Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Converge Show, a Night Ride and a Skunk

Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)  DSC_0030
Mephitis mephitis by Dan Dzurisin, CC-By 2.0
A couple weeks ago I heard that Converge were going to play at the Lost Horizon in Syracuse and, Converge being one my absolute favorite bands, I wanted to go!

Only how to get there? Bus service to Syracuse is basically non-existent and taking the carshare car would have been too expensive. That left me with either getting a rental car or taking the bike. It's about 90 km to Syracuse, i.e. easily manageable for a one-way ride, but pretty far for a return trip. Initially I planned on riding there, staying overnight in a cheap motel and then riding back the next morning, but riding back the same night seemed like an interesting and challenging option.

I left Ithaca around 2 p.m. on Wolfgang, loaded with only a Frontroller. A large part of the route I had done previously on my Winter Adventures ride. Between Freeville and Munsons Corners I had a flat due to a not properly vulcanized tube patch. Because I only had brought one spare tire and didn't like the idea of potentially having to patch a tube on the night portion of my ride, I decided to stop at a bike shop in Cortland. Thanks to my smartphone and an open wifi access point I found my way to Action Sports on N Main St -- only to realize they were closed on Tuesdays! Oh well.

After that little detour I continued north on NY-281, with traffic gradually getting lighter. After a short break in Tully, I turned east on NY-80 and then turned left again onto Apulia Rd, leading me north towards Syracuse. Apulia Road is lovely: following a river and the railway, it is slightly downhill most of the time, pavement is great and traffic is very low. At Jamesville Beach County Park I made a stop to refill my water bottles (their restrooms were locked, unfortunately) and continued towards the huge quarries just outside of Syracuse. After going through an underpass across I-481 I then rode through nice residential neighborhoods on low-traffic streets and finally arrived at the Lost Horizon a bit past 7 p.m.

Unfortunately, there was no proper bike parking anywhere near the club and thus I hid Wolfgang behind hedge. The Converge show was really awesome and made me forget my slightly sore body. Therefore I decided to indeed skip the motel and ride back right after the show ended.

Converge by Francis Bijl, CC-By 2.0

I left around 10:30 p.m. and returned on the same way. Riding at night can be really nice: almost no cars, no noise except for the sounds of wildlife, and also no wind. The sky was mostly cloudy and the moon did not rise before 2 a.m. To prevent tiredness and boredom I listened to podcasts on my phone for quite some time but eventually ran out of them. Then somewhere between Tully and Cortland it happened. I wasn't properly paying attention to the road and suddenly I hit something. I didn't crash but it was quite a bump and a gross, cracking sound. I must have run over an animal, presumably an already dead one. I had little desire to go back and take a closer look and just continued on my way home. Only when I arrived in Ithaca at 4 a.m. and carried the bike up the stairs to our apartment I realized something was wrong: during the ride I had smelled skunk every once in a while but didn't think much about it -- it's a fairly common thing in rural Upstate NY. But not in our building! So it dawned on me that the run-over animal must have been a skunk. A smell test on Wolfgang's tire confirmed by suspicion and I decided to park outside...

Stats: 190 km, about 1400 m of climbing, average speed of 21 km/h