Ten Parks Tour—Ride Report

I enjoyed the Ten Parks Tour quite a bit more this year than the last time I rode it in for the Rochester Bicycling Club’s 40th Anniversary in 2007. And from the feedback I’ve had, everyone else enjoyed it too.

This, despite a cold and windy day. Sunny, yes. But the day started in the lower 40s and never made it past the mid-50s. The wind blew relentlessly in the 20s, gusting to the mid-30s, from the west and northwest. Those times when it shifted north, it took on a real bite from blowing over the lake.

At the start
Wayne, Donald & Donna
Wayne, Donald and Donna
Larry, Wayne & Vincenzo
Larry, cog51 (Wanye), Vincenzo
Team Bianchi
Team Bianchi: handlebar (Mike), Bikerjohn, Cher
Yrs trly
Twelve intrepid riders made the start. Over half came from my personal invitation and from announcements here and on BikeJournal.com. That anyone at all started was amazing, given the weather.

Starting from Cobbs Hill Park (number 1) The first part of the ride was sheltered a bit by the hills, trees and homes in the Upper Monroe and Ellwanger-Barry neighborhoods. Then we climbed to the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Highland Park (park number 2) and went around the north end of Mt. Hope Cemetery, turning south on Wilson Blvd.

Since the ride was first mapped 40 years ago, Bausch & Lomb Riverside Linear Park has been created. Let’s call it park # 2½. Its primary feature is the Genesee Riverway Trail, which parallels Wilson Blvd from the cemetery south through the University of Rochester River Campus to the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Genesee Valley Park, (park number 3).

There, we crossed the canal and tooled through West Brighton to the campus of Monroe Community College. Then it was east on Brighton-Henrietta Town-Line Rd, where the smooth pavement and stiff tailwind made for a quick and easy run. I wanted to just sit up, open my jacket and let the wind push me.

The next part of the ride really took it out of me. Pinnacle Rd south through Henrietta to Rush, is a long relentless climb, that’s open to the wind the whole way. The granny ring and my flatlander cassette barely gave my weak and painful legs the mechanical advantage to do it.

Giving Carpenterdoug a tour of the town on Saturday night, I killed my quads climbing in Mt. Hope Cemetery. I knew I’d feel it in the morning, and here I did. I wasn’t quite the lanterne rouge, but from here on, three of us traded places for it for the rest of the ride.

BJers and another couple, Donald and Donna, stuck together with me. And the fast group? Well, from here, we never saw them again for the rest of the day.

Cutting through Mendon Ponds Park (number 4) on the way to Powder Mills Park (number 5) was a bit of a break, although I felt the climbs here too. Sunday morning is about the only time I’d feel safe on a bike on Route 96, and we all traversed it safely before the turn on Marsh Rd in Bushnell’s Basin.

On the way to East Rochester, we skirt the edge of the Town of Pittsford’s Great Basin Park, for number 6. Linden Avenue headed us back west into the wind and was a long slow grind.

Crossing I-490 on a brief stretch of the 441 expressway was breathtaking—and not in the good kind of way. It’s straight into the wind, the bike lane crosses an exit ramp and has a long groove down the middle that’s just the right size to catch your wheel and flip you off your bike into the 55 MPH traffic on either side of the bike lane. Yikes!

South Landing Road was a welcome respite from the wind and traffic after 441. We all caught our breath there. Then it was North Landing Road to the corner of Blossom Road where we chalk up park number 7 by grazing the edge of Ellison Park. Mercifully, the route does not descend into the park.

Next it was back into the city through the Browncroft Neighborhood and right past the Winton Branch Library. We cut over to Culver Rd, where we all picked up quite a bit of speed.

Maybe it was the stinking little half-percent downgrade through Irondequoit from Ridge Road to Lake Shore Blvd. Maybe it was the prospect of riding right off the map all the way to Seabreeze, where by mutual consent, we had arranged to stop for lunch. But we flew to the lake, despite catching every stoplight on red.

Hndlebar made sure to give me a ribbing over my marked change of pace here as compared to Pinnacle Rd.

I nearly had my first clipless fall pulling into Vic & Irv’s. I rode between two picnic tables to park my bike, but was too close to the bench on my left, and couldn’t move my foot enough to unclip. Despite the beautiful sunshine and picnic tables, we all ate indoors to get out of the wind for a bit.

While fueling up on burgers, fries, pickles and soft drinks, we discussed routing a bit. We could go back up Culver, rejoin the map at Hoffman and sneak into the back of Durand-Eastman Park (park number 8). I loved discovering this bicycle-and-pedestrian-only path into the park when I last rode the Ten Parks Tour.

But, Lake Shore Blvd was a busy busy place yesterday. They had part of it blocked-off for the Soap Box Derby (on that huge hill between King’s Hwy and Horseshoe Rd), plus there was an air show over the lake. We decided instead to go back only as far as the Lakeshore Trail and ride it through the park and rejoin Lake Shore Blvd on the other side.

