Over a chicken burrito and Tai curry at the “Za” restaurant we wondered if we were ready for our first 50-mile ride of the season. It was May third and we hadn’t ridden over 10 miles in a day yet this spring. The weatherman was predicting, “frost tonight and partial sun raising temps to near 50 tomorrow.” Had we brought enough warm layers? We would know soon enough.
A Spring Ride in Scenic Allegany County
After dinner we drove up to the Country Cabin Manor B&B and checked in. Allan, who built the log cabin structure is also the cook and took our breakfast order (lots of carbohydrates!) Judy gave Linda a tour of the four beautifully decorated smokeless & pet free guest rooms and suits, each with their own motif. I’d never seen a B&B with such modern appointments: private baths, air conditioning, Jacuzzi and high speed Internet. On our way to the “Elegance Room” our home for the next two nights, we picked up a DVD from the selection in the hall. We settled in, relaxed and forgot about the weather.
In the morning Alan and Judy greeted us with ham, eggs, fresh pineapple, fresh strawberries and French toast with brown sugar, maple and pecan glaze. It was great, we left the table carbo-loaded for whatever the morning ride would bring! Judy suggested a stop to see a nearby beaver dam. Sounded good to us, that would be a good breather before what would be our last hill-climb of the day.
We pulled our bike, a recumbent tandem, out of Alan’s garage and loaded our three empty bags on the back. We hoped to fill the bags with clothes, as the day warmed up from a chilly 36 degrees start. The driveway was the only pedaling we would need to do for the next few miles as we descended towards town. Coasting faster and faster the wind chill asserted itself, we were looking forward to a nice warm hill-climb!
Once we passed Alfred the descent (and wind chill) moderated. The gift and pottery shops in Alfred and Alfred Station weren’t open yet; maybe this evening we would check them out if we weren’t to tired. We passed the Bicycle Man shop in Alfred Station and turned onto Rt. 21. The road was more level here, the wind decreased and we began to warm up.
We rode through Almond passing the Big Dipper, an ice-cream stand. To cold for ice cream this morning! Just past Almond we turned east on County Rt. 2, the first climb of the day. Shifting into low we took our time and began to warm up, it felt great. On the climb we passed the first of several farms, a dairy. We were in the country now! Rout 2 is a great ride, a dozen miles of woods and cows, hills and horses but very little traffic.
At the bottom of a hill we went through West Almond, a sleepy little berg. We slowed down to enjoy the two old Churches before climbing out of town past a pinewood on the left. The cool breeze coming from the trees would feel good later in the season.
Soon we were over the crest and starting the last decent into Angelica, it was 12:30 and we both felt ready for lunch. Angelica, one of the first planned communities in western NY is a small town full of history. It was the County seat for over 100 years and now it is a quiet village whose downtown is full of architectural treasures. Most of the stone, brick and frame structures on Main Street and Park Circle are listed on the National Historic Register. It seems like half of the old storefronts are now antique shops. The village is centered on the Park Circle, with its half dozen churches, a Victorian bandstand and community croquet court. Among the dozens of homes is the Park Circle B&B, so it would be easy to make our ride a two-day event with side trips.
Unfortunately, it seems most of the town is closed Monday and Tuesday and we arrived on Tuesday. We stopped at the Vintage Cafe but it was closed. The owner of another shop poked his head out his door to tell us the American House was open and serving lunch at the bar.
We rode down to the Hotel and walked in, feeling a bit out of place in our fluorescent green jackets. “Come on in, it’s too late, we’ve spotted you!” the waitress called out. We were hungry and ordered two burgers & fries to fuel up. Over lunch we decided to shorten our ride by 5 miles, forgoing a side trip past the Six-S Golf Course to see the wood-arch Transit Bridge. After lunch we perused the Olde Garage Antique shop. I found a reasonably priced enameled Christmas tree ornament and a book. With them safely packed away in one of our panniers we turned south down a tree lined side street with more large old houses.
In less than a mile the street became the aptly named Gordon Hill road, this was the steepest hill of our day. Once over this challenge we found ourselves in quiet countryside again. We soon turned onto River Road, which sounded good rivers don’t go over hills. The sun came out in strength and we were soon in Belmont where we met a kid about 6 years old on a sidewalk bike. He stared at us and said, “You shouldn’t ride in the road” just the way his mom says it to him.
We continued south on the Back River Road another promisingly flat road. We were soon in the countryside riding south along the Genesee River. As we lazed along this road we stopped and peeled another layer. The panniers were full of our discarded clothing by now, if it got much warmer we would have to tie our cloths to the bike! In Scio we crossed the river and stopped at the convenience store to pick up a few snacks. It was a dozen or so miles back to the B&B. We sat in a park, glad for the sun to eat our snack. The rest of the ride was a lovely mix of fields and pine trees. It turns out our ride would take us around 11,000 acres of state forestland. No wonder we saw so many pines!
The pavement was good, the valley was gentle, the wind was warming and behind us. We passed Vander-view Golf and soon the smell of fresh cut wood drew out attention to a small lumber mill. We soon came to Rt. 244 and our last hill! We found Judy’s beaver dam but didn’t see any busy beavers. After a minute we headed up the last hill, back to the Country Cabin Manor.
We had been taking it easy the last ten miles, saving our strength for this hill, it paid off. We climbed steadily to the crest and accelerated down the other side. In another minute or so I was squeezing the brakes as our destination came into sight. We climbed off the bike, feeling like we had accomplished something, after all we had ridden 45 miles through two major watersheds (St. Lawrence and Susquehanna) and circumnavigated 11,000 acres of pine trees and it was still early May!
While Linda carried the bags into our room I stowed the bike safely in the garage. That evening we picked up two large salads from the Collegiate restaurant in nearby Alfred. Back in our room we fired up the Jacuzzi and let the swirling water melt our fatigue away while we reminisced over the days events; the chill of the first decent, the warmth of the first climb, the kids admonition to stay out of the road, the greening spring leaves, surmounting our last climb. It was a great day! We ate dinner and crawled into bed to watch a movie but fell asleep before it was half over.
AlfredThe Bicycle Man 607-587-8835
More info on Alfred shopping www.alfredny.biz
AngelicaAngelica Inn Victorian Bed & Breakfast
64 West Main Street
Angelica, NY 14709
(585) 466-3063 Park Circle B&B
2 East Main Street
Angelica, NY 14709
More info on Angelica shopping www.angelica-ny.com