Final Thoughts and Future Plans - Back to Beginnings - CycleBlaze

July 5, 2021

Final Thoughts and Future Plans

I’ve been back home just over a week, time enough to catch up on the journal and reflect on the ride, life in general, and future plans.

 The Empire State Trail

The Empire State Trail System includes 750 miles comprising three major trail systems: The Erie Canalway Trail between Buffalo and Albany; the Hudson Valley Greenway Trail running from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan to Albany; and the Champlain Valley Trail from Albany to Rouses Point in the Adirondacks. Overall, this is an incredible connected network of long distance cycling trails – one of the best in the US. I found the sections I rode to be generally well-signed, but would recommend downloading gpx routes for any sections you are planning to tour. I’m happy to answer any questions/share information, etc.

 Hudson Valley Greenway Trail – The route is 85% on dedicated greenways/rail trails and the street sections are most often on well-shouldered and/or smaller roads. The one exception was the off-road section between Inwood and Cortland where I rode through busy main street traffic– but I may have missed the route sign due to construction. I loved the ride north from lower Manhattan along the Hudson to the George Washington Bridge, but the views riding south might be even better. Another favorite was the Walkway Across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie. It was a bit of a challenge to find places to stay that were not too far off the trail and at reasonable biking intervals. This was due in part to Covid closures of some venues, and hopefully this is a temporary situation. There are a number of wonderful towns and places of interest in the Hudson River Valley and I definitely recommend this route.

 The Erie Canalway Trail (ECT) -  This section of the Empire State Trail is the longest and most well- traveled by cyclists and there many resources as well as other CycleBlaze journals to help guide future visitors. Though I did not ride the section between Lyons and Camillus, the ECT seemed to have three distinct sections, or personalities. Most of the Western section is along a well-packed stonedust towpath that closely followed an active and navigable canal, passing through wonderful small towns along the way. This was my favorite section, especially the Lockport to Newark stretch. The middle section from Camillus to Utica follows the historic canal and was more isolated - and the surface quality was a little more variable. Outside of the larger cities, the pass-through towns are small and seemed to suffer from the loss of activity that the Erie Canal once brought. The final section from Utica to Albany is a wonderful, mostly paved, rail-trail that parallels the Mohawk River. This section is great riding, but lacks the “canalway” ambience found in the Western section.

 Ruminations and Future Plans

Two events spurred and solidified my current cycling passion. The first was a 2009 self-guided bike tour with my sisters in Burgundy that awakened all my senses to the joy of cycle touring. The second was a bike accident during my first RAGBRAI experience in 2010. Another rider crashed into me and then landed on me, pinning my left knee to the pavement and fracturing my knee, tibia and crushing my tibial plateau. My orthopedist recited a litany of activities I would no longer be able to do, but on the bright side there was no displacement and I did not need surgery. I was a good patient, heeding all his advice and working diligently at physical therapy. At my last visit, he told me how well I had healed and gave me no restrictions on activity, saying “do everything you can until you can’t.” And so I have.

 One motivation for this ride was to celebrate my upcoming 70th birthday by launching a bike tour from the city of my birth. Along the way, I visited many friends and colleagues that I have known for twenty years or more. Most were around my age and each was facing their own unique spin on the common challenge of growing older. I came away feeling evermore grateful for my health and good fortune that allows me to explore the world on a bike. The trip certainly served to reinforce the advice given by my orthopedist a decade earlier.

 So, where to next? I have two more trips planned for 2021. The first is an ACA supported tour on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route – a 10-day trip across the Wind River Range starting in Jackson, WY. I’m a little nervous about bears and primitive camping – a combination that is definitely outside my comfort zone. 

The second trip is in more familiar territory, though it does have its own challenges. Unless Covid conditions change the EU travel guidelines, I will leave in early September for two months in Europe, which will include a ~5 week cycle tour from Munich - Bologna – Munich. I figure 70 is a great age to cross the Alps, so I might as well do it twice. 

I am continually inspired and motivated by the feats of all CycleBlazers, especially those around my vintage. Thank you and keep on pedaling! Maybe we’ll meet along the road. 

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Scott AndersonMunich to Bologna and back again! Can’t wait to see your itinerary. It’s possible we could cross paths somewhere along the way. You might check in with Susan Gibson also, who lives just south of Munich.
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2 months ago
Kathleen JonesThis was a lovely tour to follow. Makes me want to ride the same trails, which means you wrote and illustrated a great journal. Looking forward to more this year. Bon voyage!
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Scott AndersonHi Scott
I'm still working on the exact itinerary, but the general plan is to leave Munich around Sept 12 and head down to Salzburg and the Alpe-Adria to Mollbruck then make my way east to Dobbiaco and south thru Cortina, Feltre, Vincenza to Bologna. Coming back north thru Verona, Bolzano, probably Innsbruck and not sure of rest back to Munich.

It would be wonderful if we crossed paths or arranged to meet somewhere along the way. I'd also love to meet Suzanne- I know she lives near Munich. I'm just not sure how to contact folks other than thru comments. My gmail address name is susanlongcarpenter
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Kathleen JonesThanks so much Kathleen - I really enjoyed your comments and learning that we shared a lot of the same experiences growing up.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Susan CarpenterIf that’s your itinerary, there’s quite a good chance that we could cross paths somewhere. We plan to arrive in Amsterdam on 8/11, and then spend about a month working our way to Salzburg, arriving there on 9/12 (we’ve already booked our lodging through Salzburg, but not beyond that yet). We’ll be in the vicinity of Salzburg and the lakes for about a week and then will be heading down the Alpe Adria also, probably about the same time you are (and are you aware that the bicycle train service through the Tauren tunnel ends for the year at the end of September?). From Udine we plan to work our way southwest to Lucca and then south through Tuscany to Rome for our flight home.

We have Suzanne’s contact information, so we’ll make sure that she’s aware of this and can reach out to you.
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2 months ago
Suzanne GibsonHi Susan, what a fantastic tour! How exciting to cycle out of NYC. I was a student at Barnard 1958-62 and cycling wasn't yet on my grid but the idea to start a bicycle tour in Manhattan is beyond anything I could have imagined until I read your journal. I would love to do it.
I am also excited that you are coming to Munich in early September. I would love to meet you. We are in Munich until September 12. If I can provide any information etc on Munich and surroundings, don't hesitate to ask. You can contact me at suzannegibsonatarcordotde.
It looks like you have a great itinerary planned. We loved the Alpe-Adria bike path. I see you plan to leave it at Moellbruecke. However we found the best part started at Arnoldstein. It would be a shame to miss it. Here is the page in my journal. https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/alpeadria2018/buongiorno-bella-italia-arnoldstein-to-chiusaforte-a67/ Something to think about.
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2 months ago
Lucy MartinNot to dampen your enthusiasm for your Great Divide tour but did you see this story?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/07/08/grizzly-bear-kills-bicyclist-camping/
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterHey Lucy,
Yes, and I've been a bit freaked out for the last two days!

I'm considering all my options, including canceling or joining the trip mid-way, when they are beyond grizzly country. But I'm also buying some bear safety gear to take along if I decide to do the whole trip.
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2 months ago
Susan CarpenterTo Suzanne GibsonHello Suzanne
Thank you very much for you comments and route suggestions. I always enjoy reading about your rides in Bavaria and look forward to learning more. I will contact you very soon for more details. Best, Susan
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2 months ago