It was shaping up to be a perfect day: sunny, warm enough for a sleeveless bike jersey, chocolate cake for breakfast… because why not?
To give our bike ride along the Erie Canal a proper start, we did a quick detour back to downtown Buffalo, past that gorgeous Art Deco City Hall to what we deemed is mile 0. Then it was off to a bakery for breakfast — that would be chocolate cake for me; the others are far more into toast offerings than I am — before we hit the trail in earnest.
It was all good — a paved and mostly well-signposted trail with Canalway and Empire State Trail signs (a few more along the Shoreline Trail would be helpful) — until we reached Lockport.
Here comes trouble.
A metal bracket holding Clive’s bike rack has sheared off. The rack is rattling, but we think we can make it the 0.4 miles to the local hardware store.
One bump later, the panniers fly off.
Thank goodness for bungee cords. The two bags get split among Dani and Jennifer, our riding companions who unlike me also have racks and panniers, and we head to the hardware store.
What an assortment! Not just hardware but Lionel trains and tracks, baseball cards from 1990 or so and more.
Most importantly, it not only had the bracket Clive needed but one of the men provided some extra tools and helped Clive attach the bracket. Thank you!
That got us to Medina (though we kept the panniers off), where he did some more fiddling to hopefully eliminate the bolt from touching the frame. And we beat the rain.
Lockport to Medina, by the way, is a paved stretch. Medina is a small town that owes its creation to the Erie Canal. The gorgeous red-brick storefronts date back to the 1870s. Main Street just needs a jolt of something.
Erie Canal factoid of the day: the canal reduced travel time between New York City and Buffalo from six weeks to 10 days — about as long as it would take us to bike, especially since we aren’t trying to crush the daily mileage.
Some practical stuff
We’re staying at the Bunkhaus – a comfy place with bunk beds in each room — and the Hart House Hotel, under common ownership. Washer and dryer included in the Bunkhaus! Fluffy towels too… An awesome budget option, and it’s just your group (only one shared bathroom).
Cost for 3 in 2 rooms: $135 plus taxes, total $151.20. (Cost depends on number of rooms occupied.)
We stopped for a lunch of ice cream right off the trail in Pendleton. Uncle G’s knows its audience — a dispenser of cold water plus an air pump on demand.