Finger Lakes Summer “Bike or Die”.

April 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

Canadaigua lake view, of the Finger Lakes

Charlie enjoys a downhill ride

While enjoying a beautiful spring day in Canandaigua, we thought we should add some exercise to our all-food Finger Lakes tour. On the advice of a native, Joe Wierzbowski, the owner of Phoenix Coffee, we headed out to West Lake Road. Joe said if we followed the West Lake Road, as we left town, we would find a nice ride-able shoulder. During summer season I think this road might be too heavily trafficked (in the middle of the day) to enjoy a bike ride, but on an 80-degree spring day it was  perfect!

After the ordeal was over, I would recommend (if you love your spouse) that you begin your ride where West Lake Road begins, (at Parrish Street, in town) and ride out to Onanda Park (about 7 miles outside of town) and back.

BUT if you love going up and down really long hills, follow our trek. Park at the upper lot at Onanda and ride south where you can enjoy one of the longest climbs you’ll find around any of the Finger Lakes! I’ll refer to the 2 hills we rode (walked) up as the “husband-killers”.

Camp Onanda, Canandaigua, New York

Remember "Crouch" at Camp Onanda? I do.

First stop en route was Onanda Park, which used to be Camp Onanda in the 60s and 70s. I was a camper there when I was about 10, and returned with my church on a retreat as a teenager. I recognized it immediately with its signature stained dark brown, wood-frame buildings and unusual building names posted above the door:  “Crouch”.

Camp Onanada, Canandaigua lake

Lakeview, Camp Onanda

My camp memories involve learning to sail, hating homogenized milk and wearing the same pair of shorts and shirt for the entire 2 weeks — I thought that was bliss.

Soon after we left the lake shore of Onanda, the hill started, and the fun was over. It went UP all the way until you run into the main highway, route 21.  Somewhere halfway up this 2 mile-long killer hill, I lost my riding partner to high-altitude sickness, (see photo).

Finger Lakes view

Charlie looks for his lungs

While he scooped his lungs off the pavement, I went all the way to the end of the road to see if there was any vertical relief (NOT).

We did not want to continue onto this   road, instead we doubled back a short distance, took a right on Seneca Point Road, and headed back down another LONG hill, passing by Bristol Harbor, for a lovely lakeside ride. This road is scenic — especially if you like riding by the water and seeing some lovely homes — including many beautiful, well-lit tennis courts. However, it is probably a lousy ride during peak summer as there is no shoulder and the road is not very wide. On the day we took it, many of the camps were still closed, and there was little car traffic.

Seneca Point Road ends before it heads back up hill and turns into the STEEPEST road I have ever tried to ride. Bopple Hill Road is apparently a famed bike race ride — it made the Tour de France mountain I rode look tame. We went up, turned around and decided to ride back up the hill from where we came.

So poor Chas once again has a LONG ride back up hill. I LOVE going uphill — and this road was a treat. Once you are close to the top of the hill, you can turn right on Coye Rd. (instead of taking Seneca Point all the way back to Route 21) which will provide a lovely ride past vineyards, up and down, avoiding most of the steepest hills, returning you to West Lake Road, fairly close to your starting point.

Canadaigua Lake vineyard view

Coye Road view

My final warning:  if hills do not provide thrills, don’t take our route — just ride the route from the start of West Lake Road out to Onanda Park and back to town. That’s about 14 miles with plenty of ups and downs and it’s very scenic, with a nice wide shoulder.

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Entry filed under: Activities, Biking, Canadaigua Lake, Finger Lakes, Rochester. Tags: , , , .

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