This ride was NOT supposed to happen. My cycling buddy and I had spoken about doing the NYC Century quite a while back when someone in our cycling club mentioned it. www.nyccentury.org
But life went on and there was no further mention of it so I figured it was a no-go.
However on Thurs., only 3 days beforehand, she brought up the idea of the ride again. First reaction? Annoyance! We coulda shoulda woulda made GREAT plans for this...but NOW at THIS late point?!?
But then I thought...you know, I'm too much of a stick-in-the-mud...spontaneity does NOT come to me readily.
So YES! Let's GO FOR IT!
We scheme all sorts of ways to find a place to crash Sat. night before the Sun. ride. Everything is either "no vacancy" or $300 / night...ugh!
Going with the theme of spontaneity I suggest we just sleep over in the car. Not ideal, but for one night? Why not? You only live once! I did manage to e-mail someone through Warm Showers ( www.warmshowers.org/
) and left my phone # just in case they could put us up at the last minute.
Turned out my cycling friend at the last minute (a few hours before departure on Sat.) found a wonderful fellow not too far out on Long Island (her friend's father) who agreed to host us for the night! He was a delightful man who took us out to a Chinese restaurant and we enjoyed much conversation before a short but restful sleep.
Neither of us are in least bit familiar with anything but the largest of landmarks in NYC. We were due at the start of the ride at the northern edge of Central Park for registration by 5:30 a.m. Paranoia over making the journey in sufficient time we woke up at 3:30 and made it with 15 mins. to spare. Whew! Garmin was our lifesaver!
Registered, we were OFF and cycling by around 6 a.m. and made it through Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge to soak up the sunrise:
Another view from the bridge:
Here's the tune from my internal radio that was playing:
This was a very different ride from the 5 Borough Ride I completed earlier this year in May: www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
That ride was very unnatural in that they closed down streets / expressways and had police or volunteers directing bikes / traffic at nearly every intersection. The good part of that was the ride was more sheltered and protected and in many ways a great introduction to cycling in NYC. The bad part of that was the interminable waiting and HIGH need for patience.
The NYC Century made us feel like we were "locals" and in the know on all the great riding venues. Highly enjoyable. But not without anxieties.
Like when we got lost.
Gulp! NYC map dunces. No GPS.
Around the 40 mile rest stop we departed by following other cyclists. Yes we had cue sheets, but with the ZILLIONS of turns, who was going to stop at every intersection and look at THOSE!
We forgot that there were totally different routes for those doing the 75 mile, 55 mile and under routes. We soon discovered that we were whizzing along with a group of 55 milers! We weren't here to do only 55 miles! So we began to ask other riders for help. Two were very helpful, even gave us a cycling map of NYC and gave us some ideas how to route ourselves back to the century route. We STILL got lost again, but were blessed by the kindness of locals who helped us to get re-routed. Our ride was supposed to be 105 miles total. But we were so befuddled we'll never know precisely how far we went. Could have even gone FURTHER than 105 miles! Yes it was scary to go through this, but edgy and a bit exciting at the same time. Here we were tooling around NYC down streets that weren't at ALL part of the planned routes...wow!
Other anxieties? Wobbling, weaving and squeezing our queue of bikes in between parked and double-parked vehicles on our right and moving vehicles on our left! I managed to clip a side-view mirror on a vehicle and lived to tell about it! Another time I wove too much, leaning into the side of a van and had to step down off my bike: with a line of cyclists bearing down on me from behind! I quickly walked my bike without dismounting to the front of this double parked van so that I'd get out of everyone's way...WHEW! No "protection" here...no police directing traffic or streets closed to traffic...we had to negotiate our way just like anyone else in NYC!
We had to fjord our bikes up and down stairs to the various bridges (Brooklyn, Tri-Borough/RFK and other smaller ones) and then ride along VERY narrow walkways on the bridges. I made sure my hands were positioned on the straight, inside part of my handlebars so that I wouldn't scrape my knuckles along the walls or posts alongside me.
Here's a song that got stuck in my head BIGTIME throughout the day...great beat to it that helped to propel me along and I think the minor tone gave it an Asiatic-ethnic feel that seemed to fit as we cycled through an incredible number of neighborhoods which felt like a microcosm of the world.
Cycling around the bay nearby LaGuardia with planes arcing overhead. Bridges all had beautiful parks around either or both sides. The sun gained strength as the day wore on, pumping me up even more!
The parks were great also and had their own surprises. Like the pathway that corkscrewed itself down and down and we were riding 'neath the path down which we rode!
Here's one of the bike repair tents:
Us? No flats, no mishaps other than my minor collision with another cyclist at a sudden stop.
Cyclists at a rest stop:
We had an AWESOME time on the NYC Century...felt like we were treated to every nook & cranny the Big Apple had to offer to folks on two wheels!
Two big thumbs up for throwing caution to the wind and BLITHELY (thank you VALERIEMAHA!) jumping forward with our lives!
ps...my apologies to ALL those blogs out there that I've been too crazy / busy to catch up with just yet OR to even thank folks for your comments on my blogs...love, appreciate and value ALL of 'em! And I WILL catch up! :-)
pps...just discovered another EXCELLENT blog which provides much better detail that I!
ppps...Here's another pleasant snapshot of cycling along the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway: