Gray, overcast skies and cool this morning. Rode east on New York Route 17B to its end in Monticello: the armpit of New York. Continued east on the remains of the old Route 17: Sullivan County Routes 173, 172, 171 and some local roads. One monster descent of 250 meters into Wurtsboro. Four miles, minimal pedaling, no brakes, average speed about 30 mph. Then nearly the same altitude change in the opposite direction. After that it was smooth riding all the way to the Hudson River. A long gradual descent on New York Route 17K. The uphill segments are insignificant. Soaking rain for about ten minutes. The land has opened up and become more suburban. Purple loosestrife everywhere. The infestation of the wetlands is quite bad here. Passed an airport with a small Air National Guard detachment. Passed a topless nightclub with a sign reading "Canadien Style Lap Dancers". Note the French spelling of Canadien. Trés chic, eh?
17K ends in Newburgh on the Hudson River. Another ugly upstate small town. I've cycled here from Manhattan and taken the train back a few times. I have a vague recollection of this place, but it looks unfamiliar coming at it from this direction. I turn south on New York Route 9W running parallel to the Hudson River. Transfer to Route 218, also known as Storm King Highway, for a bit. Storm King clings to the side of a sheer rock face along the river. It's an interesting ride, but there's no reason for this road to be here other than to show how mighty humans are. It used to seem like a challenging climb, but now it looks pathetic compared to the many strenuous ascents of this tour. A good view from the high point. Storm King continues on into the West Point Military Academy. Saw a sign warning of unexploded ordnance in the woods. "Beware of duds" or something like that. Rode into the academy grounds proper. It's "Acceptance Day". Freshly minted cadets and their casually dressed families are milling about the meticulous grounds.
Back on to Route 218 then 9W past Bear Mountain Bridge, a short but high suspension bridge over the Hudson. Into Bear Mountain State Park. Wooded mountains on one side and marshland on the other. Follow the signs for New York Bike Route 9 on to a gravel trail. Not as much of a climb as 9W but the trail bed is too soft. With all the weight on the rear end, I worry about damaging the hub. It's a good trail otherwise. Just a few miles and it's back on to 9W. Out of habit I follow the bike route sign off 9W. Halfway down the hill, I remember that this is just a temporary diversion. Another foolish segment like the ten mile detour on Bike Route 17. Too late, I follow it faithfully until it jumps back on to 9W in Haverstraw. There's another off road trail but I decide not to risk injuring the bike on the soft surface.
I never rode on this segment of 9W and now I know why. It's one nasty climb. I meet another cyclist at the crest and ride the rest of the way to the bridge with him. I notice both of us are riding faster than we would normally. I want to get into Manhattan before it gets too dark, so our pace challenge should come in handy. The guy's name is Keith and he's says something interesting about idiot drivers. "They're like three-year-olds. They don't know that their actions can have negative consequences. Three-year-olds with car keys." We enter New Jersey. I finish the last of my orange juice and start drinking plain water. My body has become so accustomed to the sugar rush that I get lightheaded from the lack of fructose.
I leave Keith at the George Washington Bridge. He keeps riding in New Jersey. I cross the bridge into New York after wolfing down some Fig Newtons. The sun is setting behind the toll plaza. A moron designed the bike/pedestrian lane. There are a series of sharp right angle turns to get around the stanchions and a tight 180 to accommodate an extra off ramp that was added as an afterthought. Oh yeah, and then it ends with another tight turn on to a sidewalk. I have to walk the recumbent through this engineering marvel of an obstacle course.
Local streets to Riverside Drive. Head south through the always-exciting neighborhoods of Washington Heights and Harlem before hitting the wealthy and bland Upper West Side. I forgot how densely populated Manhattan is. It's getting dark fast when I pull up in front of my building. Found the keys, opened the door, turned the electricity back on. No surprises. Home at last.
Sometime next Saturday, Todd and I will haul the bike down to Rockaway Beach to dip the front wheel in the Atlantic. Only one more entry for the log.