Saturday, July 22, 2023

How Sweet It Is!

 Sorry to report that this was the 14th and final day of the ride from Ajax to Toronto. Close to 55 miles. We continued on the same beautiful lakeside trails that we rode on yesterday.  The trail runs so close to the edge of the lake, that often we rode on wooden planked bridges as we spanned solid road surfaces.

Wooden Bridge

The sky was blue with only occasional clouds and like previous days the temperatures were cool in the morning and warming as the day progressed. Folks that had rear fenders, had removed them as the chance of rain today was nil.

When we were not on dedicated bike paths, we were on quiet residential streets for the most part. Shortly before lunch, we did have a flashback to the ride from Geneva, NY to Oswego, NY where we pushed our way through mud.

The GPS route led us through some shrubbery to a winding single track path through the woods. Much to my surprise, there wasn't much concern as we shouldered the bushes aside in several places. We were rewarded with a beautiful view of Lake Ontario along the way. We encountered cyclists coming from the opposite direction that gave us confidence that we wouldn't be repeating the previous off-road experiences today. With only a couple more twisty turns and a rough asphalt downhill road, we were soon at lunch.

From lunch the bike path became more urban. The lake on our left and outer edges of Toronto on our right. Construction on the bike path forced us to fine a detour and somehow we found ourselves on a freeway bridge with high speed traffic on either side of us. We quickly found an off ramp and back to the bike path as fast as we could.

The final 15 miles included a gelato stop followed by a riverside trail leading deeper into Toronto and finally to the same hotel that we had started from 14 days ago,

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Friday, July 21, 2023

Clouds, showers and trails

Boy did it rain last night!. Got back from dinner last night and the skies opened up and we had a good old storm with thunder and lightning and pouring rain.  It passed through pretty quickly and we woke up to cool temperatures in the mid 60's with gorgeous roads, bike paths and cloudscapes that would be a delight all day.

Of course the entire ride wasn't rainbows and unicorns, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it must have been a solid 9.  The start of the ride had a number of steep climbs, at one point my Garmin GPS was reading an 11% climb which is enough to make you wonder why you are doing this silly ride. But comes along the quiet roads and vistas of fields and by taking just a bit more time, you start scanning the sky to see the awe inspiring clouds bunching up slowly morph into shapes that contains bright whites, dark gray with patches of blue sky showing here and there.

Moments after we reached the lunch stop, the sky opened up and just poured. We were fortunate that the lunch was set up under a gazebo in the middle of a lakeside park. Within 20 minutes of so, the rain had passed and when lunch was done, we were off on some beautiful trails that would be with us almost until the end of the ride. The trails wound their way westward punctuated with several wooden bridges.

With the passing of the rain, the headwinds increased quite a bit and we really felt it when we were not protected by trees and shrubs and was more exposed.

Looking back on the ride, I only hope that the final day of riding into Toronto tomorrow is as nice as today's rides

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The biking gods have been very good to us

 I may be risking the wrath of the biking gods, but so far on this trip we have been blessed with wonderful sights, sounds, mostly good roads, air quality, winds and weather.

Today was another example. Last week when we were heading west to east, we had great conditions including some favorable tailwinds. This portion of the ride we're heading back to the start in Toronto traveling east to west. Logic would dictate that we should be encountering head winds, but today and parts of yesterday, we have been surprised to enjoy tailwinds pushing us along at 17, 18, 19 and sometimes even 20 mph in the latter part of the afternoon.

This morning we had what would only be described as a typical canadian encounter. At the 16 mile mark, we were looking for coffee (what a surprise?) and we came across Hoss's Diner. The  diner was closed, but there was a guy nearby and we explained that we were looking for coffee and he said to sit down, though he wasn't yet open, he would bring out coffee for the group. Couple of minutes later he appeared with fresh coffee for everyone. He refused money for the coffee and wished us a safe trip. We thanked him and left money on the table and proceeded down the road.

Heading west we were expecting headwinds, maybe both headwinds and crosswinds, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that we often had tailwinds often pushing us sometimes up to 20 mph.

About 10 miles from the end of the ride in the town of Cobourg, a town larger that I was expecting given the size of the towns that we rode through today. It goes without saying, ice cream was on the agena. Asking for directions, we were told to turn left and go down to the beach.

The ride from Cobourg to Port Hope was fairly quick where we found many of the other riders having a couple of cool ones in the shade outside the Comfort Inn and we were invited to join them. 

All in all, the biking gods have been very good to us.

