Here is the elevation chart for day two. Hannah and I set out with the first group of riders (the slow ones) at 7.30am. As you can see it is "rolling hills" for the first 10 miles or so, mostly heading down hill, and we agreed it was really pleasant.
At the very bottom of the hills (around mile 13), is the Bear Mountain Bridge. This was spectacular, as you can see in the photo. However, immediately on the other side of the Hudson, in New Jersey, we started the steep climb that you can see as a big spike on the elevation chart and as the hills in the background on the photo. This being the second day, we were both more tired and walked some of this hill. On the other side of the first hill we dropped all the way back down to river level again, and then had to ride up the smaller hill before dropping back down to the rest stop also right on the river around mile 20.
Hannah wisely decided to jump forward to lunch in the party bus and I rode with Nigel mostly. A couple of very short very steep hills got the better of me and I walked those segments. At one point when I was walking up a hill, a "Monday morning cyclist" steamed by telling me, in profane language, to get on my bike. I thanked him for his support! Monday (Labor day) was a beautiful day and there were many many cyclists out on their 20 mile rides. They seemed to have a real attitude, and of course did not know the Hazon riders were at 100+ miles by this stage. Bikes may be good for a person, but they don't always bring out the good in a person!
Nigel beat me to the lunch stop because of the hills I puffed up just after mile 30.
Hannah and I both decided to jump forward on the party bus for the stage after lunch. This is a tough climb (straddling mile 40 in the chart above), and we wanted to be fresh, and on time for the last stage into Manhattan. Many others were doing the same (those who cycled said it was a very tough 10 miles), and in any event I was on track for over 100m in total.
Our ride briefing the night before had mentioned that the south side cycle path on the George Washington Bridge was currently closed for renovations. This meant using north side, which had no ramps - just a large number of stairs. This was going to be tough enough with regular bikes, but near impossible with recumbents. I, along with Nigel and Kennis (with an amazing recumbent trike - check out the photo) somehow had to get over the bridge. Hannah really wanted to be riding this segment, as did we all. Luckily Nigel is the boss, so he arranged a private jump to just over the bridge for our small group. From around 133rd Street we found our way down to Riverside Park and onto the bike path and magically merged with the Hazon rider route. The West Side Greenway bike path is magical on a warm relaxed Labor day, and Hannah and I rode with Nigel and a mass of the other riders down to the Boat Basin at 79th Street where we were greeted by friends, family and supporters. We had reached the end of the ride.
Well, not quite. The Boat Basin was a collecting point for all the riders coming on from the ride route. Once we were all there, we still had one more step. After some ice-cream and celebration, we massed up to ride in a block up to the JCC at 76th and Amsterdam (Hannah is front and center of the riders in this photo). This was only a few blocks, and was lots of fun. We were all singing and blocking traffic and it was a great way to end the ride. At the JCC there was more singing in the street and we got this great picture of Hannah with Mandy Patinkin. Finally we went up onto the JCC roof for some closing activities, speeches, thankyous, goodbyes, ... and then that really was it.
As it is now four days since the end of the ride, the high emotions are starting to fade. However, I noticed when dancing on Wednesday evening (my regular weekly Israeli folk-dance date with Hannah), that I was fitter than I had been before the summer. Hannah and I are planning some fall rides, and we are excited to do it all again at the 2007 NY ride next year. This was an amazing experience all round (I think I am repeating adjectives at this stage) and I recommend it highly!
My next post will describe some of the community building at the retreat and during the Sunday evening (after the day one ride was over).
While you can, and if you haven't, please go ahead and sponsor Hannah or me for the Hazon 2006 New York Bike ride.