Brianís Cross-USA Bicycle Tour

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Day 64 - Monday, August 20, 2001
Auburn to Canastota, NY
54 miles

I found the only bike shop in town the first thing in the morning. They had mostly used bikes and new low end mountain bikes, but then again Auburn wasn't the type of city where people would buy $1000 bikes.

I showed them where it looked like the fixed cup (drive side) of the bottom bracket was coming loose. They got it a tiny bit tighter, but it looked like it wasn't going anywhere, so I figured it was OK and I was on my way..

Today was the decision point for the routing: either head north to follow the Adventure Cycling route over the Adirondacks, or head east along Highway 5. US 20 was out of the question - a club in Syracuse does a century (100 mile) ride with 9000 feet of climbing just by doing an out and back ride on US 20.

I decided to take the more direct route using mostly Highway 5. (I can hear the collective "ugh" from the New York bike people on the list.) Choosing the Adirondacks route would have been more scenic, but it meant I would have been really cutting it close on the arrival time into Boston. Another factor in the equation was that my bad left knee was starting to act up again.

Actually, I didn't get on 5 right away, but used 20 out of Auburn, and then 175/173 to pass through the southern outskirts of Syracuse before connecting to 5.

On 173 in Syracuse I met a couple cycling with all their gear going in the opposite direction. They were from Middlebury, VT and were doing a week long ride out to the Finger Lakes.

Highway 173 east of Syracuse was a real rollercoaster ride with the ups and downs - including 40 mph downhills where you have to brake for the red light at the bottom. Ugh! Once I got to 5 the route became somewhat flatter again.

Some rain was originally in the forecast for the afternoon but it never came. But due to my location at the end of the day I had to use another hotel again instead of camping.

When bike touring most people either have a lot of time or a lot of money, but not both. Students and Europeans tend to be in the "lot of time" category, so they would make more of an effort to plan their day ride length and overnight stops based on camping opportunities. I, on the other hand, don't have a lot of time left, so that puts me into the "lot of money" category by default. So that means I ride as far as I want to or need to that day, and if that means the only option is a hotel, then so be it.

I still had a bad feeling about the bottom bracket. The only bike shops would be in the city of Utica, so I got a city map and used the phone book to get the shop locations for tomorrow. Even if I didn't need to go to the bike shop, I still would have needed the city map, as Highway 5 becomes a freeway through Utica, requiring me to find an alternate route in part.

When I had entered New York, I was starting to feel a little burned out, in part because I was tight on time, requiring me to keep on pushing hard just to "make the miles". Now that I'm half way across New York, I've been getting a second wind. The realization is starting to come that the trip is almost over. I have the unique feeling of simultaneously wishing the trip wouldn't end, yet wanting to finish it to get back to friends and family.

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