8/13/2015 Rochester, NY

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

8/06 and 8/07 2015 Carson City to Lapeer MI. to Reeves Corners (near Sarnia,) Canada

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No, there is no bicycle crossing from Michigan to Canada at Port Huron, the bridge is closed to cyclists and pedestrians, and there is no shuttle service. No, there is no shuttle service from St Clair to Canada, that was discontinued 25 years ago or so. But the city is lovely:

SAM 1811

So, this cyclist ends up in Marine City.

SAM 1815

Yes, there is shuttle service from Marine City to Somora, Canada, and it cost $3.00 for bicyclists.

SAM 1818

I am stoked to be in Canada. I feel awake and alive and excited again. The world seems perfect.

SAM 1829

THere are many new and interesting sights, like this freighter unloading gravel.

SAM 1833

As I cycle north towards Sarnia, I find a city of oil refineries. My phone has stopped working and the map is complex. I need orientation: Where can I get Wifi? Should I ride against the traffic if the bike lane is on that side only? what is a good route to get across to Niagra Falls?

SAM 1840

Then I have the good luck to meet Mike. He rides with me and we talk. He answers all my questions about Canada and cycling. We run into his pal Brian, who recently cycled the same way I want to go, and has route suggestions. Thanks Guys! Shawn, Brian, and Mike.

SAM 1843

Both men work in the oil refineries. Brian is third generation, and Mike is 2nd generation. I can’t help myself and ask if they have any misgivings about their professions. Brian points out all that oil is useful for and says that if he has misgivings, they are deeply buried. Mike talks about his education, four years with a lot of chemistry and math to get his job, which is the to run the machinery that refines the crude. Mike shares that they also cycle everywhere and that Brian canoes to work and so there is compensation. While we are talking, a man walks out of Tom Hortons’s and hands me a $5 bill!

I share that my issues with oil have to do with how casually we use something with the incredible amount of embodied energy that oil has, how wasteful we are of such a valuable resource. Looking at the size and complexity of the refineries I am again awed at the incredibe momentum and investment of the industry.

The guys are great and I am so glad to have met them and had some help. I camp tonight behind a truck stop. I am looking at the truckers terminal and trying to figure out how to charge a shower. I ask a trucker, Boghee for help. He returns a few moments later and gets me a free shower. He says he has plenty of shower credit, he gets it when he buys fuel.. Boy, it feels good. It is a good first day in Canada.

Broken spokes and a flat wait my repair in the morning. Time for sleep. WiFi at Tim Hortons doesn’t work. I get a privacy error message. The manager says it is just like that and she can’t help. My post will have to be another day late.

8/05/2015 Muskegon Mi to Carson City, Mi.

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I awake as the sun enters the horizon and begin to get dressed and packed. My two sleepy cyclists friends are in their tents. Anin hears me packing and comes out. I do not want to wait for them to get ready, so I offer to meet them at McDonalds. But we never conect there, so I ride on. It’s fine. I was tired and only covered 75 miles today, but they stop at 60 and I have never been a good waiter.

A car honks and waves in passing. Miles down the road the same car is parked. A father and daughter get out and run toward me with a big paper bag extended. They have shopped and bought a bag of snacks for me! Wow! They want to know about Loop the USA, and we talk. Dad wants Lily to be inspired. I note that he is the one who is teaching her by modeling such consideration and gnerosity, not me.

The country is gently rolling residential and farmland, with towns every 25 miles or so along highway 57. The shoulders and trucks come and go. The people that I overhear are talking about the great weather and comparing it to the snowy wintertime.

Here is proof, gas pumps with furnace oil and mineral spirits.

SAM 1804

The crops are much more diversified with lots of small apple and u-pick blueberry orchards.

SAM 1801

A field of shy sunflowers.

SAM 1805

I stop at a Menonite farmstore for some fresh produce. The owner, a Menonite woman in her 60’s and I are alone in the shop for a while, and I am priveleged to have her share with me. She says that the biggest issue they have these days is the internet and the devices that access them. She and her community feel that it is much to easy to access porn with an internet connection and so do not use it. She also will not use a dedicated word processer to keep track of her stores inventory, because someone could put a usb stick in with pornography on it and view it. The internet is a gateway for Satan to slip into their lives.

She says that another problem is worldliness. Bankers are eager to offer them loans, and if a memenber of the community decks out their house with new furniture, cabinets, etc., the other younger members want to do the same thing. So they incur too much debt.

A third problem is getting land. Practicing their traditions is almost senseless without the farming lifestyle, but land is hard to get and expensive relative to the income it can produce. Her family moved to this area when she was young, and now there is no more readily available land for their children. The next generation will have to relocate somewhere else, but where? She says that her children will probably not live as well as she has. I share that this is a nationwide problem.

Her 20? year old daughter has heard the conversation and comes down the stairs to join in. Mom and daughter are wearing simple blue muslim dresses with white bonnets. When I say goodbye Sarah Anne the daughter follows me out and announces that she is an adventurer too. Surprised, I hang out to talk.

