Over eight days in June, I rode my bike from Buffalo to Brooklyn along the Erie Canal on New York’s Empire Trail. The distances covered ranged from 50 to 80 miles daily, averaging around the mid-60s. The ride was technically quite easy. Flat terrain, well-marked trails, nothing too difficult. But I got sick on the second night with something like food poisoning and ended up deeply undernourished and underslept the next day. Not a great way to start a 70-mile day that ended in a fairly substantial climb.

And then the smoke from the Canadian Wildfires hit. The haze we saw was more intense than I’ve ever seen, and we had a very light haze by comparison. New York City hit levels of nearly 1000 ppm, and we counted ourselves extremely lucky to be in a pocket that peaked around the mid 200s. The sun was an apocalpytic red and everything took on an orange coloration. I don’t have many, if any, photos from these days.

Thankfully, we ended up mostly being in a pocket of minimal pollution for the remainder of the trip. The winds were absolutely on our side as we continued our journey. We camped at locks, a very unfriendly RV park, state parks, and even behind a fire station in one town. This part of New York state is deeply and distinctly different from the portions where I’ve lived and it was fascinating to see it up close and personal from a bicycle, not from the window of a train or car where it’s very easy to breeze right past anything that might strike you as interesting.

Not everyone on the tour ended up finishing. One person found himself with plantar fascitis and decided to grab a train home. Another took a detour to the Adirondacks to scout a future trip. We rolled into Albany just ahead of a huge raincloud and most of our group got on the train as the official end of the tour.

Lisa and I caught a ride down to Hudson to spend the night with her cousin who owns a boutique restaurant and hotel there and her folks used the excuse to come out and see us along the way. From Hudson we rode south to camp in New Paltz for the night at a campground that was right across from a trailside cafe where we enjoyed some pizza and music before turning in. The next morning we rode across the river to Poughkeepsie and visited her alma mater, Vassar College, before she got on a train and I continued my 80 mile day riding south to visit a friend near Peekskill. Finally, I got an early start to ride the last 60 miles to the southern tip of the Empire Trail and back to Brooklyn. I was well-fed and well-rested and the last segment of the trip was all familiar territory.

Total distance: 583.5 Miles over nine days, by bicycle from Buffalo to Brooklyn.