To Utica - Back to Beginnings - CycleBlaze

June 22, 2021

To Utica

The storm last night lingered into the early morning and I woke to light rain, gray skies and colder temperatures. The rain was forecast to end soon, while the rest of the day was to remain cloudy with  temperatures in the 50s.  I waited a bit for the rain to stop and enjoyed the best “bag breakfast” of the tour - it included hard-boiled egg. After a swing by Target for some new underwear, I picked up a scone at Panera for my late morning snack was back on the Canalway Trail by 9:30.

Today’s section of the trail ran through the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park, along sections of the canal that were abandoned more than 100 years ago. There was a marked contrast between this section and the western sections of the trail I had left days ago. There were few towns along the way until Rome, some almost forty miles into today’s ride. The towns I did pass through had the dreary patina of places whose heyday had come and gone. By the time I reached Canastota, I was wanting a warm drink to go with my scone. The only place open was Chinese restaurant that offered me hot water - I settled for coffee from the Kwik Fill and took my elevenses break on a cold bench outside a closed bar.

Along the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park. Green is definitely the color of the day.
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Activity along the Old Erie Canal State Historic Park was minimal and for the first couple of miles I passed only the occasional jogger or dog walker
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Debris from recent storms were strewn across the Historic Canal
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Chittenango Landing - the Museum is open weekends 10-4, but not today
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Canal Street, Canastota, NY
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Coffee stop
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Betsy WestAh if one reads the Louise Penny series, a restaurant named three pines brings a serious grin!
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Kathleen JonesTo Betsy WestI hadn’t noticed that! Yes, that brings a grin.
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2 months ago

Continuing on toward Rome, a damp chill and a tunnel of green were my near constant companions. It was a bit deflating, an isolated grind along a stone dust surface with few visual distractions. Thus, I took great joy in stopping to chat with westbound cyclists on their way to Buffalo (there were no recreational riders after the first couple of miles outside Fayetteville). Otherwise, sites of interest were limited to occasional wildlife and brief openings in the hedgerow.

Beyond Durhamville, the trail ran adjacent to NY46, a relatively low-traffic road with a decent shoulder. I considered switching over to NY46 but for some reason I continued to slog along on the trail until reaching a “street section” that took me to a freshly tarred road. I opted for NY46, enjoying the faster pace more open views for a few miles until I rejoined the trail shortly after NY46 intersected with NY49 a few miles from Rome. Unless you are totally adverse to road riding, I would recommend opting for the adjacent state roads along the stretch from Durhamville to Rome.

Tunnel of green
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Chris from Albany, his Trek 520 loaded with camping and fishing gear
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Romany from Long Beach on her 1986 Raleigh and Tom from Kansas on a Trek 920. They met a couple of days ago along the Northern Tier
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Bruce from Florida, heading to Syracuse. He was cold and not sure how far west he'd go - he had to be in VT in a few days to celebrate his friend's 90th birthday
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Brown barn with a yellow door
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The occasional trailside attraction
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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat blue heron

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_blue_heron
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Glimpses of the countryside at a break in the hedgerow
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Mural at Durhamville
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Mural at Durhamville
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I think I'll take the highway
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Views along NY46
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Just west of Rome, the historic canal trail crossed the Mohawk River, which flows east from Oneida Lake into the Hudson River at Troy and serves as the eastern portion of the Erie Canal. I stopped at Copperccino’s Bistro in Rome for an especially delicious cup of chicken soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I had another 19 miles to Utica and my B&B, so I reluctantly left the warm confines of the Bistro and carried on. 

The route to Utica was a bit confusing, with a varied trail surfaces and many turns and street sections. For the first time, there were short stretches of water/mud on stone dust trail. Three times along this stretch, I encountered Brian, who was heading east on a Specialized Tarmac road bike with a small frame bag and skinny tires. Though he was much faster than me, I apparently had better route navigation so he kept falling behind and catching up. I finally reached Utica and made my way through the city to my B&B on the southeast edge of town. After cleaning up, I lay down for a quick nap and didn’t wake until 8 pm. I abandoned plans for dinner, turned off the lights, and said goodnight to a tiring day on the road. 

Copperccino’s Bistro
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First encounter of a muddy trail - pretty remarkable considering the amount of rain that's fallen the past couple of days/nights
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Brian, the speedster from San Francisco
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Along the Mohawk River/Erie Canal
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Utica Harbor Lock
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Harbor Lock
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Utica - yes!
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Today's ride: 58 miles (93 km)
Total: 583 miles (938 km)

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