July 7 - Flatness: Cross Lake, New York

Today, as on all days, "just one thing went wrong". Each day, some seemingly major disater happens to our adventure. We've brought too much stuff, and are trying to coordinate six different lives and needs, so we're at high risk for breakdown in the fragile support structures we've come to rely on. Today's episode involved a misplaced bike and a confusing start in route finding.

Most of the time, we start out in the AM with Cheryl and I on the tandem, and Will dragging behind us. Then we usually finish the day with Will and I on our singles, drafting each other. I have to remind him to slow up on the hills for me, but I can pull him down the slopes.

So when we come in to the evening's camp site, I'm usually not too observant about the direction from which we arrived. This morning, I turned left instead of right out of camp, which led us into a beautiful 8 mile ride through the flats east of Oneida Lake. This put us 45 minutes behind our planned arrival at the first designated stop, where Cody and the girls would meet us for a tandem stoker switch. The delay gave them enough time to realise that Annie's bike was not on rear rack. Disaster? It is if you're 7 years old, and the bike is your freedom to roam around RV parks and meet new kids and act cool on a bike trip.

We stowed the bikes, bundled into the van, and headed back 25 miles. Along the way we saw an obvious long-distance biker (sans helmet) weaving all over the shoulder under his burden of front and rear panniers, and top rack in the rear, as well as what appeared to be two tires wrapped in duct tape under his sleeping back. He was followed a mile back by another distance rider, this one out for the day with an orange plastic bag under his saddle carrying tools and lunch. (Earlier, we had encountered four cyclists at the convenience store where Cheryl had gone in to use the conveniences. They had a panoply of bikes: mountain, hybrid, old drop-bar ten-speed, and one women amply covering the sping saddle of a beach cruiser. They were taking groceries back to their camp at Verona Beach State Park. The woman on the cruiser complained of her saddle being "wobbly". She demonstrated by twisting the seat post freely in the seat tube. I offered to tighten it for her, but she refused, saying she wasn't going far - four miles.)

We found Ann's bike right where she left it the night before at the children's play area. No matter what else we might say about RV parks, we've found the people who frequent them to be honest and helpful. Don't know if I'd want to spend my summer vacation in one, though.

Driving back, we past the two bikists again, orange bag getting closer to weaver. We stopped at a park-n-ride to resume our odyssey. While we were unloading bikes (and not looking), the two cyclists passed us, allowing us to approach them from the rear several miles later.

"Oh boy, a harmonic convergence", I said to Will and Cheryl. It looked like the two of them would be at the same spot when we passed them

"I'm going to slow down to talk with them" I said as we neared.

Orange bag was first. He appeared to have a beeper or a cell phone hanging from his belt. "We're coming by on your left", I said, as I slowed and looked over. "Hi!" I shouted.

He looked back, smiled quizzically, and returned to his pedaling. Phones were jammed into his ears. The "cellphone" was a Walkman.

"Guess he doesn't want to talk to anyone", Cheryl observed, laughing.

We quickly but carefully overtook the weaver. He had no helmet, so I could see he had no earphones. He had short black hair, and an oriental appearence.

"Where are you heading?" I asked, as we pulled alongside.

"Uh...uh...On-Ta-E-O", he struggled with a great smile and nod. We asked another question or two, but it was obvious he spoke no English. We figured he was heading into Canada (Ontario). So much for sharing the lore of the road with cross country bikers.

We were looking for anything to spice up the ride - 16-20 mph on totally flat terrain beside the Lake and the Canal (with only the wind to determine our speed). The good part was, we pulled into camp by 2 PM, plenty of time for laundry, swimming at the lake, uploading, phone calls, leftovers, and some evening entertainment.

We're all getting along fine together, learning how to work on our joint needs. We've got teams for cooking and clean-up. For the first week, we rotated duties; this week, Will and Cody and Shaine are the Cooks, while Cheryl and I with Ann set up and clean up. Cody is mostly driving; Cheryl worries about groceries and laundry, and I worry about the route finding and daily instructions about how to get where we're going. It's amazing the number of ways Cody can miscontrue my explanations to him, even when they're written down in two places and outlined on several maps. Annie and Shaine are the designated fun seekers, usually peddling on the tandem with me in the middle of the day while Cheryl goes on her single. In the evenings, they find the swimming hole or playground.

Miles: Will, 54; Al&Cheryl (on Tandem), 54.

Total: 431

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz