Confidence grows, getting there – Ride to Cure, El Tour part 2

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As I retell this story I’m going over the cue sheet and Google maps recalling the path.  It was really amazing, almost make-believe to me at times.  I had ridden the distance on a Century in the boroughs of NYC but this whole wide open spaces even in the civilization of Tucson was huge.  A pre-race concern was I’d fall behind, take a wrong turn and lose valuable time trying to get back on course.  As I was the only rider from the NYC chapter doing the Tucson event I had no team to rely on though initially I was supposed to ride with some with friends I made in the Austin TX team.  The irony was though I saw some of them along the way and started out with a few other friends made at the event, coaches John Dallon and Mike Cross, in the end I wound up on my own a lot occasionally passing along other El Tour or a JDRF riders.  In addition to the cue map there was outstanding police support at nearly all the intersections and turns.  Still this ride and that alone time taught me a lot about trust and confidence in myself.

In the last post I had just come through the first of two off-road sections, the Santa Cruz dry riverbed complete with celebratory Mariachi band at the end which was a hoot!  From there it was back on pavement and West Drexel Road leading to the outskirts of town to the edge of country and the Catalina Mountain foothills.Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 12.18.04 AM

From West Drexel we headed south on Nogales Highway taking the East Hughes Access Road, Los Reales Road, north on South Craycroft, parallel to I-10 on the service road then heading north on Kolb Road and then Irvington Road.  At mile 27 I came to the first official JDRF rest stop which was going to be the first of my three primary stops.  This was also a point where though early in ride it felt like it was underway, it was about 9:30 and I began to feel I’m where I should be.IMG_1767

From this point it was angling north across the Pantano Wash leading towards the upper part of the loop and in to the Catalina Mountain area. The landscape was starting to look like more of the Arizona desert country I had envisioned.

About mile 35 two things happened, one it was this long gradual descending stretch, the kind of road that is classic to western open areas I’d seen in pictures where it looks like the road goes forever.  It was here that without hardly trying I was suddenly clocking 30 mph, the road and tailwind just felt in control and you just went with it.

This was on a section of road known as the Old Spanish Trail.  After leveling out the road surface got rougher and the shoulder would come and go.  Also though traffic was lighter due to coordination of El Tour de Tucson there was some slow-moving traffic in this section.  There were two cyclists ahead of me.  Suddenly the one in the middle fell.  The other cyclist and I both stopped to see if assistance was needed.   IMG_1768

We both went to help the cyclist who had fallen who turned out to be a 79-year-old man, get to his feet.  He was cut up and stunned but got up with assistance.  He was bleeding on his knee, hand and arm but moving and spoke to us.  He claimed to be on his tenth ride of El Tour de Tucson and wanting to go on and meet others he knew.

Thankfully about this time a member of the El Tour bike patrol came upon us and stopped.  El Tour had several of these individuals roaming the breadth of the course for whatever assistance that might be needed in this case he had bandages and medical so he took over.  We stayed till it was clear the bike patrol fellow how control of the situation.  Thankfully it seemed this gentleman would heal to ride again but as I said in a social post about this, 79, El Tour 10 times, give him a yellow jersey!

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After continuing on the Old Spanish Trail (S Freeman Road), heading west for a few miles then north again we were soon nearing the 50 mile point.  About mile 47 though the road would go off pavement again.  We were on E Synder Road, turned down N Palisade Drive through a sparse residential area.  The sense of direction on the whole El Tour was often a mix of law enforcement officials at intersections and people who just turned out along the course to cheer all of us on which was both touching and novel.  I recall in this section being by myself for a bit having followed the described and turned on to N Palisade, then coming upon a couple of riders ahead of me, we were initially saying to each other is this the way, that way, then there were a couple of local folks pointing the way, which led to E Summer trail that would lead us across the Sabino Creek, like the other creek bed, dried up.  This was all leading in to a pretty resort like area, Canyon Ranch.

