Biking with Eli from Ohio to New York State, 2012

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Back in the Spring of 2012, when Eli was finishing up his first year at Oberlin College, we spoke on a Skype call. I asked him if he wanted me to give him a ride back home after his final exams. “Yeah, that’d be great,” he responded, then paused to confirm one important detail. “You are bringing the car, right?”

“No car. Just the tandem bike,” I replied. A few weeks later, I flew into Columbus Ohio with our Bike Friday tandem packed in two suitcases, and my old friend David Levine drove me up to Oberlin the next day. I assembled the bike, and Eli packed his summer gear into the suitcases, which David shipped back East for us. Eli had seven days to ride over 400 miles to central New York State for a family reunion and memorial service for my father, John, who also enjoyed riding his bike. Below is a photomap of our ride (see full-screen version). We originally planned to ride 480 miles across the Northern Tier bike route (by Adventure Cycling) and the Erie Canal bike trail (by Parks and Trails NY) to my hometown of Morrisville, NY. But we modified our trip and rode 429 miles in 5 days, then caught a ride with relatives in Skaneateles, NY to avoid some hills on a very hot day.

Download any of these photos from my Flickr Album

  • Our final destination was Morrisville NY for a family reunion and memorial service for my father, John, who also loved riding his bike

  • Welcome to PA

  • Tandem assembly 9

  • Tandem assembly 8

  • Welcome to NY State

  • Tandem assembly 7

  • Tandem assembly 6

  • Tandem assembly 5

  • Tandem assembly 3

  • Tandem assembly 4

  • Tandem assembly 2

  • Tandem assembly 1

  • Spotted an actual Oberlin albino squirrel

  • Snapshot of the original bike photo map

  • Motorcyclists stopped us to ask about our Bike Friday tandem

  • We pedaled 429 miles in 6 days

  • Visiting Michael, Jen Tavi, and Paul near Rochester

  • Jack's Restaurant

  • A much-needed milkshake at the end of the ride

  • Take off from Oberlin

  • Taking a frisbee on the road

  • Eli's summer stuff fit into the two bike suitcases

  • Lunch stop at Geneva on the Lake, where the cook told us, "You must be hippies, or physics majors!"

  • Preparing for take-off from Oberlin

  • Posing with the tandem

  • Cruising outside of Cleveland

  • A side trip to see the Avengers movie

  • Riding across the Ashtabula bridge

  • Gorilla chases us away on our bike

  • Fabulous ride on Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway

  • A drywall screw flattened our back tire

  • Eli in deep thought

  • Eli reads while riding on back of the tandem

  • We ended our ride in Skaneateles NY, where Linda and Ellen picked us up and drove us the last 30 miles over really big hills on a very hot day

  • Riding out of Rochester

  • Welcome to Seneca Falls

  • Biking from Oberlin OH to Central NYS

  • Riding into Rochester

  • Our first view of Lake Erie on the bike

  • We skipped Niagara Falls to speed up our trip, and found a delicious Mexican lunch in Batavia NY

  • Ice cream break on a hot day's ride

  • Eli helps fix the flat tire

  • Chinese food in Cleveland

  • Riding along the Erie Canal towpath

  • Chocolate peanut butter pie to replenish lost calories

  • Deer crossing our path

  • Thanks to David Levine for driving me from Columbus to Oberlin

  • Welcome to Chili NY

  • Catching up with Annie M. along the Erie Canal

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Jack Dougherty

Jack Dougherty writes about cycling adventures, advocacy, and his growing appetite at