1997 Bike Trip - From PA to Ro-cha-cha

Wed. June 25, 1997

My plane departed Minneapolis at 7am CDT and arrived in Pittsburgh at 10am EDT. Jim picks me up and we retrieve the box my bike is packaged in. We head to the town of Ambridge and stop at the Ambridge Bike Shop. Very helpful bike shop. We get a bike carrier and a new bike seat for Jim, and they give me a few things to help with shipping my bike back. We drive to Jim's place near Grove City, PA, unpack my bike and put it together. We discovered Jim needed a bike rack to carry a pannier on. Jim runs out and buys one at a nearby shop. We decide to take the bikes out for a test run, and are now confident we are ready to go on this adventure. That evening we watch the movie "Aguire, the Wrath of God" about some 16th century Spanish soldiers, lead by a madman, that travel down the Amazon River looking for El Dorado, the lost city of gold. As they travel further and further they start dying off, one by one. I wondered what message Jim was sending me the day before our adventure begins. ha ha


Thu. June 26, 1997, Mercer City to Erie, PA - 87 miles

I'm in yellow and Jim is in blue. Since it rained 1.4" the night before, we don't leave until 9am to allow the roads to dry some. The temperature is about 70, and the sky is cloudy. We use light tinted frames in our eye wear. We ride through plenty of forested areas - some areas are like green tunnels. We pass several Amish farms along the way and even pass by an Amish buggy at one point. The buggy has 2 sets of eyes peering from the little girls riding in back, playing peek-a-boo with us as we approach and pass. We ride by some wetlands south of Meadville and then up a short dirt road that is also a very steep hill. My skinny back tire keeps slipping when I crank too hard up the hill. A little later, on Mercer Pike, I hit 40.5 mph coasting down a hill into Meadville. We have lunch in Meadville at the DQ - love those DQs when biking. There is a little sprinkle of rain as we enter Meadville and little more during lunch.


After lunch the sky clears and we ride to the town of Edinboro - home of Edinboro University. A highlight of the trip is Gibson Hill Road. More than a mile of a good downhill road all the way into Edinboro. We toured the Edinboro campus and then head onward to more fun and exciting riding. Another nice road is Shadduck road exiting a plateau as we head down into Erie, PA. We arrive at The Glass House Inn about 6pm with full sunshine and 81 degrees. Our room has a semi-religious note welcoming us. We are a bit tired and ready to call it a day.

Edinboro University

Fri. June 27, 1997, Erie, PA to Dunkirk, NY - 69 miles

We left the next morning at 8:30am and ride through the city of Erie. We catch our first glimpses of Lake Erie - nice city. We ride along Hiwy 5 alongside Lake Erie for the rest of the day. The terrain is much flatter along the lake. Hiwy 5 is also known as the "Purple Heart Highway" and the "Circum Route" but it's also a bike route and the shoulder along the side is a primo biking shoulder. It's a bright, bright sun-shiny day all day. Not a single cloud in the sky and so clear we can see all the way across the lake (at this point).

Lake Erie

We ride past many large vineyards with names like Penn Shore.


At one point we try to find a place called "Ripley Beach." We find a sign that says there is no lifeguard on duty, but we can't find a beach. Everywhere there is this 20 ft. cliff above the shore below. We asked someone and they tell us the water is too high and the beach is gone. I'm sure it was a great beach at one time. We ride into Westfield, buy some groceries, and have lunch in the town square.



After lunch we do some biking and hiking. If we find a nice creek, we hide the bikes in some tall grass or bushes and walk along the creek down to where it enters Lake Erie. This is a fun little diversion from biking all day but my shoes were the worst possible hiking shoes.


We ride into NY and stop at Lake Erie State Park.

Lake Erie State Park.

