78.96 Miles / 3336.63Total Miles
741 Ft. Elevation Gain / 103,228 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
Once again, we got an early start to allow time to work our way through 70+ miles of riding. We picked up the same bike path that led to our hotel and the falls, and continued on it for 6 miles, as it followed the Niagara Gorge on our way out of Niagara Falls. The roar of the falls could be heard for a few miles.
When we got off the bike path, we had a nice tailwind pushing us down roads that led us past rural areas and through a section of Indian reservation to Lockport, where we planned to get second breakfast. As we pulled into the downtown area, we ran into a couple of the many bicycle tourists we would see, today, who were on shorter trips. As I spoke with the wife, I looked down and noticed that my phone was not on its mount. Not this again!
The phone mount is finicky, and I have to fiddle with it every time I attach my phone to my bike, which happens every time I take a photo. The problem is, it can seem attached, but not be, so I usually twist and pull on it, before assuming it is attached, and I apparently did not do that at my last stop, where I had taken a photo of the sign leading into Lockport.
So while Ed and Chris ate their second breakfast and kicked back, I peddled like a maniac to backtrack 4-5 miles to look for it. It could have fallen anywhere I rode. The entire ride, I was thinking through my options. What if I could not find it? Or what if it fell on the road and was crushed by a vehicle? None of them were good. I backtracked all the way to the location of the photo and starting riding back toward Lockport, and then–dah dah DAH–I found it!!! It had fallen off and bounced into some grass, so it thankfully did not get crushed by a vehicle or picked up by a passer by.
I sent a text message to Ed and Chris and told them I had found my phone and to go on without me, as I didn’t want to hold them up further. When I pulled back into Lockport, there they were–waiting for me.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat and using the restroom at a convenience market, I was ready to go again, but not rested in any way. We found a ramp to take us down to a canal, and started following a bike path that ran adjacent to it. And it was at about this point that I realised we were going to be riding on the towpaths of the Erie Canal today and tomorrow. I really had no idea that was happening on this trip. I remember learning about the Erie Canal in all my elementary school history classes, but now I was seeing it first hand. What an amazing engineering feat it was, in its time, and now, in our time, the former tow path is an amazing bike and pedestrian path.
The first order of business was following the guys past a tiny Erie Canal museum and the actual canal lock at Lockport. These are the types of places where I normally would stop, but I had already held the guys up for over an hour, so I didn’t feel like I could stop and hold them up further. But wait. I had messaged them–actually twice–and told them to ride on without me, and they chose not to. For me, there was no reason to fly past things of interest, just to make good time, but I had already missed a museum and the first canal lock to do that. So the ride along the canal got off to a weird start.
If, like me, you can’t remember what you learned about the Erie Canal, back in elementary school, a refresher follows.
The first few miles of the canal tow path were paved, then it turned into a super smooth cinder path, except for the high traffic areas around bridges, that were paved. I normally don’t like riding my bike on surfaces with loose stone, because my tires have very little tread, so they can easily lose traction, which could lead to a fall, and I don’t like falling. But this path was different. It was hard packed, with just a light layer of cinder, and my bike rolled nicely and felt stable, as I rode down it.
Boats can enter the canal from the Hudson River and other canals that connect to this one, so throughout the day, a variety of boats passed by.
In Middleport, I caught up to the guys, and we stopped for a delicious lunch at Alternative Grounds Cafe. The people in this town were so nice! And curious. Several of them asked about our bikes, trip and/or brims. We seriously get more questions about our DaBrims, than anything.
And Ed, who badly misses his standard poodle Clancy, made friends with a golden doodle named Cadberry, who just wanted to love on Ed.
The bridges over the canal can all be raised to allow taller boats to pass under them. There are state employees whose job is to respond to calls from boaters for the bridges to be raised.
Ed and Chris were long gone, when I got to Brockport. I used Google Maps to find my way to the home of Gloria and Darrel, our Warm Showers hosts for the evening. Their home backs up to the canal and is just a couple of blocks from the quaint downtown area.
Gloria is a gourmet cook who loves entertaining, so she had cold beverages and fresh watermelon out, when I arrived, and was working on a dinner feast in her kitchen. She had graciously invited our friends Dee and Lee Staley, who we met on the second night of our trip, at Colonial Creek Campground in Washington, to join us for dinner, but only Dee was going to be able to make it..
We set up our tents in the back yard, cooled off on the patio and took showers. And just as I was about to have my turn in the shower, Dee arrived. It was so great to see her! She and I made a connection, back in Washington, and we picked right up where we left off. I had been struggling with some issues, and she was a lifeline for me, with her encouragement and advice, and I really appreciated it! Thank you, Dee, for taking the time to drive down from Rochester to spend time with us. I loved every minute of it, and look forward to meeting up with you again in the future. We will make it happen!
Gloria and Darrel are amazing hosts. She served up a wonderful dinner, and both of them entertained us with their many interests and exploits. After dinner, I walked into town with them to get some ice cream, and we took a nice stroll along the canal path. Thanks Gloria and Darrel for making this such an enjoyable evening and for your kindness and generosity and above all, your most excellent hospitality. Let me know, if you are ever heading my way. I will do my best to reciprocate,