Bike Around the Finger Lakes (Keuka Lake Edition)

I love to bike. It’s my favorite form of exercising next to running. I like the simplicity of running in that all the equipment you need is a pair of shoes (and sometimes not even that if you’re a barefoot runner like I was one summer) but biking I love because of the free falling feeling you get when going down the hills and the far distances you can cover. Exercise for me always had to have a point outside of getting fit, I couldn’t exercise for the sake of exercise. I need to be going somewhere or doing something with my exercise. You won’t catch me in a gym lifting weights or running on a treadmill. My 20 Before 21 list needed to have some exercise items on it and biking around the Finger Lakes seemed like the perfect choice because it included biking and an end goal: win win.


Let me introduce you to the Finger Lake. It’s a collection of 11 lakes in Upstate New York, most of the are long and skinny giving them their unique name. Legend has it that the lakes were formed when God was finished created the world and he touched it, resting his hand on Upstate New York and leaving an imprint of his fingers. It’s not the most happening area but I personally think it is one of the most beautiful places to live as far as vista goes. The lakes are all different sizes with the three longest being Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka. Goal number #12 was written rather tentatively as “Bike around the Finger Lakes” I had a dream of biking around all 11 lakes. I realistically knew that I would be very hard pressed to find enough time on the weekends to do all of that biking since one lake could take an entire day to bike around. I gave myself some leeway and said that idealistically I would do all 11 lakes, realistically I would do the three largest (222 miles total), and most likely I would do one. So far I’ve only completed Keuka lake. But friends, that’s still 44 miles!

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

I like biking by myself, it doesn’t bother me, but for a bike ride this long it certainly helps to have a friend along to encourage you to not give up, convince you to take an adventurous detour, or simply keep you company. My friend Rufus (Ruth) decided to join me. We got started on a Sunday morning, meeting in Penn Yan, the town on the north end of the lake, around 10:00 am. We geared up, and headed out Route 54 deciding to go down the west side of the lake first. The west side is less developed and a little hillier so we wanted to knock out those hills at the beginning while we still had the energy and optimism to do so. Keuka is a great lake to bike around because the road stays pretty close to the lake most of the way so you constantly have an amazing view. We started in Penn Yan and we arrived in Hammondsport at the south end of the lake in about 2 hours though we were biking at a leisurely speed.

Pardon my cheesin' on this photo. I must have been happy or somthing.

Pardon my cheesin’ on this photo. I must have been happy or something.

Hammondsport is a cute little touristy town that was once voted America’s Coolest Small Town, by readers of Budget Travel magazine. You can see why, the town is very small with the business district being a few streets with a park in the center. It’s charming and the people are friendly. Several of the restaurants have docks so boaters can dock their boats and stop by for a bite to eat. Rufus and I stopped for some ice cream which made us so cold on this chilly day that we immediately had to go right up the street to a cafe and grab some coffee to warm ourselves. We spent about an hour in Hammondsport exploring little shops and chatting with their owners. We headed out towards 14A, the road that runs along the east side of Keuka lake and made one last stop at the Olney Place for a break and some water to rehydrate ourselves.

The route with mile markers.

The route with mile markers.

That last 3 miles of the ride were definitely the hardest for me. I was tired, sore, and losing will power fast. Having Rufus there to keep me going was a necessity. We finally arrived back in Penn Yan around 3:30 pm. I was so very tired yet not very sore which surprised me since I had only gone biking one other time this summer. I figured I wouldn’t be in shape for it but my body seemed to handle it pretty well. At least that’s what it seemed like until 7:00 am on the following Wednesday.

To be continued.