Day 46 Seneca Falls to Binghamton NY
Actually I'm just north of Binghamton on US 11. There were motels here and I didn't remember seeing any farther south on 11. I'm at a Days Inn where they initially wanted $85 for a room, but backed off to $58 when I asked for my credit card back. It is a nice Days Inn and a big room and it is in NY where everything is more expensive, but it isn't worth $85. OK they would give me 10% of that for AARP, but I bet taxes are more than 10%. They did save me money for supper since they had free pizza for some occasion and I took two slices which, combined with some food I had with me, made an adequate supper. Tomorrow I'll be in Pennsylvania where things are cheaper!
I had a pretty hilly day today. I'd estimate at least a mile of vertical in 95 miles. I haven't done this much climbing since eastern Tennessee! Some of that vertical was at a 10% or better grade, but most was much gentler. I actually used my lowest gear (17 inches or so - less than 4 mph at 80 rpm) for half a dozen blocks in Ithaca. That is one hilly town, or a better description, a town built on a substantial ridge. It makes for a gorgeous skyline and for serious climbing from downtown (definitely DOWNtown) up to Cornell or to head out of town east on NY 79. NY 79 has a lot of hills, but the only other seriously steep one occurs after Richford. That is another mile or so of 8% grade. A good hill, but not quite as good as the hill on 79 in Ithaca.
This morning, I crossed the river in Seneca falls and rode east on what was initially River Rd. and later Bayard St. It is nicer ride than 20 - it goes right through the downtown on Seneca falls - and then it goes over to Bridgeport which is on NY 89. NC 89 runs right down Cayuga Lake to Ithaca and is some great bicycling. It has a good shoulder, light traffic, lots of views, and no services other than a large number of wineries. To be fair, about twenty miles down you could go a mile or so down to the lake (a fairly substantial down) or over to Interlaken to get something to eat. I had bagels and applesauce with me, so I stayed on 89. 89 starts pretty flat, but gets hilly in the middle and has some serious climbs and descents in the last ten miles before Ithaca. A very nice ride!
At Ithaca I decided not to stop downtown - it was a zoo with too much traffic and tricky (on a bicycle) one way multilane streets - but to ride on following 79 and to stop near Cornell for lunch. When I got most of the way up that steep hill, I discovered that I'd have to leave 79 and climb a different hill to get to Cornell. I decided to see what I could find on 79 instead.
At the top of the hill I realized I wasn't going to find anything in Ithaca. My water bottles needed filling and I need some info on what to expect farther east on 79. I saw a car pulling into a parking area in front of a house just ahead of me and I stopped beside them to ask for help. I lucked out, the car contained a family whose father had done serious bike touring. They invited me in for a popsicle and a visit. Nice folks - he works at one of the Cornell libraries, and they have two kids (a boy about ten and a girl about six). I also met their twenty year old cat.
After visiting I headed east, only to find a wallet on the shoulder about 100 yards down the road. This was the first time I've found a wallet on tour. It would have been rather awkward (I didn't want to ride back into town!) if I hadn't just found some really nice people as well. I took the wallet back to their house and left it for them to deal with. It belonged to a 19 year old girl with a Pennsylvania drivers license, hopefully a student there, and it had a key, money, and credit cards as well as her drivers license. I hope my new friends are able to get it back to her.
Looking south from US 79.
Riding 79 wasn't as much fun as riding 89. For one thing, 79, unlike 89, is a major traffic route. For another, it is hillier than 89 and my legs were already tired from the earlier hills. Neither traffic or hills were a serious problem. The shoulder was good almost all the way - the last few miles to US 11 have a very rough shoulder - and the hills were doable. In fact they were mostly pretty enjoyable. That big hill out of Richford wasn't really fun, but I had the gearing to handle it so mostly it was just hot climbing. There was a bit of a tail wind most of the day, and climbing that hill at 5 mph with a 5 mph tail wind didn't give me a good way to get rid of the heat I was generating. The Temperature was only around eighty, but it felt much hotter on that hill! I better get used to it: I have lots of hot riding coming up.
I stopped for lunch at a sub and ice cream place near Slaterville and again to drink a quart of gatorade and eat a bagel near Caroline. All that gatorade made me feel too full, but it seemed to help on the remainder of the ride.
Looking back from the middle of a long hill on US 11
I had it in my head that 11 was relatively flat north of Binghamton. Boy was I wrong! It is as hilly as 79 and even has one long hill (half a mile or so) that slowed me down to 5 mph. A few years ago I got on 11 after riding through western Pennsylvania and over to Winchester VA on Alt route 40 which is very hilly (two miles of vertical in a hundred miles, much of it at 10% grade or steeper) and I thought 11 was pretty flat. Flat is relative. 11 is hilly unless you've just been riding some serious hills! My ride reports from that trip show a mile or so of climbing in each hundred miles, which is about what I experienced today. This part of 11 is only about half as hilly as the Blue Ridge Parkway or south western PA, but it as hilly as anything I've ridden so far on this tour.