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All through this area was leading to a range of feelings within me, wow, I can do this, I’m half-way there, this is amazing, the cause, Cal, how cool to be out here with everyone, JDRF and bikers from all over the place…  Next post, 54 miles on and the end is in sight!


 

Very pleased to say that my fund-raising for JDRF and being part of the 2014 Ride to Cure Diabetes ride series raising awareness and supporting research to make ‘type 1 type none’, I’ve raised $5,155.  You may still donate to this cause by going to http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?px=4654534&pg=personal&fr_id=3432 Thanks very much and thanks to all who have donated through the last several months.

Rubber Side Down! The day has arrived…

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IMG_1752Those words rallied off one of the most exciting moments when myself and 100 plus cyclists of the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes national team along with 2,000 cyclists from all over pushed down the first pedal stroke off the start line of the 32nd annual El Tour de Tucson which took place in Tucson, AZ, this past Saturday (Nov 22, 2014). 

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nat’l JDRF coach John Dallman

This early morn start-up gathering of wheels persons added in with three other starting line-ups during the day for shorter courses made up 9,000 total participating in El Tour. We the early birds were beginning our journey on a 104 mile course that would loop around city/suburban/rural Tucson.  The enthusiastic war cry was yelled by national JDRF coach John Dallman rallying unity of those riding the event for the cause of making a statement for the quest of finding a cure and improving the lives of those living with Type 1 diabetes, the mission statement of JDRF.

The day began with a waking at 4:30am, getting ready, having a spirited breakfast at 5 and boarding a 5:45 shuttle bus to go meet our already transported bikes (by the tirelessly Mike Clark and team bike room crew) and ride from the Tucson Convention Center to the event start on South 6th Avenue at 13th street.

Trying to breadth the balance of dressing to prepare for both the early morning 40’s and later day temperature 70’s still left some shivering moments in our pre-start and later starting position.

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pre-start in the chill, w/ Lindsay Grubiak JDRF Ride dev mgr, NY chapter Tucson ride team :)

Our bikes  greeted us in the chilly predawn air upon our arrival to the Convention Center which I should mention our JDRF hosts did a beautiful job of arranging transportation to/from the event as well other needs throughout the weekend.

We got off the bus, found our bikes, did final preparations and lined up in fast/faster/fasted pacing groups to depart for the El Tour official start a few blocks away.

IMG_1751The starting line energy and enthusiasm was growing excitement feeling on the edge but about to break through as soon as the countdown to the official 7am would arrive.  Precursor announcements came over the public address with the last being it was time for the National Anthem which was wonderfully heartfelt sung by a local middle  schooler, full of passion that was quite touching.IMG_1756

Then the countdown… I recall the announcer disclaimed 6:58, then 6:59, then 15 then 10 and we were shortly off!  With 2,000 riders packed together as we were I thought we would be losing time slowly moving out and finding position but in the end we were up to pedal speed, finding positions within 10 minutes.

With this my first JDRF ride I was overly anxious about the unknown consisting of things like the volume, last year’s horrific tragedy, getting lost (prone to do :)  just ask anyone in our local group on the River Road), edict to finish before dark or be pulled off the course without finishing.  There had been some encouragement from El Tour organizers to scale down to the 75 mile route if there was personal doubt about finishing by 5pm.  Though the argument was understood in the end I’d pedaled over 2,000 miles since May, ridden a Century two months before so the last thing I wanted to do was back off the goal I came for albeit the decision weighed heavy most of the day before.  In the end 104, come hell or high water!

But we were off and as we turned right off South 6th Ave. on to 22nd street heading out to a service road that would lead us to open country of surrounding Tucson country side I held on to thoughts about the 170 of us riding as a national team, welcoming JDRF jerseys scattering through the thicket of riders as the day would go on, my Cal (my child with type 1 diabetes), looking fear in the eye keeping my mantra of ‘Safe, Clear, Finish’ visible, how I had trained to get here and just how big as life it felt pedaling across a place I had never been before and trusting the road and those ahead of me for where we were going – I felt much pride and occasionally tears of happiness actually.

