Forty-four miles to Nyack and back

It was threatened to rain on Sunday, despite the sunny skies, and when I left our apartment at 2:30 that afternoon I crossed my fingers and hoped that it wouldn't rain, because that would spoil my plans to do a long bike ride.

What's long to me probably isn't long to most road cyclists -- like two of our friends who came over for dinner on Friday, and impressed us with their stories of weekend century rides with the New York Cycling Club -- but forty-four miles is the furthest that I've gone on my bike this year, and maybe in my entire life! I'm a recent convert to road cycling, and now that I have a decent bike, I am trying to make up for lost time.

Last spring I rode my old Bianchi hybrid to and from my classes at Columbia, taking the greenway down Riverside Park from Washington Heights to Morningside every day. After spending the winter cooped up in our small apartment, I felt like I was coming home again through my rides, falling back into the rhythm of regular physical exertion against the sweep of the Hudson. This spring has felt somewhat similar, in that I cannot get enough of sweating and breathing and being out of doors as much as possible, but this time around I have the proper equipment to really get to know the roads: a Fuji Roubaix RC road bike, circa 2006.

[I'll tell the story of how I got my bike on another occasion; it's a good story and a happy one -- which is what this blog is supposed to be about (happiness, avid and hungry happiness) -- but it can wait. I'm still too excited about the fact that my legs and little bit of carbon can take me 44 miles in a single afternoon, to want to spend time discussing the techie details of my bike!]

On Sunday I rode from Washington Heights, in Upper Manhattan, to the river town of Nyack, New York, taking highways and parkways and neighborhood streets, byways and passways -- a route with just enough variety to keep me interested. In the mornings I usually only have time to do the first part of the route before work, crossing the George Washington Bridge and going down River Road through the Palisades, so whenever I have more time and can go further, it feels like a small adventure. On Sunday it felt like even more of a stretch because I went alone (sans the husband/ride partner), and the roads were almost bare of cyclists by the time I got out of the apartment in the mid-afternoon, so I didn't feel as if I were crossing the same old paths that all the Manhattan cyclists enjoy. The road was mine, and I felt happy just moving and breathing, breathing and moving, settling into the rhythm and speed (yes -- speed!) of my wheels.

What more is there to write about cycling, about my ride on Sunday (or my ride this morning, for that matter)? I've trolled the Interweb for information about road biking, hoping to improve my rides through tricks or training tips, but the minutiae of rpms and "fuel" and power meters leaves me a bit cold, I must say. I've decided that I'd rather ride than read about riding, at least until someone can write about what it means to be free on the bike, what it's like to be a woman out on those roads, sharing space with the cars and the motorcycles, the male cyclists in their trim gear, and the hawks and the thimbleberries. And if no one is writing about these things, then I'll put myself to work.

Any readers?

~Ai Lu

1 comment:

Katharine said...

What a lovely blog, Ai Lu. I wish that you would write some more on the idea of avid hunger for happiness--what a great concept! I hope to sometime be able to take my Specialized Dulce bike out with you on a ride, you make it sound so lovely.