The physical and mental experience
Physically, I loved the experience of yesterday’s ride, grueling as I found it, because I wanted to give up so many times. I lifted weights two days before and did some Turkish Get-ups (an all-over lifting exercise that includes lunges) the day before, which resulted in being unable to get out of the bike’s lowest gear for many hills toward the end. I probably spent over an hour in that gear.
Around mile 80, if I could have hitchhiked a ride home, I would have. No opportunities arose so I kept pushing, using the old strategy of saying “one more mile,” “if I just make it to the George Washington Bridge I’ll take the subway from there,” and other goals to keep from stopping. Finally within ten miles of the bridge, they posted mile markers so I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then when I reached the bridge, feeling on home turf, I couldn’t stop there, plus no more hills, so I rode the whole way home. Not like centuries are huge or impossible, but I pushed through a lot which gave a great feeling of accomplishment. I didn’t look pretty at the end, riding so slowly, but I know what I did.
As for the ride, there were some stunningly beautiful parts, especially Piermont and a long park with a packed dirt path along the river between Nyack and Haverstraw. It separates from Bike Route 9W. It was technically closed for some renovations, but a cool construction guy let me on it since the work was only for about 100 feet out of several miles.
Lots of hills but none deadly. Perfect weather. The Hudson looked serene. A few boats out.
On the other hand, the amount of litter and trash by the side of the road saddened me. Maybe I’m more sensitive to it than most, but I’d say for 90 percent of the ride I didn’t see five yards without significant roadside litter. Even the park between Nyack and Haverstraw, miles from any paved road, had litter by the side of the path.
Rarely did I get to experience the sound of only my bike and the wind, a part of riding I like and expect more of. Instead cars passed incessantly. Lots of construction. I consider noise pollution pollution.
It’s sobering to see how much we’re trashing the planet. I use it to motivate my work, but I’d rather not have to.
Since I have friends who teach at West Point, I might make the ride again, meet them, then bike across the river and take Metro North home from Garrison.
EDIT: To be candid, I actually stuck my thumb out once when I was resting at mile 80 to try hitching a ride. The sun was setting and I was partly thinking if my attention flagged I might get into an accident (I don’t believe so, but fatigue has a way of seducing you to give up). If a pickup truck had come I might have tried harder. Then I thought better of it.
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