Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Bike the Finger Lakes 11 completed with Cayuga #BTFL11

We made it! With our Monday ride around Cayuga Lake we've now circumnavigated all of the Finger Lakes in New York. That's 465 miles and 19,544 feet of climbing according to and their collection of maps. We are quite pleased with our own bad selves. We'd started with Keuka Lake in 2021 which we rode as part of our Epic Retirement Vacation. Then in 2022 after I got settled in Watkins Glen we started working our way through the lakes from west to east. Read our older blog entries about those rides here.

We'd been advised to ride Cayuga on a weekday when there would be less traffic. Indeed, there was delightfully little. Some roads would have been worrisome had they had the number of cars and trucks we were used to seeing in California, but the low volume made it easy for motor vehicles to pass us and give us lots of space. We also encountered Mennonite/Amish buggy drivers coming and going and were even passed by one on a slow uphill around mile 80.

The ride itself was a challenge. My Garmin reported 3,576 feet of climbing. The ride clocked in at 97.9 miles, but Tricia insisted we keep riding when we finished so we could get an even 100, so we did.

It wasn't the distance or the total climbing that made it a long day. In fact the semi-serious climbing near the ride start was enjoyable. What hurt was the fifteen-or-so mile of mild uphill into a headwind that wore us out. Even when the road turned level and then to a mild downhill the headwind kept our speed low.

At mile 50 we started a 30 mile slight uphill whose pain was lessened when our turn southward at the top of the lake gave us a tailwind. We grunted until mile 80 where we had a wonderful downhill all the way back to the start. We even got to finish on nine miles of  the delightful crushed-stone car-free Black Diamond Trail.

As we finished up our challenge (and started looking for the next one) I remain amazed we actually live here. People pay money to vacation and bike tour the Finger Lakes, and it's easy to see why. The farmlands are beautiful, the hills are challenging and fun. This place has something called "seasons" where the summer is green, then the autumn is bright with color of falling leaves before the winter snow arrives. Of course, I'll have to remember to reread this when it's zero degrees and I'm in the garage Zwifting. But still....

Oh yeah. And Lakes. There are lakes. This was, after all the Finger Lakes Challenge. Though our routes often took us away from water views, every ride had at least a little if not a lot of lake views. And the non-lake views were grand as well. 
As to which lake is the best ride, I think I'd have to go with "all of them."

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