Three Cheers for Bike Camp
Friday, July 26, 2013
Bike Camp is a 3-day event held at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. It’s organized by Brian and his wife from the Southern Tier Biking Club out of the Binghamton area (I hope I got this right). We arrived early Thursday afternoon eager to get on our bikes and tour the countryside. A janitorial worker helped to track down Brian so we could check in to our dorm. He was just setting out the cue sheets and a case of green bananas for the weekend. He took a break, gave us our keys, and we rushed back out to the car to unload.
Our ride was a 27-mile loop with lots of rolling hills and one huge hill that just kept going and going. We slowly battled the hill, but near the end had to admit defeat and do a little walking. The ride took us through quiet villages and towns and was the perfect warm up for the weekend. When we got back to the dorm, more riders had checked in and it was time to go to dinner at the Colgate cafeteria. The food wasn’t great, but we were hungry and didn’t complain. Then we walked into town to listen to a traveling symphony from Canada at a lovely park in the center of town. The music was wonderful and it looked like the entire town came out to enjoy the evening.
As usual, I had a restless night. I have fits of insomnia even at home, but when I’m away from home, it’s even worse. Not even having my own pillow helped. So, I was feeling a little groggy as we headed back to the cafeteria for breakfast. But after some food and some caffeine, I was back on track and eager to ride a new route. We decided on the 48-mile loop that would take us past the county fair. It had been years since I’ve visited one of those. The route started with an uphill climb. Immediately my friend had to stop—it was too soon after breakfast for her, so I headed out by myself after she assured me she was fine and would start about an hour later after her breakfast digested.
There were some tough hills to climb, some of which I had to ride serpentine-style to make it to the top. The middle of the ride was flat to rolling hills. Entry into the county fair was a whopping $2, except for those over 55. Yay—age has its benefits. There was a group of cyclists sitting at a picnic table, so I stopped there first to meet them. Great people. I was especially happy to meet Ray, who was riding a recumbent. I have been thinking about test riding one to see about using it for my cross-country trip after reading an article in Adventure Cycling Magazine. I spent quite a bit of time picking his brain—he rode cross country in 2012 on a trike. They sound intriguing, but I expect I’ll end up purchasing a traditional bike.
Then I took a short ride through the fair to look at the animals—goats, cows, horses and chickens. I stopped in one barn to talk to a young man about his goats—he was so enthusiastic and did a great job explaining the differences between the two species and what he does to get them ready for show. I hope he won some ribbons. When I got back to the entrance, the other group had already departed, so off I went again on my own.
Several miles later as I was slowly cranking it up another hill, I saw another group of cyclists resting at the top. I was hoping they wouldn’t take off before I got there, and my luck held. They were surprised that I was riding alone and invited me to join them. It was just what I needed; I was getting tired, but having someone to talk with took my mind away from the pedaling and the miles flew by. We stopped at a small diner for lunch and a welcomed rest. Then on to the dorms. It was another great day.
I met my friends and we went out to dinner at Il Iguana, a great Mexican restaurant. We hung out for a while and then went next door to a bar to hear a band. Good music, good beer, and a good way to end the day. Then, another sleepless night.
Saturday we rode to a nearby town to have my friend’s chain replaced at Guy’s in Madison. I was tired and looking forward to a short day of riding, but after listening to Guy talk about the area, we decided to take a county map and just go exploring. We would ride until we were half tired, and then return. That ride turned into more than 40 miles with some of the best scenery. We rode to Oriskany Falls and then headed out Rt. 26 North for our first climb. It was long and gradual with beautiful views once we reached the top. We then headed east to Knoxboro, which took us over 3 steep hills. We stopped once to make sure we were where we thought we were, but the guy we spoke to didn’t know the area—That was the 2nd time we asked someone who knew less than us. But the views again were worth the climb and it didn’t matter if we were lost—we had all day as long as our legs could last.
Then we headed south on Rt. 46 through Munns and into Munnsvillle. That was the most thrilling ride of the entire weekend. It went down and down and down the mountain. If I could have gotten a ride back up, I would have loved to ride back down. We had lunch at a little diner in Munnsville. Then headed back on Pratts Road and Rt. 12B. 12B was the only road that wasn’t great riding—the berms were rough and there was too much traffic.
During the ride, I had been making arrangements to finally meet DDOORN in person! I had just enough time to get showered and put on some street clothes before he arrived. We met at the campus and then took off for a very leisurely ride around Hamilton before going to dinner at an Indian restaurant in Hamilton. This was the highlight of the entire weekend. Had it not been for DDOORN, I would have never known about bike camp. I’ve met many SparkPeople and have never been disappointed—they are always fun and interesting people. That track record continues.
My friend had decided to go to the movies to see The Lone Ranger. I wasn’t enthused as I thought the trailer looked stupid, but wanted to spend some time with her, so I met her at the theatre after riding back to the dorms to see DDOORN off. Instead of showing previews of upcoming movies, the theatre ran a wonderful montage of photos of community events and the town. When it was over, I was ready to move to Hamilton. The movie will probably go down as the all-time worst movie I have ever seen. I really wanted to walk out, but didn’t want to be rude. After the movie, I found out she hated it as much as I and she wanted to walk out, too.
Sunday was our short-day for riding. We wanted to be on the road heading home by noon, so we rode just 26 miles on some of the prettiest roads that we had been on earlier. I was really sorry to see the weekend come to an end. I hope I can go to Bike Camp again next year and explore more of the area.