Over the weekend Adair and I jumped on our bikes for a casual 120 mile roundtrip, to see some family and camp under the stars. Putting our faith in Google Maps, we took off Saturday morning to New Jersey by the way of the George Washington Bridge. It wasn’t as early of a morning as we had planned as a bike adjustments got in the way. Last week Adair got clip-in pedals and mountain bike shoes. I had a pedal wrench delivered Friday and all the pieces were assembled Saturday morning.
Adair had a brief lesson in clip-in theory before she did a few laps along the West Side Highway. She took to it immediately! A few tension adjustments were made allowing her to get in and out of the pedals more easily. Then, we were off! At 11 AM there were more people on the Hudson River Path than we would have liked. Our original 8 AM start would have been more conducive to additional space. No worries, I could plow through anyone with a fully loaded touring bike and Adair had quickly mastered her steed and weaved through the masses with ease.
The weekend heat was upon us and we stopped in the shade to watch a man make alien rock formations just south of the GW Bridge. After a quick snack and break, we make the short, but steep climb up through Harlem to traverse the Hudson River. This apparently is Adair’s first time riding the GW. A few quick shots are taken, just before we negotiate the tight pedestrian path and avoid head on collisions with other cyclists. Exiting the Bridge on the Jersey side, I take a wide turn around a blind turn, avoiding a woman walking in the same direction. A man in his 50s is rolling towards me and has to give about three inches of space as he, the walker and myself pass each other simultaneously. He mutters unintelligible swear words as he passed, as my decision to not run over the woman caused him to move his hands a centimeter and brake ever so slightly. No doubt, I must have ruined his impressive time trial…
The remainder of the afternoon is a slow ride. The density of towns lessens as we get closer to Greenwood Lake. Many stops are taken to confirm upcoming turns on our phone. We did find a nice park with path along the Saddle River in New Jersey. The heavily tree lined path provided plenty of shade to take the edge off the hot and humid day. We grabbed iced coffees in Ho-Ho-Kus and pushed on to the majority of our climbing for the day as we neared Ringwood State Park and Sterling Forest. The many ups and downs did not present huge challenges, but certainly got the blood moving. We stopped at a convenience store to refill water and grab a few snacks for the evening or more likely the following day.
Small shoulders enjoyed most of the day pretty much disappeared as we get on the last road that took us to Adair’s aunts. Most cars provided ample room, but then there are the others. The people who believe you should not be on the road. Unfortunately these people exist and are very willing to let you know their disdain, by either getting too close, honking or a smattering of both. We prevailed and roll into our campsite for the evening. The aunts are happy to see us. We go for a quick dusk lit dip in the lake to cool off and return to the aunts where a feast awaits. We stuff ourselves with roasted lamb, potatoes, cauliflower, salad and rosé. A delightful raspberry pie rounded out the meal. Once the dinner table was cleaned up, conversation waned and drowsiness took ahold.
We moved to the neighboring apartment where we set up camp for the night. We decide to sleep outside on a second story wood deck. The air is cool, but comfortable. We opted to forgo the rainfly and fall asleep under the stars. Stars twinkled brightly with the city lights long gone. Even the moon stayed away, never setting, allowing for optimum viewing of the night sky. We drifted to sleep.
The following day starts with extreme heat as the sun appears over the lake mountains to the east. We pack quickly to get out of the intense sun. Breakfast is waiting for us next door, a massive spread of bagels, lox, whitefish and herring in both vinegar and cream sauces. Water bottles are filled and bags packed. We follow yesterday’s ride around the lake back south, but decide on a more scenic route home. The quieter roads of the day’s ride looped us around massive reservoirs. The heat is on as the climbing starts early in the ride.
We stopped at a sports bar to catch the first half of the Eagles/Giants game. Not too much action, but we leave in the third quarter while the Eagles have a lead. We ate our fill of bar food in extreme air-conditioning, which was amazing. The next few miles are fantastic as the roads are fairly quiet and we are led back to the cover of trees along the Saddle River. Once we leave the park, things change. Traffic is bonkers. It appeared that everyone is headed towards the GW Bridge, likely leaving the Sunday afternoon Jets’ game. The hot day becomes hotter as car engines and exhaust add another 5 degrees to conditions as we weaved through traffic. The longest climb of the day is completed in a three foot wide shoulder as we pass a nonstop line of cars.
Once we return to the Bridge, we found space and relief from the heated metal monsters of the road. We made a quick descent to the Hudson River Path and ride through what have had to have been a hundred separate Sunday parties in the park. It was a perfect today to be spent outside along the water. This just meant high traffic for the first part of our ride south. Once lawn space ran out, so did the parties. Our pace picked up and we made it home in no time, cruising along the flat terrain that is Manhattan. We get back to the apartment as the sun sets. Showers, snacks and hydration happen. I attempt to thaw some meats to grill prior to bed. Bed comes first and I place the half de-thawed meats in the fridge for the following night.
It felt amazing for me to get some decent miles in and climb some hills. My mind going back into the summer mode, to which it had become so accustom. Most importantly I was impressed with Adair’s riding. I rarely had to slow my own pace and she mastered riding while clipped-in! I am pretty sure the next ride, I will be chasing her. I may have to shift some of the weight on to her bike to slow her down….