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I started out from Schenectady, eager to reach the end of the trip.  Improvised art exhibits covered fences in several areas of this stretch of the trail. I applaud the effort, but it seems an attempt to gild the lily or paint the abalone.  I’m not disparaging the art, just the location.

The text here is very clear;  don’t leave the bike trail.

Besides a steep hill and cliffs, GE Global Labs and Knolls Atomic Power Labs lie beyond the fence and foliage.  A lot of deer grazed there also.

If I read the map correctly, Jeff Blatnick Park has been built on a former landfill. 

It is a very pretty spot.

Trees here, as they do on downstate parkways, mask the subdivisions on either side.

If the Empire State Trail here follows the D&H railbed, then this is Black Bridge between Green Island and Van Shaick Island. 

The storm still had obstacles for me . . .  hastily being cleared by good citizens, they called themselves.  I was appreciative.

And then, I crossed the Second Street Bridge in Waterford, and after 334 miles, it came to an end.  I realized later that the gent who took my photo was a vendor at the Waterford Farmer’s Market.  I still craved an apple, but his were all sold out.

Conclusions?

  1. It felt very good to complete. I talked with very few people, making it ideal social distancing.  Inhaling all that forest-filtered air does the body good, even my 1952 body.  I actually set out, doing so publicly, not convinced that I’d complete the trip.  Doing it publicly made it harder to bail out of the mission of completing it.
  2. Fall is a great time of year to bike it. I sweated, as one would cross country skiing. Summer heat might be intolerable.
  3. It was not about speed or racing. The journey was paramount, but once underway, I stopped more often for gulps of water than for taking photos. I saw many beautiful things I did not photograph.  Most of my focus was up to 50′ ahead of the bike, as I scanned for holes, root heaves, and sticks. I also saw many historical signs I raced past. Momentum eclipsed puzzling out historical signage; maybe I was wrong in making that choice, but I had done my history homework in advance.
  4. My interior sentience was not about solving the world’s or the state’s problems or hearing music; rather, when thoughts coursed,  they were about refuting political slogans I saw on too many signs.  The wooded areas were more inspiring, even in their non-verbal way.  If I do the Appalachian trail, I hope I won’t see those signs. Next year those distractions will be gone.
  5. Calling it the “canal trail” is misleading. “Rail and canals trail” as a name might be more indicative of what you’ll see.  Having transited the canal to a terminus about 20 times, I know what the “canal view” is.  Here’s the virtual tour I put up after numerous boat trips.  A bike trip does not get you a boat view.  It gets you a bike view.  I’ve discovered a new curiosity about the trains that ran some of these corridors.   Here‘s more on the West Shore RR.
  6. If you missed it before or if I misquoted myself since, my total was about 334 miles which I did in 53.5 hours over a seven-day period. The mileage is calculated from a map, not an actual recording device.  The fourth day I made no miles because of the storm. The 53.5 hours is elapsed time from morning departure until end of day leaving the trail, i.e., the clock kept ticking while I did things like take a break as in Little Falls or wait for the electrical line repair crew clear a live wire off the trail
  7. Next year the trail will be better.
  8. Thanks for following along.  I’m not a cyclist really.  I don’t own a bike.  The Trek I used is available through Oswego Expeditions.  But if you have questions about the trail, I’m happy to consult.
  9. Solo v. groups?  I was fine doing it solo.  One benefit of a solo journey is that I was more disposed to enter conversations with strangers, and I met some interesting ones. That is less likely to happen if you’re boating through.
  10. Now . .  isn’t this blog called “tugster”?  This hiatus has reached its end.  Back to “tugster” next.
When the trail ended, I wanted to post photos immediately, but during my short hiatus, wordpress changed its interface for the producer, i.e., me.  I’ve finally puzzled through, and especially for readers not on FB, here is a report.  That look below . . .  that was “minute one of day one” and my incredulous face, time to forward pedal or back pedal and lose face . . . . sh*t or get off the can.
The look of . . . “Am I too far in to change my mind?!?”

In that case, en avant, I should fuel and lubricate the tires. Sunday 0735.

This is the look of focus!  I soon stopped and put on my gloves.

13 million . . . at least . .  more rotations of the pedals lie ahead.
This is what three trails look like, with the middle one mine . . .

Boats getting out of the system before it closed used the wet trail.

I encountered three types of surface . . .  the cinders path increased effort for the “hybrid” tires I used.  Just roughly speaking, I’d say roughly 35% of trail now is cinders, another 40% is paved, 20% is “share the road” street and highway, and the rest is grassy.  Work is ongoing, so next year the percentage of paved portions will be higher, and grass and highway lower.  The best thing about towpath and rail trails is that they are straight and level.

This last photo of tug Pittsford I took in Albion NY, where I spent night one, in a motel.  I really needed a hot shower every night.

All photos, WVD, who returns to the sixth boro and focus on its traffic after this report.

A final word . . .  I’m not a regular cyclist.  Prior to this trip, I’d not sat on a cycle seat for over five years.  I am, however, an avid walker.  My bicycle was a Trek Dual DS2 provided by Oswego Expeditions, a very good bike and outfitter.  Thanks, Jennifer. 

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