IMG_1759So many memories of this experience as I’m trying to relive and build a thread in this post.  One of the first early was just unusual and neat was first of two off-road crossings.  This one came early about 8 miles in to the route where we had to dismount and carry or walk our bikes through the dried out Santa Cruz river bed which last year this time I suspect had water as the event had its first rain in years.  But thankfully this year it was clear skies and dry so carried bikes through the rock and sandy riverbed and on the other side, were greeted by a Mariachi band!IMG_1761

Given the time constraint and determination to finish the 104 mile trek I knew I had to keep my rest stops to a minimum.  JDRF provided stops at 27, 59 and 81 miles with good energy food support ala pb&j sandwiches, Oreo cookies (yey!), pretzels and even pancakes I think at mile 59!  El Tour provided a stop approximately every 8 miles that ranged from water/porta-potty to fruits and one time actually the NY style slushy treats in a cup (oh home in the park in August!).  I had mentally mapped out to stop at the JDRF stops and whistle stop some of the El Tour stops if needed.   I stopped a couple of times briefly for a whistling rubbing noise emitting from my front wheel that I never quite figured out.  Kudos to national coach/JDRF bike room/road manager Mike Clark, national coaches Lorne Shiff and John Dallman for giving this a few looks along the way.IMG_1762

Then there was another story of an unplanned stop that was inspiring in the end.  This was on the Old Spanish Trail road about mile 35 and I’ll pick up there in the next post continuing the 2014 JDRF Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes/El Tour de Tucson, stay tuned!


$5,020 raised to date in my fund raiser as part of the Ride to Cure Diabetes program for JDRF, improving the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes and seeking a cure.  If you would like to support this cause please do so by accessing http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?px=4654534&pg=personal&fr_id=3432 and donating. Thank you!

James_Goodin_El_Tour_MedalJim

the zen of my Pedalin’…

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SUNP0006it’s no secret after several months of re-emergence into bicycling that for me who usually carries a lot of anxiety, I great a deal of calming or balance in the turn of the pedals becomes the reward.  It’s not been uncommon for me to come in to a ride or some thing particular new and get in my head and the experience of the ride will become a counter balance elixir.

The return to bicycling for anyone who has followed my blog knows the draw was discovering the JDRF ride program with the opportunity to fund raise for diabetes research, be part of a community and culminate with a ride event, joining together with other cyclists, new and experienced brought together by the common ties of type 1 diabetes and a zeal for the two wheels.  The ride event usually a 100 miles or Century as it’s known to be a celebration and equally to raise awareness that the hope of a cure for insulin dependent loved ones remains a focus of a reality and through organizations like JDRF, to invest money in to progressive research with that goal.

I began training and fund raising in early May for a ride event that has finally arrived, the last one of the season of 7 JDRF hosted nation bicycling events.  The El Tour de Tucson which JDRF along with several other charities will take place for it’s 32nd year this Saturday, Nov 22nd.

The draw of cyclists participating in El Tour is huge, the pre-press suggests 9,000 which excites yet also daunts my anxiety levels.  Will I find my place, will I finish the distance before time is called as the window to complete the 104 mile course that I have chosen is 10 hours, will I be safe, will I interfere with another rider’s safety, all these things with the newness of this experience are rounding my brain cells.

Of course I will exercise safety and avoid risks as I normally do.  In theory 10 hrs is enough time, I’ve ridden several other rides the last few months including another Century so the miles are there, it’s just a mix of the unknown that haunts me, the desire to not let my Cal down who is type 1 now 10 years, all the type 1 diabetics who those of us pedaling are expressing through this ride that insulin therapy while it does allow a livable life, there is a better way with in the grasp of our species to find a solution for this chronic disease and actually that’s the message of all the other charities that I’m sure I will learn of in the course of the next few days at this event, that a breakthrough should be with in scope of our time.

It is a tangent blog post, a thread of writing my anxiety, a thread of the realization of while that element of completion plays on my ego and yes the desire to finish this ‘race’ as some have termed it, strong.  All that stuff doesn’t really matter in the scope of the message each of us brings to the table of El Tour and for that I pedal… for my zen, my karma, my faith, help me to embrace that light and the miles will pass.


