Sunday, 30 May 2010
Return to Lake Placid
It has been an odd Spring in Ottawa and I have been able to ride without the clouds of pestilential blackflies buzzing around. As I stood sweating in the sun, I discovered another plague: horseflies, and swarms of them. Unable to get the tire back in working condition, and bitten repeatedly, I decided it was time to take off my shoes and start pushing the bike back to the parking lot. Several cyclists offered to help but there was nothing to be done. I thought I would try to get a lift from someone driving an SUV or pickup truck, but my hitchhiking attempts were for nought. I saw a small car approach and it stopped beside me and the driver offered me a lift. She was driving a hatchback, so we loaded in the bike easily and I was soon back to my car. It would have been a very, very long walk and I was most grateful to my Good Samaritan. After getting home and replacing the tire, I spend the rest of the evening putting AfterBite onto the dozen huge bites on my arms, knees and even my right hip, where the fly bit right through my cycling shorts.
last year’s expedition, I once again offered the ride up on our United Way auction at the office and had another eager taker. Eric and I had a few beers in the weeks before the ride and I found him to be good company. A beginning triathlete, he was keen to ride the course and we were hoping the weather would be as good as promised.
It was indeed. After a 7:00 am start, we reached Cornwall pretty quickly (although not too quickly–police cars were after speeders all over the place, both in Canada and the USA) and fortified ourselves at that fine Canadian institution, Tim Hortons, with doughnuts, before crossing what must be the worst-paved bridge in North America. A second, better bridge took us into the United States, where the border guard asked us a surprising number of questions. He was doubtful when we said we were going cycling in Lake Placid since he only saw Eric’s bike on the hitch rack, and I opened the trunk so he could see my bike there. He wanted to know how we knew each other, where we worked, when we were last in the United States, and if we had been convicted of any criminal offences. It must have been a slow morning for him but after satisfying his questions, we drove off into the Akwasasne Mohawk Reservation, where the casino guarantees “Winners Every Day!” Passing this opportunity by, we drove on towards Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. It was a sleepy Sunday morning and we made good progess.
Leaving Lake Placid proper, we rode out on Route 73, which was not nearly as bad for traffic as last year, although I am always nervous about the number of pickup trucks, particularly those towing trailers. We stopped to take some photos of the Olympic skijump before continuing onward, climbing gently and then getting a screaming descent down into Keene. We stopped to celebrate the first leg of the ride at the Cedar Creek Run Bakery & Café, where we enjoyed some appallingly sweet pastry and coffee–perfect. Then we turned onto Route 9N, heading towards Upper Jay.
Retracing our steps, and after the steady climb up from the river, we found ourselves again in Wilmington and followed Route 86 back to Lake Placid. There was more climbing than I remembered, although the rushing Ausable River next to us cheered us on, and the fly fishermen waved their greetings. At one stop, we chatted with an ornithologist from the local college who was a falconer and was trying to look at perergine falcons on the cliffs below Whiteface Mountain.
The drive back to Cornwall went quickly, although clearing the border to get back into Canada took a while as the traffic was backed up for half an hour. We got back to Ottawa by 8 pm after a very fine day out. If you have the chance to ride this course, take it. And as to the triathletes, who do the course twice (after swimming 2.5 miles and then having enough energy to run a marathon after the bike ride), all I can say is “Chapeau!”