Wednesday, September 16, 2009

104+ miles through the City

"Enjoy your jog" said my friend Marty; "I won't be riding the NYC Century, it's much too slow; I did ". As I pedaled along the Shore Greenway in Brooklyn at just over 20 mph, I recalled what Marty said. I grinned and dodged another small group of much slower cyclists while calling out greetings: "How y'all doing this fine morning?" I said though by the time most folks responded I was already out of earshot.

I had gotten a bit of a late start, leaving Central Park at 8 AM. As a result, I had to work my way past many 15 and 35 mile riders. It was great to see so many riders on the Brooklyn Bridge enjoying their ride. Once we got into Brooklyn, I was able to get past many riders. Climbing the hills of Park Slope in a harder gear made for a better workout and gave me more power to get past other riders.

At the Prospect Park rest stop, I saw some of my riding buddies from the 5BBC including Ken Williams who was marshaling the 55 mile route.

After Prospect Park, I was able to cruise at 18 mph as we made our way to the Greenway. As we went through Coney Island, a section of Emmons Ave. was wide open and I pushed myself as hard as possible for a couple of minutes. I reached 24.8 mph on that level stretch of road then eased back down to 18 mph again.

This year we had a new section of route through the Rockaways after the Marine Park rest stop, on the 75/100 miler route. It was a breezy day and we saw fabulous kites in the sky over the beach as we rode along the boardwalk. I passed a few riders and most told me they were doing the 75 mile route; one told me he was planning to do 55 so I told him he'd made a wrong turn and was well on his way along the 75 mile route. I encouraged him to give it a try as we had plenty of time left in the day and moved on.

When I got onto the Gil Hodges bridge as we headed north , I started asking riders what distance they planned on riding as I passed them.. Most answered 75, which was very appropriate. A few, rolling along at about 11 mph, said they were trying for the 100. I informed them I was the sweep on the 100 and urged them to pick up the pace and to consider their options at Astoria. I never saw them again.

The pace through the Greenway in Queens after Kissena was mostly slower as it wound its way through Cunningham Park, though that route segment included both some climbing and fast descents as we crossed the Harbor Hill Morraine. Along the Joe Michaels Mile, I cruised around 16 mph; I was getting a bit tired after pushing hard for over 50 miles (one of the benefits I missed of group riding with a rotating paceline). Still, the weather held and I arrived at Astoria Park rest stop shortly after 4PM where I found Bob Ross, the sweep captain, and Paulis from Poughkeepsie, the other remaining sweep team member.

Shortly after 4:30PM, we set forth at a moderate pace to sweep the 100 miler portion of the route. Once we got to the Bronix, we encountered a few riders going too slow and warned them that they were now on their own. One trio we encountered as we rode near the Bronx Zoo was an 8-year-old boy on a mountain bike with his Mom and Dad riding their bikes. He confirmed he was doing the 100 mile; when we told his Mom that we were the sweeps, she decided they should turn back to the subway at 180th St. That they got as far as they did is absolutely amazing (and probably a bit much for an 8 year old).

A few riders awaited us at Van Cortlandt Park Rest stop, which was next to the entrance to the "Old Put" trail. As we left, a few more riders straggled in. Some of them caught up to us as we entered Manhattan and we formed a peloton with Bob on point and I brought up the rear (Paulis had gone on ahead). It was getting dark and I had the only headlight; Bob had put on his rear flashers. We reached Central Park shortly before 7:30PM.

A long day on the roads of NYC but a lot of fun.

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