Thursday, July 26. The weather finally caught up to me and I moved my neglected rain gear to the top, inside my saddlebags, so that I would be able to access it quickly. The thunderstorms woke me up at 4:00 a.m. and my weather radar said the chance of rain today would be 80%. A relatively easy day was planned, a mere 72 fairly flat and gently rolling miles into Utica (Ginny, I apologize, I am way off the Adventure Cycling route now).

I didn’t even put on sunscreen.

It was actually a pretty nice morning and I began to think that maybe I would escape the predicted thunderstorms. I was trying to put distance between myself and the Great Lakes and their huge influence on precipitation. I stopped in Verona for fluids and I heard someone say something about tornados. “You’ve got to be kidding”, I thought.

I fired up my iPad (which is finally able to get an AT&T signal here in the east), took a look at the radar, and saw something I have never seen before; the entire screen was covered in opaque red. There was nothing wrong with the screen, they were trying to tell me something. Hmmmmm. Red. Radar. That’s got to be bad.

But I was only 21 miles or so from Utica. Even though I could see the clouds rolling in behind me, I felt confidant that I would be there in an easy hour and a half. Then my worst nemesis showed up, the one that has haunted me from the beginning of my ride. It was guaranteed to slow me down, delay me, get in my way. I’m not talking about the head-wind, I’m talking about the dreaded interpretive tourist stop.

I was rolling along, well ahead of the clouds, even the sun was shining and I almost missed it. Glancing to my left, I noticed the locked wrought iron gate. There, well off the road, was a tremendous obelisk. I thought once, twice, three times, and then I turned around and went back.

I had to read every sign. I learned that General Nicholas Herkimer was leading 800 Tyron County Militia to relieve the colonials that were under siege at Fort Stanwix. British General Barry St. Leger dispatched a force of 100 soldiers and 400 Seneca and Mohawk to stop them. They ambushed the colonials on this very spot in one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. The majestic monument was erected in 1883 to commemorate the men that fought here on August 6, 1777.

Amazingly, the mortally wounded Herkimer directed his troops as they formed a semi-circle, surrounded on all sides. Eventually the British forces withdrew. As for me, I was now surrounded by clouds on all sides, and I high-tailed it to the safety of a hotel, getting there just as the the large rain drops began to splatter on the ground.