Day 5 was by far my most enjoyable day on the bike yet…
Paul’s advice yesterday had been to take the slightly longer, yet much flatter and more scenic route around the northern point of the mountain range I was otherwise previously thinking I had to cycle over. Knowing I was saving myself another gruelling 2,000ft climb, I settled into a nice pace along the relatively flat roads leading out of Massachusettes.
Vermont was a very brief interlude. Cutting just the corner of the Bernie Sanders State, I was in, through and out of Vermont in about half an hour. Pownal was, I think the only village I passed through.
New York was much the same sort of terrain – flat and low rollers, with railway tracks sandwiched between the road and the river for much of the way, so very pretty.
At least, until I stopped by a gas station for lunch – peanut-butter, chocolate-coated-raisins, and roasted-corn tortillas washed down with remarkably good gas-station coffee.
Over my self-prepared lunch concoctions, I chatted with a local motorcyclist. His dream is to bicycle the width of Massachusettes, from there to the coast, so was amazed and – his words – inspired, by my cycle undertaking.
I’ve never realised before just how motivational it is to be called inspirational. It makes sense mentally given the boost to self-esteem. But I powered up those next 10 miles or so of hills, physically afresh and feeling good.
I was in a good mood when I descended into Troy, where I had arranged to be Couchsurfing. After mis-entering my host’s address into Google Maps and taking an unintended cycle tour of the city of Troy, I eventually found the correct address I’d been given.
A nice house, if a bit run-down, but with “vacant” and city notices upon the doors and windows. I could be wrong, but ever indication was that it was a squat. So I messaged my “host” to let him know I wasn’t going to be staying, and headed on along the Mowhawk-Hudson Bikeway.
The MHB is an exceptional multi-use path: flat, perfectly paved, wide, and with great views alongside the river. However, by following the river the pathway does take a less than direct route and I could feel the miles starting to build and set in my legs. I had to find a camping spot, but the area was generally too inhabited and residential.
Eventually I happened upon a couple of worthy sites, but with just under 100km clocked I decided to cycle on a bit further to see both if better option lay ahead and to try and get some hot food.
I found neither. But I did find a sports complex with various levels of baseball matches commencing. I got a hot drink from the stall and settled to dinner of microwavable-rice (Mexican bean & brown rice) and tinned chili, and watched a bit of the game, until it was suitably dusky for no-one to notice me pitching tent where I shouldn’t be.
My camping spot was perfect. Wide, flat grassy area with shelter of a few big trees and the canal lock banking, all set way off from the Bikeway and well away from any houses – nobody for me to bother and nobody to bother me!