5:25am my alarm goes off and I hop out of bed and see the pile of clothes I laid out the night before in order of what to put on first. I ate the usual cereal for breakfast, and 6am seemed to come up instantly. I got on the bike to head up the driveway, and within a minute I saw Dan B’s light in the distance coming up Rt 96. With 175 miles to go, my ride was starting just as the sun was rising.
The route would take us through Watkins Glen, Dundee, Penn Yan, Canandaigua, Naples, Geneva, Ovid, and Ithaca, and those were the towns that we stopped at for breaks along the way. As usual, the ride to Watkins Glen was smooth. Dan got breakfast at Sunoco, we hit the marina bathrooms for water, and continued up the hill. Dundee came up quickly as well, and a quick stop at the grocery store for bathrooms was met with funny looks from the young employees there doing nothing since there were no customers at 9am.
Heading to Penn Yan, we ventured off the state route 14A and onto the rural farm roads which were also clear of traffic. Maybe a car passed us, but it seemed like a lazy Sunday for most people. There’s a bridge under construction in town, and we missed the turn to avoid donwtown, but followed a detour to get back on track. The rural roads parallel to 14A continued to treat us well, and the maps seem to indicate that they might have a few less rollers to them as well.
78 miles in we started heading south along the edge of Canandaigua Lake, still in light rain, dodging puddles and listening for cars approaching. This area felt like the rolling terrain I’m more used to, and at mile 86 we started the big climb away from the lake. The climb is only about 400ft up, which is equal to what I commute up each day, but after a long ride, that becomes more difficult! I stopped twice on the way up, and was rewarded with spectacular views of the lake and was glad I looked back. As the route profile shows, there are a few ups and downs, and one steeper descent into Naples. Rt 21 bends back closer to the lake which looked like it would have been a fabulous descent, but instead we stayed on Naples Rd which continues to offer amazing views of the lake before dropping quickly into Naples.
With no known places to stop before Geneva, we opted for a stop at a Subway in Naples. Upon getting ready to leave, my rear tire felt soft, and I found a small sharp rock embedded in the tire. A quick tire change later and I was ready to roll again. Fortunately Rt 245 is a pleasant meandering road that leads almost to Geneva and with the rain stopped and a slight tailwind, I was feeling much better and more confident that making it home still feeling good would be possible again. We reached 5&20 again, which was possible to avoid most of and I probably would seek a side road here if I came back again. In Geneva, we stopped for a longer break at a pizza place across the street from the Geneva Bicycle Center (which is closed on Sundays).
We briefly rode through Lakefront Park, which doesn’t have a formal exit on the east side (who plans these things?) – though as we passed by that corner of the park, I did notice a foot path going around the fence that seemed to be the solution for the future. The highway riding here is one of the sketchier places I hate to ride on, but there are no good alternatives. Dan made the suggestion that we ride along Seneca Lake instead of following the state route back to Ithaca, and I agreed that would be a good route. I originally thought that by this point, I would be out of energy and hoping to take the most direct roads home, but after a nice break in Geneva, I was feeling good again.
As we turned south, we both noticed a rather sudden temperature change. By the lake was fairly cold, especially for me in shorts, but as we turned south, we hit very warm air which was a good change. The sun was also starting to come out after it being a cloud covered day until this point. We made it into Sampson Park, which I now realize I was confusing in my memory with the Keuka Lake park – now far away. As the park road splits, we went left when we meant to stay right on the Lake Trail, and were brought up to Rt 96a sooner than expected (but at a much milder incline than coming up through Willard).
Just when everything seemed to be going well, shortly before the climb at 150 miles in Ovid my blood sugar dropped again. Normally on flat ground, I can eat some sugar and be fine a minute later, but with this climb taking much more energy, I felt sapped during the whole climb. Fortunately there is a rest stop at the top of the hill that gave me more time to recover and eat more food. The sun was now setting, and people were asking about our generator lights. I made the mistake of not taking a better break and sitting down to rest my legs, which made the final stretch home seem longer.
Route 96 at night had little traffic, and Dan and I rode steadily with a light tailwind. I turned on my battery headlight also, knowing that with 20 miles to go, the batteries should last long enough and the extra light would help me avoid any glass or rocks on the pavement. I struggled to stay comfortable, but knowing that home was soon approaching was an advantage in the mental game. Seeing signs I recognized for Interlaken, Covert, and Trumansburg made that feel even better.
The last mile is mostly downhill, so I slowed to meet up with Dan one final time to thank him for joining me on the long ride. He still had a few more miles to cross Ithaca to get home. I put in one final half-sprint to get rolling fast, and coasted to my driveway. It was 8:50pm when I got home, after about 14 hours and 40 minutes of being out. That brings the overall speed (including stops) to just under 12mph. Since most organized randonneuring rides require only 9.5mph average pace, I think we did well. We could have stopped more than twice as much and still had time to spare with those time limits, which makes me feel better about trying the 190 and 250 mile rides in the coming weeks. Since those rides tend to have larger groups as well, there should be more drafting (even if only at a randonneuring pace) which will increase the efficiency as well.