How I found a Piano on the Beach…

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This weekend I did two exploration rides – first to Williamsburg and lower Manhattan chronicled here and a little later, Redhook.

On Saturday’s ride I had limited time.  I took a look at the Brooklyn waterfront between home and Williamsburg via NYC Bike Maps, targeting a route going from the park (Grand Army Plaza direction) over to Vanderbilt and on to Williamsburg.Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.54.17 PM

From home I rode up to the park and over to Grand Army Plaza, crossed over on the greenway to Vanderbilt Avenue and rode it all the way down to its end just beyond the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, turning right on Flushing Avenue.

Following Flushing led me to Williamsburg relatively quickly.  As I mentioned in the last post, venturing out by bike has led a whole new discovery particularly with Brooklyn on how easily connected the neighborhoods are.  Better put how easily it is to get from one to the other.  For years like many New Yorker’s on the average day I’m underground via subway going from my Park Slope neighborhood to work in lower Manhattan and the in between has been a blur of point A to B.  Bicycling is now teaching me much about the space in between.

I cycled along Flushing with an agenda of getting to the Williamsburg Bridge and bike path but I had left some of the directions up to chance, looking for the occasional bridge and bike path signs.

I came to Marcy Avenue and turned left.  Within a block or two I saw a sign for the bridge indicating a right turn and very shortly it was within view.  I came to a block where there were several bus line stops and asked a driver where the bike path entrance was.  He motioned ‘head straight under the over pass and just around the corner’.

I followed his guide and about a block and pass through a small park, got on the bridge bike path.IMG_1358

The path over was shared between walker and cyclists but not crowded and plenty of room for both creatures.

On the Manhattan side of the bridge I came in to the Lower East Side and just above Chinatown, with the bike exit concluding on to Delancey Street.IMG_1360

My path at this point was to cycle my way down to the Manhattan Bridge to take my return back over to Brooklyn and home.

Crossing over Delancey and I saw a sign for the East River Park greenway and headed that way.  I took the pedestrian overpass over the FDR Drive.  I rode a short distance down a gravel section by the East River Park to the beginning of the greenway beginning now underneath the FDR Drive.  I quickly discovered this was the conduit for getting to all the bridges connecting to the east side.IMG_1362

I followed the greenway down to just under the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out there for a few minutes of picture-taking at this new vantage point.  I’ve been in NY for 20 plus years and now seeing all this by bike has led me on a whole rediscovery.

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And it was here that I found a piano on the beach.IMG_1367

 

 

 

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Heading home over the Manhattan Bridge, street market below.


Support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and type 1 diabetes research through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Tucson AZ. Donate.

 

We are riding…

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Dan

on a railroad, singing someone else’s songs now sing along, forever riding on a railroad…. but I digress.  Paraphrasing James Taylor the title led me to the lyrical memory.  But it was the weekend and though nothing official was on the radar in Crankee land, new blood Crankees’ Dan Vogel and myself planned an adventure.

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Jim

Actually a few weeks ago when a ride date was unknown Dan tossed out a trek through Riverdale, Bronx and Westchester which stayed with me.

IMG_1343I rode over from Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge which has been on my list to work out the routing to/from the Manhattan west side.  I came off the bridge which by the way for me has one of the best on/off bike path ramps of all in the area I’ve now traveled.  It has separate sides for pedestrians and cyclists.  On the Brooklyn side the access ramp is at the intersection of Jay and Sands streets, with a wide graffiti lined curve which leads you up to the bridge.

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Exiting off the Manhattan side of the bridge I got on Chrystie street, followed up to Broome and over to Varik, zigzagged couple of blocks to Hudson then to W Houston then straight intersect to the west side greenway.

I cycled up the west side and met Dan at the Boat Basin.IMG_0375
From there we rode the greenway up and beyond the George Washington Bridge to the greenway exit and a shoulder path along Broadway.  Followed by brief construction disembark/stairs and then on to residential Riverdale.

Our destination were the Old Putnam and South County trails, the first an original rails-to-trails which ran through Van Cortlandt Park.IMG_1325

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photo: dan vogel

 

 

The Old Putnam Trail was a mix of dirt, brief mud hole near our start and then back to fairly even packed dirt with occasional rivets or washouts but a cool woods trail furrowing through overhung trees interconnected leaving the experience akin to through a tunnel. It was a lot of fun though initially I’m thinking I just dropped 2k on my new bike to take it through this but soon forgotten and enjoyed the moment with Dan reminding it’s why the ‘Roubaix’ is dubbed the Roubaix.

IMG_1326The trail was 1.5 miles followed by the South County Trailway greenway which in itself runs 40+ miles up to Brewster.  Due to time we only scratched the surface riding 2 miles of it before turning back at Yonkers Avenue but it’s a new route definitely calling for a longer return another day.

While we were resting for a bit before our return, a woman looking for folks on bikes came up to us and promoted the Yonkers Bicycle Club Tour de Yonkers coming up on Sept 21st.  If you are free that weekend do check out.

On our return we rode at a brisk clip until we hit the Old Putnam dirt trail again complete with mud hole which required another dismount.  I know the tried and true are saying come on plough through plough through – er ye men!

At the trail’s end and back on the streets we headed up a moderate hill and cycled through the campus of Manhattan College.  From there we rode in to residential Riverdale and arrived at Dan’s home for a brief rest before I headed home to Brooklyn.

The greenway home was usual mid summer Saturday busy.  You get the pace up then encounter other pedalers, roller/skateboarders, walkers/runners/dogs/cats…  The same hit me this morning on my base loop in Prospect Park.  It’s a ‘shared’ path and needs a constant watch over the shoulder as someone can stop right mid path, presenting the sudden obstacle of dodging them but equally anticipating who might be booking behind you.  In some ways I’ve come to prefer open road traffic but not to be a grudging old cycling dude :)

IMG_1337I decided to do as I came, go back to Brooklyn on the Manhattan Bridge as once you’re there it’s so much more comfortable than the dodging/darting challenges of the Brooklyn Bridge at mid-day.  This morning the coming across I discovered was relatively straight-forward.  For return I turned off at 11th, slight jag to Bank and followed it to 6th Ave, took another jag and right on Bleecker, following it all the way to 2nd Ave.  I turned right and went down to W Houston, left to Bowery, down to Grand, left and over to Allen, right to Canal to the bike path entrance on the Manhattan.IMG_1336

Home free to Brooklyn with a total of 52 miles for the day.IMG_1340


On Sunday I decided I wanted to make another path to/from the Manhattan Bridge to etch it in my mind.  I rode over and cycled around Chrystie to Grand to Allen to Canal to the bridge, got it!

On my return one fellow rider who was ahead of me on the bridge took the Brooklyn side off-ramp either too fast or his knobby tires lost the slope or both.  He was in the curve and laid down hitting the wall.  Another cyclist and myself dismounted and stopped to check on him as it looked bad.  Thankfully he was okay.  He seemed genuinely amazed that we had stopped to check on him which was both sad and touching.  I have witnessed 3 crashes of other cyclists in the last month and each time was not alone in stopping to see if help was needed, it is encouraging that it seems to be an understood among many of us that it could easily happen to anyone and it’s what we do, perhaps it’s the code.

From arriving in Brooklyn I rode over through Brooklyn Heights, turned on Dean, down to 3rd ave and over to Union.  I went up Union to the Park, rode across Grand Army Plaza to the green path and rode down Vanderbilt to Dean, following Dean over to edge of Crown Heights at Franklin Avenue.  From there I rode up to Eastern Parkway and back over to Grand Army, entered the park for a loop and back home with reinforced confidence of trek to Chinatown and back.  Tally for the afternoon was 16.5 miles.


A note to remind that part of the purpose of this blog is to bring awareness that I am riding in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 2014 Ride to Cure Diabetes cycling event in Tucson, AZ on November 22nd.  Should you like to support me supporting JDRF and type 1 diabetes research furtherance please see my fund-raising page.  Thank you!

Finding our way…

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IMG_0435Bob, my wife Ann and I were the JDRF Crankees assembly Sunday, beginning with Bob’s trip over from Manhattan to join us for a few warm up loops in the park followed by our destination of Coney Island.

Part of the trips adventure began on Saturday when I got new wheels (see video end of post).  After riding a bike of my son’s we got on eBay several years ago for @800 miles this season, I came to the decision I was hooked and wanted to take part of my ‘retirement’ and invest in the ‘now’.  After some back/forth yin yang last few weeks I had ordered a Specialized Roubaix and Saturday was my day to pick up.  Amazing bike and journey has begun.

Though we had a suggested queue sheet we decided to toss caution to the wind and ‘find our way’ aiming for the coastal route along the green way running from 67th Street to the Verrazano Bridge and beyond.

I had made part of this trip before when I went on the 5BBC’s Revolutionary War ride. With that in mind for a start we rode down slope from the park on 2nd street heading for 5th avenue.  Turned left on 5th and headed towards Sunset Park.  We were passing the Old Stone House park area, and heard a familiar voice say ‘hey guys’, was our fellow Crankee Jon Reitzes and his son Marlin headed for the park.

After hello and some confirmation of my instinct and past memories we continued on 5th, past Greenwood Cemetery, past Medley Lanes bowling which always brings back so many memories of taking my kids there for birthday parties and the like.  As the blocks passed we were nearing Bay Ridge coming to the 60’s, then 70’s, 80’s, then 95th street where 5th and 4th avenues unified.

IMG_1302A few more blocks and we were at the entrance to the Shore and Belt Parkways.   We crossed over Shore Road and followed the sidewalk down to the quick descending entrance to the bike green which runs from 67th street to along the East River in to the bay, around the point in Bay Ridge past the Verrazano Bridge, along the ocean front, through several park areas and concluding in Bensonhurst Park.

IMG_1300We followed the bike path all the way to Bensonhurst Park and came out on the Shore Parkway service road if memory and Google serve me.  We rode along the service road to Bay 52nd street and took that over to Cropsey Avenue following it till it turned in to W17th street.  Then on to Surf Avenue and turned left till we came to Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues.  We had arrived, lunch!IMG_1305

The trip home began trying to find the quickest access to the bike trail.  We headed down what seemed right a street which escapes me but probably W15th.  After few blocks it seemed a better way was somewhere else as we saw other cyclists parallel in the distance.  Ironically when we stopped a woman hollered from a car which had stopped as well and as if reading our minds, ‘are you looking for the bike path?’  Gift horse…  She replied you have to go back to the no longer in business (or looks like it for that matter) Burger King.

IMG_1301So that we did.  Bob’s instinct was good and the description of the ‘no longer in business’ he found couple blocks back.  We turned right and headed for what turned out to be taking the sidewalk on the service road we had come in on.  Other cyclists were on it so we took their lead and soon were turning on to the beginnings of the bike path in Bensonhurst Park once more.

From there it was home free and great cruising particularly from the Verrazano up to the path end at 67th street.  I felt the speed of my new rig through here :)

IMG_1304Exiting out at 67th and a couple of jogs finding the best route, settled us on to 3rd avenue which took us all the way home, Ann and I to 9th street and Bob to downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Good ride, adventure and good hot dogs!

Jim

Post… a short video of my new bike shortly after getting it.  As opposed to the infamous crotch video posted in my haste earlier this has been revised for general audiences :)

Weather forecast, rainy morning but…

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IMG_1286Last Sunday, Aug 3rd, that didn’t stop an assembly of the JDRF Crankees orchestrated by Coach Cary James with a Brooklyn departure of 6:55am with a destination of New Jersey and 9w and I’m pleased to say my wife Ann and I were present and accounted.

With Cary in lead, fellow Crankee Jon Reitzes, Ann and I rode amongst raindrops along Bergen heading for downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.  Great thing about crossing the bridge in what was now a steadier wet is we pretty much had it to ourselves other than an occasional hell or high water runner :).  Rubber on the wet boards of the bridge approximately half the distance was bit slippery, maybe more mental but soon we were over and heading for Chambers and the Hudson River bike path which also given the damp early morning was pretty much ours.

Due to a triathlon getting ready near the Boat Basin we turned off the path at 72nd and started going up the west side streets and eventually Riverside Drive hitting a few blocks of torn-up road till we broke free and arrived at Riverside Church where we were joined by Coach Bob Cohen.  After few minutes rest we continued up Riverside Drive to 165th street, turned right then left on to Fort Washington to 177th, then Cabrini and on to the GWB bike/walk up to the bridge.

