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  1. #1
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Ride Report: To Niagara Falls!

    The weatherman said this weekend was supposed to be nice, relatively speaking. Highs of 50 on Saturday, and 55 on Sunday. I decided on Friday that I was going to attempt one last grand adventure of the year. I pulled out my maps and tried looking for places I haven't yet been to this year, in the 25-50 mile range (thus making a round trip of 50-100 miles). It's getting tough. I made up a few sample routes, but nothing really jumped out at me as an absolute "must do" ride.

    Then it hit me; I couldn't believe I had ignored it for so long. I live 42 miles away from Niagara Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. Why on earth had I postponed this destination up until now? I decided: Sunday is the day. It'll be nice out and I can rest all Saturday long.

    Saturday night comes and I was too excited to go to sleep. I kept drawing out routes all night long, unsure of which one I should take. I ultimately decided on a straight there-and-back route with no looping. I would take roads I was familiar with, along with bike paths until I get to Niagara County, at which point I would take River Road north, then a bike path along the Niagara River straight west until I get to the falls.

    The morning started off bad. I shut off my alarm when it rung, and didn't wake up until an hour later. Due to the daylight saving time switch I wanted to get an early start so I would have plenty of time to make it home before dark. Once I was up I had issues revving my engine... it was one of those groggy mornings. Didn't get going until 8am.

    I was frozen almost instantly. The temperature was in the 30's, a far cry from the 55 we would reach. Regardless I resisted the temptation to go back inside and put more clothes on; I would warm up after a few miles anyway, and I would just have to take off anything extra and carry it around. The morning was mostly uneventful.

    I almost got creamed crossing Niagara Falls Boulevard heading into Ellicott Creek Park. The light turned red and some inattentive driver futzing on their smartphone ran it after I had already entered the intersection. Luckily I was paying far more attention than she was and I was able to stop before they hit me, but it was close. That put a damper on the morning, but it soon wore off and the smile returned to my face as I pedaled onward.

    Unfortunately my planned route fell apart. The bike path along the river was closed with some "environmental cleanup project" signs along it. I didn't want to find out. The bike path goes right over the old Love Canal area so I wondered if that had anything to do with it. Regardless, I now had to come up with a backup plan. I decided to just follow roads where I could still see the Niagara River, and hope that took me in the general vicinity of where I wanted to go.

    Sadly, that was a bad idea. I ended up on a road called Buffalo Road, which looked like it hadn't been paved in over 40 years. I'm not kidding, this road was atrocious, and I honestly felt like I was going to break a spoke or two going over the potholes. They were completely unavoidable. This went on for a good three or four miles before I got closer to the falls, and the road smoothed out.

    I finally reached the falls, but had to dismount the bike on Goat Island (the island that intersects the two waterfalls), because there were just too many people around, and I didn't feel safe cycling inbetween them. Unfortunately I didn't bring my bike lock with me, so there was nowhere I felt like I could leave the bike. I ended up just walking the bike around the island with myself. I took a bunch of photographs:

    IMG_0805.jpgIMG_0800.jpgIMG_0813.jpgIMG_0809.jpgIMG_0807.jpgIMG_0814.jpgIMG_0802.jpgIMG_0815.jpgIMG_0798.jpgIMG_0803.jpgIMG_0804.jpgIMG_0810.jpg

    It was awe-inspiring. You live near one of the worlds most renowned natural wonders, and you take it completely for granted. I haven't been here in years, and it's a damned shame, because it's so beautiful. I hung out for about 20 minutes just taking pictures and taking in the scenery. It's also interesting to note that almost everyone on the island was speaking a foreign language. I don't think I heard anyone speaking English. Just goes to show you how this place is special enough to draw people from all over the world... and yet here I am only visiting it once every 10 years or so.

    Eventually I decided it was time to get going. I decided to try searching around for a better route out of Niagara Falls, because there was no way in hell I was taking Buffalo Road again. I ended up finding New York Bike Route 5, which took me all the way out to where my parents lived, so I took a break at their house for a half an hour at around mile 60 to refill on water and chat with my brother about how things are going.

    The rest of the ride was uneventful. I made it home just as dusk was starting to set in. I packed my headlights in case I made it home after dusk, but I didn't need them. I briefly considered tacking on another 15 miles to the trip to make my 3rd century of the year, but ultimately when I reached home I decided it was time to pack things in at 85 miles. I felt good, no need to over-do it. What an awesome trip.

