North East to Niagara Falls

Sunday 14th & Monday 15th August – Stages 81 & 82.

Sunday 15th August – North East to Angola-on-the-Lake (Stage 81).

Yesterday’s rest day was spent writing & publishing my latest post, as well as planning routes & accommodation for the coming week. This morning we were on our way by 9am as we left North East on a deserted back road that took us past more vineyards.

Almost as soon as we joined US 5, we were welcomed into The Empire State of New York – it would have been easy enough to ride through Pennsylvania on Friday if we’d have wanted to, but there’s something pleasing about spending a night sleeping in every State I’ve cycled in!

The early miles in New York were much like the last miles in Pennsylvania, as we climbed & descended the rolling hills, cycled between vineyards & had views across to the hills further South.

Our first view of Lake Erie in New York was when we were passing through Barcelona – it was the first lighthouse we’d seen along the shore of the lake & it also provided sweeping views of Barcelona Bay from the marina. This continued the European theme from Geneva yesterday.

Between Barcelona & Lake Erie State Park, Sean popped on ahead so he could get an action shot of me (he did himself proud by getting some purple in the photo too). The beach at the park was mainly gravel, although it did provide some good views of the bay.

The European theme continued a little longer as we entered Dunkirk. I made my way to the end of the marina to get a few photos of boats that were moored & a view further along the shore. The real highlight was finding Chai’s Chocolates & Gifts on the pier, where I tucked into a cannoli, as well as a blueberry & lemon cheesecake and a coffee!

When we first left Dunkirk, we headed slightly inland & passed through woodland & wild meadows. We were still going up & down the same 100 feet of elevation as we continued to head back towards the lake.

I found a couple of spots where I could park up the bike & go rummaging through the undergrowth (if you’re old enough, imagine David Bellamy or Lenny Henry saying it!) & look down on the sandy beaches below. I tend to take a bit of time when I do this, so Sean had gone on ahead at 60% effort so I could catch him up once I was done faffing.

We headed inland again as we approached Silver Creek & the volume of traffic picked up slightly – the first photo below would qualify as busy for the last 3 days, so everything is comparative. There was a short steep hill out of town & as we summitted the climb, we were confronted with the biggest waitress I’ve ever seen – she towered over the building behind her!!!

Approaching Irving, we entered into the Seneca Nation of Indians – “Onondowaga Honoeja de” translates as People of the Great Hill Place & is used by Seneca Indians to describe themselves.

We turned back into woodland briefly, then as the road turned left I saw a whole field of hay bales calling to me. Dad was ambidextrous & in a cruel twist of fate, it appears that all he passed on to me is an inability to Hay Bale Surf to the right or left!!! I think my form may be slightly less bad in the second photo…..

Sean said my surfing really was something to behold, although I don’t think he meant it as a compliment! I put his cruel barbs to one side & we set off for the next treat on today’s ride. Evangola State Park is located to the West of Farnham – I only mention this because there’s also a Farnham near where I was born in Surrey. It’s 733 acres in size & has a couple of top quality beaches & picnic facilities, as well as hiking & biking trails. It’s a little gem of a place & attracted over 140,000 visitors in 2019.

From Evangola we headed to Lake Erie Beach Park for our final view of the lake today. It was a buzzing little place, with a couple of beach bars & food joints which were doing a brisk trade. All that remained was an easy 3 mile ride to our motel in Angola-on-the-Lake, as we completed another great adventure along the shore of Lake Erie.

Stage Stats – 58 miles, 1,421 feet of climbing. Crossing the State Line into New York & making our way through more European towns!

Monday 16th August – Angola-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls (Stage 82).

Setting off from our motel, we took a left towards the lake, but before we got there, we spotted a tank at the Veterans Park. War artefacts at the Memorials have become more prevalent as we’ve headed East.

I then added a cockerel photo to my collection & sent it on to my good friend Bob (well, he was a good friend before I kept sending him photos of Man with big cockerel texts!).

The road meandered through the woods, as the lake continued to hide away.

Below are three of the reasons we didn’t see the lake on this stretch of road! Massive mansions with waterfront gardens & CCTV protection above the gate pillars.

The route through Angola was an Adventure Cycling Association recommendation to keep us on quiet backroads. However, at some point we needed to head towards Buffalo & that required us to join the main road again. The upside was that this also enabled me to get some photos of Buffalo & a wind turbine farm, as well as views across the lake.

Our European theme continued as we passed through Hamburg – in a twist of fate, Hamburg (Germany) is the first place Sean & I ever went on an overseas cycling adventure, way back in 2006.

As we approached Buffalo, we passed a couple of reminders of Buffalo’s past as a major Great Lakes shipping centre & grain storage hub. It was also a major steel producer, automobile manufacturer & aircraft builder. All these industries have since departed, however, Buffalo is making a comeback.

We had to take a detour because the bridge we planned to use was closed for roadworks & as a result we found the Buffalo Riverworks space & Wonder Coffeehouse, where I tucked into a s’mores & a peanut butter waffle along with a latte. Another great little coffee stop!

The Buffalo Riverworks complex includes a brewery, restaurant, sports, leisure, adventure & entertainment on the waterfront & has become a popular place with locals & visitors alike. We were on a tight schedule, but it looks like a fun destination.

As we made our way across town, we passed a wall of stunning art on the walls – try to imagine all the separate pieces below in a long line, as that’s how they were set out. I’ve also included a shot of my favourite, which was obviously the cyclists!

As we joined the Shoreline Trail, we took one final look at at the lake, as the Niagara River began its 36 mile journey from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. We immediately rode by the Peace Bridge which connects the USA & Canada.

The Shorefront Trail is paved all the way from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, 23 miles down river. We had great views of the river & across to Unity Island & Grand Island as we made our way ever nearer the mighty Falls.

I was keen to get a long shot of the Grand Island Bridge, to go with my symmetrical photo above & it took a few attempts to find somewhere where I could get most of the bridge in the picture.

Finally the cycle path gave us our first view of the mist rising from Niagara Falls – a genuinely exciting moment, as I’ve been looking forward to returning to Niagara Falls for a while.

Sean & I did a cycling trip to Niagara Falls way back in April 2008 – we got sunburned on our first afternoon in Central Park NYC, then a week later, on Sean’s birthday, we watched as huge chunks of ice tumbled down Niagara Falls.

Before we knew it, we’d arrived at Niagara Falls State Park. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (he also designed Central Park in NYC) & established in 1885, it’s the oldest State Park in the USA & marks the start of Niagara Falls.

Tomorrow we’re planning to spend the morning exploring Niagara Falls, so I’ll do a separate post once we’ve seen what it has to offer! We still had just over 5 miles to our motel for the next 2 nights, so we said Au Revoir until tomorrow.

Once we’d checked in, we headed out to toast another brilliant day in the saddle! The story behind Sean being double parked is that his Sammy Adams was 2 for the price of 1, so he had 2 small glasses, while I dived in on a big glass – that’s his excuse & he will stick to it!!

Stage Stats – 58 miles, 1,040 feet of climbing. We said goodbye to Lake Erie for the last time as we made our way to Niagara Falls.

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