8/19 and 8/20 Kittery Maine to Boston MA to Morey Pond Connecticut

Image

A lot of miles under the spokes.

Amongst the emails of congratlations for reaching the east coast I get this one from Marsy.

“Gratulations, Shawn and Sherpa, you have arrived at the coastal east, there on your inner hemisphere. Here, on the outer, all H2O lies below ground: pockets, streams, geysers, the great sea of  caves. Voices At Sea (LLf entry 015VS in ebike2mars.com) was written near R.I.  Isn’t that where your CP is leading you?   Spin safely,   Marsy and  Botta.”

I go to her website, www.ebike2mars.com What a trip! It’s like Timothy Leary, Lewis Carrol and Dr. Seuss on a road trip. 

Of course the coast of Maine along A1A is lovely. I heave great sigs of relief to be seeing boats and water not corn and tractors.

SAM 2004

Blondie (my GPS) takes me through downtown Boston today. I have never cycled through a major metropolitan area and find it fascinating- it’s good to do something new. Everyone seems very out for themselves- you know, cut in front, honk at you to get out of the way, etc. It is ironical, because you would think that with a all those people crammed into a small space everyone would be more courteous… But I know nothing about cities..

SAM 2012

Community gardens sprout in the burbs.

SAM 2008

I plan on camping at a Walmart just south of Boston. When I get there, I see that camping is impossible. It is too congested, the area is rough. Google maps satellite shows me a wooded area close and I head for it. I end up camping on asphalt 25 feet from the train tracks. I sleep in my clothes, sticky from the long hot days ride. Later that night I discover that the homeless people know about it too as they move in and want to talk to me.. Sherpa does not get charged up. A local Motel 6 is $115 a night, and I can’t bring myself to spend that much for that hotel.

I wake and pack and get out early. Ii am headed for Windsor Conn. which is 115 miles away. That is a long ride especially considering my fatigue and Sherpa’s state of charge. I am glad to leave the Boston megapolis and get back into the country. Boy, what hilly country. It is severe rolly pollies. A number of the grades are marked 10%! Sherpa cannot make it up those grades carrying me, so I walk alongside. There is only a very small shoulder and I am very cautious with the curvy roads and trucks.

It is getting dark and I am walking up a long 10% grade. Sherpa’s motor controller is cutting out due to low voltage, meaning that I have to push Sherpa up the hills. My legs are aching. I turn on the lights when I hear approaching motorists. I feel desperate, I may have to put out my thumb, I don’t want to get hit. But as I crest the hill there is a downhill and the shoulder widens. I hop on and ride, and after a few miles find a bait store with an outlet! They are closing, but tell me of a close hotel! So I ride another mile and check in. Comfort heaven!

Despair to bliss in 45 minutes… The emotional roller coaster.

8/19/2015 Kittery, Maine

Image

Yahoo, I am in Maine at Micky D’s having breakfast and WiFi in Kittery, Maine. It is now time to exercise my right arm and make another turn and head south towards home on the final leg of my journey..

I rode to Portsmouth last night thinking it was in Maine. Leslie let me know of my error, so I rode a dozen miles north to Kittery, Maine.

Google maps tells me I am only 1600 miles from Venice if I take the most direct bicycle route. It takes me through New York and Philadelphia but there are probably bicycle friendly roads, right?

So it’s off to Boston today! Spppppirits are high. Sherp is running well. Skys are clear.

8/17/2015 Waterford NY to Keene NH.

Image

“And every strangers face I see
reminds me that I long to be
homeward bound”

Paul Simon.

Every face I see is that of a stranger, a face I have never seen before and will never see again.

How nice it would be to wake up in the same place twice in a row. As I awake I must orient myself “OK, where am I?”

How nice it would be to know where I am going to sleep, what I am going to eat.

How nice it would be to have a toilet, a bed, and a kitchen in the same space! Now that’s exciting! I have a small sense of the lives of the very poor who like me, must start all over each day.

Soon all that will be mine again, hahah. I am 112 miles from Portsmouth, Maine, at which point I hang another right turn and start the final leg of this adventure.

Morning reflections on the Hudson river.

SAM 1980

And then it’s into Vermont:

SAM 1987

I find a spot to go skinny dipping in the Hudson river, which feels great. It’s 95 degrees and humid and hilly and I am soaked with sweat.

SAM 1994

Diamond in the rough: 32 Bedroom Fixer Upper waiting for Mr. Super Handyman.

SAM 1990

And New Hampshire:

SAM 1997

8/15 and 8/16 Syracruse to Waterford NY

Image

Upper New York feels like a decaying industrial giant in a made-in-China world. Slumbering factories make rust. A large discontented underclass shelters in unmaintained two stories. Upper class professionals hang on in their own enclaved neighborhoods. The countryside has smaller farms and lovely rolling wooded hills. The vacation houses of the wealthy spot the farmland.

I am following the New York bike route 5. Many limestone paved miles look like this. I’m eating a lot of crabapples, they are good.

SAM 1962

The bike route jumps to the road often too, but the shoulder is usually great.

SAM 1963

I have left the Erie canal, and am riding upstream along the mighty Hudson River.

SAM 1969

An old dam and lock.

SAM 1965

I am headed towards Waterford NY at the advice of another cyclist. He told me about the hot showers and the free camping at the first lock in the system. I also find electricity, making it a perfect camp site. A solid 5 points. Waterford is a pleasant town without being touristy.

SAM 1973

Tomorrow I cross into Vermont! I am pushing myself to cover miles to get home. I am excited that in a few days the third leg of my journey will be complete. I look forward to making that last right turn in Maine and heading south.

I feel competent at doing this. The bike is runnng well. I have become more flexible in my routines. I checked the balance of the batteries this evening and they were good, I didn’t need to balance them. I can set up or break camp in 15 minutes. I’m more confident and don’t carry as much food. I can cover more ground on less power. Often when I stop a little crowd gathers around. I have met and befriended a number of wonderful interesting people whom I never would of met otherwise.

8/14/2015 Rochester to Syracruse Area- Green Lake

Image

The new wheel is working well. Time will tell how durable the components are, but at least they will be cheap and easy to replace if they break.

This Erie Canal trail is a treat. The Erie Canal is still used in places, and in other places it is filled in with swamp, other places made into park space, and it keeps changing. It is a very long trail, running for hundreds of miles. For your first bicycle touring experinece, it would be a decent choice. Camping is permitted all along the trail, and there are enough villages to feed at.

A small town along the Erie in the AM.

SAM 1935

There are not many boats ususally. This is exceptional. Early AM.

SAM 1936

Here is a sailboat going through one of the locks.

SAM 1945

OK, look closely, this is unique. This is a river bridge. It was constructed to allow users of the canal to cross the creek underneath. It was in shambles and was rebuilt recently. It is the only working water bridge on the Erie canal. Last night another cyclist pointed out that the Romans had been building water bridges that still stood. I explained they were actually aquaducts, used for transporting water- then realized he was right- he just had a very flexible mind.

SAM 1950

I ride over 100 miles to get to Green Lake which has a state campgrounds. I arrive about 7pm. They are full, but allow me in to take a shower. After the shower I ride back to the Canal Trail and find a grassy spot to camp. A cycling couple stops to talk. I pitch my tent in the dark, as it starts to rain. Later, the cycling couple shows up in their car with a little care dinner!

I was also escorted a nice distance around a busy shopping mall by a man retiring in a month who wants to go touring. I also meet a 67 year old touring cyclist who is trim and clean cut and fit as a fiddle. He is riding to Arizona. We swap advice on stealth camping, eating, relaxing, etc. He almost lives on his bicycle and is an inspiration.

Not to mention a touring couple Heidi and Marcus who are on a round the world tour from Austria. They have been cycling for over year and fly over the road together. We swap stories about gear and countries. Marcus is especially interested in my experiences in Tanzania. He says I am the only cyclist he has met who enjoyed Tanzania!

