Join me on the second day of my East Coast Tour 2017 – St.Regis to Jay Mountain. On this leg of the adventure, I take my MEC National Touring Bike from just outside St.Regis in New York, through a terrible railroad trail, through Lake Placid, and then up a seasonal service road to the peak of Jay Mountain.
East Coast Trip 2017
What: Day 2 of a 5,000km Grand Bike Tour
When: July 30, 2017
Day 2 Stats: 106.4km and 1,266m of elevation
Total Trip Stats: 288km and 2,024m of elevation
Day 2 – St.Regis to Jay Mountain
Boy oh boy, day 2 was a tough one! Not only was I only just getting used to long days in the saddle with my touring bike, but I also took my MEC National Touring Bike through a pretty difficult railroad trail filled with roots and mud, and up a crazy seasonal service road to the peak of Jay Mountain.
My sleep outside of St.Regis was just OK – it was a bit chilly since I did not put on the rain fly, and temperatures had dropped below 10 degrees Celsius at night. The next morning however, was quite nice! It was crisp, cool, and the skies were clear.
The highways in upper New York are a real pleasure to bike. There were wide shoulders, smooth pavement, and very little traffic along the 458, the 30, and the 86. I was really surprised. The hills were gentle as well which made for fairly low effort climbing, and long, open descents. There were plenty of spots to stop and take pictures at various lakes, rivers, and parks.
The nice and open shoulders soon gave way to a reformed rail trail. My expectations were that it would be similar to the Prescott-Russel Trail Link back in Ottawa, but in reality, it was nothing like it. This particular trail was not well taken care of – it was much more suited for off-road bikes – not road or touring bikes. I had some difficulty tackling all of the roots, mud, and bugs on this trail. At one point I had to tighten the bolts on my front rack (They were being shaken loose) and at another point I had to carry my bike over a fallen log on the trail (The bike is about 110lbs with all the gear and is pretty awkward to lift!). Ultimately I made it through, but it took a lot of time and energy and I should have just stuck to the 86 between Gabriels and Lake Colby.
Although the trail was only a handful of kilometres long, it really took a lot out of me. I was thankful to come upon Lake Colby shortly after, to jump in and go for a swim. One thing I learned on this long bike tour is that showers and lakes are a huge morale booster. You can only go so long on a bike without a good shower or dip. After Lake Colby, I passed through Lake Placid and had a few photos taken in front of Mirror Lake.
On highway 86, between Lake Placid, and High Falls Gorge, I experienced one of the most memorable parts of my whole trip. Mostly downhill, with a beautiful gorge, river, and mountain on my left, a giant forest on my right, and a triple-wide shoulder, it was the first (of many) bit of cycling Nirvana I experienced on the bike tour.
The last 15 or 20 kilometres or so at the end of the day were pretty brutal. No one seemed to know the condition of the Jay Mountain Service Road. I took a pretty big chance and decided to go for it instead of turning South and heading down the 9 at Upper Jay. The price to pay? Pushing my bike up steep gravel and rocky roads for a few kilometres. Not terrible, but certainly not recommended.
I ended up setting up camp at the side of the Service Road since I had not really seen anyone all afternoon (Once I got into the Jay Mountain park, basically). Once again, I setup my Marmot Tungsten 2p without the rain fly since the weather was nice, and I didn’t have any trouble finding small sticks for my Biolite Stove to cook up some food. I finished up all my tasks and had some time to watch a bit of Aliens before hitting the sack!
Day 2 was a hard day – between the beat up rail trail, AND the Jay Mountain Service Road, there were a lot of slow and technical plodding moments. Also – these were the hardest conditions I had ever put this bike through – if a rack were to break, or a wheel were to fail – these were the situations that would have done it. Thankfully, my MEC National and Blackburn Racks stood up to the brutal conditions. Cycling the High Falls Gorge, however, was really, an incredible experience despite the hard moments before and after.