“The physical lifestyle is rewarding.
You feel like you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.”
~Laura Burch, of Burch Family Farm & Restaurant in Fort Ann, NY
WOW. We’ve been on the road for over two weeks now and the time flies by! We’re staying with some friends in Chicago at the moment and finally found a moment to update our blog. It seems like only yesterday that we left our Tiny House in Vermont.
Leaving late in the day on Monday, October 2nd, the rain started pouring immediately after we donned our helmets, so before we took our first pedal stroke out of Burlington, we had to put on our rain gear! Because of the short fall days, the rain, and the fact that it was the first time we were riding our fully loaded bicycles, we didn’t expect to make it far. We didn’t have a real plan for a route but we ended up riding the back roads toward a campsite in Charlotte, VT, intending to take the ferry crossing Lake Champlain to New York the following morning. But after a rainy night’s sleep we wanted to savor being in Vermont a bit longer, so we meandered toward the ferry at Chimney Point, VT, which had the added benefit of being a free crossing. Although overcast, with occasional spritzing, we had a nice day of riding through the countryside, pausing in Vergennes, VT for lunch and a stop at the library.
From there, we headed to a closed DAR State Park off Route 17, after getting a tip from another cyclist that they had a pavilion large enough to set the tent up in, which sounded great to us as the forecast called for another night of constant rain. The park offered more than expected – a beautiful stone structure with working bathrooms, potable water, trails to the shores of Lake Champlain, and a spectacular view! It was such a private location we were even able to fill our Ortlieb shower bag with hot water to take showers. Despite our desire to linger, we rode the short way to the ferry crossing and in minutes were in Crown Point, New York.
For the next week our route would take us through New York’s Adirondack Park, the largest publicly protected park in the United States, covering over 6,100,000 acres. Roads into Ticonderoga ranged from gently to steeply rolling, as we began to head into the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Rural and farm land bountiful, we spent a brief night of pasture camping outside of Ticonderoga and opted to take a route on the eastern side of Lake George, riding on Highway 22 for some of the way but jumping onto less busy county roads when we could. It was nice to switch it up — 22, a state-labeled bike way, offered nicely maintained, wide shoulders with long, steep inclines, but with heavy traffic, while the county roads offered very little traffic, less long inclines (but more of them) and no real shoulder.
We spent a frigid night stealth-camping off a county road between Whitehall and Comstock, woke, and rode from there into Fort Ann, where we immediately pulled into the Burch Family Farm Restaurant. There, we met the lovely Laura Burch, as well as the other friendly locals in the restaurant (several people who overhead our conversation with Laura came by to shake our hands on their way out to wish us safe travels) . One of the sweetest people we’ve met, Laura told us about how her family decided to open the farm to table restaurant this past year as she served us a wonderful breakfast, then proceeded to let us stay for an hour after eating and use their Internet, filled all our water bottles, gave us all the New York maps she could find in her car, and offered us two pieces of pie to take with us on the road!
After an absolutely beautiful day for riding, busy roads with barely-there shoulders brought us to a not-so-stealth campsite for the evening. With night falling & lack of better options we were forced into a field right off the road, where we were in full view of many a spectator. It is here that I had my first little breakdown. My legs aching from climbing, I was tired from riding at dusk in heavy traffic and with dangerous shoulders. That, along with prior nights of similar seemingly frantic (and all-new-experience to me) stealth camp set-ups, was enough to set off my tantrum about all things miscommunicated, unplanned, and uncharted. I took it out on Kai, my bike, and myself, then skipped dinner and curled into a mess of a ball inside my sleeping bag. After another below-freezing night in the tent my mood had not improved by morning and we decided it was time for us to take a break, to spend some time planning a few days out, and to talk about how to make our evenings less chaotic.
With that in mind, we cycled into Glens Falls, NY, and found a room right outside of town in Queensbury, NY. We went on a rampage of washing, first ourselves, taking long, hot, glorious showers, then all our dirty clothes, hanging them, along with the bags and other items that needed to dry out after a week of consistent exposure to wet weather, on lines zig-zagging our room. In the process, we created a pile of items to “return home”, mostly consisting of redundant clothing. By the time we finished, we were both exhausted! We had a quick dinner and then slumbered for 10+ hours till morning, when sunshine presented a chance for us to set up and dry out our tent behind the hotel. It also gave us an hour to plan our route and possible campsites for a few days out.
With renewed energy, we ended our first week on the road with a spirit of celebration. The sun was shining, our bodies were (loudly) thanking us for the exercise and fresh air, we were meeting people and creating relationships along the way, we were beginning to remember where we packed things in our panniers, and we were transitioning reasonably well (and without injury, knock on wood) to life on our bicycles. With the gorgeous rural landscape of New York laid before us, we pushed off and onward with gratitude, knowing that everything would settle into its natural rhythm eventually, as it always does.
Next stop: Saratoga Springs, NY
Gear Damaged or Broken:
Sheila’s Ortlieb large pannier outside pocket compression strap broke
Sheila’s Orlieb plastic bottle cage off of front right fork: cracked and unusable
Kai’s Ortlieb water bottle cages fell off of mounts on the back panniers (currently zip-tied on)