I had an idea for our anniversary. Usually we get away for a four-day pedal sometime in September, but with my other plans eating up time we weren't sure it would happen this year. I'd miss that time alone as a couple, so I suggested a simple bike overnight. This means more to us than any restaurant celebration.
Lightweight packing on my Trek 830 Antelope.
It all came together pretty fast. We planned to be away about 24 hours. Rummage through closets and cardboard boxes. Each pack a pad and sleeping bag. I'd haul the tent; my husband the stove, tools, first aid, other necessities. Keep the peace between our boys while we pack. Run them to their grandparents. Roll the bikes from the garage, then downhill to catch the 1 p.m. ferry to New York.
Bridgestone MB-3 with larger panniers.
We opted for a quick jaunt across Lake Champlain into the Adirondacks. I keyed on a campground about thirty miles away -- perfect for the later start. After all, we were celebrating 23 wonderful years of marriage. No need to make this a strenuous adventure; the point was to just get away.
We cruised beside the Ausable River. With lower rainfall this summer than usual, the normally rushing, soothing sounds of water were merely quiet, stagnant pools. But no matter. We pedaled together.
I already had all these maps from a ride years ago.
We encountered a few smaller climbs and then one whopping mile-long pull, but I expected this. I'd done this route before and long knew that I'd eventually return with my favorite riding partner. There's something special about this high plateau, with fragrant pines and aspen edging the road, even an escarpment of cliffs in the distance. With nary an automobile on these back roads in New York state, and the incredible network of smooth paved lanes, it's a bike rider's paradise.
Around 6 p.m. we pulled into Taylor Pond and snagged the last campsite. Our anniversary weekend seemed to coincide with Lake Placid's Ironman Triathlon. After calling ahead, but unable to make a last-minute reservation, we'd expected to free camp on the state land should all sites be occupied, but miraculously we got lucky.
It's a rustic campground with pit toilets and no showers, but it also hugs a four-mile-long lake. We went for a swim.
We combined our food with a friendly motorcyclist named Steve, from Minnesota, whose amazing dinner spread made our meal look like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. With our pot of pesto noodles in tow we sat at his table. A bottle of wine was open. Steve pulled out salad, with his wife's homemade blue cheese dressing, croutons, and lobster pieces for topping, fresh from Maine. Egads, that was for starters! I helped myself to wine while Steve roasted a whole onion with butter in aluminum foil in the fire, along with a baking potato. When that was done, he grilled a fresh piece of salmon in a square two-sided rack over the open flames. Yummmmy! Steve responded to our marveling at his cooking equipment and fine fare: "I've had a lot of practice. I aim to eat well."
The following morning, with a less-than-exciting bowl of oatmeal, we mapped an alternate route of similar length back to the ferry. This way brought us closer to the rock ledges before descending back to the lake. The road conditions were sublime, smooth, and we didn't see a car for a half hour.
We dropped in altitude until we were among the wide open Peru apple orchards. I hadn't seen this style of farming -- pruned trees and spaced closely -- since traveling in the Netherlands.
We'd overestimated the the quantity of calories the oatmeal breakfast would provide. I was famished almost as soon as we left the campsite, so I gobbled a breakfast sandwich at a convenience store. Two hours after setting out we found a nice grocery. We refueled, then stocked up on ferry ride munchies.
The boat ride back was wilder. Waves crashed over the bow, sometimes splashing our bikes, though they were mostly sheltered against the rail.
Tip for this adventure: An overnight is worth it -- even if you have to arrange childcare.
Favorite local bike shop: Old Spokes Home