Even with a road bike like Janet, getting a flat is no big deal if I’m in Central Park. But in the Palisades, I’ll really be on my own. I don’t have a spare tube, I won’t be carrying a pump and I don’t know how to repair a flat anyway (keep showing up for classes which are invariably canceled). Since it’s a weekday, cyclists will be fewer, and I’m terrified I’ll find myself walking for miles back to civilization (and perhaps not ever getting there). Well that’s enough to keep a girl from getting out of bed.
But I still want to go. I've played it safe all my life. If breast cancer and death have taught me anything in the last year, it's that all we have is the moment; and although my fear is a real one, I can't let it stop me. I’ve been told that the last mile of this hilly route consists of a monster hill, known as “The Beast.” I am determined to tackle it. At 9:10, I am out the door, hoping new tires, and a little bit of luck, will see me through. I bring a patch kit for what it's worth.
Up the Hudson we ride. It’s misty over the water – I can hardly see the GWB.
It’s a brilliant (if lucky) decision that bodes well, and makes the rest of the ride possible. Janet is waiting for me, and off we go.
I decide to take the Greenway past the Little Red Light House so I can try those inclines again (especially the last one).
First the one:
And then the other.
The Bridge is as glorious as ever. It’s Veterans day and a huge flag hangs from the arch on the Jersey side.
After a couple hundred yards, I make a left between the stanchions into the park entrance (Henry Hudson Drive). Am relieved to see other cyclists making the trip.
Here is the first one:
Alas, my camera battery is out of juice and the back up isn’t working, but here is the destination when I finally arrive thanks to my phone (yes I made it).
And there it is: they’ve dissed Janet. They’ve spotted that she is not carbon fiber. From there the conversation goes right to “clipping in” as the only way to ride; dropped handle bars being smarter (all of which may be true). And I know the further into cycling I get, the more I’ll find myself up against US bike culture and its opinions - where everyone is a professional (even though no one is) and everyone and dresses and rides as if the Tour de France were a daily occurrence. But I’m not interested in being a professional. I got into cycling for mental rest. Just how far I want to be involved with this culture is something I still ask myself. I am proceeding ride by ride.
I’ve done plenty of research on clipping in btw. What I’ve learned is that falling is part of the learning curve. Falling. I have osteoporosis. I shouldn’t even be on a bike. If this is a part of the learning curve, it’s a part I can’t afford. As for dropped handle bars well, talk to me in a year. Right now I have no use for them. I like sitting upright, I like seeing the view. If I had my druthers, I’d ride a chopper with handle bars above my ears. That said, I’m not sure I would have made it up The Beast on a contraption like that...
After a brief rest, I turn around. My helmet camera isn’t working, but my phone camera does a better job really (as long as I stop to get the pictures). Here are some photos of the way back.
Until the last ascent, riding back to the now familiar entrance of the GWB: