Of late I’ve been doing relatively short distances in my immediate area. With that in mind this weekend I wanted to get in one long ride. I decided to do a return ride to the Hudson River Drive (ergo River Road) from just below Fort Lee, NJ, to Alpine in the Palisades.
I mapped out in my head to ride from home in Brooklyn over to Manhattan, take the West Side greenway, exit at 125th street, make a brief stop at the familiar Crankee meeting point Riverside Church, proceed up Riverside to 165th street, Fort Washington to 177th, over the GWB and down to the River Road access and take the road to Alpine and back.
Due to some work distractions I didn’t get away till early afternoon but made good time through downtown Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, through edge of Chinatown, across Manhattan and on to the West Side greenway at W. Houston Street.
Though it was peak time on the West Side greenway with walkers, runners, bicyclists, families, tourists on ride share, I finally arrived at Riverside Church at 122nd street in about an hour twenty. I hung out for a few minutes to gather my energy and take this ‘selfie’ for my fellow Crankees.
Mounting my bike again I headed up the quiet Riverside Drive and made a good clip along the two overpass sections and soon turned on to 165th street heading up the hill to Fort Washington Avenue through Columbia Presbyterian towards 177th street. I’m pleased to report For Washington by the way is now newly paved after being ripped up for the last several trips.
I was up and over the GWB a few minutes later. The day at this point was cool and overcast. Though not a sunny view, the look south from the GWB was still beautiful and vast.
I was through the chain link fence welcoming cyclists, runners, walkers and the like to suburban Fort Lee, NJ. I made the familiar left turn to ride the sidewalk down to the River Road entrance.
But to my brief dismay the gate was up and road appeared off the docket for today’s journey. I hung out a bit wondering what was up as according to the signs it didn’t close till Dusk and it was just about 3pm.
Just ahead of getting to the gate I had noticed a fellow going around the gate and carrying his bike over the neighboring stone fence. While waiting and wondering if I should do the same along came another cyclist ready to exit the road. I asked him what was up and said they have just closed the gate early to keep the cars out. Humm… okay good enough for me so I picked up my bike and over the stones and cycling I went.
Ever since the first introduction to this 8 mile stretch back in June I’ve been a big fan. The road offers solace and challenge with being serene, reflective and equally abiding with nice downhills and modest to beast uphill. Riding the route you see occasional sight seer cars but predominately other cyclists, walkers and runners of which today was no different. I pedaled along enjoying the cool almost fall air at times and rolling landscape.
The last mile of the road is a big climb which always promises a sense of ‘this thing will not beat me’ and I’m proud to say it’s only done that once out of 5 or 6 trips. Before ascending I stopped to get the energy happening. Two other cyclists were hanging out at the base point and asked me if I had a Philips screen driver which the infamous Park Tool all-in-one set has. They needed to make a derailleur adjustment and so I obliged, hung out and chatted.
But it was time to go so I set off. Today’s ride was first trip of my new bike which among other upgrades for me as a wonderful 18-gear set contrasting my previous eBay bike 12. Though not without some puffing today’s climb was noticeably easier with the new ratios in my drive. I once more successfully arrived to the top and the Palisades Park information and rest station.
I decided for today’s trip to make my return on the River Road as opposed to doing our usual continuation/and or return via route 9w. After a few minutes rest I started my descent down the hill which if one was a flyer this downhill is the cat’s meow. For me the more cautious it was a kitten’s meow with some occasional braking but still was great and amazed me at how long it actually is and why it’s such a good ‘training’ workout in itself as well as this road.
Doing this route in reverse was equally enjoyable and gave some views that I stopped to make a snap or two. Nearing the GWB offered this one.
And this one as I was passing under the bridge which it’s amazing how the breadth of this thing hangs in the air.
After passing under the bridge it’s a short distance to the exit at the entrance gate I began a little over an hour earlier. It was now nearing 6 and time to be heading back to Brooklyn.
I headed up the modest hill from the entrance and turned to go through the chain link fence and on to the GWB walkway/bike path. Going and coming on today’s trip the bridge was lightly traveled as far as walker/runner/cyclists. I suppose it was the overcast sky.
Once over it was down the bridge bike ramp and on to Cabrini Blvd, right on 177th and left on to Haven to Fort Washington again and down 165th to Riverside Drive.
I followed Riverside all the way down to 72nd street and got on the Hudson River Park greenway which though still had some occupation was less at this hour so I made good time.
I was debating along the way about my return, Manhattan Bridge or Brooklyn and decided the later hour and dusk coming the latter would be easier/quicker so I turned off on Warren and over to Broadway and City Hall. Made a brief sidewalk ride to Chambers and then on to the bridge up ramp.
Though the path over was still fair amount of people traffic making my rather loud announce of ‘biker, biker’ necessary mid-way I came up behind a father and two off-spring that it made sense to stay behind as he had a loud whistle! From that point our caravan made good time charting a clear ride over.
At this point in today’s chronicle I could say on arriving in Brooklyn it was home free and a satisfying day. However turning on to Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn brought an unfortunate change and meeting with a car.
I was crossing the intersect of Jay and Johnson streets. A car coming from the other side suddenly began a quick turn in my path. I reacted suddenly swerving and reaching for my brake levers. I don’t recall either of us thankfully going very fast, just recall as I got hold of the brakes my front wheel met his door and I went down.
The car now on Johnson stopped as I was getting up, and a man hollered was I okay which it seemed I was though hyper and stunned. I didn’t feel any pain just shaken and wondering how my bike had faired. As I got up on the sidewalk the young man and his lady friend came over offering concern and timely there were two police officers who had come on the scene just after my crash. All asking if I was okay which I was talking and moving so seemed I was. The police officers kindly said let’s make sure your bike is okay. I had flipped by this point fear wheel/tire issues. My front brake needed a budge back to center and handle bars needed a torque as well back to center.
With me and bike seemingly okay car folks and police left and I gathered my wits and started my ride home. Though shaken, I kept telling myself I was lucky and thankful neither of us was going fast. It was a troubling end of an otherwise nice ride, a reminder of how aware and constant vigil I as any cyclist have to be. I have witnessed 3 crashes of other cyclists in the last month and now I’m 4. Not to be naive or pompous, I honestly didn’t feel I was careless in any way. Yes I was coming in at 50 plus miles for the day, tired and needing nourishment but I was alert and watchful but… it’s never enough, never. My lesson, be ye thankful as I was today.
A note, in addition to my training for the November 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes cycling event in Tucson, AZ, I am fund-raising for the cause. You may donate here and help further research in type one diabetes, helping to make type one type None. Thanks.