Oneida Lake and Tug Hill Permanents

Having had just completed the Women's Rights Loop last month, and with future plans to do the John's Waterfall 300k in May, I knew I needed to get some more long rides in if I hoped to not feel as low as I did after my first 200k. To get some "miles in the legs", I decided to do a couple of permanents, leading up to riding the Crush the Commonwealth ride with Jim over three days.


I've only ridden a couple of "official" RUSA permanents before this year. These were done in what I guess we now have to call the "old style," with a card to outline the route and signed receipts, pictures, and answers to place-specific questions to show proof of passage to named controls. Permanents were suspended for a while last year for legal reasons after a rider died on a route and the family sued RUSA. This year the program resumed with a more modern set of rules, allowing riders to use electronic proof of passage (a GPS track) to show that they completed the route. There was something quaint about following the procedures before that seems to have been lost now, but it's not as if I had grown attached to them.

One of the benefits of how the new program is coordinated is that registering to ride a route and paying is done online through the RUSA website. I found this allowed me to be a little more spontaneous, as I would no longer be required to coordinate with the route's owner. A downside (so far) is that the number of perms available has been diminished until route owners get them approved by RUSA for inclusion in the online database.

Oneida Lake

GPX Track for Oneida Lake Perm #3858

The first perm I decided to ride was to go around Oneida Lake. It's a 65-mile clockwise loop around the lake, starting and ending in Minoa, a few miles away from my kids' house, so I would be able to finish up and have dinner with them. As a kid, I spent many sunny weekends drifting across the waves of this lake with my family, fishing for walleye and perch. As a young adult, I liked visiting the old restaurants and midway in the village of Sylvan Beach on the lake's east shore. I vaguely recall my great grandmother's small camp from when I was very young, the location of few family reunions.

One of the main features of the route includes Cicero swamp, in places drained and used for "muckland" to grow potatoes and onions. The rest of the route endeavors to stay close to the lakeshore. The topography is pretty flat, with the only concern being wind, should it start blowing from off the lake. Cicero swamp north of Minoa, NY Cicero swamp north of Minoa, NY.

The route hugs the southern shore of the lake and crosses the Oneida River in Brewerton. It loops around a wildlife management area for about 9 miles until rejoining the north shore in Constantia. Old barn in Constantia An old barn on the north side of the lake near Constantia.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Constantia Trinity Episcopal Church in Constantia.

Cleveland, NY Faded mural in Cleveland on the north side of the lake.

On this day, the wind was blowing gently from the southeast, so the trip across the north shore was a bit slower than the return trip back to Minoa from Sylvan Beach. I opted to stop at each control and get a receipt and take a picture "just in case" I needed them (I didn't). I zipped by Eddie's restaurant, despite wanting to stop for a hot ham sandwich. The town looked pretty quiet. I couldn't tell if it was because it was a weekday, or it was COVID scare, or the area just become less popular than I remember. The midway had yet to open for the season, and there was a new casino in place of a landmark old bar, a sign of the times.

Sylvan Beach from North Bay. Sylvan Beach from North Bay.

Buoy 106 sits in a playground in Sylvan Beach Buoy 106 sits in a playground in Sylvan Beach. The midway not yet opened.

I finished the route in a decent time but under-fed myself and ran out of steam about 10 miles shy of the end. This seems to be a problem for me, no matter the distance.

Tug Hill and Salmon River Reservoir

GPX Track for RUSA Permanent #3902

The second perm I chose was a 200k ride from Fayetteville, which headed out towards Rome, north of the Salmon River Reservoir, south through Camden and Sylvan Beach, and back to Fayetteville. This was a bit hillier route than the Oneida Lake ride, but nothing too grueling was encountered as I made my way over the west side of the Tug Hill Plateau. I left Ithaca and drove to Fayetteville for a 5am start to complete the ride and make it back for dinner with my kids.

Starting early is nice as it gives familiar towns and features nice light for photos. This route loosely followed (and sometimes used) the Erie Canal pathway until New London about 28 miles into the ride. At the first control in Taberg, someone bought me a breakfast sandwich. I ate a couple oranges, bananas, and an energy bar, another breakfast in Redfield, gummy Life Savers, and a turkey sandwich in Camden before I stopped eating for the day. Inexplicably, I bonked yet again (in Chittenango) just 5 miles from the end. Up until that point, I was feeling strong all day. When in doubt, I need to eat.

Entry into Chittenango pre-sunrise. Entry into Chittenango pre-sunrise.

The Erie Canal pathway The Erie Canal pathway in Canastota, the sun and fog just right.

Jim Kirk's snowplow in A snow plow in Florence. More snow plows for the collection from Annsville and Florence.

A pond along the road on Tug Hill A pond along the road on Tug Hill. Salmon River Reservoir Removed layers strapped to the back at the Salmon River Reservoir near Redfield, NY

Forsythia in its glory in late afternoon sun. Forsythia in its glory in late afternoon sun.

These were each enjoyable day rides, but I don't really feel ready for this cross-Pennsylvania ride. I have put myself in the position of having to do two successive long days in a row, never mind three. We've planned our sleep stops such that each day's mileage will be less than the last and pledged to not attempt this at a "brevet pace" yet. Even so, I am a bit worried about my chances of completing it.

randonneuring permanents Oneida Lake Salmon River Reservoir Tug Hill CNYrando