My commitment to JDRF was $4,000 with a personal goal of reaching $5,000.  Through generosity of friends, colleagues and strangers I have raised $4,460 thus far.  If you might desire to make a donation to advance research for type 1 diabetes so one day type one will be type none, please visit http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?px=4654534&pg=personal&fr_id=3432.  Thank you.

A week from now…

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literally as the clock goes my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes will be over.  But let me escalate a few hours before as on that morning at I believe 7am I will line-up with what promises to be thousands of other bicyclists from all over the country probably world drawn to this 32-year-old bicycling endurance event in Tucson, AZ, the El Tour de Tucson.

We are drawn for many reasons and some I don’t yet know.  Many as I, come to this day for a charitable purpose mine if you have followed this blog know it’s raising money and awareness for the international diabetes research funding organization, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, JDRF.  The organization’s mission is to drive the work being done in type 1 diabetes, a disease that usually but not always strikes the lives of children as in the case of my offspring, Cal when it occurred at age 8.  Beyond the daily insulin therapy there is not yet a cure however many exciting developments in beta cell and cellular encapsulation are leading to what I believe will be a reality in the coming years, hopefully soon.

After being away from biking for many years I decided this past spring that it was time to return and so I did, mainly for the initial reason of participating in a JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes.  There are 7 national rides, due to scheduling I could only participate in the last one, the Tucson Ride to Cure which JDRF like many charities joins in to the hugely participated in El Tour.

I began training for distance in early May under volunteer JDRF coaches, Bob Cohen, Cary James and Jeff Goodnow and fellow members of a great group of cycling enthusiasts known as the Crankees.  Now 2,000 plus miles later I’m on the cusp of the event I trained for, pedaling my bike 104 miles in a ranging loop in and around the city of Tucson along with thousands of other cyclists.  I am excited, daunted, nervous but ready.

I fly out to Tucson this coming Thursday for a day and half of JDRF supported orientation and community time prior to the ride starting Saturday morn the 22nd at 7am with an edict of completion by 5pm.  I hope to document the event along the way as I go at least with some images, maybe some sound recording we’ll have to see how that goes.  Hoping for clear skies, clear rested mind, power to my pedals and safe karma, will report back in the next post.

Two underscores… originally my wife who also got in to biking over the summer and did fund raise over $1,600 has unfortunately had to cancel out on doing the ride due to unforeseen family needs which in the end have still allowed me to go, to ride for both of us in support of the cause, our Cal and the hope of bringing awareness of one day making type 1 type none.

For my fund-raising efforts which go hand-in-hand as a commitment to the Ride event along with the training, I have over the last few months raised $4,410 for JDRF.  These financial results go along with many man more dollars across the land from like-minded other members of the Ride program, all to further the research in finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.  Please consider making a $5/$10/$15 donation to my fund-raising which you may do at http://jdrf3.convio.net/site/TR?px=4654534&fr_id=3432&pg=personal .  Thank you for helping to find a cure for type 1 diabetes and sincere thanks to my above mentioned coaches for helping get me to this stage of readiness.

Pedaling…

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IMG_1622I’m several weeks behind a post to Tucson Bound which btw the I still am, nothing changed there.  The JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes that I have been pedaling towards since last spring is nearing to the celebrated ride day in about three weeks on Nov 22nd.  This event is many things but most importantly it is one of seven days nationally that brings together spirited cyclists like myself who all have something in common beyond a love for the bike and the sport, the muse, we each have a tie to type 1 diabetes and it’s a day which brings us together to say hey, this disease though manageable to a state of a certain amount of normalcy is still there and still is on a path to a cure for the insulin dependency for all those such as my Cal who it affects.  For details on how you can support the research through the spirit of this ride see the link at end of the post.

I think the last post I did was about the conclusion of the Transportation Alternatives 2014 NYC Century I took part in on Sept 7th and since, there has been much good pedaling, some with JDRF ride program coaches and fellow bikers and many just time on my own.

A couple of the JDRF rides that I’ve been on were both in suburban New Jersey in areas all new to me.  One led by coach Jeff Goodnow and teammate Jon Reitzes led us through 50 plus miles in and around the Saddle River area of north Jersey, a range of quiet sleepy pastoral lanes to somewhat busy suburban trafficked roads.  The other was a few weeks ago when coach Bob Cohen and I headed up the west side of Manhattan towards the familiar 9w to Piermont and Nyack, NY, when just after crossing the GWB he said, ‘feel like being adventurous’ and off we went on a back path to the familiar upper Hudson Valley towns.  Similar to the first this ride wove in and around the 9w parallel but eluded it coming out on the second road entrance leading in to the Sparkill Creek town.  We had a delightful day on that one, slightly chilly and begged for the long gloves, but great ride and excellent to find a new route to the familiar area.

IMG_1586Since then Bob and I took another ride shorter across the bridge and then to the Henry Hudson shoreline road dubbed the ‘River Road’ one of my favorites of the NYC area as it is very little car and winds up and down for 8 miles along the river leading up to Alpine.  On that trek I had the pleasure to make a new biking friend Henry who turned out to be a fellow Strava member.  We have since kudos supported each others efforts :)

Then there have been my daily loop in the Prospect Park rides to begin my day, a ride last Sunday out to Bay Ridge, the coastal greenway leading to Bensonhurst Park and back.  Was quite windy that day but gorgeous.IMG_1600 IMG_1605

There was this week which I had the good fortune to have some vacation days and be off work.  I did a 30+ and a 25 mile rides consisting of 7 loops around the park and some neighborhood streets.  Beautiful weather this week continuing to be a bit cool but quite pleasant.

And to top off all my recent return to cycling inspiration I recently decided to lessen my MTA subway rides and bought a Dahon P8 folding bike for the express purpose of riding to work at least during the morning commute as often as possible.  I’m undecided about the evening return but will work towards it.  I picked the Dahon up two days ago and have really fallen in love with the 20-inch wheeler. Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 9.04.49 PM

 

The surprises have been the upright feel almost Pee Wee Herman like :) but feels great particularly in traffic.  The shorter wheel base allows easy maneuver and does not feel slow.  Matter of fact with the 8 gears the pace clips along nicely.  I’ve logged about 25 miles on it so far including somewhat of a soaker this morning in the rain which I took on for added experience with the element.

IMG_1617So that’s all the pedaling this post, hope you are somewhere riding and thanks for reading and possibly following my progress on Tucson Bound!

Jim


Please consider a $5/10/15 dollar donation to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International furthering their progress to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.  On Nov 22nd I ride along with other JDRF cyclists across the country meeting for the El Tour de Tucson/Ride to Cure Diabetes in Tucson, AZ, as we cycle a 100 miles to raise support and awareness that will one day make ‘type 1 type None’.  Visit my fund-raising page to learn more and make a donation.  Thanks.

The Bronx and home to Brooklyn for the Finish!

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IMG_1511Crossing the Tri-Boro on initial view from leading to it, seemed okay but that’s a big bridge!  Leading up to its pedestrian/bike path we had to carry bikes up the stairs – wasn’t a big deal just lot of us doing it but it was pretty organized, people taking their time. 

Once up to the path which was a pre-ramp going to the bridge we were able to ride a bit until another set of stairs.  Then same thing dismount and mount again up the rise.

The height of thing was/is pretty up there, not sure how many feet but when looking down particularly once over the water and looking down on the sports fields below people were not ants :) but pretty small.  There was a point in the going over that once again we had to walk and then were able to ride again.  Near that point we began the longest widest descending bike ramp I’ve known in my crossing of the various city bridges.  It was a nice slowly sloping smooth downhill descent that came to another descending, this time zigzagged ramp down to the street.

We exited on to the street, made a couple of quick turns and were biking along a warehouse aligned street leading to making our way north in to the Bronx.

One nice surprising turn led us through a neighborhood which several folks on the street applauded our passing through and cheering, ‘keep it up!’  It was funny and equally touching.

The tour continued north up to Fordham University routing West around 235th street.  We rode west towards Van Cortlandt Park where the area became familiar to me having done an earlier ride with fellow Crankee Dan Vogel.  George and the others got ahead at an intersection where I got caught by the light.  I got across and entered a greenway trail leading winding and downward through a wooded area that for a moment or two I wondered if I was astray.  I kept following what felt like the main trail and soon emerged in to a road that led to our Van Cortlandt rest stop.

IMG_1513After time for a bite of watermelon and stretch of the legs we followed the course out of the park, across Broadway and up a hill through Manhattan College another familiar area pedaled through.  We were routed through residential Riverdale and back towards Broadway crossing over to the Harlem River bike path leading us to Central Park, the finish line for those who had started there but for George and I and others another 13 miles to our finish in Brooklyn at the Prospect Park bandshell.

Once over to the Harlem River bike path we rode south passing through areas once I only knew via car along I87 as it came down from Westchester and beyond into the City.  As the distance passed through the Bronx and in to the 1XXth streets I began to realize how close we were to Central Park which though it was not our finish it still felt like it was more than a rest stop.  At this point it was clear that several in the pack we had been riding in would finish in Central Park – it was in the air for them.

IMG_1516The blocks passed quickly and soon we were riding in to the park at 110th and Lenox, rounding a short stretch of the inner park loop and then in to the jubilant finish line and for us our last rest stop.  The energy was the paradox as the party ensued with music triumphing success as well as a slew of vendor booths, photographers, friends of the riders and much celebration.  We enjoyed the additional celebratory ice pop and replied we’re not done yet when asked what t-shirt size and water bottle did we want and with that, ‘on to Brooklyn’ for our finish.

We headed out of the park following the spray painted markings on the road turning on to Riverside Drive to West 72nd then West End/11th Avenue/9th Avenue to a bike greenway to Bleecker Street then at some point we turned off on to Broadway again open traffic all the way to Worth, Lafayette/Centre and on to Brooklyn Bridge bike/walker/runner/tourist path across.

IMG_1522The interesting and new discovery to me was coming to know a more friendlier way to/from Park Slope from the bridge and this was our final 3 miles to the finish at the bandshell.  The TA road markings directed us from the BB ramp u-turn on to Adams/Brooklyn Bridge Blvd to Sands then to Navy then on to Flushing Avenue which would take one all the way to Williamsburg but taking it only to Vanderbilt, making a right and heading towards the edge of Fort Greene.  Continuing on and across Atlantic and towards Grand Army.  Then on to the greenway on west side of Prospect Park.  We took the greenway to 3rd street entrance, got on to the inner loop and then turned in to 9th street playground to cross the finish line at the bandshell – Yay!  Rocks!  Completed my first 100 miles in this chapter of pedaling, was a great feeling!

Finish line! Ride buddy, George and me

Finish line! Ride buddy, George and me


A reminder that your donation of $5, $10, $15 or $20 can help to advance diabetes research of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November.

My First Century (this Century), continued…

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As I’m trying to retell the details of my experience in the Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour I’m really wishing for the helmet camera I didn’t and don’t have.  The Century ride I took part in a couple of weeks ago, my first in this chapter of cycling, was a great challenging but nicely paced day and course connecting Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan in for me a really creative way, particularly and not to be coy but in places I had never been in the City boroughs.

On one level the New York area has always seemed huge to me and yet it’s not, only 100 miles around and all in 11 hours on two human-powered wheels.

At conclusion of my previous post we were crossing over the Cross Bay Bridge connecting the Rockaways with the mainland.  As I re-look at the cue sheet for reference I remember when we came off the Cross Bay I realized I had been there previously as the late June charity ride for New York Families for Autistic Children/JDRF had started/ended right where this leg of the Century was passing at 165th Avenue.  We went through the familiar Howard Beach residential neighborhood in and around the Belt Parkway and leading towards Forest Park.

