Since Ticonderoga, I’d noticed a high-pitched squeak-whining that seemed to be coming from the front end of the bike, so I wanted to get it to one of the bike shops noted on my maps, at least 30 miles away. I did a basic safety inspection and ruled out trouble with the brakes, the panniers, or the fenders I made sure that they weren’t rubbing against anything. All seemed to be working fine, but the irritating sound was like a flock of seagulls (and I ra-an-aaan, I ran so far a-waa-a-aay). But I advanced on in hopes of beating the thunderstorms that were predicted to move in later.
Tunes helped me keep an eye out for the deer, which seemed to hang close to the road and were unperturbed by my wheel squeal. Lunch was another granola bar, a half-past banana, and some trail mix. We stopped by a small town’s baseball field and Petunia ran (she ran so far away), running the bases, zooming through the outfield, and carrying her dental chew stick way out into home run territory. She was totally zonked after all of that exercise.
In the town of Inlet, the Pedals & Petals flower, bike, and wintergear shop was open, and a few people came over to talk to me about my trip and my pup. One of the bike mechanics came out and heard my impression of the distressed bicycle noise, and started the usual troubleshooting. Soon a second mechanic came out and then it was a bike-fixing party. They started by strategically adding grease at the hubs, then noticed my brake triggers should be tighter. But to do that right, the rear wheel, which apparently had a slight bend, needed to be trued up for a few minutes. Next the shifter was adjusted just a hair, and while they were there, they tightened up my cranks, which turned out to be really loose after riding a total distance of…. well, hey! my bike meter read 997 miles! Woohoo! While the work was being completed in short order, the mechanic with wavy shoulder-length hair gave me a free chia seed and coconut energy bar, and told me that they were rated as one of the top 300 bike shops in the country. I did not ask what the total denominator was in terms of of bicycle shops in the U.S., but they helped me out for free, and the noise went away, so they certainly get five stars in my book.
That sweet feeling when your odometer runs out of digit places!
The rest of my day was like a Very Hungry Caterpillar book of fortunate events in which each page turned revealed an even better treat to enjoy my way through an onto the next. The bike shop dudes had advised me to take one particular turn in the Adirondack resort town Old Forge to ensure that I saw the water and the restaurant areas. When I got there, I happened to meet an affable grandpa-joke-making man named Tom, who was first to share in my happy news that I’d just done my first solo-thousand-mile-ride. He pointed me to the grocery store, where I picked up a giant hunk of watermelon and celebratorily chowed down. While wolfing down my summery treat in the parking lot, I overheard a couple of local soccer-mom types talking about their recent black bear sightings. “I was in the car and the mama bear was just right there with her cubs. I went to drive around them and she stood up on her hind legs! Right in the middle of broad daylight. She was totally not scared off by a moving vehicle.” Soon after, good old Tom pulled up in his car and wanted to talk and offer some more info about the area. He had a small leather portfolio of photographs that seemed to have been taken with a point and shoot film camera in the 90s, including some shots of the small house he’d built himself in the woods nearby. Most of the pictures were of big bears, sometimes three or four together, that had come close to his porch or were on his property. “Have you given any thought to where you’re going to sleep tonight?” I was planning on camping somewhere farther away from the town, but all this bear talk led me to conclude that it might be best to try and find something less rustic than usual.
Tom told me where the library was and I bid him adieu again. I was about to go in and hop on a computer to start investigating camping or indoor options when guess who appeared but Tom again. He was all about being as helpful as possible, and suggested the church next door might be able to give me advice on safe harbor for the night. A couple of women were inside, bustling around the kitchen, preparing for a volunteer thank-you evening of desserts and appreciation. Without hesitation they offered us refreshments and surmised that I could probably just sleep in their furnished basement, although I’d have to check with the pastor first. Not only did Pastor Lawrence welcome me and Tunes to stay there, but the group invited me to join the celebration and eat my weight in a colorful variety of sugary confections. I got to hear about their Mission Boutique, a donation based thrift shop that they started some years ago after a local family’s home burned down and the community rallied to help them get their basic needs covered. Due to its successful ability to raise money for about ten different local social service programs, they were in the process of expanding their building and efforts. It was so nice to share time with people who were so invested in helping others, and the pleasant atmosphere felt safe and light. Several people made donations to the Gearing Up fundraiser, and I was deeply touched and grateful for the warmth and the genuine goodnaturedness in the room. Lawrence even shared that he was also a cyclist and had just completed the Black Fly Challenge ride and we exchanged bug bite stories.
From left to right: Lawrence, Mary, Tom holding Tunes, and Terry.
After wolfing down a heavy plate of performance enhancing desserts, I was approached by a couple of people who offered me a shower and a bed for the evening, and retired couple Nancy and Terry said they’d love to have Tunes meet their little pug Toby, and so I took them up on their offer. Their friend Deb gave me a lift to their beautiful family home on Rondaxe Lake, where Terry treated us to a magical performance of Taps on his baritone bugle. The 24 notes echoed across the lake so clearly that it sounded like another horn was responding from the opposite shore.
Song of the day: Adele – Hometown Glory