Carpenterdoug at the North Coast of America on the beach at Durand-Eastman Park
The beach at Durand-Eastman was pretty crowded, given the weather. We had to pick our way carefully through the crowds who were looking up and out at airplanes rather than where they were walking. (Sadly, we arrived between heats of the Soap Box Derby. They suspended racing while the air show was in progress.) It was Carpenterdoug’s first visit to the North Coast of America, so we stopped for the obligatory commemorative photo.

From the shore we turned south again through the tree-lined streets of Irondequoit, across the flats above Thomas Ave and along the east bank of the river gorge on Winona Blvd. Then it was St Paul Blvd to the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Seneca Park (number 9).

Here we descended into the river gorge and crossed on the “sewer bridge” to the Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Maplewood Park (number 10).

(Sensing a theme here? Frederick Law Olmstead is best-known for a little patch of green called Central Park in Manhattan. Although it’s a big and famous one, NYC has only one FLO-designed park. We have four major ones—all of them on the Ten Parks Tour—and two more vest-pocket parks he designed. See Olmstead’s Parks at CityOfRochester.gov.)

Leaving Maplewood Park’s Rose Garden, we conferred a bit before agreeing to go off-map again. We crossed Driving Park Ave and descended once more into the river gorge to take in the Lower Falls and Middle Falls at Lower Falls Park (bonus park number 11). The wind was whipping through the gorge and we all got wet on the descent into the mist blown off the Lower Falls.

brucew at the Lower Falls
Bikerjohn at the Lower Falls
Donna & Donald
Donna and Donald climb out of the gorge
Bikerjohn climbs out of the gorge
Crossing the river on the RG&E dam at the Middle Falls, we climbed out to St Paul Blvd heading for downtown. We didn’t want to miss the third and most spectacular of the falls, High Falls, so we cut through the Genesee Brewery to the Pont de Rennes bridge (formerly known as the Platt St Bridge).

Since the ride was mapped, High Falls has also become an official park, so this was park number 12 on our tour of 10. Richard DeSerra (the RBC’s Road and Trails Advocate) and I are threatening to remap some of this ride to include Ontario Beach Park and Turning Point Park, which would create a 15 Parks (and six cemeteries) Tour.

We rejoined the map here, and rode through downtown Rochester and out East Ave. These are streets I ride all the time and it was nice to share them with others. Did I ever mention I love urban riding? Well, that’s another post.

The ride dives down Sibley Place, which is a dead-end for cars, but bikes can cut through the neighborhood playground. We pop out between two buildings on Park Ave.

The Park Ave neighborhood never fails to impress. Everyone loves it, and I live so close that many people think I’m in it. (Officially, I’m in the Neighborhood of the Arts, formerly called Atlantic-University or the Art Gallery District.) I take the complements as if I lived there.

Donald is also a Tuesday Night Urban Assault (TNUA) rider. Riding up Harvard St he suggested we go off-map one last time and take everyone across the pedestrian bridge over I-490. I think it’s a real neat ride feature, and by my cyclometer we needed another mile or so for a metric, so that’s where we went.

From ground level next to someone’s house, a switchback ramp climbs up the expressway’s noise barrier wall, where the bridge crosses high above 490, which is also the old, original route of the Erie Canal. Just to the west is one of the original locks.

The bridge drops us across from elementary School Number 1 and the east end of Cobbs Hill Park. A quick ride (into the darned wind again) along the ball diamonds and we were back where we started.

We all shook hands and congratulated each other for braving the cold and the stiff and gusty winds to get in a nice little metric. Everyone seemed to have had a good ride, but no-one lingered as we were all tuckered-out.

I can’t wait to lead this ride again next year.

Hmmm… You know, it would be spectacular with the leaves in the autumn too.

By the numbers:

  • 62.34 miles
  • 04:32:34 wheel time
  • 13.72 MPH avg
  • 34.2 MPH max
  • 4,118 feet of climbing (everyone else recorded less, BTW)
  • 12 riders started
  • 11 riders finished
  • 2 groups—the fast and the rest
  • 43°F start
  • 55°F finish
  • 23-26 MPH sustained winds
  • 35-39 MPH wind gusts
  • 13 parks
  • 3 cemeteries
  • 3 deviations from the map
  • 0 flats, accidents or mishaps. Best number of the day.

2 Responses to “Ten Parks Tour—Ride Report”

  1. Donald Says:

    Great report Bruce, we’ll be back!

    A gallery for you… http://www.cmssuits.com/tenpark/index.htm

    Donald & Donna

  2. bikerjohn Says:

    Taking part in the RBC 10 Parks Tour was great fun, with the group I rode with. The tour leader BruceW did a great job shepherding the group and pointing out some outstanding highlights along the way! Bruce’s innovations and route deviations were a special “value-added” treat on the ride!