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Old 08-19-2021, 08:29 PM   #101
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One Fall I was doing a job in the Finger Lakes region and my friend, knowing that I was working over that way, asked me to buy her a grape pie. I never heard of grape pie. Anyway, I stopped at a roadside stand somewhere between Penn Yan and Branchport and I bought two pies. My only reget was that I didn't buy three
Today I learned that grape pies aren't a well-known delicacy outside of the region. I always assumed they were as commonplace as apple, cherry, and pumpkin pies everywhere in the country (what do I know?) I had to do a double-take when you said you never heard of a grape pie before! I said to myself "What?!?!?"

Supposedly Naples is the "Grape Pie Capital of the World." That's another thing I didn't know until now.
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Old 08-19-2021, 08:42 PM   #102
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While the Naples grape pie scene is hotly contested, my favorite by a mile is made by Jeni

https://www.facebook.com/Jenis-Pies-131690536879312/

Monica has been a staple for years and has a store north of town. But not my pick, seems you're either a Jeni or a Monica lover and there is no in-between.
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Old 08-19-2021, 08:51 PM   #103
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While the Naples grape pie scene is hotly contested, my favorite by a mile is made by Jeni

https://www.facebook.com/Jenis-Pies-131690536879312/

Monica has been a staple for years and has a store north of town.
Now I'm interested in seeing how those stack up to the ones I had growing up. My mom set the bar pretty high with her pies and other baked goods.

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But not my pick, seems you're either a Jeni or a Monica lover and there is no in-between.
Reminds me of the Philly cheesesteak wars between Pat's and Geno's. One time before a Phillies game, I ordered a steak hoagie at both of those places and honestly wasn't impressed with either. I've had better in Buffalo. Having said that, I'm sure there are other, less-touristy places in Philly that cook up better ones.
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Old 08-19-2021, 08:54 PM   #104
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Lol. I was in the Buffalo area and a guy said that I needed to try a beef on weck for lunch. I was clueless to what the heck a 'weck' was. That was a great sandwich, but I've never seen them offered anywhere except in that part of the state
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:12 PM   #105
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Lol. I was in the Buffalo area and a guy said that I needed to try a beef on weck for lunch. I was clueless to what the heck a 'weck' was. That was a great sandwich, but I've never seen them offered anywhere except in that part of the state
Unlike the famous chicken wing, beef on weck (sometimes pronounced "weck" and sometimes pronounced "wick" by locals) hasn't gained much popularity outside the immediate area -- similar to garbage plates and white hots in Rochester.

The next Buffalo food you've got to try is the chicken finger sub. It's what a lot of transplants seem to crave most after leaving town, even more than wings or weck. You can thank me later!

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Old 08-19-2021, 09:28 PM   #106
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So much to catch up on!

As far as pies - best time to hit Naples is Grape Festival season because a number of other locals make pies, some you may like better than Jeni or Monica (or Mom). I know people I grew up with who swear their mom makes the best grape pies, and I'll admit they're good, but I wish Jeni was my mom!

As far as the Beef on Weck vs Garbage Plate and White Hots, it's as I was saying earlier, there's almost some invisible line between Buffalo and Rochester, that to me is somewhere around Letchworth where you really transition from Western NY to Finger Lakes, and those regions are distinctly different in a lot of ways.

As far as good things leaking over here from Buffalo, if I had to choose one beer to have for the rest of my life, it would be one from that region. Big Ditch Hayburner is pretty much the most balanced beer I've had, and it comes in cans, great for backpacking or a hike! So so so many micro brews now I could no way keep track but my favorites actually come from west - Big Ditch, Southerntier and Great Lakes are among my favorite bigger name breweries.
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:46 PM   #107
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Penn Yan has a great bakery, Blue Heron, that makes a great wick roll, the roll makes the sandwich, also on the east shore of Seneca Lake , near Hector, is Two Goats Brewery, that ONLY offers beef on a wick, and popcorn, on their food menu...yummy....The water falls near Hector are to be appreciated in keeping on topic....
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:47 PM   #108
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So much to catch up on!

As far as pies - best time to hit Naples is Grape Festival season because a number of other locals make pies, some you may like better than Jeni or Monica (or Mom). I know people I grew up with who swear their mom makes the best grape pies, and I'll admit they're good, but I wish Jeni was my mom!