Finally the (former) world record holder for longest electric bike tour Troy contacts me. I am thrilled. He knows so much more than I do about battery and motor technology. He offers to help me in any way he can.

So many good people, so little time!

8/13/2015 Rochester, NY

Image

The good bicycle shop turns out to be Freewheelers which is owned and staffed by Roger Levy. 585-473-3724.
Rodger has the right combination of practicality, ingenuity, and experience. Together we come up with a workable plan for getting the bike going with the parts that are on hand.

I end up with a new 36 spoke rear wheel spun by a 9 speed cassette. The wheel is not the strongest on the market, but it is available locally. We work together on the bike all day while Roger entertains me with stories. He has been doing this for so long! He let’s me borrow a bike from the showroom to go get parts.

The new wheel is due to a failure of the Rholoff hubs’ spoke holes. The entire hub is made of aluminum, and the spokes are made of stainless steel, and so the spokes have been cutting into and eroding the hub. The spoke holes have become oval. This inevitable process has been sped up by the heavy loads and the torquing of the wheel by the mid drive motor.

It took 7500 miles, but I found something else that doesn’t work on mid drive electric touring bikes!

Will I have a low enough gear to climb the mountains that still lie ahead? How durable is the new setup? The derailer cost less than the Rholoff, and may prove to be a more durable solution. They certainly cost less to replace!

I’ll know the answers by the time I arrive back home.

Towards the end of the day we are finished and Sherpa has been tested and found to be satisfactory. Thanks Roger!

SAM 1926
I ride a few miles and make camp in a Jewish Cultural Center woods alonside the Erie Canal trail.

8-11 and 8-12 2015, Niagra to Rochester NY

Image

I decide to spend a day in Niagara Falls NY to replace the spokes in my back wheel. I’ll rebuild the wheel perfectly, and then ride it home with no problems. Beeton’s Cyclery- 716-282-3220- has space to work and Tom and John are very friendly. Tom cuts spokes and I respoke the back wheel in between chatting with their customers, particularly George, who seems to keep coming back with neighborhood kids and buying them new bikes!

I am getting ready for the final push home- It’s only about 2500 miles- and go through my panniers and send home or throw away everything I don’t think I’ll need. I lighten my load by 10 lbs. I’m ready to rock, and take off in the late afternoon and stealth camp at a college about 15 miles away. The wheel feels good.

I cycle along the Erie Canal, singing “I got a mule and her name is Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal” I have to explain to Sherpa about mules and how they used to pull barges up and down these canals before there were ebikes.

SAM 1913

I stop for groceries and look at this!- A troupe of actors traveling coast to coast on bicycles and performing in various locations. They are welcoming and I ride with them for a while today. www.agilerascaltheatre.com

SAM 1920

My rear wheel goes wobbly again. Shoot. I say good bye to the troupe as I must spend a fair amount of time in repairs. There are four broken spokes. The holes in the Rholoff hub have become elongated and the rotational forces are cutting the spokes off at the heads. Always an optimist, I replace the 4 spokes and set off again. A few miles down the road the wheel goes wobbly again. I find a park to do the repair in. There are three broken spokes. So much for the ride home with no problems. It is obvious that the rear hub needs to be replaced. That means a new wheel, a derailer, a new shifter, and less gears. The Rholoff hub has 14, the derailer might have 8. That means less hill climbing ability… But it does give me the opportunity to test a derailer/cassette en-tour.

I call Mike and he concurs. The cheapest hotel I can find is $99. So I stealth camp, planning to find a good bicycle shop in the AM.

8/10/2015 Dundas Ontario to Niagara Falls New York.

Image

Back in the States! I crossed into Niagara Falls New York. I’d forgotten how busy it is around Niagara Falls, with casinos and tourists and tons of shopping. Despite all the tourists both the Canadian and the US side were a bit threadbare with boarded houses and buildings…

Mike, this picture is for you. It is a lake algae remover in action.

SAM 1859

A long part of the ride is through the heavily industrialized oil/ship/manufacturing areas of Lake Ontario’s western Canadian shore. It is a tense ride.

