Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week One

Boston to New York City 4 days 270 mi, 13,600 feet climb

It's interesting that most friends and acquaintances have expressed reservations about this trip...the length, going solo, the western headwinds. But after a while there is a change in their attitude to that of acceptance and support. It's as if there has been a change in their own recognition that life has many open doors and it's up to us to individually step through; that we not become so entrenched in our day-to-day patterns that we don't recognize the unfolding of life in its deeper significance. That we follow that voice that beckons us to an untried path which moulds us anew.

That's hefty ideas for a bike ride.

I rode my bike from Lynn to Marblehead as a last training ride. I was tired after this relatively easy 25 mile jaunt. I became anxious thinking I was beginning the next day to haul myself, a 32 pound bike, 50 pounds of gear, plus water and food 5200 miles! What was I going to do then? But I recognized this was only the jitters that come before the start, the stomach butterflies of the unknown. I had trained. I had planned. All is well. I rested in that confidence.
Another great benefit of starting in the east is the network of friends that are here. First is the pleasure of riding the first week with a long time friend, Greg from our Brooklyn days. Last summer we both participated in a supported bike tour around New York's finger lakes. Greg and I once rode from NYC to central New Jersey. Years ago we toured a week from Washington, DC to Knoxville, TN with several days on the Blue Ridge Parkway beginning at its lowest point on the James River and exiting near the heights of Grandfather Mountain prior to the construction of The Viaduct. Highlights were the buckwheat pancakes mixed with the fresh grain milled at the adjacent historic Mabry Mill. Also (for me) the comment from Greg's mother when shown a Knoxville News Sentinel clipping, with photo, by reporter arranged by me as we entered the eastern boundary of that city...

"That's a shame. They crossed the names [of the riders] in the caption below the photo."

In actuality, the caption was correct and Greg's own mother thought I looked ymore like her son than himself...we were in bike gear and helmets in her defense.

A couple years later, during an attempt to drive out of NYC during a blizzard, and rather than be stranded on the interstate, we remembered Greg's parents lived nearby in a Connecticut town. When we entered their kitchen, on the refrigerator was this same news clipping of her two sons.

We were asked yesterday if we were brothers. We decided we really must need a shower.

It's difficult to tell who's who with the helmets and sunglasses.
Pausing on the George Washington Bridge, entry into NYC
Crossing the Appalachian Trail three times today. Took a little diversion in honor of Rich who tread by this same spot as AT through hiker northbound two years ago.

Stacked stones welcoming me to the Big Apple.

Hook Mountain/Nyack Beach Bikeway...not the average person's approach to New York City.

Yesterday was also a treat to have another long time friend, Tim, meet us in Piermont north of NYC. Tim and another friend, Spike, took me under their wings and as mentors taught me how to ride a pace line during the first Cycle North Carolina in 1998. We have meet one another on many bike rides over the years. Spike, wife Marilyn, me, and daughter Molly gathered in Arizona in the fall of 2006 to hike in a single day the 24 miles of the Grand Canyon, down the southern rim along the Kaibab Trail to the Columbia River a mile below, to the northern rim via the Bright Angle Trail, predawn to dusk. It was a memorable and life-event experiencing the change of perception the light cast on the canyon formations.

Tim led us on the most level course toward the George Washington Bridge and my entrance into The City. They only nearly lost me a couple of times in the afternoon rush hour. New York bicyclists do not observe traffic regs, traffic direction, nor lights. And there is a type of dance made weaving amongst the pedestrians that I couldn't master. We had a very pleasant ride on Riverside Drive, cruising into Central Park and passing Strawberry Fields memorializing John Lennon in front of The Dakota apartments at 72nd and Central Park West...a building I worked on for two separate clients while in New York. I then had my NYC epitomic moment with a stop in Times Square.

Being a tourist in NYC
Rush hour on the west side greenway
Being a tourist in NYC
In addition to these first few days with Greg that build my confidence to go the long haul, are the friends scattered along the way the first month of this adventure. Every week I will be able to spend a rest day with long time friends, catching up on our lives separated by too many miles, sharing stories, resting my tush, doing laundry. This becomes a large part of the journey.

For the bike traveler...
  • This is a brief account of Tim's route to the best of my recollection...
  • From Piermont, NY leave south on Piermont Rd #340, at some point we followed #501
  • Follow Dean Dr up to Lydecker on connecting street and continue ascending up the palisade heights over to Dana Pl and Broad, continuing up connecting street to Myrtle Ave and turn on Hudson Terrace to take you to GWBridge.


  1. Glad to hear you're on your way! Watch out for Misdirection Trolls!

  2. I hear you may be in PA. Hope you're avoiding the storms.

  3. Robbie, thanks for directing me to your blog. i am inspired! you are an amazing person and i am fortunate to know you. godspeed on your journey, i will check back to see more.

  4. My favorite quote is:

    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
    T.S. Eliot