Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 7: NYC to Niagara Falls

June 30, 2014

We cycled today from Albany to Schenectady, NY, spending much of our ride on the Erie Canal trail, a comfortable bike path safe from traffic and full of stimulating river views.  

Sho and Saya excitedly pointed out rabbits, chipmunks, Red-Winged Black Birds, Blue Jays, Cardinals and even a Great Blue Heron.  

The route was well marked, although sometimes a bit overgrown.

One of my favorite parts of adventure cycling is meeting new people.  We ate lunch at "Nana's Kitchen" in Cohoes, NY and got a photo with Nana herself!

Last summer, my kids and I re-traced the route Lewis & Clark followed during their epic exploration of the American west in the early 1800's.  On this summer's bicycle adventure, we are following the Erie Canal, a feat of engineering that helped open up the west to settlers beginning two decades after Lewis & Clark's famous expedition.  The 365-mile long canal 
connecting Lake Erie to the Hudson River
 was completed in 1825 and played an important role in turning New York City into a major trading center.  

The town of Cohoes lies at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, not far from the end of the Erie Canal.  The engineers who designed the Erie Canal had to build many locks to get boats around the Cohoes Falls pictured here:

We ended the day in Schenectady, which was founded in 1661 by Dutch settlers who had no idea how much fun future Americans would have saying their town's name.

If you'd like to donate to our ride and receive some exciting awards, please go to:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 6: NYC to Niagara Falls

June 29, 2014

We cycled today from Hudson, NY to Albany, NY, enjoying in particular Highway 9J (aka River Road), which runs along the edge of the Hudson River and has very light vehicle traffic:

While on this road, we encountered a herd of goats -- for grammar nerds hoping to impress your friends, a collection of goats may also be referred to as a tribe or trip.  This offered an excellent excuse to take a short break from cycling.  Saya laughed when one of the goats began nibbling on tree bark, saying, "They will eat anything.  Just like Sho."

Saya also tried to convince me that she has become proficient enough at cycling to graduate from the trailer cycle and ride her own bicycle on our family adventures.  I told her that cycling 900 miles on her own may be a bit much for a 7-year-old, but she wasn't intimidated and boasted that her technique at riding a bicycle in a circle is "as good as a dog chasing its tail."  That line made Sho laugh:

Cycling over the Dunn Memorial Bridge from Rensselaer to Albany is quite an experience.  If you try it, make sure to stay on the bike path, as the road sure is no place for a bicycle.  Here's a pic from mid-bridge:

We made it into Albany safely, where Sho and Saya got in some soccer fun on the SUNY campus.

We found a room in a local hotel and were able to catch the final 45 minutes of the exciting World Cup match between Costa Rica and Greece.  We were rooting for Costa Rica and hooped and hollered as they pulled off a stunning upset after the game went into extra time and finally penalty kicks.  Sho and Saya were still excited at bed time and had trouble falling asleep.  I told them to dream of soccer balls dancing like sugar plums...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Days 4 and 5: NYC to Niagara Falls

June 27 - 28, 2014

It's hard to be in a bad mood when you're riding a bicycle on a sunny, warm day.  And you feel even better when you witness the stunning views from the Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY.  Here's a pic as we made our way over and back:

We then cycled to Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage that is now a national historic site situated on 180 acres of beautiful countryside ideal for hiking and cycling.  Many First Ladies are defined through their husband's work, but Eleanor Roosevelt crafted a legacy truly her own.  Married to Franklin D. Roosevelt (U.S. President from 1932 - 1945), she was the first and only First Lady to hold her own press conference.  She was the first white resident of Washington, D.C. to join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  She was appointed Chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission.  She wrote books, gave many lectures and created a meaningful life that had a positive impact on countless people.  Eiko and I vowed to return to Val-Kill again, next time without kids, in order to spend more time learning about this fascinating person.

Here are two of Eleanor Roosevelt's quotes that I particularly like:
 - "The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again."
 - "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present."

We spent the night in the Mills Norrie State Park on the banks of the Hudson River.  Here are a few pics of us setting up the tent:

And here's the view of the majestic Hudson River from our campsite.  

The temperature cooled overnight, and we snuggled inside sleeping bags in our tent.  But by the time we began riding again this morning, the day was sunny and hot.  As we cycled past one of the Hudson River's tributaries, Saya asked if she could cool off in the water.  Seven-year-olds come up with the best ideas:

We finished today's ride in the town of Hudson, New York, named after the river we've been cycling along for the past five days.  The town was founded in 1785 on land purchased from the local Native Americans over a century earlier by Dutch settlers.  Whalers from New England settled here at the time, and the town's street signs pay homage to this history by including an image of a whale.  Sho pointed out that detail, which I would have overlooked.  I love traveling with my kids.  They are living reminders to slow down and recognize the wisdom in Eleanor Roosevelt's observation that "today is a gift."

Thanks for the Support!

We wanted to say a big thank you to the people who have sponsored us so far!  If you would like to join this elite group of fabulous folks, go to and pick from a variety of stunning prizes.

Big thanks to:

Jessica Daniels and Paul Blackborough
Sanjyot Dunung
Dan and Jen Faber
Carole Flodin
Jeff Hodges
John and Shirley Lachs
Henry Makansi
Susan Patnaik
Alison Qualter Berna
Gary Rancourt
Rachel Robarge
Bonnie Scott
Donna Scott
Lillian Schlein
Nancy Tuana and Charles E. Scott

Your support means a lot to us!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day 3 - NYC to Niagara Falls

June 26, 2014

I've learned from previous cycling adventures with my kids to take it easy on Day 3.  It takes a few days to adjust to cycling many hours a day, and by the third day of a multi-week trip, it's common to have sore shoulders, a sore butt, heavy legs and general fatigue.  If you push too hard, it's easy to get an injury.  But if you are patient in the first week of riding, your body quickly adjusts to the new normal of cycling much of the day.  After a while, your muscles start to crave the movement, and you smile at how great it feels to say goodbye to sedentary living.

