Last 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…’
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