As far as the Beef on Weck vs Garbage Plate and White Hots, it's as I was saying earlier, there's almost some invisible line between Buffalo and Rochester, that to me is somewhere around Letchworth where you really transition from Western NY to Finger Lakes, and those regions are distinctly different in a lot of ways.
I've always put the Buffalo/Rochester dividing line in Batavia, though extending that line SE through Letchworth does make sense when I think about it. Warsaw feels a lot closer to Buffalo, whereas Mount Morris (just 15 miles east of there) feels a lot closer to Rochester.

I think I'll pass up on the regional debate (WNY, Finger Lakes, etc.) for now as that could easily consume several pages of discussion -- and I've got to go to bed, work eight hours tomorrow, and then get ready for my weekend activities.

That grape festival at the end of September has been marked on my calendar. I'll be there if I don't have anything else going on that weekend. That's usually the busiest time of year for me, so can't say for sure at this time. If worse comes to worst, I'll settle for Jeni's and Monica's when I go to Conklin's and Clark's in the winter. Nothing like putting back on the pounds I just lost! Story of my life really!

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Penn Yan has a great bakery, Blue Heron, that makes a great wick roll, the roll makes the sandwich, also on the east shore of Seneca Lake , near Hector, is Two Goats Brewery, that ONLY offers beef on a wick, and popcorn, on their food menu...yummy....The water falls near Hector are to be appreciated in keeping on topic....
If those are even half as good as Bar Bill Tavern's famous beef on weck sandwich, I'll be satisfied!
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:52 PM   #109
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Well yeah, I mean you have to hike off what you eat. There's a lot to indulge upon in these regions and not as much wild space as the mountains!

The line might be 390... who knows? The point is it's definitely there. It's crazy in this "global" economy those kind of things persist, but at the same time it's what makes it cool to visit different areas.

Also what I really meant to mention is there has been some significant flooding in some of the valleys in the Finger Lakes, so be aware when making plans this weekend and check the local news.
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Old 08-20-2021, 05:47 AM   #110
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I always tell people that if I ever moved to the Pacific Northwest or Northern Rockies, I'd quickly get myself into the best shape of my life because the fattening food options aren't as plentiful while the challenging hiking and mountaineering opportunities are abundant.

This weekend, I'll be going south of Buffalo where the rainfall totals from Fred weren't quite as high. Won't be taking nearly as many photos as I did last week and might not even see any waterfalls. This will be more of a training hike, with lots of ups and downs, as I try to get myself in better shape for hiking in the mountains the next few months.
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Old 08-20-2021, 01:41 PM   #111
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I always tell people that if I ever moved to the Pacific Northwest or Northern Rockies, I'd quickly get myself into the best shape of my life because the fattening food options aren't as plentiful while the challenging hiking and mountaineering opportunities are abundant.
Not that I'm any authority on this, but one fat guy to another, I've found I'm in my absolute best shape spinning. That is cycling, and cycling A LOT.

And by best shape I mean cardiovascular. There is just no way I can climb or hike enough around here, outside of a gym, to get the same level of impact. Mountain biking is my preferred method because it's more fun than road biking IMO. But you can get the same or more workout on a road bike.

Trail running or running in general would probably get you there, but impact to the knees is something I try to avoid. Biking is pretty easy, although not impervious to knee pain.

When I've been doing a lot of biking I find I can fly right up climbs in the mountains, no issues, no real struggle. One issue I've had personally is that if all I do is biking, and then I do a relatively strenuous hike with lots of steps and bounders and such, as you would find in the Adirondacks, my balance muscles just aren't there. So I find I still need to hike a bit just to keep those from completely atrophying. Even mountain biking just doesn't use a lot of those lateral stabilizing muscles.

When I've done a fair bit of paddling, that keeps my back and arms really strong, but my cardio and leg strength suffers, so really not just one can do the trick for me, but if you can get all 3 (paddling, spinning, hiking), or do some kind of crossfit at a gym you can keep in decent hiking shape.

It's been my experience that by just hiking around here I can't keep in good enough shape to not struggle when I go to the Adirondacks. There's a few climbs in the Bristol Hills that get close (and probably Stid is the most brutal from the sounds of it) but unless you do those weekly, we really don't have the terrain.
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Old 08-20-2021, 04:06 PM   #112
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Not that I'm any authority on this, but one fat guy to another, I've found I'm in my absolute best shape spinning. That is cycling, and cycling A LOT.

