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Konquering Keuka!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

There were around 330 of us at our Great Finger Lakes Bike Tour this year...which marked its THIRTIETH (WOW!) anniversary!

We were tucked away in the Hidden Valley Campgrouds within Watkins Glen State Park. As many may know, Watkins Glen is known for its racing and NASCAR events. You could hear them going it throughout the day over the hill...sounding like a swarm of angry hornets! Some of the roads we biked were part of the first Watkins Glen International Speedway...hard to believe these roads which were either twisting up / down valleys or straightaways through open fields could have been the scene of such mayhem! It was all so serene and peaceful (away from the track!).

The first day I biked up and down the east side of Seneca Lake from Watkins Glen along past MANY different wineries and vineyards. During a couple of stops I had a chance to chat with some pleasant cyclists who had come all the way from Windsor, Ontario! Total miles for Saturday were 38.

Vineyards overlooking Seneca Lake north of Watkins Glen

Hector Falls north of Watkins Glen

Hector Falls emptying into Seneca Lake

That afternoon a fellow member of SparkPeople (TEAMAEGIS) who is ALSO a member of the bike club was giving another walking tour of Watkins Glen. I have walked the glen in the past, but it had been a while and I appreciated the opportunity to share our stories while re-visiting such beautiful sites of nature!

Watkins Glen

Saturday had been HOT and increasingly MUGGY...the bank thermometer in Watkins Glen put the temp @ 86! But it felt SO NICE to catch up with some SUNSHINE!

That night I think I had the longest sleep I'd seen in many moons...! There was a raffle @ 8 pm...finished dinner @ 7 pm. Back at the cabin the sleepies struck. I thought, hey, I'll just rest a bit until it's time for the raffle. Didn't wake up until the next morning 6 pm! Whew WEE was that ever GREAT!

Sunday's weather was a whole different story! By the time we had breakfast, packed and left the campgrounds for Hammondsport the rains had begun! It was like being back in Georgia again! TORRENTIAL rains, nearly forcing us to pull over to the side of the road at times!

It was still raining steadily when we arrived at Keuka Lake and I was like...don't think I'm up for biking in THIS! So we killed some time by driving around the lake to see the route I would bike IF the rain let up!

That was when we saw multiple washouts of mud & stone strewn across the road in a number of spots. UGH! But I was like...well, maybe by the time we circle round the lake...? The rain DID let up and there was only a light, off & on drizzle:

Misty, foggy, post-torrential Keuka Lake

I just KNEW there would be no LIVING with myself if I didn't get out there and NAIL that route 'round the lake! So off I went! Keuka Lake is shaped like a large "Y" with Hammondsport at the bottom of the stem, Branchport at the left tip of the "Y" and Penn Yan at the right tip. The route was 44 miles IF one travels directly from Branchport to Penn Yan, 57 miles if one undertook the bluff route traveling down and up the inside of the "Y"...and this route has a notorious hill to negotiate. Our bike club president says: "I never met a hill I couldn't...walk up!" :-)

Because the time was running tight and I didn't want to stay TOO late I vetoed the bluff run...saving that for another day!

One of the special joys of the ride up the west side of the lake was the run-off of the rains which had just pounded down. On my right was Keuka and on my left were rocky embankments through which every 100 yards or so a mini-waterfall cut through the stone...a treat for my eyes and ears!

This weekend reminded me yet one more time how blessed we are to have such beauty in our backyard here in rural upstate New York!

Hope everyone in our SparkFamily is doing well and alive & thriving on into the wonderful summer months!

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