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Week Eight: New York August 3 - 9

Click here to read Matt's newsletter from this week!

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I will start by following Lake Ontario's southern shoreline and experiencing the beauty of Alexandria Bay, famous for its thousands of islands. The countryside of the Empire State is a palette of color, from the lush wine-country vineyards, to crystal blue-green lakes, to fields of radiant yellow sunflowers. The backdrop is green rolling hills and striking peaks of granite gray. I'll ride through my hometown of Rochester (NY) where I'll visit with many friends and family that have helped with this exciting adventure. The week ends in Lake Placid, best known as the site of the 1980 winter Olympics and Mount Marcy, the state's highest summit.

Matt's newsletter from this week:


Hello again from Lake Placid, NY, home of the 1980 Olympics and the USA Miracle on Ice Gold Medal hockey team. As many of you know, this summer I am riding my bicycle 4,200 miles across America in honor and memory of my father. He passed away last April about 2 months before he was to set off on his own transcontinental journey. This summer I ll be completing his dream for him, on his bicycle, while raising money for a scholarship in his honor.

As my trip begins to wind down, I would like to ask all those individuals that have enjoyed my travelogues, that have laughed a few times, that have found some personal inspiration or that have shared it with others, to please help me support my father's scholarship. Please click here to make a tax deductible donation of which 100% with go to charity (my family and the U of R are paying for the trip). I will have ridden 4,300 miles by the end of the trip, so 100 dollars is a 2 cents a mile, please consider making a donation to a worthy cause. Thank you for your support.

This week I cycled from Niagara Falls, ON to Lake Placid, NY. I left the powerful beauty of the falls (and yes, the touristy stuff that I was a little hard on in my last email), and cycled self contained towards my hometown of Rochester NY, visited my childhood summer camp, had a nice article in the newspaper , cycled with my mother, ate some white hots and garbage plates, drank tons of micro brews, and made it to Lake Placid to see all the Olympic memories from 1980. Check below for photos and descriptions (and don't forget to click on the photos to see larger images)

Just a reminder, on Saturday August 16th, I will be rolling into Gloucester (MA) around 1:00 (remember time is tough to judge when riding a bicycle) to complete the ride by dipping my front wheel in the Atlantic Ocean. I do not have the name of the beach, but it's the main one in town where the Fisherman's memorial is located. You ll see yellow arrows on the road that will lead us to the beach. Also, I ll have my cell phone, so call me that day to find out more details. I d love to see family and friends there (hint, hint)


  • Miles ridden this week: 449
  • Miles ridden to date: 3,942
  • Number of hours I was out on the road on day 4: 14
  • Number of Garbage Plates eaten: 1 (ask someone from Rochester, NY)

  • August 4th: Self Contained towards CSM
    Niagara Falls, ON to Conesus Lake, NY
    100 miles (Thanks Flandawg)

    I woke up really early this morning. I knew I was leaving the group today to ride self supported towards my childhood summer camp, but I didn't exactly know the miles and didn't know what I was going to encounter in terms of winds, flats, detours or grouchy librarians. So waking up at 4:45 AM, I stumbled across a whole new tour; I literally met people that I have never seen on a bicycle, like the photo to the right of Kieran and I first time ever.

    I rode with my new friends to the Minolta Tower to have breakfast overlooking Niagara Falls. I think everyone was genuinely happy and surprised to have this new member in their group. Yes, they met me with some suspicion, like some alien landing in your backyard, but they warmed up to me after I started talking their language: I have to put my head down and hammer today to beat these thunderstorms. Ah, acceptance.

    After breakfast, I bid the group farewell and rode off by my lonesome south towards the Finger Lakes. I rode through the somewhat depressed urban areas of the American Niagara Falls and onto the county roads of western New York. NY is really a great cycling state: nice roads, friendly traffic, rolling hills. About 25 miles into the ride I caught up to a self-container named Donald from Seattle that was also riding towards Boston. We had actually met in Niagara Falls the day before in a coffee shop, it was a nice surprise. We rode to lunch in Batavia, where I introduced him to a White Hot. Now, for all those non upstate New Yorkers, we have a unique and wonderful creation up here called a White Hot made of white spiced pork. They re fantastic, try one once in your lifetime.

    After saying goodbye to Donald, I rode south towards Camp Stella Maris to meet up with old friends and revisit my home away from home from the age of 7 until 21. I was a lifer, one of those kids that started with one week as a baby and worked his way through staff until I considered it home. I was actually somewhat nervous to go back. I haven't been on staff for 3 years and most of the people there are my campers from when I was a counselor I feel kinda old. But, I knew that camp is camp and there were three people that I did work with that I was really excited to see again.

    I rolled in during open waterfront (where all the kids are swimming, sailing etc) and right away my three friends ran up the beach to give the smelly guy a huge hug. I camped and worked with both Christine and Heather for more than half my life, it was great to see them again. And Matt Flanigan too, we ve been emailing back and forth tons this summer because he did this same ride 20 years ago and stayed in many of the same towns that I ve been through. We visited, laughed, swam, went tubing, played with the kids it was great. The faces were different, but the place was the same. It was nice to be home again. At night, we sat on Matt's dock sipping some drinks and watching the thunderstorms roll over the lake. An amazing lightning show to end an amazing day.

    August 5th: Mom time
    Camp Stella Maris, NY to Sodus Point, NY
    68 miles

    I ve been waiting for this day since Seattle. Yes, I was looking forward to the Tetons, Yellowstone, and the rest, but I knew the moment I rolled into Rochester and saw my Mom for the first time since leaving and knowing that I rode my bicycle 3,500 miles to see her would be a moment etched in my mind forever.

    A special treat to start the day too, I rode the first 10 miles with my friend Matt who rode the trip 20 years ago. We maintained a solid 20 MPH pace, and no Matt, I wasn't trying to work you. I m a little surprised he stopped and didn't keep right going to Boston, but oh well, it was great to log those 10 miles together. As I crested the hill on Route 15 and saw the skyscrapers of Rochester (yes, Roch-vegas has skyscrapers and indoor plumbing too!) I felt goose bumps prickle on my arms.

    I rolled along the Erie Canal path until I finally met up with my Mom, who was all clad in cycling gear including her new SPD pedals go Mom! We hugged for an eternity, smiled and knew that both were as happy to see the other as could possibly be. We rolled into lunch, where many of my neighbors, friends and high school teachers were there to greet me with smiles, cheers and even some Jeremiah's buffalo wings (Thanks Mr. Harrison & Mr. Fujita!).

    After lunch and a nice conversation with the local newspaper (check out the story here), I finished the ride up to Sodus where my Mom would meet me to go home for the night. Now, my Mom obviously didn't grasp the whole EFI thing (Every &$%#^# Inch) because she wanted me to go home from lunch; sorry Mom, but every inch means every inch, I ll see you in a few hours.

    A nice dinner at my favorite restaurant in Rochester, Mamasans, and a good night sleep in the room formerly known as my room (now affectionately called the guest room ) and this wonderful day drew to a close.

    August 6th: The Day After
    Sodus, NY to Fulton, NY
    71 Miles

    When I left this morning, I was still on a high from all the excitement of the last two days; it was hard to leave. But I had to move on, must keep making progress towards Boston. Interesting note though, at the end of today and tomorrow's ride, we will be father away from Boston that when we started. We re only about 250 miles direct line away right now, but we re cycling close to 700 miles to get there direct route versus more hills and scenery. Hmmm, let's go add VT, NH and ME just for fun!

    I had an interesting thought last night too, I was sitting in living room chair reading a magazine when I had the striking feeling that nothing was terribly different from 9 months ago when I was sitting in that same chair reading a magazine. I was tanner, in better shape, so there were differences at the margin, but was there anything really different? I think this is somewhat of a foreshadowing of things to come, as I return to my day to day life in Boston, will anything have changed? Am I different? Or will it be the same chair with changes only at the margin. Interesting thoughts.

    August 7th: Sackett's Harbor
    Fulton, NY to Dexter, NY
    65 miles

    Today was a short day. For most people this means you can get in early and get more stuff done. Well, I have never really found much stuff to do at camp, so short days mean more play time for Matt. 65 miles, 15 hours of sunlight this is touring.

    Nice ride in the morning to Sackett's Harbor for a beautiful picnic along Lake Ontario on a site of a battle from the War of 1812. Now my high school history teachers are going to be disappointed (and after they got my buffalo wings too), but I had forgotten much about the War of 1812. I knew a little, like it had something to do with us and them and it occurred at some point very close to 1812, but most of the details had slipped from my memory (along with most of my close friends birthday's, sorry Margit). So it was nice to re-learn the details, we ll see how long they stay in the attic up there.

    I hung out after lunch at the Sackett's Bay Brewing Company with a whole bunch of local cyclists and sailors, enjoying a few craft beers chatting about our sports. When word got out that I was cycling across America, a few rounds of beer were bought, when word got out that I was in New Zealand for the America's Cup, a few more rounds were bought and the next ting I knew it was getting dark.

    I got to ride home as a brilliant orange sun set over the western sky, left just after sunrise, returned to camp at sunset, 65 miles, 15 hours, mission accomplished.

    August 8th: Hills Begin
    Dexter, NY to Star Lake, NY
    71 miles

    Great ride through upstate New York today. We re getting close to Boston, I can smell the difference, see it in the people, the places (I saw a Dunkin Donuts and Fleet Bank yesterday) and the feel. It's really feeling like home.

    I think most people are realizing our time together is quickly coming to a close. At the end of today's ride a few people stopped at a bar for a drink, then a few more and a few more until we had half the ride sitting on this deck sipping brews and laughing the afternoon away. It was great to see everyone come together.

    Tonight we had our Koombiah (no idea how to spell that, sound it out for me) session where all the coast to coasters sat in a circle and chatted about what the ride meant to us. I was half expecting it to be a big sob fest, but with out group: never. It was hilarious, one wise crack after another, everyone taking funny shots at each other.

    I was somewhat serious though, my thought came out of a discussion I had with my Mom a few days ago. When I started this ride it was unambiguously my father's ride, with his bike, his jersey, his dream. However, after the past 55 days, all the hills, the people, the smiles, the laughter, the tragedy, the challenges, the whole experience has become mine. Yes, I am still fulfilling my father's dream on his bike with his jersey, but this has become my dream too now, and it's become my ride as well. Maybe I ll think of it as ours, another memory to share together.

    August 9th: Miracle on Ice
    Star Lake, NY to Lake Placid, NY
    74 miles

    Today could have been my favorite cycling day to date. It was ALL up and down, hill after hill and decent after decent. I ve found I really like eastern hills more than western mountains; they re just as challenging, but in a different way. Western Mountains go on forever at a low grade and require mental stamina more than physical power. Eastern hills are short and steep, you can see the top and power up them knowing exactly how hard you can push so you re whipped at the top, but have enough energy left to crest the summit and fly down the decent.

    Today was basically half mile steep climb followed by half mile steep decent for 70 miles through Adirondack lakes, sandy pine forests, small lake towns and into Lake Placid. I was in love. About 10 miles out of camp, the sky blackened and quarter sized rain drops began to fall and pelt Laura, Theresa's and my skin. We pulled over and huddled under a tree to wait out the initial blast of the monsoon. Sure enough, 15 minutes later it was back to a downpour (better than monsoon) and we set off. It was great riding though, nice and cool with the water blasting the sweat off our bodies as quickly as it poured out. We made it to camp at the fairgrounds (where the Opening Games for the 1980 Olympics were held), showered, hitched a ride into town and celebrated the end of week 8: oh my god, week 8 is done.

    * * *

    Next week we ll be finishing up this great adventure by dipping our front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in Gloucester, MA. (knock on wood) We ll be riding through Burlington VT and Durham NH (Haus guys, remember the road trip to Durham: alpha, alpha???), then down to the beach to finish this amazing adventure. I cannot believe we re here.

    As always, I have really appreciated all the support I continue to receive from everyone out there on the RideAcross Travelogue. Please feel free to send this along to your friends; I always like to hear from voices old and new.

    I would also like to express my sincerest thanks for those that have donated in support of my ride. If you have not yet made a donation and would like to, please visit www.rideacross.com and click on donations.



    Day 1: Mighty Falls

    Day 1: Attack of the Alien Tourists

    Day 1: I actually saw Kieran!

    Day 1 ; Surprise, Matt's holding his bike above his head

    Day 1: Entering New York, take 1

    Day 1: Entering New York, take 2 success!

    Day 1: White Hots with Donald

    Day 2: Matt and I riding north towards Rochester

    Day 2: Mom all clad in her cycling jersey and SPD s!

    Day 2: Mom and I with Bow Ann (Sorry about the spelling) at Mamsans, our favorite restaurant in Rochester

    Day 3: What are you feeding those ducks?

    Day 3: Excellent Smithers, Excellent

    Day 4: Crew eating a pre-lunch along Lake Ontario

    Day 4: Dinner in Sackett's Bay with Diana and Christa (Christa, where's the taxi?)

    Day 5: Do not feed wild Matt

    Day 5: Drinks after the ride

    Day 5: Sunset on Star lake with Laura

    Day 6: The Olympic Torch, nice campsite!

    Day 6: Adirondack lakes

    Day 6: Go Eddie the Eagle!

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    Contact Matt: matt@NOSPAMrideacross.com (remove the 'NOSPAM' before sending)