2016-06-25 - Bike to Poughkeepsie
On a bright Saturday morning, I took off from home in Jersey City to ride to Poughkeepsie. I had used Strava routing for the first time to help pick the route. I followed the way I always do to Fort Lee and then followed 9W for most of the way on the west side of the Hudson River. I couldn't open my small container of sunscreen so I bought a windscreen headwear and wrapped it around my neck, the only large exposed area to the sun. It actually ended up working really well. Although I felt some areas heating up, I didn't get sunburned at all. After missing a turn I stopped briefly by the beautiful scene of a hammock floating above a stream in a slice of paradise to check my bearings. The Tappan Zee Bridge was still under construction but would soon allow pedestrians and cyclists another connection to the other side. I stopped at a pre-planned well-rated Pizzeria for lunch. I'm glad I did. It was absolutely delicious. The Powerade on such a hot day was great too.
I chose to stop at the Stony Point State Park several miles after the pizza. I parked my bike and walked up from the parking lot to the main area. Tents were set up to mimic a colonial campsite. I first briefly toured the museum filled with real and reproductions of artifacts from the lighthouse and military efforts in the area. Volunteers dressed in the costumes of the day demonstrated what life would have been like at the time.
I made sure to stay for the cannon firing at 4 PM. Afterwards, I hiked to the few overlooks and current lighthouse. The view was great. I was behind schedule after this long stop and after stopping to stare at some deer, pushed on, soon biking around Bear Mountain and passing a beautiful turquoise swimming pool in the area.
I stopped abruptly when I spotted the sign for Fort Montgomery. It was going to close in about 20 minutes so I took the chance to quickly tour it. I loved the view of Bear Mountain Bridge from behind the museum.
The area where the fort used to be was fascinating too.
The next challenge was cycling up the steep slopes of Storm King. The photos do no justice. It was one of the best sights I've ever seen on two wheels. It was so beautiful I wanted to cry.
The leg after Storm King was tough as I was running low on water and the path I had picked had me cycling over unnecessary hills. The wild turkeys were a nice touch though. After cycling a few miles without water including past a cemetery, I finally found a small mall area and had a choice between a proper restaurant, another pizzeria, and a grocery store. I chose the pizzeria and chewed on an eggplant parm sandwich with more Powerade. It was a generous serving at a good price. I left hoping to make it to the hotel before it turned dark.
I was pretty close to the end by now and made it to the booked hotel near Poughkeepsie only a few minutes after the highway lights came on. To my surprise, the hotel didn't have a room for me due to A/C issues. To make a long frustrating story short, I ended up at a hotel 6 miles away and wasted an hour of valuable sleep time.
The other hotel had issues too, the power outlet magically stopped working while I was sleeping so my phone was not charged. The toilet seat fell off and also the chair was stuck in the lowest position. Well at least it was not a smoking room and had running water. My luck with hotels is pretty dismal to be honest. And at least I slept well.
2016-06-26 - Discover Hudson Valley
Waking up later than planned due to the hassle from the night before, I got ready for the 100-mile hilly Discover Hudson Valley Ride and had a free breakfast before departing. The extra 6 miles of riding I had to do from the further hotel did not help either. Basically, I got started about 45 minutes later than planned. The ride was beautiful as expected. A strong friendly cyclist riding the 70-mile version pulled me for half the way to the midpoint rest stop. At this point I was caught up to some of the later or slower century riders. The immense heat was getting to me though and in my tired state, I forgot my bottle at the rest stop. I did apply some of their sunscreen though and boy did the strong sun warrant it.
Let's just say the keep the hilliest parts for the century riders. And riding the hilliest parts after having ridden 85 miles the day before in the hottest time of the day was no joke. Eventually I was cycling slower than I could usually run and I called it quits. I found a lovely home where women served me pasta and water and allowed me to use the restroom. I am very grateful. My parents picked me up and we finished the day by briefly visiting the Vanderbilt Mansion and Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site. It was too late for the tours but the grounds themselves were worth seeing. I'm already dreaming up walks to incorporate them.
All in all, it was a great weekend. Despite failing at my mission of both riding up and finishing the century, I felt strong. I think having started 45 minutes earlier in cooler weather, not having to chase to catch up the century riders, and not having to ride the extra 6 miles, I would have finished. Overall I rode almost 80 miles the second day and more than 160 super hilly miles over the weekend. I also made sure to stop for ice cream on the way back home. I don't usually eat ice cream but needed it on a day like this. :)