Wednesday, July 28, 2010
NYC -> Home
As the city was driving me a bit crazy, I decided to take a short day of riding on Monday up to my Aunt and Uncle's (Jane and Ralph) in Irvington, NY. Without a map, I took off riding from lower Manhattan up along the westside bike path. After following the Harlem river east, I crossed a bridge, and began wandering north, eventually ending up in the Bronx. Riding through the bronx was some of the most extreme city riding I've ever undertaken. I did not see one person on a bicycle, and I could see why. Almost got hit several times by people opening doors, pulling quickly out of side streets, and others trying to frantically make it through yellow lights.
Relieved that I was finally out of the bronx, I began my roundabout journey through eastern Westchester county. I'd never been here before, but I soon learned that the county is essentially one town in itself with no distinct border between yonkers, new rochelle, pelham, or eastchester. Making it even better, no county or state roads ever had route number signs, so I was left in the dark. Eventually I stopped at a pharmacy to look at a map, and found out I was much further east than I had intended. I finally found Yonkers Rd, which was a busy, winding 6 ln rd, terrible for biking, but cut over to 9, so I got through it as fast as I could, found 9 only after asking for directions as there were no route signs, and the rest of the ride for the day was relatively much better. Made it to Irvington after 50 miles (should have been 20), where Jane and Ralph made me a delicious dinner and gave me a very comfortable place to crash for the night. I planned out my route back home, and slept relatively early for a long day back home.
The next day I woke up around 4:30am, and was on the road by 5. The first 50 miles were somewhat slow as I was still waking up, and after 60 I was out of the 2 most difficult part of the ride, Poughkeepsie and Peekskill, where 9 turned into highway with no shoulder. For the whole ride, I took 9 and varients of 9. 9 and 9a in the morning, then eventually 9d which was very scenic right along the Hudson, then back onto 9 with a bike lane north of Poughkeepsie, and eventually 9h, which took me back to a very unfriendly 9 just south of Albany. I crossed the Hudson on a bridge sidewalk and began heading Northwest on Madison ave. I cut through SUNY Albany Campus to Fuller road which I took to central ave, (RT 5). I hit this just around the beginning of Rush hour and killed it to keep up with traffic (22 - 23 mph) all the way to scotia. Eventually I made it home at 4:30 after 153 miles for the day thus far. I laid down and ate alot and drank alot of water and realized I still had plenty of daylight left. I wasn't feeling too tired so around 5:30I decided to go for a 47 mile ride through charlton and ballston lake for the double century. The evening was perfect for cycling and I ran into several people I knew on the way. I made it back home with 3 miles to go so I did a few loops around the neighborhood for the complete 200. The ride today was just what I needed to destress, and helped me relax after a few hectic days in the city.
As a closing note, I'd like to add what an incredibly inciteful experience the past 8 weeks have been. We've all seen many parts of the country we'd never seen before, and even so we've biked the sections we may have seen in a car. Tour cycling is an incredible way to really learn about the places and people you're passing through. We've stopped at most little towns on the way, and just in the process of grabbing a quick meal or even filling our water bottles, learned about the history, geography or even natural history of the immediate area. Being in these places firsthand really shattered most of the stereotypic ideas I had about many of the places and people of the regions we passed through. The tour also restored much of my faith in humanity, as we hardly met a single person who didn't want to help us out in some way or another. So many people offering us a place to sleep, food, or even just simple directions, local knowledge, and good luck. We were always greeted with a smile.
A special thanks goes out to all the people who provided us with places to stay all throughout the trip. Also thanks to family and friends of everyone who rode for giving us so much support, including my parents who made it possible for me to get out to seattle and eat food during the trip. Most of all, to Will, Dan, Peter, Aidan, David, Carrie, and Ashley all who made the trip worthwhile and added to the dynamics of a tremendous group do be with for 8 weeks. As Peter mentioned in the previous post, this has been an experience I'll never forget.