From Drop Box

For the second weekend in a row, I took off on the bike for a overnight trip. This time I rode to the Rochester Hamfest in Greece NY, a trip I usually make by car. I go every year and it’s a chance to socialize with fellow Ham Radio operators I often don’t see much any other time. I talked to more Hams I know from Lockport than I see around town.

I belong to one Rochester area Ham club, the Rochester DX Association, and I enjoy meeting and hanging out with them. They always set up a big area at the hamfest for that purpose. You can sell things there, if you don’t have enough to justify setting up your own table. Or just talk.

I rode out on Friday, planning on arriving in the evening and camping overnight. I knew I would need to stay over Saturday night as well, so I asked ahead to see if I could stay the second nigh and got permission.

The trip out was long, but uneventful. I rode the Canalway Trail from Lockport to Medina, then jogged north to Route 31 aka, NY Bicycle Route 5, and took that to Albion. Riding the road was much faster and it was hot and sunny. I was glad to find places to stop and buy something to drink. I pulled into the Super Wal-Mart just outside Albion and bought a lemonade, Vitiamin Water and a candy bar, mostly for a break and a chance to get out of the sun. When I left, I stopped again in the Village of Albion at McDonalds and had one of those Lemon-Strawberry Slushies. I got brain-freeze, but felt much cooled off.

At some point, I got back on the canal trail and continued towards Rochester. I rode the path good and bad until I came to a place called Henpeck Park. I used a restroom, just a Port-a-john really, and stopped to pull some pine twigs out of my derailleur that were making a ticking noise as I rode. It turned out to be just one bridge short of where I was going to leave the canal, so I hopped on the road next to the park, which paralleled the canal and rode it. A few mile of local roads with reasonably heavy traffic and I came to the fairgrounds the hamfest is held at.

From Rochester Hamfest Trip

I got in, bought my ticket, found out where the RDXA group was going to set up and camped between a couple stands of trees that were right behind it. It worked out great.

From Rochester Hamfest Trip

Of course, being there already meant being there early in the morning to help set up the tents! It was a good thing too, as it began to rain. The tents made a popular spot to wait out the rain. Unfortunately, the rain kept up pretty steadily into the afternoon. Of course someone made the decision to take the tents down and pack up. The rain had slowed, but still was coming down.

Quite a few RDXAers were still there and not quite ready to call it quits, so we moved to an overhang with picnic tables at the building nearby. Of course, then the rain stopped and we had quite a good time swapping stories and drinking beer. When the beer ran out, we decided it was time to go out to dinner.

I grabbed a lift to the restaraunt with one of the guys and we had a good meal. It felt good to sit and eat indoors. But soon, it was over and I was back at my campsite.

From Rochester Hamfest Trip

I had nothing to do, so after watching some kids drive their RC cars in the park for a while, I hopped into the tent to lie down. This is where the trailer as a source of power paid off. I plugged the AC adapter for my netbook into the AC inverter and fired up the netbook. There was wi-fi at the hamfest and it was still on, so I laid in the tent and watched Leo Laporte’s video of his Tech-Guy morning radio show. I was hoping to catch TWIT after that, but never made it that far. I fell asleep and when I woke up later, the laptop was off. The inverter must have shut down, which it does when the voltage drops a certain amount, and the laptop ran on battery until it had to shut down. I figured I might as well go back to sleep then while I was in that mode.

I awoke early, probably about 5am and decided I would get going early, tear down and have some breakfast before heading out. I got dressed, packed stuff up and then started emptying the tent. It was very convenient to drag everything over to the picnic tables under the overhang where we sat the day before. I spread things out on the tables to let them air out and dry a bit before rolling them up. The sun didn’t seem to want to help but at least it didn’t rain.

I cooked breakfast, which consisted of boiling water. I had some instant oatmeal and instant cocoa, so that wasn’t a big culinary experience. I don’t know whether the oatmeal was stale, or the fact that I mixed two flavors together, or maybe it’s just how instant oatmeal is, but I didn’t enjoy it much. It was like eating sawdust rolled in wallpaper paste. No matter how much water I added, it didn’t seem to soak in, it just rolled off and made a puddle around the oatmeal. The cocoa was good, though, once it cooled enough to drink. I need to find some better breakfast recipes for camping, because other meals can usually be bought on the road. Things that don’t need refrigeration…

I rode out, once I was done with breakfast, and got to Ridge Road – Route 104 – then north to where I got on the canal path. At 7am on a Sunday Ridge was not very busy. Three lanes each direction with not enough cars to fill one, yet some idiot in a white Caddy had to blow by me inches away from me and lay on his horn as if to say get out of my lane. I have no idea what his problem was. In the two miles from the canal to the Hamfest, I encountered several instances of aggression from motorists this weekend. Thankfully, I don’t seem to have that problem around home.

I kept seeing these on the canal path. At first, I only saw the outer shell and thought they were an acorn or something like that. I finally stopped and looked closely.
From Rochester Hamfest Trip

Once on the bike path along the canal, I enjoyed myself. I came across several places I had missed in the way in. But I just couldn’t seem to get any speed up. I was going 5-7 miles per hour. On they way out, I averaged over 10 mph. At this rate, I would never make it home. I got off and on the Canalway several times trying to find why I was so slow. Riding on the road is faster, but often more harrowing due to traffic. Route 31 parallels the canal and is designated NY Bike Route 5, so it has pretty nice shoulders and the signs seem to warn motorists to expect bikes, but it’s also hot and unshaded. The sun was taking it’s toll on me. I’d gotten a sunburn every ride the past two weekends and despite applying sunscreen every time I got off the bike, I was still feeling the sun.

So, I plodded on and made better time on the roads, but still switched back to the canal from time to time. I got off in Brockport and back on just outside town. Every time added a half mile or more north or south.

Finally, from Albion on, I stuck to the road exclusively. It was a long, hot, tiring ride and I didn’t enjoy it much. I stopped in Albion for a long time at the Mickey D’s again. Stopped again in Middleport for liquids. I finally made it to Lockport and after climbing the hill into town, pulled into the plaza at Quality and sat in the shade of the bank building there and drank the Gatorade I had bought in Middleport. I made it home by 7:30pm, over 12 hours on the bike.

I don’t know why coming back was so much harder. Maybe there was a headwind. Maybe I was just tired. It felt like something was wrong with my bike, but there wasn’t. All I know was, it was a good thing I left early in the morning, not 11:30am, like I did on the way out.

I did find one problem when I checked the bike over Monday, but not one that would account for the slwo speed. I noticed one wheel had a slight wobble in it. I checked it out and found a broken spoke. So, I need to fix that. I didn’t know where I might find one locally, so I got on the phone and ordered a few from the manufacturer. Now all I can do is wait.