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Any day with a ferry crossing is a good day

 The morning was cool in the mid 60's at the start as we headed west along the north side of Lake Ontario toward Toronto where we'll be by Saturday. We pretty much hugged the coast line with Lake Ontario on our left.

The highlight for the day was a 15 minute ferry ride that I'll touch on shortly. About 16 miles out we passed through the small town of Bath and spied a coffee shop called The Lodge Coffee House. About 8 or 9 of us piled into the shop and ordered up our drinks and retired to the patio in the rear where we relaxed in their adirondack chairs until it was time to leave. We were about 1/2 to the Glenora Ferry that would take us from Adolphuston to Glenora on a free 15 minute ride.

I'm not sure what it is about riding a ferry, but every time a bicyclist rides a ferry, it's like a bunch of golden retrievers in a station wagon going for a ride.    

Lunch waited for us about 8 miles after the ferry landing and the location was ideal. Sue and Peter had done a good job of setting up the lunch so that we could be back on the road fairly quickly.

The final stretch in was modified from the planned route by Chuck to shave some miles off the ride, avoid some climbs and by happy accident point us a bit out of the wind which by now swung from southerly to more westerly and increased speed to about 10 mph.

We rode in a pack pretty much and were able to close the remaining 25 miles in pretty good time.

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Some times a day off is a good thing

Sunday we biked to Watertown NY, after a full 7 days of riding. We were booked 2 nights in the Holiday Inn Express. The following day, Monday had 2 optional loop rides or you could take it as a duff day and not ride.

Turns out that we needed the pause in riding. We had planned on Tuesday (today) to take a ferry to Kingston to cross into Canada. However we discovered that the ferry is not running. It took all day Monday to re-route the day's ride to cross into Canada via two bridges and add 25 miles to the route. In addition, we wouldn't be able to ride our bikes on the busy bridges, we had to walk our bike across each mile long bridge. So if you view our photos below, you will see us pushing our bikes on some very narrow walkways on the bridges.

At least we all got to Kingston with no issues to report.

Kingston is a beautiful college town and we are fortunate to stay on the campus of Queen's University in their dormitories. I've stayed in collage dorms on previous trips and it's always a neat experience. Our breakfast tomorrow morning will be dining hall before scooting off. Tomorrow's trip is to Belleville, Ontario and will be a bit long at 73 miles 

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Sunday, July 16, 2023

What day of the week is it?

 When you start riding multiple days you tend to just focus on the essentials of biking; wake up, breakfast, pack bag, hit the road, lunch, ice cream, end of ride, check into hotel, wash up, a drink or so, dinner, sleep, repeat.

The news outside of the weather is not significant if at all. Day of the week is ignored unless you need to get your bike repaired, but that's about it.

As I write this blog, I had to look at the calendar to figure out that's is Sunday. Maybe that explains that the traffic was light today and many of the shops and stores we closed. It's really pleasant to be in this bubble as we move along almost oblivious to the squabbling that consumes us on the nightly news or the internet.

The weather is always the primary topic each day. Is it going to be too hot, is it going to be too cool in the morning, are those storm clouds moving in, what direction is the wind blowing and how strong?

The topic last night was rain, heavy rain. With our cell phones out last night, everyone tuned to their own favorite app, we became meteorologist meteorologist, each stating as if we knew what we were talking about, when the rain was going to start this evening, how hard it was going to rain and for how long and are thunderstorms involved?

For all the angst expressed over dinner and the walk back to the hotel, the morning materialized with a bit of a drizzle having rained heavily while we slept. As we left the motel, the sky was gloomy with heavy gray clouds not really giving us a clear sign of what the day was going to be. We had a place to be, Watertown NY, and rain or not, off we went.

We were very fortunate that the rains held off save some drizzle at lunch and up to 10 miles from the end. Where in Adams NY I pulled off into a Stewart's Shop for an ice cream. As I pulled in, a line of the faster rides followed me into the parking lot. Stewart's was running a special, $1.00 off banana split or brownie sundae.

Despite my better judgement, I went for the banana split. Yes, it was indeed as large as it looked.

As luck would have it, while we were wolfing down our treats, the rain came through and ended minutes before the ice cream was gone. Then we simply jumped back on the bikes and finished the ride.

All of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Muddy Trails

 Some days the rides are easier to predict than other days. Today, not so much. It started out with a nice breeze that pushed us along with a nice clip. Past Seneca Lake and through Seneca Falls before turning north. We were making pretty good time. So good that we became concerned that we would make it to the picnic stop (30 miles) before the van had a chance to get set up and ready for us.

Oh that's when it happened. One of the turns on the route landed us on a trail that looked pretty rough, but being the intrepid bikers, we push on. Past the first mud hole, then the second and the third. Surely the GPS routing software would let us down. It kept cheerfully saying the next road was just ahead and surely it would be better than this one.

Well we got to the spot that the new road was supposed to be, just a left hand turn. Turns out the mapping data must have been faulty. The road, though it showed on the GPS devices, wasn't there. We finally turned around and mostly pushed our muddy bikes back to the start of this little adventure.  

The bikes and the riders were coated in mud and we needed to use what ever sticks and such to knock the caked on mud before we could re-routh and get back on the route again.

When we got to the hotel at the end of the day, out came the rags, soap and garden hose as we hosed down the bikes and cleaned off the grime from today's ride.

All of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Friday, July 14, 2023

Thank You Trek Bikes

 After yesterday's shortened route, we were treated today to the ideal biking weather. Skies clear, temperatures cool in the morning. On tap for today was 3 different rides ranging from 22 miles to 78 miles. Six of us decided on the longer route starting at our hotel in Geneva and heading south to make a loop around Keuka Lake with the turn around point in the town of Hammondsport at the 40 mile mark.

We headed out of town south while gently climbing to a point that we could look down on Seneca Lake to our left about 2 miles to our left East of our route. After we passed through the town of Benton the town of Penn Yan awaited us at the 17 mile point. We were alerted by riders that passed through Penn Yan yesterday that Amity Coffee was the place to stop. They weren't wrong, I had a latte and a blueberry cream croissant. It was delicious. 

Shortly after we left Penn Yan we head down the east side of Keuka Lake, mostly following the lakeshore road with houses on either side and the lake on the right.

We reached Hammondsport at about noon and stopped at a quirky art studio and cafe called "Aroma Coffee Art Gallery".

As we started back, about 4 miles on the return trip, I reached down with my right hand to shift the rear cluster gears when I noticed the gears did not respond. The rear gears of the bike are the most used set of gears on the bike that allow you to make it easier for you to climb hills. Without the rear gears you only have the 3 front gears, called rings to adjust the ratio of the pedals to the rear wheels. At the time, we were on a pretty level road surface and there was no need to notify the other riders as I was able to maintain pace, but at the 56 mile point we hit a substantial climb that almost brought me to a standstill. We pulled off at an overlook and I jerry rigged the rear gears to make it a bit easier to use the remaining 3 gears to make it home.

The other riders shepherded me back to Geneva by riding in front of me, thus blocking the wind and allowing me to make better progress.

Fortunately there's an exceptional Trek Bike shop in Geneva and they were able to make the necessary repairs to restore full operation so that I'll be ready to continue the ride tomorrow. So I need to say Thank you Trek Bikes, I don't know where I would be without you.

All of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Thursday, July 13, 2023

A Little Rain Must Fall


We're at Geneva NY in the heart of the Finger Lakes region and will be exploring the area for the next couple of days. The plan for today was to start from Geneva and head west to the top of Canandaigua Lake, head south along its western flank to the Naples at the southern end of the lake and head north to return to Geneva for a total mileage of 68 miles.

Sounds like a plan the night before the ride, however upon waking up and checking the weather forecast, the ride may not go according to the plan. looking at the forecast, it appears that thunderstorms and high winds are heading our direction and due to hit about 1PM.

Being the hopeful intrepid riders that we are, we head out on the appointed route at 8:30AM with hopes that the forecasts are wrong. After all, the skies are blue, winds are calm and we'll keep our eyes on the skies.

We head west out of town along the West North Street, which turns into Castel Road and finally County Road 4. The road is a fairly quiet road broad wide well paved shoulder. We did have to watch out for the fairly fast moving traffic moving traffic zipping past us however.

As we were heading west, at the 8 mile mark we hit road construction and forced us to divert south, west, north before rejoining Count Road 4 again that added about 5 or 6 miles to our ride and we showed up in the town of Canandaigua ready for a coffee break.

A local had highly suggested a nearby cafe called, "Simply Crepes". We also had our eyes on the weather that had darkened as the bright blue skies had been replaced with ominous gray clouds.

We pulled into the cafe and were quickly seated, looking at the menus we ordered several different crepes to share coffee. We made it clear to the waitress, that we were in a hurry because of the impending thunderstorms. We had already decided that after the break, we were going to head back to Geneva to try to beat the weather.

