While polar vortexes freeze the mid-west, it seemed like a good time to think about Spring. Here are some cycling destinations to dream about (or events to sign up for!) to help get you through till April.
I have a limited budget and usually focus on adventures that don’t require a lot of money. One of my yearly traditions is to ride around all the Finger Lakes. I start small by riding around Conesus Lake (19 miles) and working my way east each weekend. I usually skip Seneca and Cayuga until I’ve put in the base miles riding the other lakes and finish them off at the end of Summer. All it costs is time and gas money. A great resource is Backroad Bicycling in the Finger Lakes Region: 30 Tours for Road and Mountain Bikes, Fourth Edition by Mark Roth and Sally Walters. I’ve had a dog-eared copy in my bike bag for decades.
This year I’m thinking of trying some rides customers have come in raving about. First up is the FiveBoro BikeTour of New York City on May 5th. It’s 40 miles through Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island with the roads closed to everything but bicycles from 7:30am till 6:00pm. Cost is $110 and proceeds go to a children’s charity. It’s hard to imagine 32,000 cyclists gawking at Gotham and not crashing into each other without someone saying “Hey, I’m biking here!”.
Next up is the Cycle Erie Bike Tour July 7-14. This follows the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany covering roughly 50 miles a day from Sunday to Sunday. Camping, sag wagon, breakfast, dinner, entertainment and baggage transport are included in the entry fee of $835. I’m trying to become a volunteer to get a reduced/free ticket. There are shorter options for those with limited vacation days; 4 day Buffalo to Syracuse, 4 day Syracuse to Albany, 2 day Buffalo to Fairport and 2 day Canajoharie to Albany.
If you survive that, The Great Big FANY Ride comes up July 21-26. This ride crosses New York State north to south starting in Plattsburgh and ending in Poughkeepsie. There are 50 mile per day and 70 mile per day options, camping and baggage transport are included in the registration fee of $375 (meals not included). The route goes along Lake Champlain, crosses into Vermont, rides through a covered bridge, crosses the Hudson River, heads over to Woodstock and then on down to Poughkeepsie via the Walkway Over the Hudson. Sounds like it would be a blast and I would really like to do it. Also, I really want The Great Big FANY Ride T-shirt because it sounds cool.
If you are looking for a one day or quick overnight a good bet would be the Pine Creek Rail Trail. It’s located in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon between Wellsboro and Jersey Shore, PA. There is 60 miles of Rail Trail meandering along Pine Creek that is perfect for a relaxing day riding without cars. There are a bunch of waterfalls to look at, creeks to splash in and picnic spots to take a break. I also hear it’s a great place for some trout fishing if you are so inclined. A lot of folks head to the Ansonia Access Area near Wellsboro and ride to the Rattlesnake Rock Access Area 19 miles away. And yes, there can be rattlesnakes along the trail! Not too far down the path is Tiadaghton Campground which is run by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The nice thing about it is that cars are not allowed to stay overnight so it is only for people riding or hiking the trail. If you want to ride one way only, Pine Creek Outfitters can provide car shuttle service for a small fee so your car will be waiting for you at the end of your ride.
Last, but not least is the Greater Allegheny Passage (GAP) which runs 150 miles from Pittsburgh PA to Cumberland Gap MD. It starts at Point State Park in Pittsburgh and heads to Ohiopyle State Park (near Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water). From there it passes through the Laurel Highlands, crosses the Eastern Continental Divide (2392’) and the Mason-Dixon Line on it’s way to the Cumberland Narrows. On the way you will ride through four railroad tunnels, the longest being Big Savage Tunnel which is 3294 feet-bring your headlight! I was all set to go last Fall but then the record rains and flooding hit just as I was leaving. The GAP and I have unfinished business and I hope to see you there this September.
Hope you make some of these February dreams into reality this year.