From Max Kraft (with my additions below):
Despite rain in the forecast and the concurrent Cayuga Lake Triathlon there were 20 riders gathered at the Watkins Glen Marina parking lot Sunday morning, ready to go for a ride. Out of the rides I have been on, this is the largest group I have seen yet for a Sunday ride. Adding to it, Nancy Lorr started the ride early, around 8:00, to guarantee time for a pleasant summer ride around the Seneca Lake at her own pace. From the abundance of bikes seen on cars (some with tri numbers, others without), other cyclists seen along the way and the large turnout in our group, it appeared to be a popular day for cycling in the Finger Lakes.
Andy and Sam biked to the start, as well as Stewart who biked from his home. As for the rest, we all arrived via metal box. Alas, I too drove out in my own metal box, and solo despite my late-Friday appeal to share motorized conveyance. On the late side, I arrived a few minutes past 9, and soon after the group was rolling. It immediately became apparent that the whole group was not going to stick together, something encouraged by the immediate, ~1,000 foot climb out of Watkins Glen and predicted afternoon storms. I think ultimately 2 groups formed, and I hope that everyone enjoyed the ride. From the start, I should say that it was an absolutely perfect day for cycling, and we talked about how great a morning it must be for the Cayuga Lake Triathlon. For anyone who did that, I hope you also had a great time! With temps. around 70 there was no need for the arm warmers I packed, but it was not hot, either, with light cloud cover and the slightest, most pleasant of breezes at our backs.
In the front group of 12 or so, the pace was blistering on the way to lunch along a seemingly flat, gently rolling course. A strong tandem team with perfect cadence led the carge, leading to an average speed of 18.2 mph when we arrived in Geneva. We took a water and rest break in town, stopping at the Geneva Bike Shop. The second group showed up not too long after, and got lunch at a restaurant just down the road on the corner. Before long, the tandem team took to the road, the last to be seen of them. Some other riders also parted, beginning a progressive, controlled fragmenting of the group.
After lunch, the skies cleared, the sun came out, and the day became quite beautiful. On top of it, the route closely followed the lake on the way back while passing through fields of hay and vineyards gently sloping towards the lake, adding to the beauty of the ride! We were now a group of 8. About 10 miles post lunch, I got my first flat in a long time, a nice arrowhead shaped piece of glass snugly lodged in the tire. Eileen stopped to accompany me in changing it, and after a cal ahead, we were able to meet back up with the group. Stopping only provided another good opportunity to look about at the beautiful countryside. Continuing on, we passed thorough Sampson State Park and by many more vineyards, as well as Finger Lakes Distilling. After the park, the group began to fragment again, with Stewart peeling off towards his home. Andy’s back wheel began to make some interesting noises, at which point some thunder storms began to threaten, visible on the far side of the lake. While check his wheel, two others went on ahead to make sure they made it back before the storm. Andy, Sam, and Dany then turned off to bike back to Ithaca. Eileen and I then continued towards the start, only for me to be interrupted by the most painful Charley Horse in my quad that I can recall! At this point, it would be fair to say that I was pretty beat, and I literally had to lay on the side of the road for a while until my leg relaxed and I felt okay again. Eileen kindly waited for me, again. Having suffered both mechanical and now physical breakdown, and with storms gathering to the West of us, I was pretty much ready to call it a day. At a much slower pace, Eileen and I (gingerly) continued on, reaching Watkins Glen and completing the ride ahead of the rain. There, we took some photos to document the day and got some delicious ice cream (banana-vanilla twist soft serve, yum!).
I started from the west hill at 6:20am with a route on the GPS eventually aiming for Watkins Glen. I went up Rt96, through Trumansburg, and then turned west to follow Seneca Rd for a long way. The surface switched between paved, gravel that looked like sealant was sprayed on, and a stretch of good old gravel through the Finger Lakes National Forest. I had to chuckle when I saw a sign that indicated that there was no winter maintenance, when parts of that road seemed like there was never maintenance. It was a calm ride, having 2.5 hours to myself with only 3 cars passing in 20 miles. After 31 miles, I got to the marina to join up with the group.
— insert Max’s description here —
Shortly after hitting the 100 mile point of my day, that mystery noise set in. The two nuts that tighten against each other on the rear axle had come loose. I made a good enough adjustment by sticking the flathead screwdriver part of my multitool against the inner bolt to move it around while turning the wheel. Thankfully that held well, and survived the ride home.
As the 3 of us riding back to Ithaca got towards Searsburg, we finally hit the storms. Sam found a church with a big enough awning to stand under, while we waited out the lightning. The storm was moving especially slow, but eventually we headed back into light rain towards Gimme Coffee in Trumansburg for some warm drinks.
Definitely a great ride, with nearly perfect weather for riding most of the day. Seneca was on my list since going around Cayuga two years ago, so I’m glad to have finally accomplished that ride.