The World Cup match between the U.S. and Germany gave us an excellent excuse to take it easy today.  We spent the morning hanging out with Kristan Flynn and her two fun-loving kids, then we settled down to watch the soccer game in a cafe in Beacon, NY.  The U.S. lost 1 - 0 but still advanced to the next round in the tournament, so we were in high spirits as we pedaled out of town in mid-afternoon.  Along the way, we documented five animals for the roadkill project we're conducting with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, sending photos with location data embedded to Professor Fraser Shilling at the University of California Davis.

We followed the Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, where we replenished our calories in a German beer garden.  Tomorrow, we will explore the national historical sites of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, as we continue to ride north on the east side of the Hudson River.

If you'd like to donate to our ride and receive some not too shabby awards, please go to:

Here are some photos:

My wife Eiko with Kristan Flynn

Kristan and I

Sofia testing out Saya's trailer cycle

Saya and Sofia's opinion of Sho: "vary anoying"

Sho, Saya and Eiko in front of the waterfall in Beacon

Sho, Saya and I

Saya looking at one of the animals we documented for the roadkill project

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 2 - NYC to Niagara Falls

June 25, 2014

I love the challenge of cycling long distances with my family and the stimulation of exploring new places.  We've savored delicious food, marveled at amazing sights and memorable cultural experiences as we've cycled through Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S.  But the best part of the trips has been the excuse they provide to reconnect with old friends, and the opportunity to make new ones.  Day Two of our ride to Niagara Falls included both.  

We spent the morning with Paul and Debra Descloux, our neighbors for nearly a decade when we lived in Ossining.  Over the years, we watched their children grow up, and it felt good to spend the first night of this trip in their house, a place that feels like a second home.  Paul was a competitive cyclist in college and still rides regularly.  He hopped on his bike and guided us on back roads out of Ossining for the first hour of our ride.  Here are two videos as we got ready to leave, narrated by Paul:

And here's a video and pic from the road:

The last photo we took with Paul, before he returned home:

We cycled through Peekskill and Cold Spring, enjoying gorgeous views of the Hudson River:

We made it to Beacon, New York and were welcomed there by Kristan Flynn and Jeff Domanski, who invited us to stay in their home.  They were definitely taking a gamble, because we had never met before and were only recently introduced via e-mail by my good friend Alison Berna.  Alison went to college with Kristan and convinced her that we wouldn't trash her place.  They have two children, a 6-year-old daughter Sofia and a 2-year-old son Nathan.

Here I am with Kristan and Nathan:  

Nathan being silly:

My daughter Saya immediately hit it off with Sofia.  They sang songs from "Frozen," came up with silly games, put on an ice cream party, and refused to go to sleep at bedtime:

Sho, Eiko, Kristan and Nathan about to eat dinner:

We stayed up late talking with our new friends and felt lucky to have met such a generous and loving family.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day 1 - NYC to Niagara Falls

June 24, 2014

My wife Eiko, 13-year-old son Sho, 7-year-old daughter Saya, and I hopped on fully loaded bicycles this morning and pedaled out of New York City on Day 1 of our NYC to Niagara Falls (round trip) family adventure.  We'll cover about 900 miles total and expect the ride to take about 5 weeks.

Here's a pic as we were about to start riding from our home on 25th Street. 

And here's a pic and video as we made our way across Manhattan.  It's quite an experience to cycle on the crowded streets in NYC, and even more intense to do with a 7-year-old on a connected trailer cycle and a bike trailer behind that.  

After crossing Manhattan, we rode north along the Hudson River, eventually passing the George Washington Bridge, visible in the background:

We navigated Van Cortlandt Park, then followed the South County Trailway up to Ossining, covering about 45 miles.  We're spending the night at the home of Paul and Debra Descloux, good friends we've known for more than a decade who greeted us with Italian food and wine.  I was grateful for their hospitality and felt lucky to have such generous and loving friends.

My legs were shot by the end of the day -- it's no small task to pull so much weight, especially up the hills around Ossining.  Eiko and the kids were tired too, of course, but didn't complain.  We'll get stronger as the ride goes on and have a lot of fun in the process.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

White House Summit + NYC to Niagara Falls Ride

Happy Father's Day!  Fatherhood was top of mind this past week when I was invited to the Working Fathers Lead-up Event for the White House Summit on Working Families.  The event celebrated men who are taking an active role in raising their kids.  The highlight for me, and no doubt for many in the room, was the talk by New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who skipped his team's season opener earlier this year to attend the birth of his son.  Talk radio hosts criticized him for missing the first two games of the season, but Murphy took the long view and said, "I'm the one who cut his umbilical cord.  And long after they tell me that I'm not good enough to play professional baseball anymore, I'll be a father."  Well done, sir.

A few days after this event, I posted a video in honor of Father's Day, in which I offered some hopes for my children that I think apply to anyone trying to create a meaningful life.  You can watch the video here.

Speaking of fatherhood, I'm about to spend some serious quality time with my two kids.  Starting next week, we will cycle about 900 miles from New York City to Niagara Falls and back.  My wife, Eiko, will join the first two weeks of the five-week ride.  We're collecting roadkill data to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife and are offering some fabulous rewards in return for donations here.

If you're interested in following our progress, I'll post updates from the ride right here on this blog.

Pics from the White House: 

Daniel Murphy, NY Mets

My buddies in the NYC Dads Group

Exuberance at the podium