May 20, 2016—New Hudson, NY to Raquette Lake, NY
The hotel I am staying at reminds me of the Prancing Pony. Downstairs there is an ancient copper-topped bar so dented that you have to be careful where you set your drink. The fridge where they keep the beer is a four-doored wooden cabinet that I’m pretty sure uses ice blocks to stay cold. Upstairs, down a long hallway, there are rooms for weary travelers. My room is nothing fancy, just two wrought iron twin beds covered in thin mustard yellow blankets, a wooden vanity, and a shared bathroom with porcelain fixtures that probably have not been updated since the establishment opened. This is the best $45 dollars I’ve spent on this trip yet.
When I arrive, the restaurant is hopping but by the time I get my bags and bike into my room and go back down, the crowd has thinned. It’s Friday, so there’s a fish fry special, which I happily order. A giant beer-battered piece of fish on a mountain of french fries with a side of heavily-peppered coleslaw (the way it should be) and cornbread. It was as delicious as it sounds.
I am here at the Tap Room and Hotel in Raquette Lake, New York after the longest day of riding I’ve yet done. Sixty-five miles. I had planned to stop for the day in Blue Mountain Lake, about 13 miles east of here, but when I arrived there was only one campground available and it wasn’t even really a campground. The website listed the “Blue Mountain Lake Inn” as also having space to camp, so I called to see if they were open. An older guy picked up the phone, gave me directions to the “campground”, and told me to leave the $6 fee on the back porch, as he was leaving. I rode past the “inn” twice until I was able to match it with the photo on the website. There was no sign and the place looked very run down, abandoned is probably the best word for it. The “campground” was nothing more than an overgrown backyard and the water spigot that the guy told me was near the fence was nowhere to be seen. As was the fence.
And so it was that I found myself on the road again, after having already ridden 50 miles. With two hours until sunset, I knew I’d be cutting it close, but there was no way I was staying at the “Blue Mountain Lake Inn”. The weather was as perfect as it had been all day — warm and sunny with a sky full of fluffy clouds — so I booked it to Raquette Lake. I arrived with plenty of time to spare, about a full hour before the sun actually set, and so was pleased about that.
The riding today, though long, was actually not terribly unpleasant. The hills of the Adirondacks are much more manageable for me than those of the White and Green mountains. I barely had to push at all today, though I did a little bit. At one point, as I was pushing, a couple of other bike tourists passed me pedaling up the hill. They were the first I’d seen on my route heading the same direction (I’ve seen a few heading east). They said hey and kept pedaling. I followed them for a few miles until they pulled off for a break, at which point I lost track of them. I kind of wish that I’d stopped to chat with them, but I was eager to keep riding. Maybe we’ll run into each other again.
The landscape in New York is much rougher than that of Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont. In those states, the forests I rode through seemed relatively untouched, but in New York much of the forest I passed had been heavily logged. Many logging trucks passed me on the road today. I also found it interesting to see that the forest floor here is littered with rocks, what I assume must be the geological debris of the glaciers that created the many lakes in this region. Not quite as pretty as the pristine forests I passed in the eastern states, but interesting from a historical perspective.
All in all, even though my legs are sore and I’m exhausted and the fingers on my left hand are sort of numb and I can’t quite straighten them all the way, today was a good day. The past couple of days were pretty rough. Tired legs, big hills, and poor weather made for low mileage, so I am happy that I was able to crank out 65 miles today, even if the last 13 were a little unexpected.
Here’s hoping the ring wraiths don’t find me…