And by best shape I mean cardiovascular. There is just no way I can climb or hike enough around here, outside of a gym, to get the same level of impact. Mountain biking is my preferred method because it's more fun than road biking IMO. But you can get the same or more workout on a road bike.

Trail running or running in general would probably get you there, but impact to the knees is something I try to avoid. Biking is pretty easy, although not impervious to knee pain.

When I've been doing a lot of biking I find I can fly right up climbs in the mountains, no issues, no real struggle. One issue I've had personally is that if all I do is biking, and then I do a relatively strenuous hike with lots of steps and bounders and such, as you would find in the Adirondacks, my balance muscles just aren't there. So I find I still need to hike a bit just to keep those from completely atrophying. Even mountain biking just doesn't use a lot of those lateral stabilizing muscles.

When I've done a fair bit of paddling, that keeps my back and arms really strong, but my cardio and leg strength suffers, so really not just one can do the trick for me, but if you can get all 3 (paddling, spinning, hiking), or do some kind of crossfit at a gym you can keep in decent hiking shape.

It's been my experience that by just hiking around here I can't keep in good enough shape to not struggle when I go to the Adirondacks. There's a few climbs in the Bristol Hills that get close (and probably Stid is the most brutal from the sounds of it) but unless you do those weekly, we really don't have the terrain.
Cardio is unquestionably my biggest weakness. My legs are powerful enough for hiking long distances in serious mountains, I've found. When I read other people's accounts of having sore legs for days and even weeks after strenuous hikes, I find myself in as much disbelief as when I read St. Regis' story about not knowing what a grape pie was!

When the weather started turning nicer in the spring, I sought to get into another outdoor activity besides hiking. I was torn between getting a new kayak and a new mountain bike. I didn't want to get both in the same year because I like to focus on one new activity at a time. I ended up getting an inflatable kayak, which I've taken on different waterways in Western New York and Pennsylvania this spring and summer. Like you said, paddling does help with arm strength, but not so much in other areas needed for long, strenuous hikes.

Next spring, I will consider getting a mountain bike. I have a friend who's really into that activity, so I could get a lot of helpful tips from him along the way. In the meantime, I plan to get a lot of use out of the "mini-stepper" that I recently purchased online. I'm not sure how effective it will be for my overall fitness levels, but it does seem to be good for exercising the leg muscles and is surely preferable to continuing this sedentary lifestyle I've lived on weekdays for the past 18 months.

Besides hiking most weekends year-round, I occasionally play soccer at nearby fields to build up my cardio/endurance. Admittedly, I haven't done this as much as I'd like to because of all the rainy, hot, and humid days we've had recently. When I worked in Downtown Buffalo before the pandemic, I would go for walks/jogs five days a week and find multi-story staircases to go up and down. And prior to bigger trips, I would test my endurance by running up and down both sides of the Grand Island Bridge (technically part of the Finger Lakes trail system) for as long as I could. I was in a lot better shape then. The scale at the doctor's office confirmed that last month!

It is hard to find sustained elevation gain on hiking trails in the immediate area, which is why you really have to go up and down the inclines several times to get anything resembling a decent workout. The Bristol Hills are a bit too far for me to train on regularly, but there are some trails closer to me where I could go up and down as many times as I can. Won't mention them specifically because I don't want word getting out -- it spreads fast these days!
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Old 08-21-2021, 09:25 AM   #113
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I haven't ridden much west of Letchworth. I went to Ellicottville once, and I didn't like it that much. For you that's still probably a fair drive, not something you want to do much after work. Probably comparable to me driving down to OCP. Which in the summer, I would do when the days are long. I also invested in really good lights and would ride in the dark after work. Not doing that these days but maybe I'll get back into that.

Anyway, there's not much close to you. I knew of Hunter's from other riders I've met on the trails out here who are from Buffalo area, but I've never been.

Looks like Sprague Brook is the other closest option to the city.

Mountain bikes are so specialized (no pun intended) days you can find something that will fit almost the exact niche of riding you will do whether it be serious singletrack and all trail riding, or a mix of bike path, road and light trail. Given your area, I'd probably favor the latter unless you're committed to driving to trail to ride.

