Since When Do I Follow Local Advice? - America's Most Naive Bike Tourist Rides From MN to MA - CycleBlaze

July 4, 2014

Since When Do I Follow Local Advice?

Niskayuna, New York

I am going to start with a few more observations about Cooperstown.  First of all, like so many cities out here, it calls itself a village.  I don't get it.   Could it be that that a village has some revenue-sharing advantages over a city.   Secondly, it's probably not a good idea to visit during the 4th of July weekend.  Every motel room in town was taken so I was forced to ride four miles south to a ridiculously overpriced Best Western.  (It DID seem kind of luxurious though.)

The Village of Cooperstown, I just learned, was named after James Fenimore Cooper.  It's old.  The hospital is housed in a building that looks like an old mansion.  The county courthouse looks like an old mansion.  The Fenimore Art Museum looks like an old mansion.  The clubhouse at the golf course looks like an old mansion.  The Farmer's Museum has buildings that look like Queen Elizabeth might have on the grounds of her mansion--and COWS live in them.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is also in something that looks like an old mansion.  The main street around it is very touristy and is totally themed around baseball.  Almost every business is either a sports memorabilia store, a baseball related gift shop, or a restaurant with a baseball name, such as The Grand Slam Bar and Restaurant where I had lunch yesterday.

A mansion and a totem pole.
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I prepared myself for a nasty climb out of Cooperstown, but it never came.  Highway 80 could not have been more different than Highway 28, which I took INTO the "village."  Dare I say the Highway 80 route was BEAUTIFUL?  The first ten miles bordered Lake Otsego, a gorgeous lake with high green hills on the opposite side.

Lake Otsego
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As people lined the street for the Fourth of July parade in the little town of Springfield Center, I rode through.  I felt like I should wave or salute as if I was part of the parade.  I could have played the role of a radical politician who had no hope of being elected.

The parade-goers are still stunned.
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The next sixteen miles followed a fast moving stream all the way down to the Mohawk River.  I don't know the name of the stream but it was scenic and, as I said, fast moving--which means descending--and the road trended downhill the entire distance.

The stream. Its prettiness and its speedy flow more than made up for its small volume.
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When I got back to the Erie Canal Trail, which, from this point on, followed the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys, I met a trio of bike tourists who were riding from some town in Ontario to New York City.  I talked to them for a short time but they were much slower than I was (and I'm not very fast) so I wished them luck and pedaled away.  I think the reason I can't name the Ontario town they came from is because, between the time I asked and the time they answered, I was already out of hearing distance.  That's how slow they were.

I picked up a significant tailwind and took advantage of it.  Alternating between the canal trail and Bike Route #5, I cruised to my longest day yet.  On the outskirts of Schenectady, I asked a couple of roadies about motel options in the city (or village, or whatever it is.)  They were adamant that I do NOT stay in Schenectady.  "It's a really bad town," one of them said.  "If you can go the extra six or seven miles, go on to Niskayuna.  I grew up in Schenectady.  I know."

The wind helped me to get to Niskayuna.  On the way, I saw for myself the seediness of Schenectady.  Again, it's not fair to judge an entire city by the one section I went through, but it was not nice.  And the people were not nice.  On a more positive note, "Schenectady" is fun to say.

Today's ride: 80 miles (129 km)
Total: 1,548 miles (2,491 km)

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