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

Wed. June 25, 1997

My plane left Minneapolis at 7am CDT and arrived in Pittsburgh at 10am EDT. Jim picked me up and we retrieved the box my bike was packaged in. We headed to the town of Ambridge and went to the Ambridge Bike Shop. Very helpful bike shop. We got a bike carrier and a new bike seat for Jim, and they gave me a few things to help with shipping my bike back. We drove to Jim's place near Grove City, PA, unpacked my bike and put it together. We discovered Jim needed a bike rack to carry a pannier on. Jim ran and bought one at a nearby shop, then we tested the bikes, and we were ready to go. That evening we watched 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 began. ha ha


Thu. June 26, 1997, 87 miles

I'm in yellow and Jim's in blue. Since it had rained 1.4" the night before, we didn't leave until 9am to let the roads dry. Temperature was about 70, and sky was cloudy. We used light tinted frames in our bike glasses. We rode through plenty of forested areas - some areas were like green tunnels. We passed several Amish farms along the way and even passed an Amish buggy at one point. The buggy had 2 sets of eyes from the little girls riding in back, playing peek-a-boo with us while looking out the back. We rode passed some wetlands south of Meadville and then up a short dirt road but a very steep hill. My narrow back tire kept slipping if I cranked too hard up the hill. A little later, on Mercer Pike, I hit 40.5 mph coasting down a hill into Meadville. We had lunch in Meadville at the DQ - love those DQs when biking. There was a little sprinkle of rain as we entered Meadville and during lunch.


After lunch the sky cleared and we road to the town of Edinboro - home of Edinboro University. A highlight of the trip was Gibson Hill Road. More than a mile of a good down hill road all the way into Edinboro. We toured the Edinboro campus and headed on. Another nice road was Shadduck road off a plateau and down into Erie, PA. We arrived at The Glass House Inn about 6pm. Now there was full sun and 81. Our room had a semi-religious note welcoming us. We were a bit tired and ready to call it a day.

Edinboro University

Fri. June 27, 1997, 69 miles

We left the next morning at 8:30am and rode through the city of Erie. We caught our first glimpses of Lake Erie - nice city. We rode along Hiwy 5 alongside Lake Erie for the rest of the day. The terrain was 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 was a primo biking shoulder. It was a bright sunny day all day. Not a single cloud in the sky and so clear we could see all the way across the lake (at this point).

Lake Erie

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


At one point we tried to find a place called "Ripley Beach." We found the sign that said there was no lifeguard on duty, but we couldn't find a beach. Everywhere there was a 20 ft. cliff. We asked someone and they told us the water was too high and the beach was gone. I'm sure it was a great beach at one time. We rode into Westfield, bought some groceries, and had lunch in the town square.


After lunch we did some biking and hiking. If we found a nice creek, we hid the bikes in some tall grass or bushes and walked the creek down to where it entered Lake Erie. This was a fun thing to do but my shoes were the worst possible hiking shoes.


We rode into NY and stopped at Lake Erie State Park.

Lake Erie State Park.

Then we rode to Fredonia and toured the University of Fredonia. This University is known for its nice modern architecture. We arrived at the South Shore Inn in Dunkirk about 5:30pm. When the proprietor found out I was from Minneapolis, she told me she always wanted to see Minneapolis because of Billy Graham. It was news to me that Billy Graham was in Minneapolis so she brought over some Billy Graham magazines for us to read. Sure enough, they were from Minneapolis. We ate dinner outside at a nearby restaurant. After dinner we watched the sun set over Lake Erie. Right at sunset, bugs came out that we called "yoyo bugs" because the kept flying up and down in a straight vertical line as birds flew overhead and picked them off one by one.

Sat. June 28, 1997, 69 miles

We left about 7:30am and rode 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 followed Lake Erie almost to Buffalo. As we get closer to Buffalo, the houses become mansions and the road gets nicer. We stopped at Hamburg County Park and took photos of ourselves with Lake Erie, Buffalo, Beaches, Bikes, and Bathers in the background.

Hamburg Park

At this point we left Lake Erie and headed to the town of Orchard Park for lunch. We ate outdoors at "Eddies." The food was good so we ate too much - groan. As we ate, a number of cars drove by with loud booming rap music blaring out to complement our lunch. After lunch we road 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 headed 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 watched a Hitchcock movie - Notorious - on TV.

Sun. June 29, 1997, 75 miles

We left Clarence at 9am with slightly warmer temperatures, a few clouds, and a tail wind when riding north. With the tail wind we're averaging over 20 mph. We stopped 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

Encountered more hills today as we leave the Lake Erie valley. We were chased by a Great Dane today. This dog could easily keep up with us and didn't seem to be going full speed. Fortunately it was a friendly dog. We stopped for lunch in Brockport, and ate outdoors right next to the Erie Canal at "Jimmy Macs" restaurant.

Jimmy Macs

After lunch we watched as two lift bridges were operated by one guy. He raised a bridge, let the boat through, lowered the bridge, ran down the stairs, got in a car, drove that car fast about 200 yards (in reverse) to the next bridge, crossed a busy street, ran up the stairs, and raised that bridge, etc.

Erie Canal

Some people tried to stay on the bridge as it was being raised but they guy told them it was against the law to ride on the bridge when it was being raised.


After lunch we rode through Brockport (very nice Main Street) and followed the Erie canal to Ro-cha-cha (formerly known as Rochester), NY. We went up on some 1 lane bridges occasionally to see the canal better. We stopped for an ice cream break by the side of the road and Jim got the largest strawberry shortcake I've ever seen. After we arrived in Ro-cha-cha we toured the city some and then headed to the Best Western.


We arrived there at 4:30pm, and as coincidence would have it, the same time as Laura (Jim's wife) who drove from PA to meet us. That evening we drove around Ro-cha-cha some more, had dinner at T-bones restaurant on a bay, and went to a movie (Breakdown) at the Tinseltown Theaters.

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