Miles to Date: 731
May 17, 2015 – Sunny, 80 degrees
A cycling fact: fifty miles before noon is easier than thirty miles after noon. I got off to a late start, on purpose, because I went to church with Dave Gibson and his family. It was a worthwhile experience, but put my on the road after noon. I planned a short day, but was lethargic all afternoon. Perhaps it was the eighty-degree weather and the saturated sun. Perhaps it was the fragrant abundance of lilacs. Perhaps it was the cotton candy clouds. Perhaps it was the long swales of blacktop that lulled me into reverie. Perhaps it was the cultural rhythm of Sunday as a day of rest. All of that combined to wedge the song “Lazy Afternoon” in my head.
Though I lacked energy, I also had ample excuses to stop. The entire world was out on this gorgeous day. Fellow cyclists passed me, which didn’t bother me since I’m about distance over speed. I stopped along the road to talk with people out walking. Bob and Pat from Altamont explained the virtues of tacking Alaska on to my trip. Myrna stopped working her hay farm to chat. Judy Lawyer hailed me from her seat in the shade of her open garage door and offered me cold water. She and her husband Bill have lived in the same house along New York Route 7 since they were married, on property her parents gave them next to the house where Judy grew up. Now, with three grown sons of their own, they spend a good amount of time watching the road and reporting tales of travellers. One couple’s RV broke down in front of their house; they stayed in Judy’s yard for two week while it was repaired. I gave them a card, but Judy and Bill aren’t Internet people. I imagine the next vagabond that comes their way will hear about the cyclist with the question mark on his chest.
I stopped at Stewart’s for lunch. Not because it’s good, but because I have an unreasonable devotion to the Albany-area convenience chain. There was nothing remarkable about my roast beef sub, Stewart’s cola, or dish of salted mochachinno ice cream, except that I loved observing the disorder of Stewart’s home-made signs, paper cups of condiments, and zig-zaggy counters. Every aspect of the place screams out for orderly, but therein lays the charm.
Somehow, I got a room at a too-good hotel, which means no door directly to the outside. It’s awkward to roll a bicycle through a hotel corridor. Also, there is no desk. Why do all basic hotel rooms have desks, while the next level up have upholstered chairs and too high tables?
While I’m ruminating on minutiae, here’s a chilling reality. When we get directions from A to B on Google, it gives us the predicted travel time. Pretty easy in a car, where almost everyone drives the speed limit when they can. They do the same thing for bicycle routes. Bicyclists ride at a much wider range of speeds, yet the ride times that Google gives me a spot on to my usual speed. Are Google’s ride times customized to my own riding habits? Does my computer somehow know how fast (or slow) I cycle? This is where I stop humming “Lazy Afternoon” and start to whistle “The Twilight Zone”.