Though again more mental than reality what seemed daunting early on in the training with the GWB seems routine and familiar now and pleasant actually re the crossing.  There is a lot of desire to anticipate and over-prepare in my personality and often in my biking experience thus far and probably if I cared to admit it in life as well, much of that trait does not pan out to the anticipation or fear if you will or reality.  Hence this experience two wheeling is trying very hard to teach me to let go and as something one of my coaches in the group constantly says to me, ‘take it as it comes…’.

On those thoughts I will say with having lived in New York now 20 years plus, the bicycling experience now is teaching me to value what I’ve either oft taken for granted in this area or even not cared for has led me to take things in a whole different perspective on the bike.  As a co-runner of my wife’s acquaintance said about running, it’s cheaper than therapy and perhaps the bike is as well in its own zen.

Over the bridge and we were round the corner down the short road to the entrance of the Hudson River Road drive, a part of this ride I was excited to introduce Ann to.  I knew the climbs in it would be challenging particularly but the tree-lined very little 4 wheel traffic and the sun here/there long shadows has made this back road cycle to Alpine on the Palisades very enjoyable to me.

This was my wife’s longest and most challenging road to date in this period of training. I had told her that if she came on this ride and at any point it felt too much, it was her call and I’d support her and we would head back. I had thought that probably we would do the shoreline road and from Alpine head back. The last hill on this road is challenging and each time I start the ascent I have my doubts about getting up the bastard and I believe I am either 4 for 5 or 3 for 4 re the trips on this course. I relayed to Ann the last hill was a hard ascent and stop if need be for breather and we’d meet at the top.

For me I was stronger this time it seemed and kept slow steady rotation. Mid way up I came upon a runner zigzagging his way.  We got to talking which turned out to be a nice distraction and we both soon crested.  I joined Bob, Cary and Jon who were patiently waiting and a few more minutes Ann came in to the view as she rose to the top determined pedaling up.  She had made it, excellent, I was very proud of her for having came today, joining in and had done pretty well on this road and I thought okay I made a deal, we can head back.

But after a short break she said she was game to continue to Piermont about 6 or 7 miles or so which was our turnaround destination.  I was excited, pleased, surprised and proud of her.

As I’ve written on this the Crankee most repeated training ride in my time, from Alpine and our start on route 9w, we begin at the landscape top elevation with 3 long descents down to the Piermont turnoff to head in to the town.  The downhills are fun and always a nice respite though the return is paying the piper albeit maybe not as challenging as the River Road couple of rises.

We were soon underway pedaling in to the descent and then down the three glides.  As the day had been wet which forgot to mention by now the rains had stopped and the sky was playing hide and seek with the sun sometimes peeking out.  The Tallman State Park turnoff we normally had done going in to Piermont the coaches thought might be slippery in its short descent so we decided to go a little further down from there and go in to town the way we usually leave.

The glide in to Piermont along the canal like creek which flows through is always kind of dream-like and pleasing.  As we cycled along the residential Piermont avenue passing the creek and circling in to town square crossing over the wider Sparkill Creek.  We pulled up to our traditional resting stop of Bunberry Coffee for replenishment and hanging time.

Which while there another cyclist pulled up and parked his sleek-looking titanium/carbon fiber Seven bike in the rack for on looking by us and speculation about its ‘ride’.  As the owner said on his return to his bike, kind of like riding a ‘Rolls Royce…’IMG_1283

So it was soon back on bikes, heading out Piermont Avenue with a slightly new departure on to 9w this time.  We rode up a slight rise, hairpin and on to a crossover bridge which was new to me though I realized it’s whereabouts as we came up to the connection back to the main road shortly after.

We were soon on to our first climb on to the rise out of the Piermont lower valley and up to the Alpine area of the Palisades.  Cary and Bob had gotten ahead and Ann, Jon and I were in our own ‘peloton’.  We steadily rose up the first, Ann was doing great.  We started up what Jon had earlier dubbed the Big Sky climb which now in hindsight ran together with the last two.  In a sense they all do as the contour is connected until it levels to the top around Alpine and you see a sign which indicates Fort Lee is another 10 miles.

The rest of the ride on to Fort Lee flowed easily with its usual rolling hills and open country coming in to the urban limits.  Traffic which never seems like much on 9w does start to pick up nearer to the town and that said it seemed bit busier on our return.  Soon though we reached East Palisade Avenue left turn and then a right on to Hudson Terrace.

On our group rides we usually stop at Strickly Bicycles to water replenish and rest a bit before those of us heading for Manhattan cross the bridge and those going on to home in New Jersey go their way.  So Ann, Jon and I pulled in and learned Bob and Cary were waiting at the bridge.  Once realized we began to go meet them.  As I was getting my bike out of the rack I reached down to what has become instinctual or possibly back to the alluded anticipation anxiety and felt of my front tire anticipating a comfortable soon to be realized firm tire.  However something else occurred, I pushed down and it went all the way like a weak balloon with subtle resistance.  Gosh what gives or gave!

Well after just about 800 miles of pedaling since early May I had just received my first flat! Humm… So said goodbye to Jon who went on to meet the fellas and though I need the experience of a first self flat fix, I decided not to look fate foolishly in the eye and chose to have it fixed by the staff at Strickly.  We hung out (see happy couple above :) ) and browsed a bit.

I will say I at least took the wheel/tire off and a few minutes later, paid a few dollars and was twisting down the quick release axle with not only new tube but new tire as I was encouraged to trade out.

Tire on, pumped the back a bit more, checked Ann’s, saddled up and we rode on down Hudson Terrace, under the I80 overpass and hung the left to the chain link fence and began our GW crossing over to Manhattan.  I’ll speed along as I’ve made this account of the trek back to our Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn now a few times.  From the bridge it was down the back street parallel Fort Washington to near 165th, down to Riverside heading for the bike path initially at 72nd.  We came upon the torn up street repair at @118th and decided to trek back towards the church and find the path sooner back by 125th street.