My trail bikes can be ridden on pavement but I almost never do, and when I do it's only a short distance to get to more dirt. The tires are like motocross tires and my gearing isn't very well suited to roads.

I have another bike I use for riding bike paths and I still sometimes ride on singletrack - it has fast rolling XC racing tires, which work well on almost every surface, and my gearing is set so I can spin on the road. It's not as fast as a road bike with skinny slicks and drop bars, but it gets the desired result. Anyway, a light trail/XC bike can work real well for all around riding. Gravel bikes can work too, but drop bars and skinny tires can be a real drag on MTB trails.

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Old 08-21-2021, 04:27 PM   #114
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You don't like their quaint Holiday Valley? Ellicottville has a little secret though. There is a standing fire tower and I have been to it. McCarty hill is also a former fire tower site.
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Old 08-21-2021, 05:44 PM   #115
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I haven't ridden much west of Letchworth. I went to Ellicottville once, and I didn't like it that much. For you that's still probably a fair drive, not something you want to do much after work. Probably comparable to me driving down to OCP. Which in the summer, I would do when the days are long. I also invested in really good lights and would ride in the dark after work. Not doing that these days but maybe I'll get back into that.

Anyway, there's not much close to you. I knew of Hunter's from other riders I've met on the trails out here who are from Buffalo area, but I've never been.

Looks like Sprague Brook is the other closest option to the city.

Mountain bikes are so specialized (no pun intended) days you can find something that will fit almost the exact niche of riding you will do whether it be serious singletrack and all trail riding, or a mix of bike path, road and light trail. Given your area, I'd probably favor the latter unless you're committed to driving to trail to ride.

My trail bikes can be ridden on pavement but I almost never do, and when I do it's only a short distance to get to more dirt. The tires are like motocross tires and my gearing isn't very well suited to roads.

I have another bike I use for riding bike paths and I still sometimes ride on singletrack - it has fast rolling XC racing tires, which work well on almost every surface, and my gearing is set so I can spin on the road. It's not as fast as a road bike with skinny slicks and drop bars, but it gets the desired result. Anyway, a light trail/XC bike can work real well for all around riding. Gravel bikes can work too, but drop bars and skinny tires can be a real drag on MTB trails.
Hunter's Creek and Sprague Brook are both within reasonable driving range. I've hiked at both plenty of times and was just in that area today (hiked the Holland Ravines portion of the Conservation Trail for some training on inclines). Darien Lakes State Park also isn't too far away, so that's another MTB option. McCarty Hill State Forest is a little further away. That, ANF, ASP, the Western Finger Lakes, and Rochester area would mostly be weekend outings.

What is your opinion on hybrid bikes? If given the choice between a road bike and mountain bike, I'd pick the latter because it would open up more interesting riding opportunities than high-traffic streets, illegal sidewalks, and flat/crowded bike paths. Hybrids might be best for my situation, though.

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Ellicottville has a little secret though. There is a standing fire tower and I have been to it. McCarty hill is also a former fire tower site.
Wow, that's news to me! Definitely don't tell me where that is because I want to see if I can uncover its location. I'd only be interested in knowing whether it's on public land...

The only fire towers in WNY & Finger Lakes that I know of are Mount Tuscarora in ASP (in horrible condition and no longer rises above treeline), Summit Hill in ASP (in better condition but no real views), Mount Irvine in ASP (only the foundations remain), Jersey Hill (ruins at the designated campsite), and of course Sugar Hill near Watkins Glen. The highest hill on this side of the state, Alma Hill, also has a firetower that's on private property. No tresspassing signs are posted everywhere on that side of Alma Hill Road and a nearby homeowner was staring me down as I was driving past slowly, so I passed up on exploring that area and have no intention of going back.
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Old 08-21-2021, 06:34 PM   #116
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You don't like their quaint Holiday Valley? Ellicottville has a little secret though. There is a standing fire tower and I have been to it. McCarty hill is also a former fire tower site.
I actually didn't even go to town. I only the rode the trails at McCarty. I didn't like that they were muddy and old-school and frankly not fun or interesting, not what I was expecting given the relative hype. I should give it another chance but I didn't enjoy it.

