It's incredible that by crossing a river we could go from people saying in long, slow sentences, “You really rode your bikes “oot” here from California, eh? Holy Christmas that's a long way, eh.” to, “No kiddin.' You's can't be serious, kid. You's rode your bikes here all the way from California.” in thick, New York accents that make you feel like you're in a mafia movie. Welcome to New York!
Most of our last week has been spent pedaling through Upstate New York and, for the most part, it's been fabulous. Although we're here a week or two too early to get the full color display of the season, I cannot complain about the beauty of this state. There are wonderful mountains here whose trees have begun to change colors with vibrant autumn shades exploding from the hillsides. It's spectacular and reminds me of how much I've missed this season living in the Bay Area for the past decade where Fall is, more or less, non-existent.
These mountains have, for the first time since we left the Rockies, provided us with something other than long, straight, flat roads to ride which was a much needed change in scenery. However, it has caused our progress to slow; the terrain is steep hills and winding roads and that combined with shortened days means fewer miles logged each day. We've surprisingly found these roads to be equally, if not more, challenging than the roads in the big mountains. The climbs are shorter, maybe a mile or two long instead of 10+ miles, but the grades are much steeper and there's no extended descents to rest our legs before we start climbing again. I love it!
Cari climbing a steep road in the rain.
The roads in New York have been superb. I am happy we started from the west coast and this is our final state to ride through instead of riding the other direction – we would have been spoiled with their gigantic shoulders on essentially every road and smooth surfaces and the rest of the country's roads would have been a major disappointment. Needless to say, this has been one of my favorite states we've crossed, both in beautiful landscapes and bike friendliness.
But of course, there's always the downsides to everything wonderful It's difficult to find camping here, which is a surprise given the fact that we've been riding through forests essentially the whole way. Apparently it's all private land because on nearly every tree and power line pole there is a 'no trespassing' sign tacked up, clearly letting us know we're not welcome to pitch a tent there. We've managed, though, usually setting up camp somewhere illegal (in parks or fields, next to grocery stores or train tracks or off in the bushes next to the road) and then getting out very early the next morning. We've only been approached by the police once, when we were camped by the railroad tracks, which gave us a bit of a scare, but turned out fine in the end. We didn't really have any place else to go, it was cold, dark, he saw our bikes, checked to make sure there were no warrants out for our arrests and continued on his merry way.
The weather has taken a turn for the worst as well. It's cold, which isn't too bad when it's not wet at the same time, but over half of our days in New York have been spent pedaling all day in the rain. I guess not everyday can be perfect for riding, but this past week has been pretty much miserable and it doesn't help that I've come down with a cold – thank you Nancy! We are soaked to the bone, our feet are stuck in water-logged shoes and we hate to stop to eat or rest because it only makes us colder and more uncomfortable. On those days I can't help but dream about how great it would be to curl up next to a fireplace with a warm blanket, hot drink and a book and stay there all day. Instead we get to set up our shelter in the rain, climb into a cozy, wet tent, get up the next morning only to put on cold, wet clothes and then do it all again. Fortunately a couple of days ago we found a campground that had little shelters at most sites so we set up our tent inside, found a laundromat within walking distance to dry our clothes and camped there for 2 days waiting for the rain to ease up a bit and to give myself a day of being warm and dry to hopefully get over this cold quickly.
Our 'dry' camp.
Today we're back on the road making our way to New York City, which will be our final destination for our North America bike trip. In 2 weeks we'll be heading to South America to continue our adventure!