Got on the path and made good time all the way down the west side reaching Warren street and over to a slight sidewalk jag at City Hall park to get on to Chambers, then on to the Brooklyn Bridge.  As the sun came out so did the tourists and the bridge was a contrasting thicket to the earlier morning sparseness.  We plodded in and out of walkers, picture takers and Citibikers finally reaching the Brooklyn side off ramp to Boreum Place, over across Atlantic to left on Dean.  Then finally to a right on 3rd and over to a left on Union and our now traditional post ride reward lunch spot of Dinosaur barbecue for a beer, Chardonnay, burger, fried green tomato sandwich and few wings before the few remaining blocks to home.

A great first long ride for my wife Ann who I was and am very proud of, special thanks to our lead coach Cary, secondary coach Bob and Crankee mate Jon.

See you along the road… Jim


 

This blogs purpose continues to be to document my wife and mine’s preparation for our cycling participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes ride event in Tucson, AZ, on November 22nd.  Please consider supporting one or both of us as we support JDRF through our commitment to this one of seven national bike rides across the country to raise awareness and support so one day ‘type one will be type none’ when a cure for diabetes is found.

Our donation pages are…

James Goodin 2014 Tucson JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes

Ann Jeffrey 2014 Tucson JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes 

Thank you!

 

 

Rockland to Rockaway, 2 Saturdays…

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I’ve gotten a little behind on entries.  I had drafted this account of the ride of Saturday, July 21, but while waiting on bit more content to finish a week went by as well as another neat ride this entry will look back at both.

On the 21st a gathering of some of the Crankees (Dan, Suzanne, me, Coach Bob Cohen, Jeff, Rachel) held court with the longest ride this season, around 70 miles.  I decided to add a few more miles to build up my distance so I rode over to our Upper West Side meeting point from home in Brooklyn a little after 6am, riding the side streets of the lower Slope over to Atlantic Avenue, a couple of turns and on to Boreum Place headed for the Brooklyn Bridge bike ramp leading to a scarcely populated but pleasant crossing over to Manhattan.  I rode across lower Manhattan via Chambers Street and on to the Hudson River Park bike path.  Made good time and was up to the traditional Crankee meeting point of the Riverside Church at 122nd street, awaiting arrival of the others.

Coach Bob charted a course with our now familiar trek starting at the Riverside Church, over the George Washington, down to the Henry Hudson Drive ergo River Road, up to crest at Alpine, out on route 9w headed for Piermont NY, on to Nyack and then new turf, continuing up 9w to the Rockland Lake State Park.  Rockland Lake was the destination and return point but before return we rode an @5 mile loop around the park.

We exited the park turning left on 9w up the long hill we had previously sailed down.  Once up, had a nice descent to our main stop for r&r, at Toga Bikes in Nyack.  From there we cycled back through back streets of Nyack coming to downtown, passing the popular bike and other passerby hang the Runcible Spoon, turning left Main, then right on Piermont Avenue taking the short 4 miles or so back to Piermont passing the Hudson, boating and Tappan Zee Bridge area before turning in to town.

We pedaled along Ferdon Avenue, along the European like canal to me, leaving town, making a left on 340 to Highland Avenue and then on 9w for the first of several climbs ascending up to Alpine.  The return on this route has a certain sense of jubilant and accomplishment on having crested the final climb to this point in the return.  From then on it’s a moderate rolling road in to Fort Lee and taking a final rest, replenish water and bathroom break at Strickly Bicycles before heading across the GW back to Manhattan.

At the more or less finish of the day crossing the GW and back in the Upper West Side we were now three due to others having time commitments and needs.  We decided to celebrate the day as well as cheer Dan on as his JDRF Ride event, the first in the season of the JDRF rides, was the following weekend in Burlington, VT, before going our ways so we found an outdoor cafe allowing close to our wheels, had a round of beers and super nachos, not the healthiest albeit tasty and satisfying after the warmth and distance of the day.
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With that Bob and I said goodbye to Dan and pedaled our way down the west side and on to the Hudson River bike path headed home which for me on reaching home in Brooklyn about an hour plus later totaled 85 miles – a good feeling of hitting that benchmark.


Saturday, July 26th, marked two JDRF events.  One the first of seven national JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes events the Vermont ride in Burlington which from our group Dan Vogel, Jeff Kauflin and Rachel Nayman Kauflin, participated, and two, locally Coach Bob Cohen, my wife Ann Jeffrey, myself, Lauren (forgive loss of last name) and a couple of other Crankees I am remiss of names, joined in with veteran JDRF riders Joe Mure and Angelo Gurino who organized a joint riding event supporting New York Families for Autistic Children and JDRF in Howard Beach, Queens circling through the Rockaways.

For starters congratulations to Dan, Jeff and Rachel and possibly some riders from the Jersey chapter on their participation in the Burlington ride.  I have mainly heard Dan’s account which rang that it was a wonderful inspired and life changing day which brought 260 riders together from all over the country to further the cause through cycling and fund raising supporting JDRF and a statement towards raising awareness for the work of turning type 1 to type None.  Here are some images from Dan’s account of the day https://teamari2014.shutterfly.com/pictures/8 and an inspiring video which was shown in the pre or post ride’s ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wj41KVxZNHQ.


For my account of the local ride in the Rockaways, ‘the Loop‘, supporting New York Families for Autistic Children and JDRF, Ann and I began by meeting up with Coach Bob at Dean and Vanderbilt Avenue to ride out to the event in Howard Beach.  We followed Dean street in a back street parallel following Eastern Parkway and with a few other street turns, Rochester, Mother Gaston and Liberty leading us to South Conduit which would take us on to the Cross Bay Boulevard and to the NYFAC location at 164-14 Cross Bay, all about 9 miles from home in Park Slope.

IMG_1246We rolled in to NYFAC parking lot @9am where the activity was buzzing and you’d have thought it was a national!  I don’t know the actual count thus far on how many cyclists came out for this but guesstimating 200 plus which was inspiring.  Ann and I were #108 and #118 respectively and when start time came in the second wave of riders.

IMG_1250We parked our bikes along with the growing numbers and walked around to registration/check-in.  There was all kind so activity, police escorts, emergency medical, JDRF volunteers including our own Julia Briggs and Deborah Cox from the NYC chapter and Alecia Wesner from int’l, yellow t-shirted NYFAC volunteers, beginnings of a post ride cookout with charcoal starting to fill the air, our organizers Joe Mure and Angelo Gurino, just a plethora of lovely spirited people.

