That’s how we roll in Springsteen territory, baby. Both were on display at the last rest area before the finish of the Twin Lights ride, a tour of scenic New Jersey. Kudos to Bike New York and a team of hard-working volunteers for organizing a terrific day!
Monty and I left home in the dark and subwayed down to Wall St., where a chartered ferry awaited. (Forgive the blurriness – I was undercaffeinated.)
While everyone else jostled to park their bikes on the deck, I folded Monty, found a seat and a cup of coffee. It was a beautiful morning, and sunrise over the bay was lovely.
So was the dawn-lit Verrazano-Narrows bridge.
The ride started from a park in Highlands, NJ. I had some time to stroll around, eat a donut and chat with other riders, including the only other Bromptoneer I spotted all day. Monty drew a lot of attention and questions; I should start carrying some NYCeWheels business cards.
Bike New York’s communications manager snapped a photo of us.
The 75- and 100-mile groups started first, and at 8:30 we 55-milers set off.
I took a cue sheet, but one of the volunteer marshals (all very friendly and knowledgeable) assured me that I wouldn’t need it; the course was well-marked with bright pink arrows, and police were stationed at major intersections to wave us in the right direction. Even during long stretches of riding alone, I never lost my way.
The route was moderately hilly, mostly well-paved and beautiful. I crossed the Navesink River…
admired the early fall foliage…
and passed farms, ponds and lush green fields.
There were rest areas every 10 miles or so, all offering a choice of snacks and a route map with encouraging you are here markers.
I ran into the Bromptoneer I’d met earlier, and we rode together for a few miles. He’d had a flat tire patched by a mechanic but it flattened again; fortunately, I was able to give him a spare tube, and wished him well as he returned to the previous rest area for help.
Monty’s tires held up admirably. I, on the other hand, started to flag during the last 10 (steep!) miles, and had to walk part of the final big hill, as did many other riders. And therein lies the chief lesson of the day: Pre-ride training is important! (I knew that, but now I know it.) Work and life have been so hectic recently that I missed the long ride I’d planned for the previous weekend and didn’t eat/sleep/exercise as well as I should have. I finished my 55 miles but felt completely knackered by the end.
Second biggest opportunity for improvement: My hands, despite Ergon grips and gel-padded gloves, are still numb and weak a few days later. I tend toward a death grip when riding downhill or over rough terrain; I also clutch the brake more often than necessary. I’m working on behavior modification, keeping my hands looser and more open – and keeping in mind that the habits I develop during a daily commute must serve me during long rides as well.
This was my third big ride, and the most challenging to date. I have so much to learn! But I’m enjoying the journey. Next up: the Tour de Bronx.