This ride always intimidates me. I’m not good at parking in or around Manhattan, and this ride starts from the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge. So I get myself all worked up about finding the road alongside the river on the Jersey side–what if I miss the exit and have to stay on the bridge and then end up in Connecticut before I can turn around? Irrational, I know. But so it goes. And the ride itself is not a cake walk. Perkins Drive, Harriman State Park, not to mention the heat of August. On the morning of the ride, I woke up at 1am and could not get back to sleep. Saturday Night Live, Poker After Dark, Jay Leno, and still no sleep. I ate something and had coffee at 3 and was out of the house by 4am. Midway through Jersey I really started to get sleepy. Great. Why couldn’t I have felt that way a few hours earlier. Then I got almost all the way there and took a wrong exit. Crap! I had no idea where I was, and the only way I could figure out to get out of there was to get back on the turnpike going south. It was miles before I could get off, turn around and head back in the right direction. So I arrived at the train station from which the ride started at 4 minutes before 7. Time to spare!
The ride itself was as I expected, beautiful, difficult, and occasionally even fun. Katie, Laurent, and I more or less stayed together for the day although both of them have done so much more riding than I this year that they are much stronger. It was fun to watch them fly up the hills. And even if I wasn’t riding as fast, I made it up virtually every hill, except for a couple where Katie and I agreed to walk to lower our body temperatures a bit. The heat was as much of a challenge as the hills for this ride. Katie and I sucked down cokes at a couple of controles to settle our stomachs and get some sugar and caffeine into our systems.
It was a relief to finally get through Harriman and even though there were a few more lumps to get over, I knew that the most strenuous work was done. And the heat started to subside as well. Even though I don’t like to count the ride as done until I pull to a stop at the last controle, I started to relax and try to enjoy the last miles.
Jonathan changed the last controle from the train station to a park that is located a few blocks up the street. I wasn’t happy to be riding the extra distance but as we were walking through the park, I had to admit that it was a great setting, with nice views and lots of people just hanging out and relaxing. Yeah, it is a great place to end this challenging ride. And yes, I’ll do it again, probably, as long as we schedule it for some time other than August.