I'm at the Microtel north of Watertown NY. An interesting concept: my room is half the size of my room last night, but has all the same amenities and costs about $10 less. So far I like it, although the only walkable place to eat is McDonalds. Burp.
I left Malone rather late, about 10 AM, after breakfast, doing some email, and getting some US cash from an ATM. Breakfast was pretty good and it was nice to be able to joke with waitress - something I wasn't able to do in Quebec. Malone is having a car show, so there were lots of neat cars around. A 53 Buick 8 was parked by the window of my room. It looked like it had about 20 coats of black lacquer, gorgeous. While I ate breakfast I watched a fellow 'dusting' his 32 Chrysler hot rod. It was stunning to look at and obviously his great passion.
As I headed out on 11 traffic was light, neat cars were coming into town, and the shoulder was wide. It was also rather cool (about 60 F) and a bit windy. The wind was in my face at about 10 mph. This, combined with the cool temperature, made riding a bit chilly. The headwind was enough to slow me down by a mph or so and to make riding a bit more work, but it was pretty gentle compared to some of the bad headwinds I've ridden into lately.
As I rode through Bangor they were lining up lots of vehicles for the local fire department day. It looked like almost everybody in town was either in the parade or watching it. Neat. I think I could have joined it if I wanted. In Brushton I left route 11 and rode on a county road, 52 if I remember correctly, to North Livingston. That was a nice ride through the Basher State Forest. I stopped to get a coke and eat some freshly baked bread - the restaurant next to my motel is also a bakery. It was good, but not up to Quebec bread.
After I got back on 11, I met two young men who had ridden from Oregon and were heading for Maine. The had ridden north of the Great Lakes through Canada and come back into the USA at Ogdensburg NY yesterday. Nice folks. I wish I had asked them their route from upstate NY to Bar Harbor since 11 is looking like a very good route for bicycling up to near Canada- it runs almost on the border where NY and Vermont meet.
A little later, approaching Potsdam where I planned to stop for lunch, a van pulled over onto the shoulder ahead of me and a guy got out wearing bicycling shorts. I stopped and he told me there was a better road for bicycling just south of 11. That section of 11, roughly the 10 miles east of Potsdam, doesn't have a rideable shoulder. There is another, much shorter segment south of Philadelphia (NY, of course) which also has no shoulder. The other 100 miles of 11 I rode today all has very good to excellent shoulders. Since today was Sunday, even the sections without rideable shoulders were OK bicycling.
The fellow in the van, Dale, is a LAB person who is organizing the GEAR rally to be held in Canton in a few weeks. This is a good area for bicycling and the rally should have some very nice riding. Dale, who teaches at St. Lawrence University in Canton, invited me to his house for lunch. We had a good visit, I got a nice free lunch, and I learned that route 11 is a good way for me to get nearly home. I knew it was good in Virginia and I have seen that it is good up here, but I had no idea about the section in between. Dale has a friend who has bicycled it from Alabama to NY several times and says it is great riding. I was very pleased to hear that.
Leaving Dale's home, I continued west and south into the wind, planning to stop for the night in Philadelphia, a small town about 95 miles from Malone. I got there about 7:15 PM and discovered that the only motel in town was out of business. Dale had warned me about the shoulder going away south of Philadelphia, and it was getting late, so I really didn't want to ride on to Waterford, but I did need a place to stay. Oh well, I turned on my rear flasher, and headed on down the road with no shoulder and light traffic. Northern NY drivers seem almost as polite as Nova Scotia drivers, so I wasn't too worried. I just hoped that I'd find a place to stay before I needed to use my headlight.
The shoulder came back, gradually, a few miles down the road and the twilight lasted long enough for me to find this motel which is about 5 miles north of Watertown. There is a big military base near here, so there are fast food places and this motel. I was very happy to see it and to see that it was inexpensive. My supper at McDonalds was OK, so I guess I'll survive breakfast there as well. Route 11 starts paralleling Interstate 81 at Watertown, so there should be even less traffic and more services from here on south.