Brianís Cross-USA Bicycle Tour
Day 62 - Saturday, August 18, 2001
Today I headed east, breaking off from the Adventure Cycling route. So I was left to my own devices again for my routing.
My goal was to go eastbound on US 20A. The hard part would be finding it from here in suburbia. Asking locals how to get there tends not to fare well for one of two reasons: either they only know how to get there via a freeway, or the directions would be via a maze of poorly signed surface streets (remember, I'm in the part of the country where suburbia isn't laid out in a grid). Also, the Buffalo area street maps didn't have street level detail for the area I was in. So I had find it by using the numbered roads (75 to 391 to 277), although it wasn't the shortest way to get there.
Just before picking up US 20A in Orchard Park, I found a library to check e-mail. At this library I had to jump through the bureaucratic hoops to get a library card just to use the internet. Normally I would have passed on that opportunity and found a different library on the route, but I really needed to check mail because I was expecting some more replies about my routing through New York.
I also got an e-mail from someone who was doing part of the Northern Tier route this summer. I had been in contact with her briefly before the trip, even though we both left at different times. She had ended her trip in Fort Wayne, IN on the same day that I stopped 20 miles away in Monroeville, IN. Bummer that we didn't know about it until after the fact.
Judging from the area, I had expected Orchard Park to be a stuffy suburb, but the librarian and other personnel were actually quite friendly. I was talking with the librarian about my trip and she warned me that US 20A was hilly - and that trucks have to drop into low gear to climb up to Warsaw. If a non-cyclist says it's hilly, it's probably *really* hilly!
Much of New York has glacial valleys that run north-south - just look at the Finger Lakes on a map and you'll know what I mean. So a cyclist heading east on US 20A will encounter steep climbs followed by short screaming decents. When cresting a hill you can see the next hilltop at eye level, with the road dropping straight down and then back up in between. In a world without friction or air resistance I would be able to coast on the downhills, retaining the momentum to get up to the next peak - but of course the real world doesn't work that way!
At the first opportunity I took a northbound road to get up to US20 eastbound. Ahhh, much better with respect to the hills, although less scenic than 20A! There were still some rolling hills, of course, but nothing like on 20A.
I decided to do a longish day today, planning to do fewer miles tomorrow due to the storms forecast for the afternoon. That, and the fact that there would be zero percent chance of finding a place to camp, justified a hotel for the night.