IMG_1261As 10am grew near we started to line up on Cross Bay with our own Coach Bob Cohen leading off along with Joe and others.  IMG_1255

A red start ribbon stretched in front of them ready to be cut and signal our launch.  Ann and I were in the second wave and there was still a third behind us, this was truly for me jamming and exuberant and a mini-snapshot of what I think Tucson is going to be like though from what I’m told attendance to the national event numbers in the thousands from biking enthusiasts all over attending.  Both daunting and gonna rock!IMG_1263IMG_1265
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It was time, the ribbon was cut, helicopter flew overhead and the first wave was rolling.  Destination a circle around the Rockaways, a chorus laid out by Angelo and Joe.  Shortly after the first group it was our time, signal came and we were rolling, starting out with a gathering of other cyclists around which though I’ve ridden in small groups of riders this was neat as it was a forecast of the future ride in Tucson except the surrounding gathering there from all accounts will be big as life.  This was much smaller scale but still good practice from the spectrum of getting used to starting off with a group of surrounding riders.   As we pedaled along we began to spread out and the journey of a modest 18 miles circling the Rockaways was underway.  Weather was great that day, bit overcast and pleasant, not hot.

Leaving mainland headed for the Rockaways first crossing was the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge which Ann and I crossed before when we came out on a ride a few weeks ago with the Five Borough Bicycle Club on actually a reverse of this loop plus to/from Brooklyn as today.  Crossing the bridge led in to an island area between mainland and Rockaways, the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, something I didn’t have a clue was there before I started biking in this area.  Though I’ve lived in New York City for 20 years now seeing it on two self pedaled wheels has been eye-opening and in a sense a whole new experience of sometimes familiar though sometimes very new.

End of the island we came to the Cross Bay Bridge which connected to Rockaway.  We excited off the bridge, did a circular loop under and got on to Beach Channel Drive.  We took a hand full of turns along this route on the Rockaway strip that now I can’t recount the exact though I remember we were directed along the way by an enthusiastic orange t-shirt clad JDRF staffer pointing us in the way and to look for the occasional ‘orange arrow marking’ on the road.

We rode the through the island community in to the Jacob Riis Park heading for the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge just before Breezy Point.  When Ann and I were on the above mentioned Five Borough ride crossing this bridge gave me a bit of the willies as the bike lane though ‘safe’ had an immediacy of the water and the span is a little less than the George Washington.  So I approached with a slight bit of dread but in the end it was easy, just kept a look ahead and little with the open bay and it passed and was quite pleasant.

We came off the bridge descent onto a bikepath along Flatbush Avenue passing the Floyd Bennett Field leading to the beginning of the bikepath along the Belt and Shore Parkways.  This stretch was really great and allowed really smooth asphalt sailing, couple of gentle rises and drops, a few drops of rain along the way.

This was really the ride of bridges and took us over several more than we had on the above mentioned trip.  Next was the Mill Basin Bridge a historic ‘draw bridge’ built in the 40’s required a mandatory dismount and walkover by the organizers of the ride.  The bikepath was poor and sections exposed to passing traffic.  But the walk-over was pleasant and soon we were back on the bikepath passing the Jamaica Bay Riding Academy and coming close to suburban Brooklyn Avenue X and Y streets.  We rode past McGuire Fields and were up on another bridge, the Paerdegat Basin Bridge, this one pretty short.

Coming across the Paerdegat we continued on the bikepath headed towards Canarsie Pier and the main rest stop Ann and I took.  We were coming in to the last chunk of the ride nearing the NYFAC headquarter start/finish at this point.  We got a cold water, exchanged little conversation over bike compliments with a couple of other riders we met and were soon back on the Belt bikepath heading for our next water crossing across a narrow end of Jamacia Bay, according to Google as I look at to refresh the journey, Fresh Creek.  This one, two more peninsula and nook water crossings would lead us in to the beginnings of the return in to the Howard Beach neighborhood streets back to the New York Families for Autistic Children office, the start and soon the finish of the ‘Loop’, a ride for hope and the monies raised, for all those living with autism and all those living with type 1 diabetes.  It was and is a jubilant, collaborative, day of inspiration and hope that in time both of these needs affecting so many will come to resolution, a fix, a solution for all those we love.

IMG_1266It was a wonderful ride and soon we rounded the corner in to 164th block and waved in to the parking lot and finish line of NYFAC.  Time for post celebration with those we knew and didn’t know which the day brought together.  Planned by the organization was a wonderful cookout and time to hang.  And after that for those of us connected with the New York City JDRF chapter we decided to rally for a bit at nearby Lenny’s Claim Bar for some time together. IMG_1270


Please consider supporting me support JDRF in the 2014 JDRF Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes by donating at my fund raising page http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?px=4654534&pg=personal&fr_id=3432 .  With your help we can further the research work being done in juvenile diabetes so that one day ‘type one will be type None’!

Pump up the tires, gain speed…

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Felt like I had a private cycling lesson yesterday.  The Crankees scheduled a training ride on our familiar trip beginning on the New Jersey waterside Henry Hudson Road about half a mile down from the GW up to the Palisades Interstate Park at Alpine and then getting on 9w to Piermont NY and back via 9w into Fort Lee.  I say private lesson as the turnout was me and JDRF coaches Cary and Jeff, both of who offered me much input and encouragement during the ride on my journey to be a ‘cyclist’.

I had the option of meeting up with Cary in Brooklyn adding about 15 miles each way to the ride which I decided to do to get in my longest ride mileage wise since I began training in early May with the group.  Cary is a fast well experienced rider and I anticipated either falling behind or shooting my energy on the early beginnings but I’ve been doing a lot of daily rides and building so felt it was worth the gamble.

I’ve had a few folks of late tell me my tire pressure even though it’s ‘felt’ right, was low.  And as noted in a previous post a bit of new instruction on my own valve faux pax as well as getting a long overdue floor pump so Friday evening I aired him up to the manufacture recommended 90psi.  I admit what felt right to me previously was misinformed.  The gain here that amazed me was how it affected my pace on Saturday at least on the run from Brooklyn to the GW.

