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Published: July 12th 2019
Today we are headed to the BIg City, the Big Apple, Destination of many foreign travelers past and present, the promise of a new beginning and a new life.
But. We are tired. It's early. It's raining. And we don't want to ride our bicycles.
It's an early wake up call and there's not much to eat for breakfast. I settle for an ice cream cone, two hard boiled eggs, some left over coffee we stuck in the fridge, and some OJ. Only in Bike & Build world would I eat a breakfast like this, let alone at 5 in the morning. We're all exhausted from the ride yesterday so I try to pump us up by playing Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind" on repeat as well as "New York, New York" since there was no wake up music today. To no avail, we are still exhausted and quiet this morning.
Once the host is all cleaned up and as we're beginning to move towards prepping to ride, thunder and lightning strike and puts a literal damper on our already damper moods. Many of us lay our heads down on the tables in
the dining room while we wait for the storm to pass. Aiden, in true Aiden form, is rocking his aviators inside with his tiny hat while bopping to "Winnebago." Aiden is always on another level than us, and I love that about him.
After it was almost 30 minutes since the last strike of lightning (B&B rules), we think we're in clear and begin to prep to ride, only for it to strike again! There goes the early lead we were hoping to get ahead of NYC afternoon commuter traffic! This time I lay my head on Kristi's lap while sitting on a love seat on the porch. She pets my head a little and says "Rally, I bet you're an amazing sister." My eyes well up with tears and tell her that I try and that I love them an insane amount and we've been through a lot together. Such goodness to hear life like that spoken out loud and truth to be realized and recognized not only by someone else, but also for myself.
Eventually the lightning and thunder lighten up and we prep to ride bikes. Ryan realizes he left his cycling shoes in Philly
at the home office (he was in the van yesterday) and is immediately pissed off and stressing the rest of us out with him. Our ride groups semi start to form and split, with much confusion and little clarity. Only when my group (Sarah and Mikey) is about to head out, do I realize that the coffee is hitting me--hard. I run inside, take care of business, and come out to a nearly empty lot with my group still waiting for me, along with leader van. Bless them.
The mess of the morning only continues as the route gets slightly rerouted. We decide to go rogue and pick up the cue in a different spot, rather than back tracking. My contentment with this slight rebellion pleases Mikey lol. We find our way back to the nightmare of a trail, only for it to be even worse after all the rain (which is still coming down lightly, btw--once you're wet, you're wet!). Mikey and Sarah loved it, and I hated it. 5 miles later we reach our turn off the trail, which seemed to take forever because you feel like you're going fast with road tires on all the vibration
of mud and rocks, when you're actually only going 10-12mph--disheartening.We find a hose at a locals house and Mikey is brave enough to use it and hose off himself and our bikes--what a gentleman.
We then continue through the busy suburban streets of Central/North Jersey (does Central Jersey even actually exist??) as the morning commuters zip past us with no regard to giving us three feet of space. With minimal shoulder and hard hills up Mountain View Road, we're not huge fans of this route--at least there was a nice view at the top! Too bad the other two missed it since the road was nerve wrecking and it was easy to miss.
Lots of traffic, near misses (think declining hills with stopped dead traffic after a blind curve), and reroutes after getting a bit lost, we found ourselves on a little park trail. It was wet from the on and off again light rain, so while coming around a curve with a good inch or two lip under a bridge, I took myself out and was thrown forward and caught myself on the railing in front of me. This day has been fun 😊
We get to lunch under a park pavilion at Riverside County Park, eats lots of left overs, Mikey attempts to fix my bike, and I'm in a funky mood. A group of our friends (Amanda, Chris, and co) got a ride from a police car to go back and get Chris' phone (of course lol), so that made for some silly lunch time stories. A few others also got taken out by the park boardwalk lip, so at least I'm not the only one!
We eventually give up on my bike getting fixed and get back on the road. We have a bit of a time crunch to ensure we get to NYC/Brooklyn before rush hour, but the mess that is North Jersey continues. As we're riding through another park, Sarah gets a flat and we lose Mikey since he was a bit ahead of us. We stop so I can fix it for her and eventually find Mikey a ways up. We're nervous sweep will catch up to us, which they do when we stop for a bathroom break. We get word that we can keep riding past 4pm and to make it to
This is what dreams are made of 😍
Brooklyn bridge on my jersey and in front of me :)
Brooklyn asap. We finally find our way to the George Washington Bridge and ride the protected pedestrian and bike lane over. How incredible to look to the right and the see the center of the world! I've come to this city so many times, and to now be here with Bike & Build, after knowing I started riding my bicycle to get here in FLORIDA is wild! Just two days before I flew to Key West I was in this very city with some of my OG Bike & Build babes, and now, here I am again! Life is wild!
For so many people, for so many years, this was the destination of a new life, a new world, a new start.
Boats, planes, and now bikes to bring us to this place.
I snap an illegal on B&B selfie (it was a protected lane & momentous occasion!) and we ride into Manhattan. We are greeted by a beautiful bike trail along side the river to the right and the buzzing traffic to the left. My mood is instantly better! What is it with NJ and making me grumpy the entire time I
was there?! We ride south down the west side of Manhattan and find more of our K2C friends by the bathrooms. Nora Jane, Carly, and Raffi are frustratingly awaiting for Ryan who decided he needed to poop after they were ready to go (he notoriously takes a while, lol). Jana, Magpie, and Alan also meet up with us and stop for a minute. Jana and I decide to ride together since we were both basically third wheeling on date rides, lol. Best decision of that day!
We continue riding south, with Freedom Tower towering overhead--incredible!-- and then stop at a light to head east across Manhattan. At this point, the three groups were all together again since a few of them had missed the turn. We decide to let Ryan and his group go ahead of us, wait for the light to turn again, let Mikey and Sarah go, and then we ride after the next light change. At this point, all bets are off on following the proper B&B rules and the only rule is get to the host safely. City riding ensues, weaving in and out of cars and traffic, playing it smart while still
looking out for each other. Jana is pumped and cheering which in turns gets me pumped and excited as well. We then get to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and I am PUMPED to ride across it! It has always been a bucket list of mine and its so beautiful! While we're descending, we stop to take pictures and portrait mode is ON POINT! We ride a bit further and run into Jana friend from Penn who surprised her! She's been working in NYC this summer and was calling out to every B&B group that passed looking for Jana, lol. I take some elated, genuine cheesin pics of the two and it makes my heart happy to see them so happy.
We arrive at the host with limited amount of time to shower--our shower basically being a cold hose hooked up to the wall in a closet--so we are all timed for 3 minutes per person--lol, I'll be lucky to accomplish that! I try my best, though I believe it was a solid 5 minutes before I was dried and dressed. We walk over to an alum's swanky apartment and have a large pot luck with the NYC
B&B alum crowd. It's really a shame Carlee and Breezer just moved from Brooklyn to Denver last month after having lived here for the past 4 years during med school! We stand/sit around in the living room, I talk to Carly about her (emotional, hard) day, we grab a beer, and head up to the balcony where we are greeted by a beautiful sunset and lots of grub. The grill is fired up and the good times start to roll! There is a bittersweetness in the air as well as we realize that Manders in leaving tomorrow for her big girl job in Boston. We know we will see her again though 😊
We eat, drink, and are merry. Some folks shotgun beers, the sun sets, and now the balcony is dreamily lit by white Christmas lights on the railing. We eventually migrate back to the host where we crawl into our rolled our sleeping bags and therms and settle into a good nights sleep on yet another hard wood floor 😊
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