Next we ride to Fredonia and tour the University of Fredonia. This University is known for its nice modern architecture. We arrive at the South Shore Inn in Dunkirk about 5:30pm. When the proprietor finds out I am from Minneapolis, she tells me she has always wanted to see Minneapolis because of Billy Graham. It was news to me that Billy Graham was ever in Minneapolis. She brings over some Billy Graham magazines for us to read. Sure enough, they are from Minneapolis. We eat dinner outside at a nearby restaurant. After dinner we watch the sun set over Lake Erie. Right at sunset, bugs come out that we call "yo yo bugs" because they keep flying up and down in a straight vertical line as birds fly overhead and pick them off one by one. I love nature.

Sat. June 28, 1997, Dunkirk to Clarence, NY - 69 miles

We left about 7:30am and ride through Dunkirk and along the Seaway Trial (still riding Hiwy 5 alongside Lake Erie, but the shoulder is gone). It's still sunny and clear with temps in the 70s. We follow Lake Erie almost to Buffalo. As we get closer to Buffalo, the houses become mansions and the road gets nicer. We stop at Hamburg County Park and take photos of ourselves with Lake Erie, Buffalo, Beaches, Bikes, and Bathers in the background.

Hamburg Park

At this point we leave Lake Erie and head to the town of Orchard Park for lunch. We eat outdoors at "Eddies." The food is good so we eat too much - groan. As we are eatting, a number of cars drive by with loud booming rap music blaring and appropriatley complementing our lunch. After lunch we ride to the nearby Burgwardt Bike Museum, the largest bike museum in the country. We both had our pictures taken while sitting on a "highwheel bicycle" or "ordinary" (with a large front wheel). We spent over an hour there - quite interesting.

Bike Museum
Bike Museum 2

Next we head for our day's destination, the Village Haven Motel in Clarence. Along the way we stop at the waterfalls on Buffalo Creek in the town of Blossom.

Buffalo Creek

We arrived about 5pm. That evening we watch a Hitchcock movie - Notorious - on TV.

Sun. June 29, 1997, Clarence, NY to Ro-cha-cha, NY - 75 miles

We leave Clarence at 9am with slightly warmer temperatures, a few clouds, and a southerly tailwind. When this tailwind is present we average over 20 mph. We stop by Indian Falls near Akron. There's also a bike path in Akron but it only goes 1 mile. Pretty strange bike path? The roads in rural NY are very nice paved county roads. Great for biking.

Rural NY

We encounter more hills today as we leave the Lake Erie valley. We were also chased by a Great Dane today. This dog could easily keep up with us and didn't seem to be going at its full speed. It's strange to be riding a bike and looking directly into the eyes of a dog running along side of you. Fortunately it was a friendly dog and seem to have a big smile on its face. We think it was enjoying itself as if silently saying, "if I wanted to I could run faster than you can ride." We stop for lunch in Brockport, and eat outdoors right next to the Erie Canal at "Jimmy Macs" restaurant.

Jimmy Macs

After lunch we watch as two lift bridges are operated by one guy. He raises a bridge, lets the boat pass through, lowers the bridge, runs down the stairs, gets into a car, drives that car fast about 200 yards (in reverse) to the next bridge, crosses a busy street, runs up the stairs, and raises that bridge, (rinse, repeat) etc.

Erie Canal

Some people try to stay on the bridge as it is being raised but the guy tells them it is against the law to ride on the bridge when it was being raised.


After lunch we ride through Brockport (very nice Main Street) and follow the Erie canal to Ro-cha-cha (formerly known as Rochester), NY. We go up onto some 1 lane bridges occasionally to see the canal better. We stop for an ice cream break by the side of the road where Jim gets the largest strawberry shortcake I've ever seen. After we arrived in Ro-cha-cha we tour the city some and then head to the Best Western.


We arrive there at 4:30pm, and as coincidence would have it, the same time as Laura (Jim's wife) who drove up from PA to meet us. That evening we drive around Ro-cha-cha some more. The headquarters for Kodak is here and the building has a gothis look to it. Then we have dinner at T-bones restaurant on a bay. To end the day we go see a movie (Breakdown) at the Tinseltown Theaters.

On this trip we ride 300 miles at an average speed of 14.7 mph, about 20 hours pedaling time, and the maximum speed is 40.5 mph. Great trip!