    As I sit here, I realise that not only is this probably the last grand adventure I'll probably take this year, but it's probably also the last 50+ ride I'll ever make on my GT mountain bike. Next week my Long Haul Trucker is set to arrive, and by all accounts I'll end up liking the feel of a proper touring bike for long distance riding far more than a mountain bike. Kind of makes me sad, but it had one hell of a run. Odometer is at just about 4500 miles now, almost 3000 from this year alone. What a way to finish off an era, that's for sure.

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/127012682
    Last edited by Mithrandir; 11-06-11 at 04:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Only lets me add 12 photos per post, so here's the rest:

    IMG_0812.jpgIMG_0806.jpgIMG_0811.jpgIMG_0799.jpgIMG_0797.jpgIMG_0808.jpgIMG_0801.jpg

  3. #3
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    Excellent ride report, and great pics.

    I had a similar experience to your's regarding Niagara Falls. I saw them in so many movies over the years that they seemed like a cliche to me. I thought of them as the lame place people honeymooned before air travel was available. Finally on a trip to Boston several years ago, we made the side trip to see The Falls. The only way to describe them is with a term you used - awe inspiring.

    Thanks for sharing, and for reminding me of their majesty.

  4. #4
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    very nice pictures, sounds like an awesome ride!

    enjoy the new bike

  5. #5
    Senior Member theblackbullet's Avatar
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    I haven't been up to Niagra since 1998, and I'd really like to go back soon. Thanks for the pictures and great ride report.

  6. #6
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    that is amazing. I love the pictures and the write up. Sent it to many friends.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Crossing the country I rode over the Peace Bridge and up the Canadian side. The falls are amazing. The crazy commerialism on that side, not so much.

  8. #8
    Neil_B
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    Amazing how losing the fat causes the blinders to fall off too, isn't it? Congratulations on the ride. When I'm up in Buffalo we have to ride to the falls together. Will you be my guide?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Amazing how losing the fat causes the blinders to fall off too, isn't it? Congratulations on the ride. When I'm up in Buffalo we have to ride to the falls together. Will you be my guide?
    ChefIssac wants to come up too. Been thinking about potential routes if this happens. Probably won't happen until next spring though, as statistically speaking we're expecting persistent snowfall within the next 2 weeks, but yeah it would be fun. My only concern (as I told Chef) is that I've never really led a group before and I'm not sure what I would do in the event that someone had to drop or had a bike break in a non-fixable manner. I don't really know anyone who can provide SAG support. But as far as knowing which routes to take, absolutely no problems there!

    Honestly cycling has done more to improve my view of this region than anything else I've ever done. I guess when you go places in a car you tend to just drive by all the neat things, but on a bike you can't help but stop and take in the awesomeness of a place. I love this hobby.

  10. #10
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Nice report! I would live to visit that part of the country some day. Your pictures make the falls look real and less postcardy. I like it.

  11. #11
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    I think gold just said you take sucky pictures.

    bad gold!

  12. #12
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    It's also interesting to note that almost everyone on the island was speaking a foreign language. I don't think I heard anyone speaking English. Just goes to show you how this place is special enough to draw people from all over the world... and yet here I am only visiting it once every 10 years or so.
    I noticed that same phenomenon the last time I was at the Grand Canyon. Way more foreign visitors than Americans.
    Craig in Indy

  13. #13
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    I think gold just said you take sucky pictures.

    bad gold!
    Oh no! I just liked that the pictures had context, like bikes and people and city, not just the falls. I never really could mentally place the falls and had no idea what the surrounding countryside looked like.

  14. #14
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    I noticed that same phenomenon the last time I was at the Grand Canyon. Way more foreign visitors than Americans.
    I took a Canadian friend of mine to Baltimore's Inner Harbor. We stopped someone and asked for directions. It was a couple from the UK who were as lost as we were. My Canadian friend was surprised. I wasn't.

    Mithrandir's experience reminds me of my first 'discovery' when I lost weight. I hiked to a covered bridge I'd driven past for years but never seen. It's two miles from my home..... as I wrote above, the blinders fell off with the weight.

  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    I second the praise for the photos.

  16. #16
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    ChefIssac wants to come up too.
    Do you have a barrel in his size?

