I had my sights set on a long bike ride for this past weekend, several days in advance. I originally had intended on a twenty-five- to thirty-mile ride out to my in-laws’ house, but after much debate, I opted to stay on roads with which I was semi-familiar. On Sunday around 3:00 p.m., I set out on what would turn out to be a good learning experience.
As I rode down the familiar bike lanes toward downtown Buffalo, my boredom got the best of me. I decided that I wanted to try some new roads, so I made a hard right turn into the Waterfront Village near the Buffalo harbor. I passed by all the people playing various pick-up-league sports in Lasalle Park and continued on my way north along the Niagara River. It is a very beautiful place to ride, and there are probably ten-plus miles of waterfront paths to travel on. Once I got to the familiar turning point where the trail cuts into the Erie Canal and heads east, I made the executive decision to throw caution to the wind and continue traveling north.
At some point, I got it in my head that Niagara Falls wasn’t too far off, and that would be a pretty neat place to ride my bike to. This is where I created a nice learning experience for myself. What I didn’t realize is that Niagara Falls is much easier to get to with those fancy bridges that were built to go over Grand Island. Instead, I followed the river and took the long way, all the way around. By the time I hit Niagara Falls, I was already thirty miles into the ride.
What I should have done was cut my losses once I knew I had hit twenty miles and turned back home. Instead, I kept pushing out farther and farther until I got there. I snapped my quick proof-of-arrival photo and began to head back. Note: The soda vendors inside the Falls Park do not accept credit cards . . . thus my refueling efforts were unsuccessful.
I made it another twenty miles toward home and was finally picked up by my wife, who, by my terrible directions, had fun navigating the industrial wasteland that is Riverside Tonawanda. In all, it was about a four-and-a-half-hour adventure, fifty miles by bike and another ten by rescue vehicle.
The lesson that I learned? Plan your route ahead of time. The spontaneous thing may seem fun, but that quickly fades when you have so much lactic acid build up in your quads that sustaining more than ten miles an hour is a chore. Also, it was kind of a dumb idea in general, expending that much energy the week of the triathlon.
Then again, the falls are pretty!