2:30 am wake – get ready. Rain and thunder showers heavy in the forecast so rain jacket/pants/leggings/gloves packed gambling but anticipating this ride in Connecticut possible drencher. Couple from our group already listened to their reasonable selves but hell-bent for leather me, positive coach vibes and mere take your chances even if scared says maybe it won’t rain or maybe it will be light.
Bike and back pack clad I headed down to the F train and on to the island, waiting. It’s 3:30 now, have an hour to get to Grand Central, get ticket and bike pass and make the 5:30 am train to Greens Farms near Westport. 3:40, G train comes but that won’t do it, wait. Another 5 minutes then the familiar subway chime, train comes round the corner from 15th street stop, yes it’s got the recognizable red circled F in the top center, we’re on!
On board with the bike now, all good. Stops pass, look at the watch, now in Manhattan. More stops pass. Some post party spirits get on at 2nd Avenue still buzzing from the night, one man wants to take their picture. Stops pass, W 4th, 14th, 23rd. Plenty of time, little after 4am, all good. 34th then 42nd street Bryant Park. Got off could catch the 7 train and ride right in to Grand Central and I think nah above ground just walk over. Up on the street, walk over, Grand Central not open, yikes! Says 5:30, train is at 5:30, not going to work. Think okay go back get on 7 maybe come in under and be closer to ticket booth when opens or hey just get track, buy on the train. Do they sell a bike pass on the train?
Carry bike back downstairs, through turnstiles. Wait few minutes, 20 of 5 now, hear the rumble of the 7 approaching, there it is. Get on, comes in to Grand Central. Get off, up stairs, get on escalator. Angle is amazing vertigo, in other words look straight not up.
Through the turnstiles, up to Grand Central concourse and open but the inner barricade gates are up! Collection of worn over-nighters waiting for the early morn train to return home after a night of partying in the City and there I am and a couple of other bright-eyed spandex clad helmet bearing two-wheeler in tow ready to get on the train and arrive in time for gentlemen start your engines, The Bloomin’ Metric, a bicycling event now in its 38th year starting and ending at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, CT, put on by the Sound Cyclists’ Bicycle Club.
The ride offered 3 distances of 42 kilometers (25 miles), 75 kilometers (47.6 miles) or 100 kilometers (62.1 miles) along a loop of scenic roads of Fairfield County, Connecticut. From brushing with Long Island Sound to rising climbs in the woods and rolling hills of scattered homes and schools spilling out of Westchester and Connecticut suburbia.
Four of us from the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Crankees came up for the event all opting for the 100 kilometers. I got in to the Green Farms metro north station a little after 7 and met up with coach Bob Cohen at the park grounds which was buzzing with riders assembling for the call of the day. In addition to Bob I was in community of all our chapter coaches with Jeff Goodnow and Zach Orden arriving from Jersey a little later.
Bob and I started out on the 100k a few minutes before 8 along with a steady stream of others. We rode out, down the hill from Sheridan Park entrance hanging a right on Nyala Farms Road then Greens Farm the road I had ridden in from the train on earlier and headed for water front along Beachside Avenue. The predicted rains had not thankfully found their way to overpower the beautiful unexpected more sun than clouds morning. The air along the water was the familiar green salty coolness that just hangs in its purity.
A few turns took us from the waterfront in to residential and in/out of wooded areas for the first 20 miles with some elevation of the promised @3,000 feet total for the course. The beauty of the area was distinct and paradoxically reminding of Acadia National Park and it’s home of Mt. Desert in Maine, an area I’ve spent a lot of time in and almost was home once.
Despite our fortune of good weather so far, we passed through a residential neighborhood and the streets were freshly covered for a short distance where it seemed a rain cloud had just hung steady in that one area dropping its tears, stopping and disappearing.
Emerging out of a wooded along Pine Tree Road our first food/rest stop arrived at Joel Barrow High School offering an outstanding fare of fruits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, nuts and water/Gatorade to send us on our way. Funny before getting back in to distance biking I was not a huge fan of PBJSW’s despite all of them made in my household over the years for my younger son Cal. Last year during my first JDRF Ride to Cure in Tucson I recall delving in to the mainstay riding food at one of the rest stops and now look forward to at all the rest stops – this one promised no disappointment.
During the next 20 miles the 100k route broke away from the 25 then the 75k and would rejoin further down in what I thought was really neat particularly when about mile 35 we crossed over Newtown Turnpike via Route 58 and a stream of other riders came in from the 75k route joining us on the 100k and leading on to the second rest/food stop at mile 41. To me this gave the course new life as opposed to same loop with staggered starts.
From the second rest stop heading out on Valley Forge Road we went through a really pretty area around a lake and again much reminder of an area of Acadia around Northeast Harbor, it was amazing how some of this transplanted to me. The route emerged out of this area heading back in to scattered residential, one final rest stop at mile 50 that Bob and I chose to pedal on. This reminds me as I believe she appeared a third time around this point, a woman from either a CT JDRF chapter or possibly Westchester. She followed the course around and when we passed by rang a cowbell and gave out a ‘Go JDRF’ which was really nice – kudos to her.
The route looped on around and the end was in sight. We were back on Green Farms Road where we had been 4 plus hours earlier, turning right and heading up Sherwood Isle road to turn in to the park and finish with a rewarding greeting of half-dozen food trucks offering tacos, pizza, meat ball heroes, burgers, to replenish the calorie depletion of the Bloomin’ Metric. Amazing day and ride, I’ll be back!
(L to R) Jim Goodin, Bob Cohen, Zack Orden, Jeff Goodno
My return to riding after 40 years away was motivated last year when I learned of and joined the JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes program. All drawn to this program have a tether to type 1 diabetes, mine my son Cal. On Nov 21st, I’m returning to Tucson (AZ) to participate in the 2015 JDRF Tucson Ride to Cure Diabetes as part of the national cycling event El Tour de Tucson. I will be joining about 200 JDRF riders from chapters across the country who are raising money to help further JDRF directed research that is leading to improving the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes and one day finding a cure. You can support JDRF and my participation in this national riding event, 1 of 7 JDRF rides, by going to my personal page and donating. http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR/Ride/JDRFNationalRides?px=4654534&pg=personal&fr_id=5206 . Thank you!