So today I found myself with the afternoon off from work with one instruction, “Relax.” Since my bubble isn’t quite in the center, I decided that this could be taken many ways. I considered relaxing in the manner in which is implied by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, but I’ve been there, done that way too many times in the past 30 years or so, so I thought to myself, “how can I forget my cares in the world today and just enjoy myself?” Since The Art of Shaving is too far away and there wasn’t any room at the spa, I went with my third option, a bike ride.

Three hours and 19 minutes later, I was back home, after completing a ride of nearly 42 miles. It felt like a 30 minute ride, most of the time.

I usually ride in an east-west direction, usually favoring the west because I prefer things in that direction in The Empire State. East-west usually avoids the bigger hills in the area as in these parts one can follow along the Mohawk River and the Barge Canal. I decided to be a complete mad cap and headed in a northeast direction. There are some roads over yonder that I had never ridden on before. These roads are narrow and sparsely dotted with dairy farms for the most part. After passing through the northern limits of the city and in the adjacent county, I found myself on a road called the Shortlots Road. I took a photo of a very old cemetery that had no way of getting to it, as it was surrounded by a cornfield.

All of the farms I passed on the Shortlots Road were fairly busy with activity. I spotted at least one farm implement in motion with a friendly driver at each farm. The story repeated itself on the adjacent, but narrower Dutchtown Road.

The climb up to these roads was a bit of a challenge but since it was fairly early in the ride, I trotted up with hardly any difficulty. The headwind kept things interesting, but the sun shone brightly and I was feeling content. After making my way down the hill through a little hamlet I didn’t even know existed (Millers Grove?), I followed along the Mohawk River and then made my way into the valley village of Frankfort.

Here’s a shot of Canal Street in Frankfort. I’m thinking the grassy area must be the original Erie Canal.

After eating a little snack because I was starting to feel a little bonky, I decided to try my hand at the Frankfort Gorge. Now for those of you not familiar with the area, there are several gorges that run roughly north-south, with the northern end being the lower end. Since I was already at the north end of the Frankfort Gorge, I knew that it would be a climb to get to the southern end. Feeling good, I decided I was looking forward to the challenge. The little NYSDOT marker on Route 171 indicated that it was five miles from where I was to the end of the route, which was the southern end of the gorge.

I was too out of breath to stop to take any photos along the Frankfort Gorge. I did notice that several people had the same idea of riding bikes in the gorge today. I encountered about a dozen cyclists winding their way through the gorge. The only difference was they were heading downhill and I was heading uphill.

When I got to the marker that indicated the southern end of the gorge, I stopped for another snack. I was pooped.

So after riding through the gorge, my choice was to either keep heading up the hill or just ride the gorge back down to Frankfort at a pretty good clip. Feeling ambitious after the energy bar, I decided to keep riding up. I ended up riding to the top of the hill where I found Frankfort-Highland Airport, an airport that my father and I had flown into many, many years ago in the Piper J-5A.

Runway 13.

By then I decided I should probably start the ride home, so I rode along the Higby Road, which is a road I never thought I would ride on because it’s way up on top of a hill. It turned out to be a very busy road so I decided to get off of it as soon as possible and found myself descending back into the City of Utica along Albany Street, which has a VERY steep hill. I think I burned whatever was left of my brakes on the way down.

From there it was just a matter of riding through the city during Friday rush hour, where I shortly found myself home after 3 1/3 hours.

And I feel totally relaxed. A very good way to destress.