Miles to Date: 803
May 18, 2015 – Sunny, 80 degrees
I made several trips to my hotel breakfast bar and floated out of Cobleskill on a beautiful Catskills morning. Thunderstorms were in the forecast for afternoon, but I had detailed directions and plenty of time to log the 67 miles to New Hartford. I rode through glorious farm country, past graceful churches, Mennonites in buggies, past millions of dandelions, and odd roadside attractions.
At Richfield Springs I turned off U.S 20 to NY 28 then County Road 150. The turns didn’t lay quite right, but I was confident of my sense of direction and kept on. It was one o’clock now, the sun was straight overhead, and I lost my cardinal sense. When I came upon an intersection that included roads I had already left, I stopped to study my GPS. A couple sitting on their porch offered guidance. I took off on a new tack.
Less than a mile along an empty road my chain skipped on my rear sprocket three, four times and then – snap – my chain broke and strung out behind me. I’ve never had a broken chain, or ever knew anyone who did. I took out my cycling tools and inspected the break. I couldn’t repair it. So, I took a deep breath, devoured a Power Bar and an apple, and repacked my stuff. I laughed that is was my thirteenth day out, so bad luck should have been expected. I figured I’d walk uphill and roll down until I got to the highway three or four miles away, and then hitch a ride to a town.
Just as I was about to move, a car drove up, the couple from the corner. They stopped. We figured out how to take my bike apart to fit in their car.
They drove me to Dick’s Wheel Shop in Herkimer, stayed with me until Dick found the right part, and wouldn’t take a dime for their trouble. I lingered at the bike shop for an hour or so while they replaced the chain, checked everything else, and directed me to a beautiful road that ran along the Mohawk River all the way to Utica.
The afternoon rains came. Not as dark thunderstorms, but as gentle showers that took the stinging heat out of the air. I rode along, thankful for the cool wet breeze, the generosity of humans, and the strange coincidences of my day. The couple that picked me up were named Frank and Lou, same as my grandparents. They delivered me to Herkimer, where my parents spent their first Honeymoon night. And Dick, the bike guy, was definitely my own father’s soul brother. Speculating upon the mysteries of life while pedaling through a soft rain is satisfying, but ultimately life delivers wonders that we must simply accept.
I didn’t arrive in New Hartford until six. My warmshowers hosts, Linda and Mike, fed me salad and grilled steak, baked potatoes and foil-warped onions swaddled in bacon. So good after a long day of riding and no lunch. Yet we still finished in time to watch The Voice.