  17. #17
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Great Pics.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

  18. #18
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Then it hit me; I couldn't believe I had ignored it for so long. I live 42 miles away from Niagara Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. Why on earth had I postponed this destination up until now? I decided: Sunday is the day. It'll be nice out and I can rest all Saturday long.

    ...

    It was awe-inspiring. You live near one of the worlds most renowned natural wonders, and you take it completely for granted. I haven't been here in years, and it's a damned shame, because it's so beautiful. I hung out for about 20 minutes just taking pictures and taking in the scenery. It's also interesting to note that almost everyone on the island was speaking a foreign language. I don't think I heard anyone speaking English. Just goes to show you how this place is special enough to draw people from all over the world... and yet here I am only visiting it once every 10 years or so.
    This really inspires me. And it reminds me of some of my own experiences. I'm glad you had a good time despite missing the wake up call and the cold weather. Sounds like it was very much worth it! You should think about going back at night ... probably when it gets warmer.

    Thanks for sharing the pics!
    Don't believe everything you think.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    This really inspires me. And it reminds me of some of my own experiences. I'm glad you had a good time despite missing the wake up call and the cold weather. Sounds like it was very much worth it! You should think about going back at night ... probably when it gets warmer.

    Thanks for sharing the pics!

    Haven't done a proper night ride yet. Made it home a few minutes after dusk a few times last week, but today will be my very first one, since the DST switch. Sunset is now at exactly 5pm as of today, which means my entire commute home will be in the dark. I've got 2 lights, a headlight on my helmet and a flood on the bike, so I'll see how well this works out. If it does it'll greatly increase my confidence in cycling, as I cut short many summer rides in order to make it home before dark.


    I should also go back to the falls one day and see them on the Canadian side. It's apparently much more photogenic, as you get a head-on view of the falls. Also found out something neat when I was visiting my parents last night; apparently I was at the exact spot where my dad proposed to my mom 40 years ago. Wonder why they never told me that before.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Do you have a barrel in his size?
    Har har. Nope! Wouldn't want to have to pay a fine for assisting someone in jumping over the falls anyhow... that's expensive! They take it very seriously here, heh.

  21. #21
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithrandir View Post
    Har har. Nope! Wouldn't want to have to pay a fine for assisting someone in jumping over the falls anyhow... that's expensive! They take it very seriously here, heh.
    Yes, that's a heck of a drop. Here's what it looks like without water getting in the way:



    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...andstilll.html

  22. #22
    Senior Member dhender02's Avatar
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    Nice Report!!
    2013 Felt Z85; 2012 Trek 7.3FX; 2001 Murray Milestone; 1975 Murray 10 Speed; 1974 Montgomery Ward private label Fuji 10 Speed, I think; and 1968 Sears Spyder

  23. #23
    Senior Member mgw189's Avatar
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    Awesome trip report..... I havent been to Niagara Falls in years. Its only 4 hours away... I need to get back up there.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Mithrandir's experience reminds me of my first 'discovery' when I lost weight. I hiked to a covered bridge I'd driven past for years but never seen. It's two miles from my home..... as I wrote above, the blinders fell off with the weight.
    I noticed another similar thing that occurred to me. There's an area of Buffalo that is generally considered to be "don't go there unless you want to get shot" territory. As such, whenever I drove into work, I drove a 24 mile route on the thruway to stay away from city streets as much as possible. When I started cycling, I wanted to minimize the route, which means that I had to take a 19-or-20 mile route right through this area. I was deathly scared at first, but here I am months later and not one incident has ever occurred, aside from an overzealous street preacher who insists on handing me anti-drug leaflets every time I pass his church.

    I am no longer afraid of this area. Cycling through it every day, you get a sense of the people who live there. There's the guy who collects a whole shopping cart full of abandoned cans heading to the grocery store every morning. The people waiting for the bus stop. The people walking to the corner store. The area is merely run down. These people are just trying to live their lives and survive to the next day. They're not dangerous or scary. They're fellow man.

    It's kind of humanized the area for me. No longer am I wishing I could be locked in a tiny metal mobile cage to protect me from the imaginary threats, but I feel like I am one of them. Strangely enough, this area I pass through always has people on bicycles, while none of the other areas ever have bicycles. Granted most of them probably are forced to travel by bicycle, but again, I feel like I'm one of them, and not a stranger in a strange land anymore.

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