She has been to BC., Mexico, the Maritime Provinces and wants to go to Florida to help with disaster relief. Everywhere she goes she volunteers and works. She can’t just hop in a car and go, she must pay someone to drive her. So she teams up with about half a dozen young women and they share expenses. Surprising and charming me, she is outspoken and confident, and says she may never get married and anyway, this is a good time of life to travel.

I ask her if her community would allow electric bikes. She says that self propelled vehicles are not allowed. I show her how you have to spin the pedals to make it go, and how it only goes bicycle speeds, and coasts if you stop pedaling. She is intriqued and considers it. “It would have to be discussed in the community” she says, “but it is possible it would be allowed.”

Her “special” brother Jacob joins us, swaggering up with thumbs in outstretched suspenders. I tell him I like his suspenders and he smiles and extends a rough hand and we shake. He asks if I like puppies and kittens. Then he asks for a ride on my bike. Sarah Ann saves me saying “Some other time Jacob.”……..

I have a new first, and they are getting hard to come by. This is the first time I have camped and charged up in a baseball dugout! I am seeking new and more daring ways to camp and charge for my own amusement… All suggestions considered.

SAM 1809

8/04/2015 Port Washington to Muskegon Michigan

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7000 miles today. Crossed into Michigan.

I wrestled a bit with taking the ferry. I will not cycle in Pennsylvania. Instead, I will ride through Michigan and cross into Canada in Port Huron. I will re-enter the USA in New York State. I am doing this simply because it is more fun and a little shorter. I want to cycle in Canada again, and I wanted to take the ferry across Lake Michigan.

I leave Port Washington early in the AM.

SAM 1777

The ferry is hard to find in Milwaukee. Very luckily for me another cyclist and engineer shows up and is going in the same direction and leads me through a tricky part of the city. A woman at a gas station gives me further directions, and I make it in time to buy a ticket. It’s a high speed ferry, but I wish it was a slow speed ferry.

Looking back on Milwaukee.

SAM 1789

Then I meet Sarah. She is a biology teacher from Las Vegas. I enjoy her company for the journey as she knows a lot about biology and enjoys talking science. Pretty too!

SAM 1798

I ask her to take my picture.

SAM 1792

Muskegon is more run down than Port washington. I meet other touring cyclists as we are disembarking the ferry and we agree to meet up at a park I have located to stealth camp in. They are headed the same way I am and we may cycle together tomorrow!

8/04/2015 Port Washington to Muskegon Michigan

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7000 miles today. Crossed into Michigan.

I wrestled a bit with taking the ferry. I will not cycle in Pennsylvania. Instead, I will ride through Michigan and cross into Canada in Port Huron. I will re-enter the USA in New York State. I am doing this simply because it is more fun and a little shorter. I want to cycle in Canada again, and I wanted to take the ferry across Lake Michigan.

I leave Port Washington early in the AM.

SAM 1777

The ferry is hard to find in Milwaukee. Very luckily for me another cyclist and engineer shows up and is going in the same direction and leads me through a tricky part of the city. A woman at a gas station gives me further directions, and I make it in time to buy a ticket. It’s a high speed ferry, but I wish it was a slow speed ferry.

Looking back on Milwaukee.

SAM 1789

Then I meet Sarah. She is a biology teacher from Las Vegas. I enjoy her company for the journey as she knows a lot about biology and enjoys talking science. Pretty too!

SAM 1798

She takes my picture.

SAM 1792

Muskegon is more run down than Port washington. I meet other touring cyclists as we are disembarking the ferry and we agree to meet up at a park I have located to stealth camp in. They are headed the same way I am and we may cycle together tomorrow!

8/03/2015 Baraboo to Port Washington, WI

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I awake and leave the Chinese Buffet camp ground. Sherpa is charged and ready. The wind is at my back and I feel good. But first I must get my phone fixed. I ride 25 miles to the Cricket Wireless dealer, only to find them out of business- for two years. I guess they don’t update the website often!

To heck with the phone, I have a map. I lay out a simple route along highway 33 which ends in Port Washington. I am anxious to see Lake Michigan, and pass up a good camping site in a park, another good site under a tree behind a Walmart, another good site along a pretty creek, and push on for 121 miles arrive at Port Washington.

Wow, what a relief to see the water after all that corn. I was beginning to wonder if the whole world was corn and barns and tractors.

I have no idea what to expect. Will the waterfront be grungy and industrial? Will the water be oily and polluted? Will there be waves or ripples?

It’s love at first sight. The town is very quaint and clean and touristy and charming.

My first view of Port Washington harbor.

SAM 1754

Port Washington Pavillion

SAM 1765

Relaxing in the sun with a pole.

SAM 1768

The town ebike charging station. Great location!

SAM 1772

I find a remotish beach and roll over there when it gets dark and set up camp ten feet from the water. I go for a freezing moonlight swim in black Lake Michigan. I fall asleep watching lighthouse lights sweep across the water and my orange canvas home.