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What is your opinion on hybrid bikes? If given the choice between a road bike and mountain bike, I'd pick the latter because it would open up more interesting riding opportunities than high-traffic streets, illegal sidewalks, and flat/crowded bike paths. Hybrids might be best for my situation, though.
I've had them and they are limited. They are fine if you want a bike that looks/feels like a mountain bike for riding road. If you want to ride some trail as well, a XC mountain bike is really what does the trick. I know it seems a little strange but XC mountain bikes are the most middle ground in that they have gearing and rolling resistance that is conducive to riding on bike paths and dirt roads, but also tough enough, have low enough gearing, and geometry to handle single track trail riding.
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Old 08-21-2021, 06:38 PM   #117
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Hunter's Creek and Sprague Brook are both within reasonable driving range. I've hiked at both plenty of times and was just in that area today (hiked the Holland Ravines portion of the Conservation trail for some training on inclines). Darien Lakes State Park also isn't too far away, so that's another MTB option. McCarty Hill State Forest is a little further away. That, ANF, ASP, the Western Finger Lakes, and Rochester area would mostly be weekend outings.

What is your opinion on hybrid bikes? If given the choice between a road bike and mountain bike, I'd pick the latter because it would open up more interesting riding opportunities than high-traffic streets, illegal sidewalks, and flat/crowded bike paths. Hybrids might be best for my situation, though.



Wow, that's news to me! Definitely don't tell me where that is because I want to see if I can uncover its location. I'd only be interested in knowing whether it's on public land...

The only fire towers in WNY & Finger Lakes that I know of are Mount Tuscarora in ASP (in horrible condition and no longer goes above treeline), Summit Hill in ASP (in better condition but no real views), Mount Irvine in ASP (only the foundations remain), Jersey Hill (ruins at the designated campsite), and of course Sugar Hill near Watkins Glen. The highest hill on this side of the state, Alma Hill, also has a firetower that's on private property. No tresspassing signs are posted everywhere on that side of the road and a nearby homeowner was staring me down as I was driving past slowly on Alma Hill Road, so I passed up on exploring that area.
I climbed Tuscarora, it's very dangerous, still limited view. Sometimes I climb unrehabilitated towers and sometimes I don't depending on my condition. If a sign says don't do it I won't. Missing stairs, rotted boards, will not inhibit me. I used to climb spruce trees in dangerous situations as a kid all the time. I did it in the winter. My father's last name matches a former fire tower observer at Goodnow. I never met my father to confirm a link, but I have been wondering if this is in my blood.

I did the same thing on Alma Hill. I saw the owner and his family at their house. I was too shy to stop at their house to ask that time.

There are more than just Alma Hill, Jersey Hill, and Sugar Hill outside of Cattaraugus County in WNY and the Finger Lakes. I have them memorized as Alma Hill, Jersey Hill, Erwin, Prattsburg, Sugar Hill, and Padlock. I made attempts at all of them with varying success.

Padlock's site is someone's drive way now. I rode my bicycle up to the front lawn of the house, took a picture of what view existed on the hill, not the house, and left. I went to the State Fair in 2011 to see Padlocks current location. The DEC did not go there because of Patterson's budget cuts. I got to the tower to ask around and how to find permission to climb it. Surprisingly, almost no one knew what the tower was. I went to the administration building and began to offer money. They became interested, but didn't want to do it without the DEC there, so I just gave up. I don't even think they knew the name of the tower or cared.

Prattsburg is extremely difficult to figure out, because it's someone's back yard that was not well defined, probably on purpose. The tower was last known laying in a pile on the property. I drove up the suspected hill and up to the access roads and got as close as I could without trespassing.

Erwin has a public trail system near Corning. The main trail to the site is very wide like you are walking in a field for 2 miles on an expansive ridge. I thought it was unique. I remember seeing good birding opportunities there. The tower has been removed.

Hartzfelt Hill is another former site south of Olean. There is a dirt road leading up to it. I tried it but ran into a person, probably the owner, with lumber on the road. I turned around and left the area There was no posted signs. A small parcel of state land still exists the last I knew.

