my first century (and then some)

3 Apr

Well, I did it, NYC to New Haven, CT and back in one piece and two days! It was an epic trip, the stuff of straight-to-DVD comedies, full of events that could/should never happen in real life, but somehow do… I rode logged over 200 miles in 2 days, fell a few times, crashed & burned, saw new places, met interesting people, and had an all around awesome adventure. Sure, it was a foolish, last minute decision- but I don’t regret the experience garnered from this ride.

FRIDAY: I checked my favorite online maps resource for directions and wrote them down rather than relying on my memory as I did for my last but-not-quite-epic ride to West Orange, NJ when I nearly doubled the distance I should have ridden to get to my destination. Not wanting to pull out an actual map or piece of paper while riding, I opted for a more natural and readily accessible solution: my arm. With directions on arm, I packed my backpack with a change of clothes and vitals for the road: 2 liter camelpack water supply, 2 packs of jerky per day, 2 cliff bars (apple cranberry and apricot- yum!), and 2 amazing meal blends for each water bottle per day. Gear-wise I brought 2 tire levers, 2 spare tubes, a multitool, and a tire pump. Once everything was sorted and stowed away, I started riding around 8am, east and north through the Bronx.

I took Pelham Parkway, riding through Pelham Bay Park, and turned onto the Boston Post Road in New Rochelle. I ended up disregarding my original directions and opted to follow the old postal route, roughly the current US-1, to New Haven. I was thrilled to be riding the path that postal riders used to deliver mail to colonists hundreds of years ago- it helped to distract my mind from physical distractions like the inevitable pain and fatigue. Along the route there are milestones dating back to the 18th century, however I didn’t see any during my ride.

I stopped to take a few pictures in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut. They were quiet and hilly towns, though Stamford was definitely larger. Some colonial style buildings still stood and the harbors were beautiful, but I didn’t tarry too long as I hoped to be in New Haven sooner than later.

Somewhere between Norwalk and Bridgeport, I lost US-1 and had a near life experience- let me preface this moment by saying that a Honda CRV iHurtside door has more give than my current saddle, the Selle Royal Seta W… Yes, I abandoned my directions for more creative routing and, yes, I was hit by a car- a lovely silver CRV. I added quite a few miles to the trip and the collision scratched up my right side a bit, though my backpack and helmet took the brunt of the impact when I was thrown off of the bike.

Three girls jumped out of the CRV and asked if I was okay. I honestly didn’t feel anything, other than surprise, and told them it was all right- no harm, no foul. There wasn’t any major damage to the bike, some paint had been chipped off, some metal scrapped, and the front brake handle had been knocked out of alignment – nothing detrimental, but out of precaution I ceased using the front brake for the day. I reassured the girls that all was well and walked my bike to a little grassy area on the side of the road to settle and get my bearings back.

Following my gut instincts, I rode eastward passing through Fairfield and into Bridgeport where I reconnected with US-1 by pure luck. Bridgeport was the largest city outside of New Haven that I rode through; even so, it still had a very contained and small-town feel. One of its most famous residents was the circus-promoter, PT Barnum– incidently, the road that led me to US-1 was Barnum Ave.

Determined not to lose US-1 again, I rolled into New Haven around 5pm, exhausted but elated to have made it in one piece. I meandered around the city since the sun was still up, and fought off the urge to go straight to bed for as long as possible… I was fast asleep well before 9pm…

SATURDAY: With Friday’s lessons and events freshly set in my mind, I started the day around 8am, cruising onto US-1 West with the sun at my back. The ride back seemed shorter, perhaps because the landscape was familiar and I stopped less. However I did have one major setback.

Speeding down the hill entering Bridgeport, I hit a series of cracks in the road and sustained a flat tire from the wear. While trying to fill the tire, I could hear air hissing from the tube… as luck would have it, a police officer pulled into a parking spot nearby and, seeing my dilemma, directed me towards a bike shop, Chris’s Spoke & Wheel, just a half mile away. Figuring I could get my brake handle realigned and an overall frame check, I made my way to the bike shop. Bubba, the shop puppy, kept me company while my bike was tuned up and checked for damages that may have been overlooked.

With a little professional TLC, my bike was as good as new (no damage found) and I headed into Bridgeport’s downtown. In the city, I met a most interesting and kind man named Thomas. He is an avid cyclist and has taken his children on cross-country cycling trips. We spoke for quite some time, though I wish I had had all day. He shared highlights from his cycling trips, gave me some tips and gear advice for the summer, and set the plans in motion for another cycling adventure: Mohawk Mountain.

The rest of the journey was for the most part, uneventful (in comparison with Friday’s madness). Perhaps this was life’s way of balancing itself. Admittedly, I’m grateful- both for the insanity and the calm.

8 Responses to “my first century (and then some)”

  1. jenilia April 4, 2010 at 2:30 am #

    You are a bundle of enegry, V!!! 😀
    Thanks for blogging your awesome adventure.

    • V April 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

      Jeniiiiiiiiiiii 😀 i hope you are doing well and enjoying life’s adventures as well! *hugs*

  2. jenilia April 4, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Oops, typo… Hehe.
    Energy 😀

  3. Sally April 4, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Amazing and adventure V thanks for sharing! Though I wish you’d stop doing damage to my friend, coz I’m kinda very fond of her ya know 😛

    • V April 4, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

      *hugs* it’s not intentional damage… 🙂 i’ll do my darndest to stay out of harm’s way

  4. Richie April 5, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    You are most definitely the most adventurous person I know, and it's awesome. You rock my socks. But, take down information from any more people who hit you with their car!! Sometimes repercussions only come up a long time afterwards, and you never know…

  5. Becky April 6, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    V! You are made of awesome!

    I just went on my first bike ride since I was 12. It was great! Maybe when you make it out here, I will join up to ride with you for a bit!!!

    So glad Plurk pointed me to your blog! Now I can follow your adventures!!!

    • V April 6, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

      beckyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!! how did you like your bike ride? i’d be stoked to join you for a cali cycling adventure 😀 *hugs*

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