It took me seven years to make it back to Rochester, but I finally made it, and it was as memorable as it was in 2007. Instead of going to Warped Tour to see Circa Survive with my best friends, I rode into town and past the same street corner Tim, George, Neil, Amir and I hung out at all those years ago. The rest of my time in town was as serendipitous as it was bizarre.
We were originally scheduled to ride the majority of the day adjacent to the Erie Canal, but after passing through Fairport’s annual festival, Joe, Kevin and I went a bit off-route since Rochester was just too intriguing to heedlessly ride by.
Minutes after passing Brighton, we saw a group of cyclists turn into a fire station a block ahead. Turns out they were riding with 4k for Cancer, another nonprofit which organizes bike tours! They were all super friendly and even though they couldn’t go grab beers with us in Rochester, we’ll be crossing paths again in Minneapolis where we’ll atone for the missed good times today. The Rochester Fire Department even gave us a tour of their station in the meantime. I asked if I could slide down the pole. They said no.
I called up Tim, my best friend since fourth grade who grew up in Rochester, and he gave us some counsel as to where we ought to go, and we headed to the Genesee Brew House in the High Falls district of town. A flight of beer and conversation with the barkeep later, we finally left town to rendezvous with the rest of the team.
All this recent madness started in Old Forge, New York last Thursday. When we ride into most tiny towns of ~1000 people, we never really know what to expect. Sometimes there’s nothing more than a corner store and gas station. Sometimes they have downtown areas, happening bars and more. Old Forge was dynamic despite it’s small size and population. We had some intel from a friend who’s from the area about which bars and parts of town are best, so we headed into town and ended up on a rooftop bar in the heart of downtown Old Forge.
Had we rolled into Old Forge on the weekend we would’ve boogied all night, but we had an 80 mile day ahead of us the next morning so we headed into camp and our sleeping bags earlier than we would’ve liked.
80 miles and 18 hours later, we approached our next monumental body of water. I had gone nearly 23 years with only seeing the sunrise over water, but the first time I laid eyes on a Great Lake was also the first time I saw a sunset over a body of water. Before closing out the night with s’mores by the fire, we went by Lake Ontario at the perfect time.
While the view and area were gorgeous, the real calamity started the next night in Sodus Point. It’s a total marina town and we learned early on which bar to go to that night. About half of the Northern Tier team went out and we had a great time champagning and campaigning at Captain Jack’s. We camped out a stone’s throw from Lake Ontario and Drew caught some great GoPro footage of us running into the freezing water after a long, hot day of riding. We met a bonzai tree master who has five dachshunds. Ipso facto, Sodus Point showed us a good time.
Meeting the locals, checking out town, and bonding with teammates at rest stops/camp is what makes the trip so magnificent. Riding itself is fun, and hitting 48mph on downhills is a thrill, but the extracurriculars are my favorite part.
I feel pretty good. Riding with a high cadence changed my experience for the better instantly — pedaling faster, not harder really shrinks climbs and keeps me riding with a great rhythm. My saddle’s done my butt and I very well, and my tan lines are on their way to contrasty glory. In the next three days we’ll see Niagara Falls, roll into Buffalo and I’ll have my third 21st birthday! Exciting times are ahead, but for now I’m enjoying this access to electricity, internet and shelter!