You could not be blamed for thinking that my title is intended sarcastically, but really, it’s not. I’m not fast on hills, but I don’t mind climbing. There is something about climbing that is calming and meditative. On the NJ Transit permanent, you can work yourself into a complete trance because of all of the climbing on offer.
The first 10-15 miles and the last 20 are blessedly mild, but in the middle you work hard enough that it’s difficult to consume enough calories to keep your legs doing the work they need to do. Even a Dunkin’ Donuts Grilled Cheese sandwich–constructed out of two pieces of “Texas Toast,” cheese and other unidentifiable fats–was not enough to carry me through a full segment of this ride.
Near the end of the day Nigel told me about some of the responses he had received from other friends when he put out the call for riding companions. “I swore off that ride forever,” said one hardy rando, while others simply said, “Have fun,” in that vague way that really means, “Yeah, fat chance you’ll see me out there.”
Well, I think we actually did have some fun.
I confess that I enjoyed the easy and relatively fast miles at the start of the ride, but when the hills started, so did the beautiful views of woods, streams, rocky outcrops, high meadows, and the animals who live there. During the day we saw a black bear, water birds, a flock of wild turkeys, and too many deer to count. We rolled through several small towns tucked in the hills, and some of these towns made me wish I had more time so I could get off my bike, walk slowly down Main St, find a place to get a cup of coffee, just sit and look around for a while.
Our conversation was the kind that you have on brevets: meandering, interrupted by fast descents or lack of breath on climbs, a blend of ride commentary and life/work stories.
The brief sets of warm showers that swept through in the early afternoon did nothing to dampen our spirits, serving simply to keep us from overheating.
We finished before sunset, always a bonus on a ride, got snacks and receipts at the pizza shop, said our good byes and headed home. Tired but calmer, satisfied.