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We came out of a series of residential and service roads, turning on to the first of occasional small climbs ergo hills that led onto the wooded Forest Park Greenway.  At the end of the greenway we arrived at our second rest stop again refleat with a range of fruits with particular the watermelon was absolutely the best, tabula, pitas and humus.IMG_1489

 

After a few minutes it was time to pedal again now starting approximately mile 40 in the ride.  George and I cycled out of the rest stop crossing Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue, left Onslow Place, right on Grenfell, left on 82nd Ave and right on Kew Gardens Road all the time looking for the ‘C’ and arrow directional spray painted on the road as our breadcrumbs leading us on.

IMG_1493Right after turning on to Booth Memorial Drive our cue sheet offered and option of taking a lap around the Kissena Velodrome of which having never done that, it was not the time to pass it up.IMG_1494

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 11.40.07 PMIt was at this point as shown in the course sectional where the 75 mile (blue) and 100 mile (orange) break/departure occurred.  Those distances for those of us who started at Prospect Park in Brooklyn would be 15 miles less which would be added back when we got to Central Park and would continue on to Brooklyn for our finish.

Leaving the recreational loop at the velodrome we followed the route headed for the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and up to Little Bay Park and Little Neck waterways leading towards Laguardia so there were no doubts, it was the longer destination.

Rounding through these areas of Queens was the most interesting to me and nicely placed as we were getting half-way through our journey.  I really can’t say there was fatigue of any seriousness this far as between the build up from my training the last few months and the contrasting route the journey was progressing positively.  It was such a nice balance of city neighborhood and occasional wooded areas and some actual ‘hills’ making things all the more interesting.  So to the route planners kudos :)

Following the Cunningham Parkway Greenway (Vanderbilt Motor Parkway) we were @60 miles in for those who had started at Central Park.  For George and I and other riders from the Prospect Park start we were @45 miles at this stage, about another 10 miles to our next official rest stop along the water at Little Bay Park.  As it was when we were on the Rockaways being by the water is always a plus.  Through this area we were on a mix of streets, greenway and by the water sidewalks.IMG_1495

Next post, heading for Astoria and Randall’s Island with a crossing via the Tri-Boro Bridge up to the Bronx.


 

A reminder that your donation of $5, $10, $15 or $20 can help to advance diabetes research of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November.

 

 

 

 

My First Century (this Century)…

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2014-mapThough I rode a Century (100 miles) ride 40 years ago I’m proud to say that in this recent return to bicycling, I just completed my first Century ride participating in Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour which offered the choice of 35/55/75/100 mile courses weaving through all the New York City boroughs except Staten Island.

I had the event in the back of mind ever since family friend George Sweeting told me about it a few weeks ago.  I wanted to do it then but was juggling both confidence and potentially work schedule conflict.  In the end all came together and along with the encouragement of fellow Crankees Dan Vogel and Bob Cohen I registered for the ride choosing to go for the 100 course.

On the eve of the ride Dan who was supposed to be my ride buddy unfortunately had to cancel and in the end George and I wound up riding together.  This would turn in to a blessing as George knew the route from previous years allowing me to shadow him.  My wife Ann who is also training for our JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November, decided to sign up for the Century event which I was very pleased about.  With her distance still growing she decided on the 55 mile course which followed the 100 mile route without much of Queens and the Bronx.

The tour allowed two start/finish points, Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn which I chose the latter.  George and I met up and rode up together getting there a few minutes before the 6:30 am start off.  The energy was a buzz with two wheelers everywhere at Park Circle.  The draw for the tour was at least 5,000 by when I picked up my bib the day before.

IMG_1481George and I found our cue sheets, found open spaces in the mass gathering to begin and positioned ourselves.  For some reason I expected a starter gun signal to begin but I think was merely an organizer yelling to go.

We were off with the pack with moderate space between and the trust we all had move space, daunting as it is but on some level the physics of it work.  We pulled out of the park and started round the roundabout at the corner exiting on to Coney Island Avenue and beginning back street angling towards the 67th street Brooklyn greenway along the water and heading for Bay Ridge with a course going to Coney Island and the first rest stop in Marine Park.IMG_1484

Well stocked for energy reprieve was the fare at the first rest stop.  Fruits, pitas, humus and multiple spicket water refill and of course plenty of porta potties for the need as well.