Much to our surprise, our crepes and coffee quickly came out of the kitchen. We should have taken pictures, they all were so pretty, tasty and soon gone.

During the ride back wind had increased mostly from the south, creating strong crosswinds and when we headed south, they became headwinds and north, tailwinds.

All in all, the trip went pretty quickly and we had beaten the storm by just a little bit. The photo above shows the view from our hotel's parking lot as it approached.

Before it hit, we scampered out to a local mexican restaurant for tacos and burritos. As we were eating, the winds increased, the rain came down in buckets, but it passed over in 30 minutes or so.

We headed back to the hotel along rain damp roads to shower up on following the ride.

All of Today's Photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

And the Miles Will Just Melt Away

 We left Brockport heading back to the canal to follow the same tow path that we were traveling yesterday under slightly overcast skies and temperatures a bit cooler that yesterday, about mid seventies.

The air was still in several places resulting in a mirror-like reflection in the canal. Without a tailwind, our pace was a bit more leisurely than the rapid pace of yesterday that allowed us to enjoy the trail more fully.

We exited the path after about an hour or so to a surface road that had more traffic than anticipated before rejoining the canal path about 15 more miles further down. The path alternated between hard packed crushed gravel to paved asphalt. Both surfaces were equally rideable.

Lunch was at the 40 mile mark and we ate and relaxed for maybe 45 to 60 minutes before pushing on for the final 25 miles which was mostly well paved asphalt on quiet county roads.

For a while, I set the pace for others at what I call my cross county speed. Not so fast that you would grow tired of the pace, but fast enough that you're making good progress. For me, that pace is about 17 MPH. You fall into a loping rhythm so that you have almost a constant pressure on the down stroke and constant upward pressure on the upstroke and making smooth circular strokes. The pace almost sets me in to a meditative state of mind as you feel the wind moving over your face, arms and legs while wicking the moisture off your skin keeping you cool as the remaining miles just melt away. 

All of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,


Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Too many titles for today's ride

 Part of these blogs is trying to figure out a blog title. Today I'm at a loss. Started out at Niagara Falls with a destination of Brockport on the Erie Canal. The route headed South East from Niagara Falls to Tonawanda with the Niagara river on our right.  At this point in the ride I might have titled the blog entry, "The Mighty Niagara River".

At the 12 1/2 mile point we went through a small town like you would see out of a movie set, then on my right it recognized a coffee shop then on my left a movie theater. I then realized that in 2021 I had a break stop in the town on my tour of the Erie Canal and memories of the trip started to flood back to me.

Up ahead, a beautiful little square was ahead, In 2021 this was a construction mess and now a cobble stone entrance to the Erie Canal bike path also newly paved. The bike path wound under shady trees following the canal and occasionally exiting the  path on to surface streets only to re-enter the path with pleasure boat tied to the docks to the left and neat little home on the right. In the time between 2021 and now, less than 2 years, I had forgotten how pretty this ride is, so I could have titled the blog entry, "How Quickly We Forget".

As we moved further down the path, past Lockport, the trail turned from paved path to packed soil and the wind, coming from the West started to push us along starting at 16 MPH to 17, to 18, 19 and finally to 20 MPH with barely any effort. I could have titled the blog to, "So Fast, So Far, So Easy".

At the end of the 75 mile ride in Brockport, we pulled into an ice cream shop at 4PM. On the menu was an item that caught my eye called "Monster Shake. I was hot and a bit tired. I looked at the "Monster Shake" and figured, how big the shake could be anyway. So I ordered it. I had second thoughts when I saw the girl behind the counter reach in to the back and pull out this huge paper cup and drop 1, 2, 3 and 4 large scoops of ice cream into the cup, then milk into the cup. Must have been a quart of ice cream and milk in that cup. Of course I downed it all. At that point I could have titled this blog, "I Can't Believe That I Ate the Whole Thing".

I have no idea what tomorrow's blog will be titled, but I know that it will be a wonderful ride.

All of today's photos: (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Monday, July 10, 2023

Off to Niagara Falls

 Started the day in Hamilton CA today with the destination of Niagara Falls, NY. Beautiful day, clear skies and in the low 70's at the start. We had a lot of ground to cover. Pretty flat at the start with one big climb of a solid 13% grade for about 3/4 of a mile or so. Lots of work and was rewarded with more than a dozen miles of a flat plateau with wonderful views of Lake Ontario to our left. The road was well paved with wine vineyards and corn field on borders of the road.

We moved at a nice clip of 17 miles per hour as a gentle tail wide helped us. Take a look at the elevation profile of the ride below and you'll see that we finally dropped off of the plateau at about 25 miles.

