8/11/2021 – Dunkirk to Niagara Falls, NY

72.90 Miles / 3257.67 Total Miles

3257.67 Ft. Elevation Gain / 102,487 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

Today got off to a rocky start, and then had intermittent rockiness all day long. At a couple of different points, I was wishing someone would just shoot me and put me out of my misery. Spoiler: It had a happy ending.

When we woke up, this morning, there was a TORRENTIAL downpour going on, but the rain wasn’t pouring down. It was pouring sideways, along with the trees and other plants. We’re talking gale force winds, that would be impossible to ride a bike in. We had no choice, but to wait it out, till the storm passed, so we hung out in the hotel and tracked the storm with the radar function of our The Weather Channel app. Just after 8:00 AM, when the heavy rain and extreme winds had passed, we got on the road. We were facing down an 85+ mile day, so didn’t have time for goofing off.

The roads were wet, slick, and littered with all kinds or branches, leaves, and other debris, from the storm, so we proceeded carefully, as we passed through Silver Creek, Irving, Farnham and Lake Erie Beach. We rode past everything from rows of humble cottages to streets of ocean front mansions. At the 2-hour point we started hoping for a place to take a break and have second breakfast or even just a little snack, but no joy. None of these towns had even a convenience market open.

At the 40 mile point, we were starving and tired, so it’s a good thing we found ourselves a Subway Sandwich shop. While eating, the natives were restless, over the potential for another creepy hotel in Niagara Falls. We all started looking for options, and Ed called ahead to cancel our current iffy hotel and replace it with a reservation at a Holiday Inn. Thanks for being on top of that, Ed.

In Hamburg, Ed and Chris came up with a plan to shave 5+ miles off our route, by following the Google Maps bike route to our hotel. Seemed like a good idea. We had been moving pretty slowly through the urban areas, and after all, this was a very long day. About this time, the battery on my phone was down to 5% battery, so I plugged it into my trusty power pack, and that’s when I discovered that either my power pack or my iPhone cable had failed. I could not get the pack to charge my phone. So now I’m following these guys, with no capability to see what’s ahead or navigate independently. Oh, and they’re going so fast, I can barely keep up.

In Buffalo, we were routed into an industrial area, where we passed a huge Tessla factory, then into an area with light rail construction, and we were soon to be on a bike path. Well that’s what Google Maps showed. Unfortunately, the bike path was in the light rail construction zone and was fenced off and closed completely. Now what?

I had no navigation capability, so I just had to sit on my hands and hope the guys could come up with a Plan B, which of course they did. This plan led us to the bike path, again, as it ran through a huge municipal park, along the shore of Lake Erie and toward the Buffalo Freedom Bridge. The park looked abandoned, with torn up roads, tall grass and weeds, and very few people. When we were well into it, we ran into a chain link fence that put the brakes on moving forward.

These cool concrete buffalo were in one of the playground areas of the park. I’d love to have one of those in my back yard, for my grandkids to climb on.

Okay. Time for Plan C, which involved some city streets and bike paths, that ultimately led us to the Buffalo Freedom Bridge, thru some waterfront revitalization construction and to the almost 1-mile long I-190 bridge, that connects Buffalo to Grand Island, Did I mention the headwinds yet? There was a major headwind coming off of Lake Erie, and as we rode up the approach to the bridge, I could tell this was going to be difficult. For one thing, the pedestrian/bike lane was very narrow, and there was a sign telling us to walk our bikes. We ignored the sign and started riding across the bridge.

The Buffalo Freedom Bridge

Well the bridge railings were not very high, and I was a little nervous about being blown over and then falling OVER the side of the bridge. But I didn’t have much time to worry about that, because a couple of big semis passed me and almost knocked me over, with their wash. I adjusted, and now had a death grip on my handlebars and my eyes fixed on my rear view mirror, so I could anticipate semis and brace myself. That didn’t really work, because the next semi that flew by knocked me and my bike over completely, and I was wedged between the barriers on each side of the path.

After I pulled myself up off the ground and reattached a pannier, that had fallen off, I looked up ahead, and the guys were probably 1/4 mile ahead of me–still cycling. I started walking and just hoped they would wait for me at the other end of the bridge, because I had no way to navigate, if they went ahead to the hotel without me, which they have done before. At some point, they both got off their bikes and started walking, but I was so far back, I couldn’t catch up to them.

When I got to the other end of the bridge, I was so happy to see the guys there waiting for me. We got back on our bikes and rode ahead, stopping for a break at the first chance we could–a Wendy’s. That bridge, the traffic and the previous dead ends had taken a toll on all three of us. Refreshed–kind of–we peddled across Grand Island and walked our bikes across the I-190 bridge that connected the island to Niagara Falls, without incident.

Buffalo had some great murals
This is the bridge from Grand Island to Niagara Falls

Once off the bridge, our hotel was 6 miles away, but it was late in the day, and have I mentioned that I was meeting a notary at the hotel at 5:30 for a mobile signing on a property I am selling back in Arizona? No pressure, but I was worried about being there to meet him. Luckily, things got a little easier, at this point. We picked up a bike path that ran along the Niagara River, and started making good time. And as we got closer to our hotel, we could see the rapids and hear the roar of the falls. The river path led right to our Holiday Inn, and I had time to clean up, before meeting up with the notary.

After resting a bit, I ventured out to get some groceries and post cards, and to get a peak at the falls. When I had walked about a mile, I was getting into a sketchy neighbourhood, so I settled for a convenience market, then headed for the falls. I arrived just in time to see one of the light shows they put on every half hour, and it was so spectacular, that I FaceTimed my dear friend Jean to show her.

When I was 13, my parents took us kids on a tent trailer camping trip to Washington D.C., that looped up to see Palmyra and Niagara Falls. Dad was 51, at the time, and when he saw Niagara Falls, he exclaimed that it was the most magnificent thing he had ever seen. I’m with Dad. It’s the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen, too.

Amazing rapids.
Even more amazing rapids.

3 thoughts on “8/11/2021 – Dunkirk to Niagara Falls, NY

  1. Even during a miserable day of riding, your pictures show the beauty of America. Thank you for your posts! I was reading an article about living out the rest of your life and it centered on using QTL – Quality Time Left. You certainly are doing that! Enjoy the rest of your journey.

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  2. What a day this was for you. So glad that the Lord was able to bless you with a light show over Niagara Falls. I am sure that made your day seem not so bad. Glad to hear that my husband and Chris were gentleman and waited for you.

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    1. Another day on the road. Some are better than others. And occasionally, bad things happen, but later, when you look back at them, they’re just a little blip in the day. We’ve been very blessed every step of the way, on this trip. I can’t complain.

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