IMG_1482After a few minutes break and replenishment George and I were back on course heading towards Queens and the Rockaways.  This course was a great balance for me some familiar but much new.  For my 20 years in New York much taken for granted in a blur or underground journey the cycling experience of the last several months has brought me renewed appreciation for much of it.  I had never been to the Rockaways before the first ride out with the 5BBC in late June.

Coming out of Marine Park following the yellowish spray painted ‘C and directional arrows’, visual breadcrumbs indicating the Century route on the streets we found our way to the Flatbush Avenue bike path headed for the Rockaways.  We rounded right towards the water with the Floyd Bennett Aviation Fieldhouse on the left just before the Gil Hodges bridge, a path I’ve traveled three times previously this summer.  The path rose up and across the bridge, a little over 4,000 feet, descending on to Rockaway Point Blvd, rounding Heinzelman Rd, through a short grassy thicket lined path and on to Rockaway Beach Blvd.

George and I rode through the Rockaways with 25 miles in to the Century as we headed to mainland Queens via the Cross Bay Bridge.  For me the next several miles were some of the most interesting of the 100 taking me through a mix of neighborhoods and woods via paths/roads like the Forest Park Greenway and later Kew Gardens Road none of which I’d ever been.

To be continued/updated soon….

Still shaky but moving, pedalin’…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.43.00 PMI’m still shaky riding since last Saturday’s crossing with a car.  I guess it’s to be expected just discouraging but hoping little by little to get back my confidence. I have been riding daily anywhere from 4.5 to 16 miles since the accident, feeling that if I miss a day I lose more mental.  Today I made a work schedule change for a work mate so I was unable to ride my base loop this morning.  In its place I got out this evening as soon as I could but it was dusk, ironically similar to the time last Saturday so I was really edgy this evening.  I rode 4.5 miles in and around the park but felt on edge about the bicyclists/runners ahead/behind/left – feel like a real skits.  It just feels like fear of getting hit or hitting.

Not a very positive post this is but feel like writing some feelings.  The whole experience and vibe all week has felt like a magnification of how vulnerable the experience is which we all deal with.  It’s not like a sudden realization but I will say with confidence down it feels more prevalent to me.

Reality and soberness I should be totally glad my encounter was minor, that I didn’t get hurt or worse and in vanity and wheels were pretty much unscathed.  I know most of this is in my head but it’s clear it’s taken a toll and is taking some time to build up again.  I’m sure in coming days/weeks if I stay at it this will pass other than being more on guard.

To continue to push if I don’t have to work on Sunday (Sept 7) I’m planning to do the Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour with fellow Crankee Dan Vogel and a family friend.  The advocacy event slogan is a Ride of Passage which feels like it might be really good for me right now.

The image top of the post is where I hit the side of a car that turned in front of me last Saturday evening.  I rode by on Monday on a confidence ride in to Manhattan.  Still a blur as to exactly how or what, not from standpoint of whose fault as that does not matter really.  In a sense it was both parties to me.  Perhaps I was tired from the ride over to New Jersey that day and just couldn’t react fast enough.  Anyhow not to wallow and continue to be thankful just having head games and trying to get my ‘game’ back.  All in time.

On the positive in terms of the bigger picture, purpose of what I’m doing, the blog, I got a few more donations today for my JDRF fund-raising and am now up to $3,895 which actually is a 100 dollars more than I thought when I started writing this evening so another donation came in, wooooot! as they say and there in should be my cause for confidence and regained focus!  Thanks to those who are reading and following.

Jim

A return and someone turned…

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IMG_1434Of 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.IMG_1428

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.IMG_1431

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.IMG_1433

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.IMG_1440

And this one as I was passing under the bridge which it’s amazing how the breadth of this thing hangs in the air.IMG_1441

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.

 

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