Friday, July 21, 2006

Last day of the Trek; Sunday, July 16th
Bad self-portrait
Today I only had one thing on my mind. I wanted to get home in the least amount of time, with the least amount of hassle. Our little group of three seemed also inclined, so we ate breakfast with the mass at a catering hall and set off quickly.

The bridge to the first rest stop was closed, so we had to reroute ourselves, finding the bridge off the island and taking the route from there. It was a little disappointing, because I wanted to see Peebles Island State Park, but I am not always the best with directions/ orientation and wanted to stick with the group. This was especially true because we had to find our own detour; we were out before the route marking person had come through to check the route. This last section is very nice. Most of it is on the streets. The trip organizers routed it so you couldn’t miss Cohoes Falls; very interesting geologically.

At the end, we had beaten the luggage trucks. I had not wanted this to happen, but it was not long before they appeared. A previous Buffalo City native was waiting for his family at the end, and asked me for my autograph; I was the first woman to finish. To me it was not a race, or I would have finished days ago, but I was amused. It is difficult to see anything if you speed along. We helped unload the luggage trucks. A weight limit for bags should be put in place, because some of those bags were incredibly heavy.

One of my little group kindly offered to take me to the bus depot. In the beginning I had calculated that I could make it there on my own, but for the large cardboard bike box I had to lug about. He stuffed my box in his car quite effectively. We said our goodbyes.

At the depot, I started dismantling my bicycle to insert it into the box, but was flustered by my partner watching me (he did come back to help me). It is funny how I can do something until I find someone watching me (especially men), then I look totally incompetent. I did manage to mostly stuff my bike in the box, but had to take both wheels off to do so. Even then, the box did not close properly. This whole endeavor took me the entire 50 minutes before the bus arrived, and I was still trying to tie string around the box, even while moving in line to get on the bus. To Greyhound’s credit, they were very good to me. They laid my bike on top of everyone else’s luggage, so it would not get crushed. I had a seat all to myself.

In Utica, I was deeply into my book, when a really annoying person got on the bus and asked me if this was the part of the bus reserved for stinky bicyclists. When I looked up, it was the second of my partners in crime. He had gotten a ride from Albany to Utica, with his stuff, then his wife had grabbed him Utica, relieved him of his bike and luggage and dropped him at the bus depot for a ride to Buffalo to retrieve his car. The bus ride was surprisingly pleasant, but the company was a nice addition. On the ride home, we could look out the windows and see many of the places we had ridden past. We could even see the Canal Trail in some places, and recognized landmarks in others. It was a little surreal, like rewinding the last eight days. In Syracuse, there was a 1 hour, 20 minute layover. The station there is pristine, and right next to a flea/produce market. Again Greyhound was very kind and stored my bike and luggage securely for me, while we walked around the flea market and got something to eat. I can’t say enough about the bus company. They are everything the train company is not. It is too bad, really, for I enjoy getting up and walking around on a train. Amtrak seems to discourage riders at every turn, and this does not apply just to bicyclists. I swear they could have filled an entire rail car with cyclists if they were more flexible. Too bad.

In Buffalo, my husband kindly picked us up and returned my partner to Nichols school to get his car. I have ridden my bike a lot in Buffalo since my return. The trip has given me an appreciation of how bicycle friendly Buffalo really is, and I hope to commute full time this coming school year. In addition, the trip boosted my confidence about my stamina. Someday I hope to ride across the whole country, unsupported.

Click here to get the pdf of the directions- note that they were scanned and one of them had gotten quite wet.

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