Bon Ton Roulet provides support for two routes, a regular route and a long route. On most days, the long route was only three to ten miles longer than the regular route, so we usually chose to follow the long route to see more countryside. Each day, the tour provided hearty, delicious breakfasts and dinners for the 600+ riders. On most days, two rest stops were provided with restrooms or port-a-potties, water/Gatorade, and an abundance of fruit and snacks–often homemade. Lunch stops were on our own and we usually tried to stop in local restaurants to experience the area a little more fully (pun intended!).
Day 1, we began our 73 mile ride from Cortland, through Ithaca, to Watkins Glen. The day was hot and humid, in the mid-90’s. We didn’t think too much of the hot weather, but apparently it is unheard of in upstate NY; it was the main topic of conversation.
Ithaca is at the south end of Cayuga Lake and is the home of Cornell University. We rode downhill into the picturesque college town, with magnificent and stately college buildings. The downtown area is pedestrian and cycle-friendly, which was nice! We ate lunch at an organic market and had a great conversation with another cycling couple and a retired professor. People talk to you when you wear spandex! Really!!
We climbed a crazy, long, steep hill to get out of Ithaca and I mean STEEP! Take a look at the elevation map if you don’t believe it (at about mile 40)! Anytime we enjoy a nice downhill, we pretty much expect a climb, but this was ridiculous! I should have taken a picture, but honestly, who wants to stop at the bottom of a hill they are getting ready to tackle?
During the ride, we got behind an Amish family in an open buggy going to church. The daughter was standing up, riding on the back of the buggy. We followed along until making a turn because we were afraid going around the horse might have spooked it. Later, we went through the village of Montour Falls, where a waterfall cascades right behind a building in the middle of town. There is a distinction between villages and towns in New York, but we couldn’t really see the difference. Some signs signify villages, others signify towns. As we traveled toward Watkins Glen, there were several more waterfalls along the roadway, but none as impressive as the one in the middle of the village. We ended up camping in the Watkins Glen High School gym due to a threat of rain; we were glad that we did!