We left Brooklyn a little before 7am and thanks to a minimally occupied Brooklyn Bridge were on the Henry Hudson Bike/Runner/Walker path in no time.  At that point Cary said get close to his bike wheel to ride the wind stream.  I was not able to confidently do this technique consistently but I was able to keep steady speed of @18mph with him for several miles nearly up to the 79th street Boat Basin.  This really surprised me, I’ve been steadily doing daily rides each morning in the park between long rides so some of the consistency was that but in the end I think it was the tires, go figure :)

So we cycled through the Boat Basin and turned off the path at 125th and up to the regular meeting place to pick up any other Crankees coming from other points, at the Riverside Church at 122nd street.  From there it was on up Riverside Drive, over a couple of traffic bridges, through Columbia Presbyterian Medial at 168th to Fort Washington to 177th, then right on Cabrini and left on to the bike ramp to the GW.

Other side of the GW we headed down to the access road to the entrance to the waterside Henry Hudson Drive which I’ve grown rather fond of in this trek.  It’s rolling minimal car road that plays between sun and shade winding along the edge of the Hudson.  There are two hill climbs on it one that’s not so difficult but the final is a killer for me.  It’s not so steep but it seems to go on and on though probably more in the mind.  I’ve been up it three times now first time I made it, last time I stopped for a bit then finished the climb.  This trip I was determined to get up it so the coaches were kind in humoring me and we hung out a bit talking about bikes of course :).  Then it was time to climb and so we did and you know the outcome.

At the hilltop we left the park and got on to 9w at Alpine with about 10 miles to go the waterfall and canal like pass through of Piermont, NY.  The road to the town features three descents that are great glides but what goes down must come up so on the return it presents climb-time but with all these climbs as any cyclist will say, is a great feeling of reaching the top and yes it’s a feeling of conquer.

The cruise in to Piermont is always fun.  You turn off of 9w in to the edge of Tallman Mountain State Park which the town borders between that and the Hudson.  The turn takes you down a sleepy road, a turn and a quick down hill leading you in to a curve and coming to a stop at Ferdon Avenue.  Ferdon turns in to Piermont Ave as you cross what I believe is the stream which flows through town Sparkill Creek which flows in to the Hudson.

We hung out for a bit at the traditional resting/coffee shop/bakery of Bunberry Coffee Shop where the Cinnamon Chip muffin has become a personal favorite.

We were soon back on the Piermont Avenue heading out-of-town and on to 9w towards Fort Lee.  As mentioned the return has three climbs getting back up to Alpine and arriving to that point is a good feeling of accomplishment.  We shared the road back with several groups of cyclists of which 9w is understandably popular.  I will say in anticipation of this trip I was feeling slightly bored like okay I know what to expect, not so much been there done it but I think on the surface I was missing a bit of the point.  That being it remains a good workout road as it offers good descents, good climbs, some traffic as you get close to the Fort Lee and when combined with the Henry Hudson Drive all grooms particularly if you’re coming from new to road cycling as I.

IMG_0686At about 12pm we turned off of 9w on to East Palisades Avenue and then on to Hudson Terrace which leads to the GW bridge entrance.  We have a traditional final rest/goodbye spot at Strictly Bicycles for those not going over to Manhattan which Jeff was not and Cary had started ahead of us so the journey turned solo.

I crossed over the amazing span of the GW, down the narrow bike entrance ramp and on to Cabrini.  I rode down Haven Avenue to Fort Washington and through Columbia Presbyterian, right on 168th and left on to Riverside Drive, all becoming second nature on a level.  I took Riverside down to 79th entered Hudson River Park and followed the walkway down through the underpass and right to a small descent path down to the bike/runner/walker path welcoming you to the Boat Basin.IMG_0689

The rest of the trip home to Brooklyn went well, some skirting of a busier attendance on the Hudson pathway but up in the day to be expected on a gorgeous summer day as this was.

I turned off the path on to Warren Street, over to Broadway, cheated a sidewalk jaunt up to Chambers, right on it and then on to the path entrance on the Brooklyn Bridge which was as the bike path now occupied.  Such a difference from 7am that morning, the town was awake leading me to joyfully holler as I rode across, ‘BIKER… BIKE… BIKE.. BIKER’.  But that’s the joy of the moment and welcome cry to all the tourists :)

Came down the path off the bridge leading to Boerum Place, crossed over Atlantic Avenue and left on Dean.  Then few blocks on right on to 3rd Avenue and to break up the slight uphill in to Park Slope zigzagged let on Union, then on to 5th Avenue for a bit then up to 6th and 7th and finally left up to home.  A great day, thanks to coaches Cary and Jeff and yes the air in my tires helped!


A reminder one of the purposes of my blog is to get the word out that you can support me raising money for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International) through the ride event I’m training to cycle in on November 22nd, the 2014 JDRF Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes, one of seven national rides held between late July and end of November to raise money and awareness for the advancement of research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes of which many strides are being made.  I have raised $3,360 so far and am nearing my goal of $5,000.  You can greatly help by donating at the 2014 JDRF Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes.  Thank you!

Lest we forget…

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Last Sunday I went on my second ride with the Five Borough Bicycle Club on a journey which had been created and charted by Shawn Carney to follow the path of General George Washington and his troops against the British through their battle trek through Brooklyn, billed as the Battle of Brooklyn Revolutionary War Ride!

Around 20 of us met up at Grand Army Plaza first receiving a total history lesson on what we were about to experience beyond the two-wheeled adventure.  Clearly our leader had done her homework.  Following the walk down the 1700’s and a bike check, we hit the road headed along Prospect Park West then turning down a side street for 5th avenue.

IMG_06405th led us down to Greenwood Cemetery entering at 25th street.  We dismounted at the gate and walked up to a pinnacle point with a direct view of lower Manhattan once a simpler time with British ships sailing in to the waterways of New York. IMG_0647

Following a description of the area from the standpoint of the colonial forces we were back to pedaling headed down towards the water via side streets of Sunset Park.