SAM 1862

But I find some bike paths and cycle along Lake Ontario.

SAM 1865

Once again, I have someone with local knowledge help guide me. Bill rides with me up to the Locks at St. Catherine’s.

SAM 1867

The locks at St Catherine’s. They must lift and lower ships the height of Niagara Falls.

SAM 1869

The very pretty town of Niagara on the Lake.

SAM 1877

A first view of the Niagara Dam gives a sense of the enormous power generated here.

SAM 1885

The Lewiston- Queenston Bridge. I crossed further upstream at the Rainbow bridge.

SAM 1886

Trolleys skim across the whirlpool area.

SAM 1893

Niagara Falls from the Rainbow Bridge.

SAM 1902

The little plaque marks the official line between Canada and the US on the Rainbow Bridge.

SAM 1907

It is 5:00PM. I arrive in Niagara Falls NY and it starts to rain. I find a hostel there, and go to eat at one of the many Indian restaurants. I bunk with 6 other guys. Unfortunately, one of them is a snorer. Early in the morning I grab a pillow and move to sleep on the couch in the lobby. THe local bicycle shop sends their wheels out, does not repair them. Not the right place for me…

8/09/2015 London to Dundas Ontario

Image

It’s a lot more tedious to navigate just using a map, especially when the scale is too small. So I ask a lot of directions and try to stick to the main roads that show up on my map.

I ask a man if I am on the right road to get to Madison, and he says yes, but there is a bike trail that takes you there too. He gave me directions, the trail head was a couple of blocks away. Another person that I asked said there was a trail head, but in another direction.

So, I went to one and it seemed to head the wrong way, west instead of east. I made a loop looking for the trail to continue the other way. Just then Nancy and Sally came riding up. They changed the ride they were taking to take me to the trail that goes to Dundas, ehich is close to my destination, Madison.

Canadians I have met are a little more reserved than yanks, until they are approached, at which point they are very very helpful….

Nancy and Sally

SAM 1855

A beautiful Luna Moth. I also met an entomologist who is charting the expanding territory of Dragonflies.

SAM 1853

I camp in a beautiful park that is filled with families, and a couple girls softball teams. I get to eat dinner while watching underhand softball..

8/08/2015 Reeves Corners to London Ontario

Image

I only ride 45 miles today to arrive in London, Ontario. London is a large city. I do have an agenda.

My shirt is faded from the sun, torn and stained all over. My pants are mottled with grease and dirt and torn. I find myself explaining my appearance too often. So I resolved to replace them. But not any shirt or pants will do. The shirt must be long sleeved, dry quickly, and have a UV rating. The pants must dry quickly and be lightweight and a dark color to hide dirt.

I find what I am looking for at a sporting goods store. I almost feel like crying at how good it feels to wear nice clothes. This should have been my third clothes swap, not my second..

You know, I had this fantasy going of me arriving back in Venice, my clothes all tattered and stained, and everyone would know what I had been through by looking at my clothes. Now I have a new fantasy, me arriving in Venice all sharp and crisp, like what I have done was really easy….. The ego never quits, does it?— Now it tells me “Well, at least yours is adaptable.”

I have been dealing with a toothache since a crown fell off a month ago. The pain becomes intense when eating. A pharmacist recommends an anti inflamitory. Ahh, some relief at last.

I want to rest today. So I set up camp close to Walmart- which is amazing, it is a big city and the shopping center this WalMart is in is hugh. But I find a private scrap of land where I can walk over to the big box for food and I rest in my tent.

Finally, I need more rear spokes. I repaired the wheel again this AM and found four broken ones- yikes. The last of the spokes that Gary got for me are used. If I can, I’ll have a bike shop make a complete new wheel for me. But these days, it is hard to find shops that can even cut spokes. Tomorrow..

The meaning here is obvious.

SAM 1847

Remember that picture I posted of the row of toilets lining the driveway? This is the home of his long lost Canadian cousin.
SAM 1851