Week 21 – Springfield, MA

Greetings from the east coast, we’re coming to you this week from a beautiful autumn day in Massachusetts. You guys, it’s unbelievable. Growing up in the southwest, you just don’t see fall like this…and actually it’s Heather’s first time EVER seeing fall in real life. Crazy but true.

20160927_134424It’s been another big week for the Burhos, lots of driving and lots of biking and running as usual (though we slacked on the swim part of the equation this week). After our day of fun at Cedar Point, we planned to spend Tuesday in Cleveland on a long bike ride. We found an awesome-looking bike trail that ran from Cleveland to Akron and would have covered the mileage we needed to hit for the day. So we loaded up and headed out down the road, quickly realizing that the roads through Cleveland were in terrible shape…at least where we were anyway. We slowly made our way through the streets (there were no bike paths at this point) and often had to ride on the equally awful and rough sidewalks due to traffic. After almost an hour of creeping along and taking our poor racing bikes over cracks and potholes, we finally made it to the start of the bike trail. We were excited to get there but soon discovered, to our dismay, that the bike paths are mostly dirt between Cleveland and Akron. It was green and beautiful and ran along a river, but it was unrideable for our triathlon bikes. Defeated, frustrated, and sad, we slowly crept our way along the crappy streets back to Bertha. Guess that’s what we get for not verifying the roads on the 20160928_174443map. In an attempt to still get our training in, we found a lovely park not far outside of Cleveland and set up to do a few hours on our stationary trainers. It’s not nearly as fun but at least we can get the training in without the traffic or street conditions playing a role.

Wednesday we ended up driving most of the way to Buffalo, stopping to sleep and run in the small town of Dunkirk (they had a beautiful old lighthouse but the gate was closed so people couldn’t get close up). Thursday we made it up to Buffalo and spent the rest of the day and Friday getting some work and chores done…these are the less exciting updates in our weeks but it’s stuff that’s gotta be done! It was a really rainy few days so it was actually perfect timing to be indoors being productive.

20161001_165142Saturday was still drizzly and overcast, but the weather wasn’t calling for rain, at least not more than a light drizzle. We had parked that evening in a gorgeous and oh-so-quiet state park north of Buffalo and realized it would be between 10-11 miles from there to run to Niagara Falls, so we figured we’d give it a try! We locked Bertha up for the day and started the run through the sweet town of Lewiston, a super adorable small town feeling kind of place with lots of local little shops and restaurants. It got a bit tricky from there, the directions taking us on, over, and around various highways. But eventually, we made it to Niagara 20161001_164406Falls park on the US side and spent about 30 minutes there wandering around and taking some pictures. It was (obviously) full of tourists taking selfies (who would do that??) and we were surprised to see that you can really only see the falls from the side, more or less. You don’t get a direct view from the US side. After we had our fill of the falls, we started the trek back, as the sky started to look more and more menacing. We found an awesome bike/pedestrian trail that took us along the Niagara River and was a lot nicer than some of the highway routes google had sent us on to get here. We were having a great run, both feeling really good, enjoying the views and the nice, cool, cloudy day. Around the 16-17 mile mark of the run, it had started to drizzle a bit and the temperature started dropping. Our wonderful pedestrian path also came to an end and we ended up on a highway that was no longer pedestrian friendly. So at mile 18, as the rain started to soak into our socks and shoes (which can lead into the dangerous blister territory), we decided to call it and search out other means to make it the 5-6 miles we had remaining between us and Bertha. We were pretty lucky to find a warm, dry, cheap, and delicious pizza place about a half mile down the road (2 slices of hearty pizza and a “pop” for $5!). As we sat there in pizza heaven warming our hands, we explored our transportation options and found that there were no buses, ubers, lyfts, or taxis in this small town of Lewiston. Shoot. What were we to do, it was now dark and cold out so running back seemed very unattractive. Luckily, the nice people in the pizza shop found us a solution and had the delivery guy run us back to our home (we gave him some money for his trouble). We were so happy to be home, warm, dry, and showered after our long day of adventuring.