We emerged on to the Brooklyn waterside bike/runner/walker path at 67th street which I’d never ridden before.  The day was beautiful and the water front wind was up.  We followed this till just beyond the Verrazano Narrows Bridge circling up a short hill to 4th avenue in Bay Ridge and stopping at John Paul Jones Park for commentary and perspective on the battle progress.  I wished for my late father-in-law who would have quite enjoyed, having had a life in history chairing the University of Maine history department for many years of his professional life. IMG_0652

After few minutes there we were headed off towards Diker Heights with a destination of the New Utrecht Reformed Church on 18th avenue.  We learned that during the war this church had been used by the British as a hospital.

From here we mounted bikes again, headed towards Avenue P and on towards the Flatlands with a stop for lunch at Lenny’s rumored to be the place where the General had his first slice of pizza!  An unusual but tasty ride this was :)

Back on the road and headed for the oldest house in New York, the Wyckoff Farmhouse on Clarenden Road (1652).  We spent some time there hearing about conditions those folks lived in those days.IMG_0661

From the house we rode through a blend of neighborhood side streets and eventually coming in on the side of Prospect Part just before the zoo.  We moved inward to a somewhat forgotten monument once towering and visible and now more secluded by trees and away from the main flow of park visitors.  The single tower monolith with in stone the writing of General Washington, ‘Good God what brave men I will lose this day…’   A reminder of ‘our’ freedom as was the whole day, easy to move on with what seems more important these days but a reminder… IMG_0674

Next on the trail, leaving the park, cycling round from Prospect Park South to Prospect Park West along the bike green to 9th street.  We rode down 9th street to 5th avenue taking a right and going over to the Old Stone House another stance of the period, often these days occupied by school children and occasional artistic performances.  Here Shawn took us on a tour by map of our journey trailing the paths of the colonials and the British.  IMG_0679

Then it was down to 3rd avenue, over to Flatbush along a couple of ironically timely cobblestone streets that were uncovered by constructions.  Then across Flatbush on to Fulton and a side street Elliott I think over to the neighborhood of Fort Greene and Fort Greene Park, cycling up several small inclines to a high point for a remaining monument to forgotten prisoners of war perished at sea.

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The day was wonderful detailed and much preparation by ride leader/creator Shawn Carney who took what started as @20 riders back 300+ years to appreciate what was given for all we have today.  Due to other agendas, life, stamina, in the end as we hung out for a few minutes at Fort Greene Park we were 6 remaining.

We mounted our bikes, bid Fort Greene goodbye and headed back to our start at Grand Army Plaza to conclude our @33 mile trip through revolution history in Brooklyn and say goodbye till next time.  Thanks Shawn…

Tacos on the Beach!

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IMG_0536I had two very unique rides this past 4th of July weekend tallying @70 miles together. My wife Ann in her cycling pursuits happened on to a group of riders a few weeks ago assembling in a meet-up at Grand Army Plaza. Conversation ensued and led her to joining a local bicycle club, the Five Borough Bicycle Club.

I had recently thought about them and joining up as they have a number of rides every month throughout the whole year. Though my main focus is training with the JDRF Crankees I felt it would be good to have some other input along the way and just more the merrier cycling opportunities particularly in the winter months.

The holiday weekend was somewhat off in terms of training rides with the Crankees and Ann and I learned of two rides over the weekend with the 5BBC, the Rockaway Taco on Saturday and the Battle of Revolutionary War ride on Sunday. We signed on together for Saturday and I solo for Sunday.

Around 30 of us on Saturday departed Prospect Park Grand Army Plaza headed for theIMG_0519 Rockaways (Queens) (strip of outer beach beyond Coney Island near JFK). We rode out the edge of the park inner loop down the back streets by the intramural fields, through residential and over to Bedford Avenue following a straight shot to the ocean, down from Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay. We got on to the Belt Parkway Bike Trail and a few jaunts, briefly carrying bikes over a drift sand area to the trail leading to the Gil Hodges Bridge connecting to the Rockaways.

IMG_0524This was the first of three bridges to cross in this trip and of all the bridges I have cycled across in my training I found this one the most daunting though I kept looking forward as down which has not bothered me, suddenly did. The bike path was wide enough probably 6 feet, smooth protected on both sides but the span was long probably near that of the GW as it’s 4,000+ feet. What got me was there slim breakthroughs ever so many feet that you could see the open water below albeit all totally safe but still this magnified that I have some fear of height. But eyes forward and pedals moving and I was over and descending shortly onto Rockaway Point Blvd and Fort Tilden, then on to the boardwalk.

IMG_0533About 3 miles on down and we were ordering tacos at the famous Rockaway Taco which for me as I love Tex/Mex and anything related was the immediate allure of this trip :)

Fed and taken in a bit of the gorgeous beach we headed back via a loop that led us over the Veterans Memorial Bridge (much better bike path over for my money) and through the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. We crossed another bridge, the Addahbo though narrow was completely tame compared to the Hodges Bridge.

The return trip back from here was extremely creative to me, on to the Belt Parkway Bike Path again which both this trip and Sunday’s trip magnified how fortunate we are in New York to have so many bike paths. It’s seemingly abundant to me compared to many other urban areas I hear.

IMG_0539We rode along Erskine Street, the Gateway Bike Trail, Vandalia, Shenk, Cozine, Glenwood, Dewitt and several other streets leading back to Ditmas Park and eventually back to Prospect Park and our point of departure Grand Army Plaza, tallying 37.6 miles for the day.

Ann and I really enjoyed this ride which was led, creatively charted and hosted by David Meltzer and Eliz Peters.

Stay tuned next entry for a write up on the Battle of the Revolutionary War ride. Cheers to tacos…

Jim

Collected thoughts…

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I’m falling behind on posts but training and enthusiasm as well as sore muscles :) are going well and the JDRF fund-raising excellent! To date for the 2014 Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes, I have raised $3,260 and my wife Ann, also riding has raised $1,000.  Thanks to everyone who has given to help us support through this ride, JDRF’s research programs to further technologies such as the Artificial Pancreas Project, research in Beta Cells and continual pursuits in finding a solution until type 1 will be type 0 as the organization’s current moniker subscribes.

ImageLast weekend saw another return to the Jersey side of the Hudson with the Crankees, beginning on the below the George Washington Bridge River Road along the waterside park.  Now ridden this path twice I’m a fan.  It does have a daunting hill at the end but it’s still relatively quiet of cars woodsy shady ride that follows along the bank and gradually climbs top of the hill to Alpine and on to route 9w.