The ride's routes are set up by Chuck Swaney and I'm amazed how he can plan these routes from the comfort of his home thousand of miles away and create such beautiful rides.

We had lunch in St Catherines which is on the edge of Lake Ontario. The picnic lunch was set up in a nice park with an impressive carousel.

Then it was on to the highlight of the day, Niagara Falls. The route avoided most of the traffic between Niagara on the Lake and the falls by following a meandering bike path. 

The falls were impressive as expected along with the summer visitors clogging up the walkways but we were able to get some nice views of the America Falls and the Horseshoe Falls before crossing the Rainbow bridge into the US. We won't be re-entering Canada for seven days as we circle Lake Ontario. 

Tomorrow, we continue to head East with one of the routes spending most of the day on the Erie Canal. in 2021 I spent 6 days riding from Buffalo to Albany NY along the Erie Canal and I'm looking forward to covering some of the same ground for a day or so.

See all of today's photos (link)

Keep the rubber side down,

Brian Cox

Sunday, July 9, 2023

I Get to Drive Today

 The trip is a volunteer effort between biking friends. It's wonderful to go on a "catered" where you show up and the wonderful staff; creates the routes, arranges lodging, provides the food and do everything within their power to provide you with an exceptional experience. I've been very fortunate to take catered tours. TDA Global Cycling is an great example.

This trip is a fully volunteer effort where we form a committee of folks that over a course of several months we plan the routes, arrange the accommodations and dinners, figure out the logistics of transportation and lunches. It's only after you participate on putting one of these trips together do you really and truly appreciate the commitment, skill, patience and experience that a professional ride company brings to the party.

This year has been my first time in being on the ride committee of 12 individuals that in this this ride.  My part has been digital communications and ride longistics. Part of the ride logistics have included in coordination folks renting vehicles, shopping list, bringing equipment and such.

We have a van that carries the luggage from hotel to hotel. The van also carries the food for the "picnic" that includes sandwich fixings, drinks, snacks, fruits and such.

We rotate daily drivers with everyone taking turns driving. With 20 riders, each rider only has to drive once or twice during the tour.

 With today being the first day, I needed experience to find out if our extensive daily shopping list was sufficient and that all the riders had enough for the food for the rest of the ride.

So tomorrow I'll be on the riding and other will be driving the van. We'll be heading to  Niagara Falls crossing the bridge and ending the day in New York.

See today's photo's: link

Keep the rubber side down,


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Tour de Firehouses

 Still enjoying the beauty of the Northern Lakelands of New Jersey and taking early morning rides in preparation for the Lake Ontario tour that are only a couple of days away. 

I pretty much followed the same loop for as before with a couple of extra side road diversions to get a few more climbs and to find some less traveled routes. As opposed to riding in the LA and Pasadena areas in California, this route for the entire 30 miles had only a couple of stop signs and 2 traffic lights, very peaceful indeed.

 As you follow the route, you will notice a number of volunteer fire houses along the way. Today's route includes 5 stations. The route today was 30 miles, with 5 stations along the route, that is an average of a fire station every 6 miles. So I guess in this community, you're never more than 3 miles from the nearest fire station.

Are you interested in participating in being a volunteer firefighter? Click here to find out more:

To view today's photo album, click here

Keep the rubber side down,


Monday, July 3, 2023

The Wheels on the Bike Go 'Round n 'Round

On the way to Toronto for the start of the ride I visited my brother Ed and wife Rosemary in Fayson Lakes in New Jersey for a 2 week visit. I shipped my bike via  It arrived a couple of days ago so it was time to assemble it and take it on a little spin around the North Jersey Lakelands on a 30 mile ride. I plotted the ride using RideWithGPS starting at Ed's house and heading south to a picturistic town of Denville.

The route took me on rolling rural roads that followed several lakes that is the main attraction of this part of the state. I hope that today's photos capture even a small portion of the tranquility of an early morning ride I experienced with the damp road below my tires and the blue sky above and the early morning sun peaking through the tree's branches and leaves.

Some folks have early morning yoga and stretching while others go jogging. For me, today was a tranquil experience with the rolling road some downhill and occasionally shifting down and standing on the pedals up over the next rise.

Before entering Denville and taking a coffee break I took a diversion around a pond called Rock Ridge. Seems that many of these lakes and ponds each have their own club houses with swimming docks and canoes. What a way to spend the summer.

To view today's photo album, click here

Keep the rubber side down,