Sunday we slept in a bit, took care of some Bertha chores, and did some work/homework. We had decided we’d get some stuff done during the day, then head out in the evening to Canada in order to see Niagara Falls by night. We bundled up and hopped on the 20161002_220017motorcycle to cross the border with ease, once in Canada, you’re pretty much already at the falls so it’s a really easy journey. We parked, found a warm place to have a Canadian IPA (not as good as the American kind) and a little snack while we watched some hockey, as you do in Canada. We were partly trying to stay warm and partly killing some time until 10:00, we found out they do fireworks over the falls three days a week at 10pm. Heather had also found earlier in the week that they illuminate the falls at night, which is why we wanted to go over and see them in the first place. The wait was well worth it, for us and all the other tourists, including the girl who stood on the ledge taking selfies right in front of us the entire time, completely blocking the view of anyone behind her. Some people. After the fireworks, we walked along the falls a bit longer before heading back to the motorcycle and back across the border.

20161003_152054Monday we awoke with the ambitious plan of biking 100 miles around Buffalo, in and around Canada, and back before sunset. These rides can be difficult to plan sometimes, especially in new areas, but it’s being in the new areas that  make them so fun. Not three miles into the ride, we discovered that Jim’s cassette in the back was bent and he was unable to use two of his gears…not a fun way to ride 100 miles. So we turned around and swapped out his cassette before getting back on the road. Another 5 miles later his front derailleur cord snapped, meaning he wouldn’t be able to shift into his higher gear or go faster than 19 mph the 20161003_143454entire day. Luckily, we found a bike shop nearby that was able to fix it pretty quickly and for not too much money. Once again, we hit the road, noting that the time was quickly slipping by. We rode through Buffalo, a city that has exceeded our expectations, and across the Peace Bridge into Canada. Once on the other side, we found the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, magical bike paths! For 40 miles, we rode seamlessly through the colors of fall in Canada, it was glorious! Since we had the hiccups in our start, we found ourselves pretty hungry and decided to stop a quaint little Italian place for their lunch special before 20161003_184118continuing on our way. We continued on the 40 mile loop through Canada and back up toward the falls, where we stopped again to take in the view. Everyone always says to check out the Canadian side of the falls, but we wanted to see both sides for ourselves. We had seen the American side during the day and the Canadian side at night, so seeing the Canadian side during the day was a must. And it was so worth it. The views on this side definitely beat out the views on the US side, not to mention there’s a lot to do in the surrounding area (though some if it gets super touristy and even looks a little like Vegas). As we crossed the border back into the US, we noted that it was already sunset and we had another 20 miles until we’d be back to Bertha. This wasn’t good, we weren’t going to make it and we try not to ride at night. A little down the road, we did stop to get a little red flashing light to put on Heather’s bike (since she takes up the rear) to ensure we’d be visible to cars. The last hour of our ride was a little sketchy here and there, at one point we ended up on a very dark road that was under construction and unrideable. Luckily that was a relatively short segment and the rest was pretty smooth and well lit. We moved slowly and safely the rest of the way, no longer concerned with the training aspect of the ride, just trying to make sure we got back in one piece. We pulled up back to Bertha about 2 hours later than we’d planned, with 20 fewer miles than we’d planned as well. The hiccups and night riding aside, it was a great day of adventuring and sightseeing by bicycle.

Today (Tuesday) was a driving day, we drove 400 miles from Buffalo to Springfield, MA (by we, that means Jim drove). The drive was stunning, western New York is beautiful and we’re into fall in Massachusetts…the colors and the views coming down the highway just can’t be beat. We’ll be heading to Boston this week and then into Connecticut to spend time with Jim’s sister, Farren, her husband Wolfgang, and our sweet baby niece Elliot. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week!

Total RV Trip Miles: 8,611.3

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