Along with Bob, Jeff G, Rachel, Jeff, Dan, myself, we were joined by three guest riders, veteran Crankees Joe Mure, Angelo Gurino and their friend Mike on Saturday’s River Road/9w ride as a co-promotion/recruit for a JDRF affiliated local July event on the 26th, the New York Families for Autistic Children/JDRF bike ride taking place in Howard Beach.  It was really great to have them come along with us and I’m currently planning to join them in their event on the 26th.

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Returning from Nyack

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Photo op, Piermont, Mike, Bob, Rachel, Jeff

Coming to the top of the River Road, we got on to 9w towards Piermont, NY again.  Going to Piermont on this route is great as you hit three really nice smooth downhills but coming back you get three still nice but challenging uphill :)

Arriving in Piermont, a sweet little spot with a creek like a canal flowing through it, some of us stopped for muffin enticement at the Burberry Coffee Shop and those not enticed kept pedaling the back road to Nyack and back to pick us up.

Reunited and refreshed we rode up the town hill to 9w back towards Ft Lee about 10 miles, the GW bridge and home to New Jersey for some and New York for others.  9w was relatively lite of car type vehicles and the weather for the day was great.

After crossing the GW to Manhattan myself, Bob, Joe, Angelo and Mike rode down the West Side bike path before heading our individual routes home.  I was encouraged to take the Manhattan Bridge which I’d been over once so found my way from the West Side to Grand and followed it through to China Town, then on to the bike path which was great.  Followed the graffiti lined bike ramp coming off on to Tillary Street.  Took that up to Boerum Place, followed across Atlantic to Dean to 3rd Ave and up 9th Street to home in the Slope.  Really good day, for me with the return home @55 miles.  Now having done this trip 3 times I will say I’m feeling stronger and growing in my cycling.


For the second week I have continued an early morning loop plus block away door to door ride that is working well as opposed to riding 2-3 loops then having an off day then riding again.  This is in my local park which the loop distance is 3.3 miles then I ride half the front bike path and a block back to the house, total distance is 4.6 miles which my time has been averaging 23-24 minutes.  Today I did it at 21 minutes which I credit to coming off the long down hill which generally I’m clocking 19-20 miles-per-hour and usually I’m arriving at the flat stretch in the top gear.  Of late I have been downshifting as I’m coming off the hill so I’m still keeping up a fair number of spins.  This morning I hit that flat stretch at about 18 miles-per-hour dropping down to 16 and managed to carry 16 for most of the flat stretch.  Not that this is a lights went on to my novice experience but it was a good observation and feels like something new in my ‘technique’ albeit novice.

So we have another Crankee run in the morning hosted by coach Jeff in New Jersey.  We are again riding up to the familiar Piermont/Nyack trail but he promises an exploratory scenic route so curious to see where this takes us.  Stay tuned to the next post.


 

Lastly as I introduced this article the fund-raising for JDRF which is the mission of the Tucson Ride that my wife and I are participating in, raising support to further research towards a cure, solution, technological advancement, all towards one day making type one type none.  To donate you may go to http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/JDRF2014TucsonRide and thank you.

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

Since Saturday…

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The view from the handlebars this morning looking along a stretch of the park.  I started a new routine this week following a great but bit intense ride with the Crankees this last Saturday doing the River Road from just below the GW and up to Alpine followed then on to route 9w and up to Piermont, NY and back.  The River Road had several good climbs which I needed.

Including riding home from our Upper West Side of Manhattan meeting point the ride was 52 miles which I felt a bit more spent afterwards.  Sunday I was going to make a rest day but decided to do 3 loops in the park.  I had been going with a pattern of ride day rest day but after doing those together I set on Monday to ride a bit before getting ready for work.  I was tight on time so I rode 1 loop.  I decided that perhaps at least during the weekdays that making a consistent loop a day baseline for my morning ride might be best as opposed to trying to fight my clock and squeeze in as many times around Prospect Park as I could which historically is what I have done aiming for 3+ each time.  My door to door distance (home a block away from the park) for 1 loop is 4.58 miles which I’ve done the last two mornings at 24 minutes.  Not anything to brag on but just an idea given morning time constraints at times that maybe a steady daily less/more as opposed to every other day and as much as I can.

Jumping back to Saturday here are a couple of pics from River Road.  It was really nice from standpoint of hardly any motor vehicles and quite bit of it shady which was good/not so good in that it rained the night before and there were some slippery spots at times with splotches of damp fallen leaves and debris albeit none bad just for me, cautious at times.  IMG_0412

As mentioned in my opening the road was fairly constant of rise fall and by end delivered several good hill climbs with one additional for me when I turned right when I should have gone left :)

 

IMG_0413We came out of the @15 mile (may be off here) near route 9w at Alpine, briefly stopped and discussed the rest of the ride on to Piermont.

Going to Piermont at this point is three fun downhills taking you to the entrance of Tallman State Park which a quite little country road leads you in to the quaint Hudson Valley town.

We rolled in to town, had a nice little break for some nourishment at the local coffee/muffin shop, made a group picture by a really big version of our nations flag and hit the road south to back to New York. Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 11.22.57 PM

A prologue shot along the Hudson River Park bike path as I entered the park to cycle down Manhattans west side and on to over the Brooklyn Bridge and home in Brooklyn.  I will add that in my current ‘cycling’ education I have been enjoying a couple of neat audio podcasts on the subject.  This one from the UK on Resonance FM which I highly recommend, the Bike Show with host Jack Thurston.

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This blog is about my progress preparing for a cause based distance ride taking place in Tucson AZ on November 22, 2014.  The cause is to bring awareness and raise money for furthering of funding research work in finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.  The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) is the organization that I am riding for.  Each year JDRF hosts 7 cycling events across the USA between July and November.  Though my family and I have a history raising support for JDRF through their Walk for the Cure series this is the first year that my wife Ann and I are doing one of the Ride to Cure Diabetes events and we are most proud and excited to be taking part in.  You may donate to our participation in raising support for this cause by going to 2014 Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes and helping to make Type 1 Type None!  Thanks very much.   Jim

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