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Great Finger Lakes Bicycle Tour: Cheating the Bluffs!

Friday, June 19, 2015

This past weekend was our bike club's annual Great Finger Lakes Bicycle Tour:


Things began with a BANG on Friday night during our short, 18-mile Fire Tower loop. There was a storm predicted for later that evening, however it rolled in MUCH more quickly than expected:

Got caught in the last few miles of the ride in one of the most intense thunderstorm EVER! Sent me skittering about the road like an insect, could barely see the road to find my way back. There was absolutely NOTHING around which offered any cover. Two others were riding with me. Could see the storm brewing and rolling in off Seneca Lake with the warning thunder fueling our pedal strokes. The power got wiped out back at the camp for the night.

It was made all the more frightening during the next day's ride as we surveyed all the downed trees and limbs...thank goodness nobody got hurt! I think I met my adrenaline rush quota for the next few years...lol!

Saturday's ride was the longest, around 60 miles and instead of cycling 'round Seneca or Cayuga lakes this ride took us up toward Penn Yan and northern Keuka lake:


This also takes one by the Windmill Center, which I only belated realized upon arrival, was a highly commercial tourist-trap that felt like it was a whisker away from McDonald's:


No lengthy stop there! Just enough for a pulled-pork sandwich and a huge dill pickle...lol

I was a bit disappointed in myself at the end of Saturday's ride over how totally WIPED OUT I felt! I didn't know how I would stay awake through dinner, let alone all the very cool activities that awaited during the night. I realized my busy summer which has kept me from logging the kind of miles I'd like to be logging has taken a toll.

But yanno? The night swept me away nonetheless. SO many cool things! A club member gave a hilarious powerpoint tribute and presentation in honor of one of our founding members, Augie, 82 years young and still riding strong!

Karen, who founded the Five Hundred Miles Across New York (FANY Ride www.fanyride.com ) gave such an enthusiastic, heart-felt pitch for her upcoming ride. I've yet to do this one and it isn't happening this year, but it WILL happen! :-)

I met a former bike club member who had moved away from the area to live in Vermont and had biked ALL THE WAY to our event, almost 400 miles! He has had extensive bike touring experiences and spoke of staying with people he met through Warm Showers ( www.warmshowers.org ), reminding me that I want to host traveling cyclists TOO! So I signed up and posted that I was available for hosting! I've heard such wonderful stories of local folks who've hosted cyclists from as far as Scotland. Can't wait! It was wonderful to pick his brains and learn from his experiences.

After the presentations the Drum Circle gathered and I joined in with my guitar, beating the back of my guitar like a drum.

And then? CAMPFIRE TIME! We all gathered around and I played my guitar and to my great surprise and joy some other bike club members joined in, one with a flute, the other with a recorder and percussion and we were able to find some songs which we all knew and could play together, including some of my favorite bossa nova tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Van Morrison's Moondance and some others.

So how long can this road-weary cyclist carry on through the night, anyhow?!? :-) I think it was approaching 11 when I drifted off to sleep.

Sunday's ride 'round Keuka brought yet more delights! Apologies for the lack of pics, but I do have a few to share...a few pics of the gorgeous area around Keuka Lake:

One of the great challenges that the ride around Keuka offers is The Bluff. It is a hill climb so steep that it never fails to be a guaranteed "walk." Here is a link to the map:


You'll see in the lower part of the map the elevation chart and how there is a WALL that you slam into around the 23 mile mark. This is The Bluff. It is located at the base of the "V" which is in the upper part of Keuka Lake which is shaped like a crooked "Y".

I made up my mind earlier in the morning that I wasn't feeling very "bluffy" today. I'd heard that there was a rough gravel path which one could take to connect to the east side of the "V". I hadn't done this before, but ran into a couple of cyclists along the way who knew this route and were planning to take it. Perfect! Gonna cheat the Bluffs! Woo hoo! The gravel road was not at all a problem negotiating with my Specialized Tricross and wider tires. Skinny road bike tires might pose more of an annoyance, but could probably be negotiated.

Here is a pic of the very base of the Bluff, doesn't look like much. Enjoyed thumbing my nose at it as I rode by...lol.

So instead I go my merry way up the east side of the Bluffs and enjoy all the beautiful homes and views. I was reminded of the same feeling I get every year cycling 'round Keuka: a vicarious pleasure in taking in all these homes with nary a shred of envy. This could be a painful ride if one had a penchant for envy! Instead, I can appreciate all the lovely views, which were strangely largely devoid of people actually outside of these homes taking any pleasure in their acquisitions, but be so glad not to have the headaches of the bills, the upkeep, all the drama of property ownership...I'm free from all that "stuff!"

