Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

02 May 2015

I PIcked The Bike And The Ride Followed

Mark Twain once said that if the world is coming to an end, go to Cincinnati.  Why?  Because, he explained, in the Queen City everything happens ten years later.

By that logic, if the apocalypse is supposed to happen this year, it will be delayed by a month.  Here we are at the beginning of May and the cherry blossoms have blossomed and tulips and other flowers are just starting to open.  Those spectacles usually delight us—at least in this part of the world—during the first week or two of April.

I’ll take them whenever they come.  So I was happy to see them today.  And the weather was delightful, almost exactly what it normally is at this time of year.  Scrims of high clouds floated like veils shed during a dance from a clear blue sky to reveal a sun just bright enough to waken all of the colors, all of the lives.  The wind, while brisk, didn’t bring a chill to the crisp spring air.

Can you ask for better riding conditions?  Well, all right, that depends on what you prefer.  But even those who like winter best of all seasons have said it—or, more specifically, this one—seemed as if it wouldn’t end.

So I knew I was going riding.  The funny thing is, I decided on which bike I would ride before I chose a route.  Somehow I simply could not keep myself away from Arielle, my Mercian Audax Special.  All right, I didn’t try.  The point is, I knew, practically from the moment I woke up, that I would ride Arielle today.

I found myself pedaling in the direction of—then crossing—the Queens spur of the RFK/Triboro Bridge.   That brought me to Randall’s Island, from which I could go to the Bronx or Harlem.  Either would offer me a number of possibilities.

The Bronx it was.  I pedaled to the north and east, along the Bronx and Hutchinson Rivers, toward Throgs Neck and City Island.  From there, I rode a path past horse stables, a golf course and the woods and marshlands that rim Long Island Sound.  It’s difficult to remember you’re in the Bronx, and if you follow the path, before long, you’re not.  

This house is in Pelham Bay Manor, just over the city line.  It’s not really unusual for that town.  However, I saw something interesting next to it:  a sign for the East Coast Greenway.  I followed parts of it through Westchester County.  Most of it is quiet pre-existing secondary roads, some in residential areas.  I don’t know how much of it is complete, as I followed it and seemed to lose it for a time, only to pick it up again unexpectedly.

I didn’t mind, really.  I didn’t encounter much traffic, even on the brief stretch of Route 1 where I wheeled beside the Mamaroneck Marina.  Everywhere I pedaled, the riding was great and people were lovely.  Even the drivers seemed more patient than usual.

Arielle took me to Connecticut—to the parks, the strip of high-end boutiques and harbor of Greenwich, to be specific.  I hadn’t ridden to the Constitution State since last year, at least.  The one difficult part of the ride came as soon as I crossed the state line, where a hill begins.  It’s not particularly long or steep, but it appears abruptly.  I managed it, but it showed me how little riding I’d done during the winter—and how flat my recent rides had been.

Then I pedaled home—into the wind.  I probably should have shifted into lower gears than I did, but I managed to keep on riding at a decent pace.  When I got home, I’d done my longest ride of the year, so far:  115km (72 miles).  It’s also my fourth 100km ride this year.  Hopefully, I’ll soon be doing more and even longer rides—or, at least, will be in something like the condition I was starting to get myself into last year.

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