Erie Canal Bike Tour
Rachmiel Langer

Sunday August 31, 1997   •   Weedsport to Verona Beach

Since today was to be a longer ride, to Verona Beach, we were off by 8:00 a.m. The hotel supposedly offered a continental breakfast, but the selection of 2 sugared doughnuts, 3 doughnut holes and some sorry-looking apples was pathetic. We stopped on Rte. 84 at a smoke-filled diner for a decent stick-to-the-ribs breakfast of eggs and home-fries.

We planned to bypass Syracuse and depart from the Old Erie Canal by heading north and then riding east along the southern shore of Oneida Lake on Rte. 31. The newer Erie Canal extends from the east edge of Oneida Lake at Sylvan Beach.
We located the start of the towpath in Newark, but it only ran for 0.2 miles until Towpath Road. After that, we couldn't find the path again, so right away we switched to Rte. 31 / Bike Route 5. We did see some Canal Trail signs, but the path was either badly overgrown or not discernible at all. Rte. 31 was not terribly busy; the shoulder lane was adequate and the drivers were reasonable. A little before Baldwinsville, 31 merges with Rte. 290, a full four-lane highway, but only for one exit. Traffic was heavier after Baldswinville and the more urban landscape became continuous malls.

In Bridegeport, we stopped for lunch at another smoky diner.

There were a few rolling hills — more than for the previous four days combined — but nothing too big. Unusually, there was an easterly breeze all day and it picked up after lunch. (Oneida Lake usually has winds from the west.)

After Bridgeport, traffic dropped off, but the view didn't improve much: occasionally, an interesting barn or house and a rare glimpse of Oneida Lake, but mostly businesses, strip malls, rundown houses and trailer homes. Now and then a rubbernecking bystander would wave and shout encouragement.

By 3:15 p.m., we arrived at the Dwarf Line motel. We stayed in Grumpy. The place is run by Merle and John Maxey, a very friendly couple. Merle saw us ride in and was intrigued by the recumbents. She was immediately ready to find a place for us, not realizing we already had a reservation. She knows the area well and gave us a backroad route to the canal and improved directions through Rome, bypassing the worst of the Fort Stanwyx area.

Again, the rain gods had smiled on us; 45 minutes after we arrived, it started raining heavily. Our walk along the beach (across the street from the motel) was cut short. We donned our windbreakers — for the only time during the trip — and walked to the Spaghetti Factory for a lavish meal.
Mileage Hours MPH
Cycled today 57 4:46 11.9

 Copyright © 1997, Rachmiel Langer

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