"T minus 30" is what I told Dave at 6:30am. 30 minutes until my adventure begins. Starting around 7:00am, I could see my friends and family arrive at the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at 72nd and Riverside outside my sister’s apartment window. When I finally came down and outside, everybody was there, including the paparazzi. Everybody is my family (Mom, Dad, Suzy, Dang, Revel, Arcea, Minh-Ha, Eric, Jamie, Anh-Van, Tien-Tsin, Tina), friends (Megan, Minh, Samantha), riders (Chris, Debbie, Mitch, Michael, Dr. Ed, Ed, Andrea, Steve) and paparazzi (Anthony bulletin editor/webmaster from the NYCC). Yes, everyone, look for my picture at http://www.nycc.org! It was so great. We took a bunch of pictures after a few bathroom breaks and many good-bye's, we were finally on our way.
Riding up Riverside Drive and Fort Washington, we finally get to the dreaded George Washington Bridge. Dreaded because the south ramp entrance is closed due to construction and the only way across is walking your bike up and down hundreds of steps. Once at the bridge, we took off my panniers and a few riders carried a pannier while Mitch carried my bike over the 1st set of steps, as I carried his bike. (Remember, my bike alone is 28 heavy pounds, while the average road bike is something like 16 pounds.) Done with the 1st step of stairs, I had to mount on the panniers and ride the distance of the bridge. On the West side of the bridge, we dismounted the panniers again while this time I sweet talked Dr. Ed to carry my bike as I carried his featherweight carbon bike. Finally done with musical bikes on the other side of the bridge, I said bye to Steve as he was off to ride with some other friends. By the way, Steve is a bike shop guy from my favorite bike shop in Manhattan – A Bicycle Shop.
In true A19 style, Dr. Ed took the lead. We went down this awesome road that used to be a huge downhill full of scary potholes. Newly paved, it’s the sweetest downhill ever. Generally bringing up the rear because I'm carrying so much weight, I still took time to take a picture of a "Welcome to New York" sign. (For those confused, we started in Manhattan. Once we crossed the GW Bridge, it's now New Jersey. Then after a while, you're back in New York state.) Here I am with the C2-SIG leaders, Chris and Debbie. They get the dubious honor of the ones who taught the gal going cross country.
As we approached Nyack, Andrea got a flat. Anxious to get to Nyack fast, Dr. Ed again takes the lead and changes Andrea’s flat in mere minutes. Andrea comments how she needs to attend more Dr. Ed maintenance workshops. I think she's trying to pull an "All about Eve" on me as I'm away for 3 months. We grab lunch in Nyack at the biking rest stop mecca of the world – The Runcible Spoon. This place completely caters to cyclists. There's probably 10 bike racks out front. Look at all the cyclists here. Andrea is just ga-ga at all the men in tight spandex. Many people at the Runcible Spoon saw my panniers and asked questions about and wished me well on my trip.
After a nice lunch, we head into a state park where we climbed an awful hill (if you can call it that) that probably averaged well over 10% and hit a high of 15%! It was terrible but very rewarding to have done it. How come I was the only one huffing and puffing? I think it's like tennis players – they don’t have to really grunt but when you do, it's nice to really let the air out. After this climb, we said bye to Debbie and Chris as they were off to see family.
As we approached the Bear Mountain Bridge, we had to do this very long and not as steep hill. It seemed to go forever. If that wasn't bad enough, my damn chain fell off the front derailleur (left of the granny gear). Dammit. I called our fearless leader to tell him I had a mechanical. So, I had to deal with taking this chain out by myself and put it back on the chainring. When I was finally done, this motorcycle pulled aside to see if I needed help. I waved him on because I was done. How nice that a motorcycle person would pull aside to offer help, huh?
On my way up the hill, Dr. Ed came back to help but as you can see, I was already on my way back up the hill with my chain in tact. We rode slowly. He told me to just put it on a speed that I could bike at all day. Well, that would be 1-1 aka granny granny. Even there, just pedal at a pace that is comfortable. It was sweet, he even pushed me with one hand as he pedaled and biked with one hand up a long hill. Strong or what? When a car approached us, he practically pushed me into the damn guard rail as he tried to get out of the way of the car. Anyhow, I finally reached the top of the hill where I was not allowed a rest and had to just continue down the hill and up probably another hill. It's not fair when you're bringing up the rear, you never get a rest, whereas the faster riders are standing around, resting, re-hydrating, re-energizing. Here's a picture of us on the Bear Mountain Bridge.
After the bridge, it was a few coasters to Cold Spring. Three miles before Cold Spring, we wanted to hit this little market, Garrison Market, because Michael, Andrea and I were just there the previous Monday and liked it. There, we ran into Dwayne on my motorcycle. Since Nyack, I had been on the lookout for Dwayne because I knew he started in Cold Spring and rode the route backwards on my motorcycle to find and hang with us. He’s still on 2-wheels, but his 2-wheels are motorized! I was looking for a yellow crotch rocket. Don’t know why I thought yellow when all along he had a blue bike. Remember how that nice motorcycle person stopped to make sure I was okay when my chain fell off? That wasn't just any nice motorcycle person – it was nice Dwayne! I had no idea he was doing circles around us all day!
Back on the road and 3 miles later, we arrive at Cold Spring. Just like my scouting ride, when I arrived in Cold Spring, I was once again able to ride with my hands in the air in the victory pose. It was sweet – I was able to ride with no hands for quite a long time.
In Cold Spring, Dr. Ed takes us to his friends' house. His friends being former NYCC president, Christy, and his wife, Jody. Their house is amazing. Both of them are architects – enough said. Well, enough said about their amazing house. I need to say a special thanks to Christy and Jody again for welcoming Dave and me into their home after a successful first day ride.
After depositing my bike, cleaning up, and then remembering to and fixing my front derailleur, we head to the Cold Spring Depot for a light dinner. Rushing through a poor serviced dinner, the riders left me to catch a train back into the city. It was sad to see everyone go. I am so touched that so many people came out to ride with me and see me off. It’s so nice to have such great friends. Thanks, riders. See and ride with you in the fall back in NYC.
After hanging with Dwayne for a while, Dave and I headed back to the house where we made phone calls to everyone we knew to assure them about our safety and tell them about the best 1st day ride ever. Closing out the day and night in style, Cold Spring had a fireworks display (in honor of a 100 year anniversary of the firefighters or something). Dave and I watched the fireworks from the top floor outdoor balcony.
I couldn't have asked for a better 1st leg of the ride...