By Steve Mars – Contributing Writer
We rolled out of Frosty Acres campground in Schenectady bright and early Wednesday, around 7:15 a.m. We seem to gather to leave earlier and earlier each day. Not sure if it's the anticipation of the ride, anxiety to see how your legs feel or desire to get done early and beat the afternoon sun.
The ride downhill from Frosty Acres was a great way to start off except for a scary moment with two riders colliding and Matthew McDermid flipping head over heels. Only a few cuts and bruises. And a flat tire.
At Tuesday night’s map meeting we were told Day 4 would feature easier, flat riding. It didn’t. Not even close.
The first 6 miles was all a climb.
Our hard work was rewarded with a huge descent up next. Almost 1,000 feet.
Unfortunately our descent took us through heavy fog with only 20-30 feet of visibility.
Terry Bourgeois is spearheading the Empire State Ride. Learn more and donate at empirestateride.com. He asked a fellow rider to write this blog post.
There we are streaking downhill with sunglasses covered in moisture. And no warning that we were headed towards a T-intersection, with a stop sign and a farm house in our path.
TG for good brakes and riders up front warning of the hard stop. Awesome teamwork yet again.
We rode out of the fog and into heavy cloud cover along RT 5S following the Erie Canal. From there we switched over the Erie Canalway Trail, a tree-lined bike trail that continued for miles along the canal.
After lunch in a town square gazebo, the brutal hills kicked in again. A two 2-mile climb up a 6 percent grade, with the sun beating down on us, followed by another steep descent. No fog this time.
Then we hit the biggest milestone yet. The halfway point to Niagara Falls! 270 miles. Wow.
Next up. More hills. Big hills.
79 miles total for the day. 300 in four days.
Watching 19-year-olds Keegan and Zach keep pace with us the entire week. On mountain bikes.
Cheering everyone on as they finish for the day.
Realizing we're here together to ride, but really for so much more.
Wednesday night, a reception was held for us at Utica's Aud arena (the original Slapshot was filmed there with Paul Newman).
Thursday morning departure is at 8 a.m., the Utica police escorting us out of town. A thrill to parade out of town as one peloton.