preparing for a large chicken BBQ and we sheltered from the rain. There was not a square millimeter of me that was dry. I was also a little cold by this point.

We carried on in the rain to our lunch spot, a restaurant in Awkasasne that had been closed for some time and sheltered in the porch. I put on a sweater under my rainjacket and felt a lot better. When we left, the rain came in sheets. It poured with large droplets and sheets of rain pounding us, the wind against us. In this deluge of Biblical proportions, Mary got a flat tire and Barry fixed it. Barry distinguished himself in this tour as BICYCLE REPAIR MAN, for his deft handling of flats, blowouts and other mishaps.

Exhausted, we arrived at the Super 8 shortly after 1pm to be greeted by a rather surprised and surly desk clerk. She conceeded that although it was early, it had indeed rained and let us into our half prepared rooms.

Our dinner experience was a true marx brothers comedy. It seems that 13 people cannot agree where to go, and we trudged to two restaurants, to discover one was closed and the other unsuitable before crossing the road to a Chinese buffet. There are always Chinese food places. Chinese food has become ubiquitous!

The next day was again glorious and sunny and we met with our CBC counterparts. We decided to do a scenic route along the seaway and rode to the Eisenhower locks. They are a marvel of engineering and opened shortly after the seaway was build at great cost.

We then toured a small island that had a lovely little nature museum. It was in this museum that I discovered a blue parrot called Axel. Axel loved music and after I sang the Handel Largo, bounced and cooed for more.

Shortly after the island, there was a small hill and as I engaged my lowest gear, it slipped and I fell badly gouging my knee. Simone bandaged my knee but Barry Kirk was there ensuring it was all fine.

We rode on the seaway trail passing lovely homes and beautiful lakeside views until we stopped in a park for a sandwich lunch. My knee was attended to and I became aware of the depth of the cut. I decided I should go to the hospital. Our CBC hosts, agreed to accompany me for treatment and kindly found a small medical clinic which was only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I rejoined the group.

The remainder of the ride passed fields of hay, beautiful farms and very quiet country roads. Once more Barry's superhuman skills were required as Simone's rear inner tube exploded with a bang behind me.

In all, I estimate Barry repaired at least 5 flat tires, two of whom belonged to Allan!

We rode back to the Wallmart parking lot in Ogdensburgh against the wind and were there close to 5pm. I drove to the Kemptville hospital and had my knee attended to. I am not sure clips are a good idea for me!

In short, it was a good trip.

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