I was channeling Ray Charles & Cleo Laine's rendition of Porgy & Bess, in particular that wonderful tune: I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'!


Here's another:

I pedaled up through Keuka College into Penn Yan and another variation I took in this year, following another seasoned bike club member's advice, was instead of staying on highway 54 all the way to Hammondsport, I noodled along the way down into the various East Lake Road loops to take in more of the lakeshore homes and views. However they were again calling for another storm later today and after Friday night's scare I was more mindful of the gathering clouds and passed on a few of these loops so that I could return to Hammondsport and the safety of my car before any storm arrived. Which it DID! Another storm hammered the area quite seriously later in the day and unfortunately a few club members had been in this one, but came through safely.

I've heard we totaled around 220 this year at our event. A whole lotta joy shared by many! I encourage folks to consider joining us next year! We usually hold this event mid-June and the price of around $100 includes breakfast & dinner and a cabin bed is only an additional $10 or you can tent it if you prefer.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a great adventure you had. I loved hearing all about it!
    1231 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Incredible adventure!! So glad you all made it through those terrible storms safely! Thanks so much for your vivid descriptions and how you felt along the way, the next best thing to being there!
    emoticon emoticon ride!
    1249 days ago
    All my biking friends, in "meet space" and in virtual land on the online, have been having wonderful tours this year. Glad you took us along on yours! I've been treated to photos of rides in South Dakota, and Nebraska, and now upstate New York! emoticon Maybe someone among my FB friends will post RAGBRAI (Iowa) snaps, too.

    Me? Hardly ever take photos during my cycle rides! LOL... selfish? Maaaybe? emoticon
    1249 days ago
  • KANOE10
    What a wonderful event. That is a lot of miles. How fun to have people join you in music. It sounds like there are warm people who share your love of biking. I am glad you were safe from the storm.
    1249 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1249 days ago
    P.S. Who are the young men in your new background photo? Just curious! emoticon
    1250 days ago
  • BILLB000
    Wonderful story and great photos. I love your passion and enthusiasm for biking and the friends you have made in the biking culture. you continue to be in inspiration for many of us. Ride on!
    1250 days ago
    This just sounds absolutely wonderful! Despite that scary storm (I'm a tornado survivor 30 years ago -- and you never forget). Love the image of you playing and singing with the others -- and cheating the bluffs too! You're in a good place getting lots of great exercise with terrific people.
    1250 days ago
  • GABY1948
    Thanks for the pics! The storm was scary though!

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    1250 days ago
    Sounds like a great time, esp. the campfire and camaraderie despite the storm! Thanks for sharing the pics, too!
    1250 days ago
    Other than you exhilarating and terrifying experience with thunderstorms, it sounds like you had a great time. I love the pictures. Thanks for sharing them. Someday, I'm going to get my own road bike so I can get off the blasted stationaries and get out there. I don't now if I'll ever be up to the Pan Ohio Hope Ride (4 days and 328 mi) let alone FANY, but I can't wait to find out. I always enjoy your posts Don.
    1250 days ago
    Great blog - great times! Glad you're safe after the thunderstorm scare. Had a similar experience on a run in Florida one summer.
    1250 days ago
    Don, Great description of the weekend. Let me add: If you live anywhere in Central NY or the NY/PA Tier, the $5 annual membership in the Southern Tier Bicycle Club is a fantastic investment even if only used as an introduction to this event.
    1250 days ago
    Wow, what a weekend. The storm sounds super scary, but what fun otherwise (and I think the storm is good for a few stories itself!) It's great that you signed up to host some fellow cyclists. You're in for a great summer my friend!
    1250 days ago
    Hi Don,

    Sounds like you have has some great adventures. I clicked on the links and took a look at the ride profiles. The "bluff" as you call it is quite steep at 6%. I have a grade readout on my Garmin that is not good to look at.

    The countryside looks fantastic. It sound like you got to ride with some great folks.

    Thunderstorms scare me. Your storm story had me cringing. I know haw hard it is to convey the intensity of the storm. I am glad nobody got hurt.

    Thanks for sharing. Great blog!


    emoticon emoticon
    1250 days ago
    Scary storm. Beautiful pics. You have great biking adventures.
    1250 days ago
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