53.1 mi / 11.7 mph / 968 ft. climbing
Home: Cayuga Lake State Park Campground
Breakfast came up via 4-wheeler at 7am, with our hosts accommodating us a bit earlier than normal so we could get on the road for a longer day. It was also nice to not have to wash dishes and pack up the tent, which isn’t really an unusual situation for us (like any time we stay in a motel), but somehow in this situation, where we were still “camping”, it felt like an extra bonus prize.
The road out from camp was surprisingly busy, maybe a downside of the early start that put us in with “rush hour” traffic? We’d been debating on whether to take the perhaps-sketchy Lehigh Valley Trail, or stay on the paved roads, so the traffic tipped our decision to the trail.
It was in fact sketchy: narrow, sections of soft mud, a grass median in most places, giant rocks at every road crossing to keep cars off the trail, but spaced narrowly enough to make it tight for our wide-load bikes. Basically a smorgasbord of Rett’s least-favorite biking elements, including a runner, moving only slightly slower than us, not even acknowledging our presence each time we tried to pass, and swapping leads for probably 10 minutes until we finally left him behind for good. So every time we one of those annoying road crossings, I would suggest that we get back on the road, and that its hills and traffic would still be less trouble than the trail. But Rett kept refusing, kept battling the trail (thus increasing her rough-surface skills), and it paid off in the end, getting us where we needed to be faster than the “easier” option.
Once the trail stopped going our way and we returned to the open road, we caught some big tailwinds that helped make up for our slow trail-speed. NY-96 took us through Manchester, Clifton Springs, Phelps, and a few other towns just south of I-90. Once again, they all felt like economically healthy towns, with houses being maintained on held on to, and almost none advertised for sale. Clifton Springs was particularly impressive, with its giant brick sanitarium building (and maybe the Springs themselves?) lending quite a bit of heft and apparent tourist traffic to such a small (pop. ~2000) town.
After a stop at Walmart, the final town was Seneca Falls, considered the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement. We should have spent more time there (they have an ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ connection too), but camp was calling,
For some reason, Cayuga Lake State Park had plenty of sites available on a Friday night. It made us worried something was wrong with it, but no, it was just fine. Well, it was wrong that the registration booth was unmanned, and I had to ride across the highway and down a steep hill to get signed in, but at least it let me brag about what a badass I am for hauling a bundle of firewood on my rear rack up a 9% hill. Also wrong that that firewood had no interest in burning, but I couldn’t give up because we needed to use our S’mores ingredients that were an unused amenity from our glamping site! Even though the chocolate had turned to liquid in that heat (and since re-solidified), and even though neither of us especially love S’mores! But we’re camping, dammit! Marshmallows will be roasted if it’s the last thing I do!