I rode my bike from Chicago to New York in September. Packing list
here, if you recall.
I’ve avoided writing a blog post about it because, well, everyone has a blog post about their bike tour, it’s hard to make it interesting to a reader who didn’t go on the trip.
me, it was an epiphany, maybe the most rewarding two and a half weeks of my life. But mostly I pedaled and ate, which isn’t all that exciting to you. No mechanical problem, no outlandish tales of getting lost. What did I think about when I pedaled? Generally I thought about pedaling. So I’ll spare you the bike tour philosophizing.
But if you want that anyway, I recommend Bruce Weber,
Life is a Wheel: Memoirs of a Bike-Riding Obituarist (New York: Scribner, 2015).
Instead, let’s look at some pictures.
Met up with my dad (my bike touring inspiration) in Lockport, New York, and we rode together to around Hudson, New York. Then he had to catch a flight and I continued solo downstate.
Total distance: 1320 miles, give or take.
Total duration: 17 days
Great Lakes: 3 (Michigan, Huron, Erie)
Bears: 1, dead on the back of a pickup truck in northern Michigan
Dead Possums: ~1,000,000
Day 1: Just before embarking.
Day 1: Racine, Wisconsin, which has a gorgeous park system designed by Jens Jensen, intellectual forefather of my bike’s paint scheme.
Day 2: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ate a delicious sandwich at this place. Handsome bike, huh?
Day 2: Nice flora, Wisconsin.
Day 3: Oostburg, Wisconsin. I had to rush to Manitowoc (~55 miles) to catch the ferry by 2. Two friendly bike-riding locals let me draft them on the bike path then directed me here for delicious donuts, which cost about $.50 each.
Day 3: Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Tinfoil hats. Unbeknownst to me, I arrived in Manitowoc the day of “Sputnik Fest,” commemorating the day Sputnik fell from orbit and landed in Manitowoc. No, really, that actually happened.
Day 3 (yet again): aboard the SS Badger across Lake Michigan. Here we are in Ludington, Michigan, looking at the Badger’s sister vessel, the Spartan.
Day 6: Midland, Michigan, population 42,000. With a bike share!
Day 6: Coyote sighting! Hopping, left of the center of the frame.
Day 6, again: Frankenmuth, Michigan. The strangest town I encountered. An ersatz German village.
Day 7: Yale, Michigan, where I stayed at a 19th-century boarding house. Tavern on the first floor and a room upstairs where the owners lived.
Accommodations at the Yale Hotel. $40, cash.
Day 8: Gorge-ous bike path in Michigan.
Day 8: Marine City, Michigan. Ferry to Sombra, Ontario.
Day 8: Wallaceburg, Ontario. Stopped at a convenience store, asked if they sold bananas. Guy at the register said no. Then he reached under the counter and handed me his own personal banana. Take it, he said, then showed me this postcard from two months before. The good people of Madi’s Milk look out for cyclists. Thanks, Madi’s Milk.
Day 8, still: testing the limits of my 28c tires. The scrappy bird pulled on through.
Day 9: Somewhere in Ontario. Lake Erie, ahoy!
Day 9: Port Burwell, Ontario. A camp meal. On the right: a medley of sauteed apples, local holland peppers, and “hunter’s sausage.” On the left, instant mashed potatoes with salmon and tomato. Might’ve tasted good even if I wasn’t starving.
Day 10: Port Dover, Ontario. A gaudy abode. Suffered some knee pain just after this photo and called it quits for the day. 😦
Port Dover, a charming lake town, half cutesy boutiques and half motorcycle shops. A local told me this is the Sturgis of Canada.
Day 11 began with fog, so I stuck around Port Dover until it cleared.
Day 11: a conveyer belt hauling coal or coke or ore to a giant steel plant outside of Port Dover.
About 30 miles east of Port Dover, vacation homes for Torontoans spring up along the lake. It looked like this, except not out of focus.
This turned out to be one of my best riding days. Gorgeous views along the Lake Erie shore and quiet roads.
Day 12: Look at all that smoke! Some terrible pollution around here, rite?
Oh, I get it.
Getting into the US at Niagara Falls, New York. I crossed the wrong bridge, which meant I had to ride through hostile streets for 20 miles to Lockport.
Day 12: And then I met up with my dad outside of Lockport. He was wearing this unusual face mask to protect his privacy.
Day 12: We rode along the Erie Canal for a couple days. Here’s Medina, New York. The place to be in the 1830s!
Day 13: somewhere along the Erie Canal (actually the Barge Canal, completed in 1918). The people on this boat were sailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Hawaii. It was gonna take them 2 years.
Day 14: Weedsport, New York. Did you know Mormonism and Seventh Day Adventism were invented along the Erie Canal? Brigham Young used to live right here, according to that plaque. The Erie Canal region was known as the Burned Over District, home of the Second Great Awakening.
Day 14: Idyllic camping spot on Oneida Lake, New York.
Day 15 took us through Utica, where we noshed on several local delicacies. Utica Greens, above. (Good, but way too heavy with the cheese.)
Bizarre Utica-style pizza. But delicious!
Chicken Riggies, Utica’s claim to global fame. Comfort food at a time of stress induced by sketchy Syracuse-area roads.
Day 15: here’s a town that was built against a cliff.
Day 16, Columbia County, New York. Some of the prettiest scenery of the trip.
Then Dad went home. Here’s day 17, somewhere in Westchester County, New York. The only pic I took during my 118-mile “going out with a bang” marathon.
There you have it.