Jackson Parr is riding his bike from Milwaukee, Wis., to the 2012 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, set for Aug. 18-19 in Burlington, Vt.
Day 7: Lockport, NY -> Rochester, NY
Distance: 68 miles
Waking up with the sunrise and thinking I had only 50 miles ahead of me, I decided to take advantage of the cool morning with a run on the vacant roads of rural New York. I was curious to see how my muscles would function after nearly 400 miles on the bike in previous days. I was able to run out the soreness in my calves with an easy warm up before the one-mile repeats. The morning was still cool by the time I packed up camp and continued my journey.
I was worried about the many warnings I received about the hills that I would find in New York. I knew that I had the Adirondack mountain range ahead of me, but figured that wouldn’t come into play until I was further east. The roads proved to be flat enough to push a pace that would have gotten me to Rochester by noon. I stopped for a cheap breakfast and continued east with a forceful tailwind at my back.
Nine miles later, my bottles empty and the sun hot, I stopped at a gas station to refill. Reaching in my handlebar bag with my most necessary essentials, I could feel everything but my wallet. It was then that I realized my wallet was sitting on the windowsill of Tim Horton’s coffee and bakeshop back in the small town of Albion, New York. Containing all of my money as well as my passport and a completed stamp card for one free custard at a local shop in Wisconsin, I had no choice but to put my head down, bite the wind and ride back, crossing my fingers that the good people of Albion would pull through. The ride was the hardest interval I had done yet, and with the added addition of sprint sets that morning, I was getting my fill of threshold training for the day.
Arriving out of breath but hopeful, I was relieved to find the employees with my wallet behind the counter. Their understanding of my situation did not hold back the customers’ strange stares at the grateful big, tan, sweaty man in yellow tights.
My 50-mile easy day had turned into a longer day of stress both mentally and physically. I was happy to crawl into a bed that night (my first since Sarnia) after a meal of homemade salsa and roasted eggplant from my host’s backyard garden. My next day would bring me closer to the heart of New York and closer to the mountains.
Day 8: Rochester, NY -> Oswego, NY
Distance: 75 miles
Waking up in Rochester and grabbing some of the cities renowned corned beef hash, I was ready for my full day of riding. With another tailwind, I was burning through New York towards my next destination of Oswego. Only 20 miles remained before my breakfast had even settled and the roads had been relatively flat so far.
Racing at the University of Iowa, it is harder to encounter hills like you might find in the more coastal states. Although it is far from completely flat, I was entirely unprepared for what I was about to find, and what I had been warned about, in New York. The last 20 miles of my ride brought about more climbing than I had done the entire summer combined; amplified by the50-pound trailer that felt like it was dragging on the asphalt behind me. The climbing was slow and the descents were not long enough. The largest hills came from the most scenic, as the roads winded down towards a bay or lagoon and back out of the valley.
The final miles were long and slow, but arriving at my homestay that night brought a fresh meal and seat in front of the Olympics that I had missed so much of. I spent more time than usual stretching and rolling out my sore climbing muscles, yet I couldn’t resist a long, slow swim set over the Lake Ontario sunset.
I was in bed before the stars had come out but caught myself thinking with concern about the next few days. I was aware that New York would have hills, but underestimated the extent to which they would slow me down and burn my energy. I was worried about the 75 miles I had planned for the following day, but knew that after reaching my relatives house up north, I would find a few days of rest before making the final leg to Burlington.