I have been to the Irvine foundation and I have been in the woods of Science Hill looking for it's foundation. They are not the only ones. I have a list of 10 sites for Cattaraugus county, 4 of which stand. I also have heard of a 11th one with a question mark. Communities would just erect towers without the state. News articles are occasionally dug up about them and posted on various web sites. Occasionally us researchers come across them. There is a place in Nassau County where an article states a local person funded the building of a tower to watch for fires. What happened to it I don't know. Then there is a lead into 11 more built in NYC, it just goes on and on. Frances Seaman wrote about one on Albany Mountain. There is one standing tower in the Hudson Highlands near Storm King and no author on the towers has ever covered it or given note. One site mentions it, but gives completely wrong coordinates. The list of towers seems never complete.

The great authors Paul Lasky, Bill Starr, Marty Podskoch never got them all. Bill Starr's list gets upgraded though. If you look at the plaque in the Elizabethtown Historical Center you will see Mount Morris is missing in the list. It's not because it was out of region either. I have photo proof unless they upgraded it in the last 10 years. I said something, but I was a 20 something year old coming out of nowhere questioning it

The site of the Ellicottville Tower is funded by the public and it's the Irvine/Science Hill tower. See if you can find it. It was mentioned in what was Paul T Hartman's website. I think there was a merger of his data. It comes up when Googled because it's becoming more known.

The core of my info is imprinted in my head from 2010. So much has changed since then. Another backyard tower springs up, another article uncovered, another information center restores a former tower. Bramley is expected to be brought back and restored I think on it's site!!!

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Old 08-21-2021, 06:43 PM   #118
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I've had them and they are limited. They are fine if you want a bike that looks/feels like a mountain bike for riding road. If you want to ride some trail as well, a XC mountain bike is really what does the trick. I know it seems a little strange but XC mountain bikes are the most middle ground in that they have gearing and rolling resistance that is conducive to riding on bike paths and dirt roads, but also tough enough, have low enough gearing, and geometry to handle single track trail riding.
Good info. I didn't consider cross-country mountain bikes when I was thinking about getting a MTB earlier this year. Sounds like they would be worth looking into for next year. Time to start saving up lol!
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Old 08-21-2021, 06:58 PM   #119
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Originally Posted by hikingandwildex View Post
Good info. I didn't consider cross-country mountain bikes when I was thinking about getting a MTB earlier this year. Sounds like they would be worth looking into for next year. Time to start saving up lol!
In times of surplus, the winter is great time to buy a bike. I bought my last bike this way at a significant discount, but it was still really expensive.

I'd say a good XC bike that is capable of riding a lot of miles is usually in the $1000-1500 range. My wife has a Trek that is the upper end of that range and it's a good light bike with a really good front suspension (that makes a big difference on actual trails and can be locked out for road).

A lot of it is the tires. The big tires aren't as efficient as the real thin ones used on road bikes, but they are pretty good and are a lot more comfortable to ride, not to mention you don't feel like you are going to lay the bike down if you hit small stone. A good, all-around XC tire is around 2.2" wide with a very hard, tight tread in the middle and some small, softer side knobs. This gives a great balance of rolling resistance and cornering grip. The sacrifice is some braking and climbing grip on trails, but if you ride mostly local, you won't have much issue.

Last edited by montcalm; 08-21-2021 at 07:13 PM..
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Old 08-21-2021, 07:10 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by montcalm View Post
In times of surplus, the winter is great time to buy a bike. I bought my last bike this way at a significant discount, but it was still really expensive.

I'd say a good XC bike that is capable of riding a lot of miles is usually in the $1000-1500 range. My wife has a Trek that is the upper end of that range and it's a good light bike with a really good front suspension (that makes a big different on actual trails and can be locked out for road).

A lot of it is the tires. The big tires aren't as efficient as the real thin ones used on road bikes, but they are pretty good and are a lot more comfortable to ride, not to mention you don't feel like you are going to lay the bike down if you hit small stone. A good, all-around XC tire is around 2.2" wide with a very hard, tight tread in the middle and some small, softer side knobs. This gives a great balance of rolling resistance and cornering grip. The sacrifice is some braking and climbing grip on trails, but if you ride mostly local, you won't have much issue.
I was checking out XC MTB bikes and the highest-rated ones were retailing above $1k. Used bikes could be option if my finances are tight next year. My one friend who's into biking had some bad experiences going that route, though, so I'm a bit hesitant. I guess we'll see. I do appreciate the detailed information you've provided on the strengths of those bikes, and on tires.
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