There are supposed to be four of us. I set an early start time, because I like an early start time. But I do make a concession this time. I make it an hour later than normal. 7am, in the hopes that I’ll get more takers.
The first cancelation comes via text. Ok. So three. Three of us.
While waiting on the Brooklyn Bridge. I check my email and another pulls the pin. Dan correctly and earnestly chastises himself with the ‘imma wuss’ line. As I shove my phone back in my jersey pocket and re-glove the chilled hand I think, “Well, he may have the guilt, but I will have my frozen face!” Stupid thing to think. The cold squall is whipping around the empty halls of my brain and finding dumb things to vocalize.
I push off and head over the bridge. I don’t see one person on it. It’s too cold, I guess.
Wai. I’m supposed to pick up Wai at 23rd at 7.20am. I listen as I ride for the ‘ping’ from my back pocket, expecting it at any moment. The one that indicates that he is out. That this will be a solo ride. Well, me and Baby, I guess.
But no! No ‘ping’. Wai rolls up just as I get there, and I am overjoyed. I thought I’d have to suffer this chill alone. Complain to no-one but my own brain. Now, now I have someone to bitch on about it to. But… hmmm.
Wai is wearing mid-calf tights and no shoe covers. None. At all. Embro? I ask him later and we both laugh at how it’s something we think about buying every year and never do. Apart from that, he’s dressed for the chill. But those bare calves. Those uncovered toes. How can I complain in my gore windstopper booties and long socks when he’s being all tough and shit?!
"I’m dressing for the temps we will have later, not now," he says.
We roll off.
He hasn’t been out much lately, he tells me, so it’s kind of funny when we get to the GWB and there’s a bunch of guys from…Team Adler, I think. I wasn’t really paying attention. ‘Heeeey’ a couple say, and one chimes in “Wait, is that a Wai sighting?!”
It most certainly is, but back off boys! He’s with me. Don’t try goad him into your blokey competitive team ride.
As we cross 9W, we take a zig-zag back-route to Piermont, mostly through completely shady corridors with snow still packed in piles by the side of the road.
The temperature has dropped dramatically. As we fly down the hill on East Clinton, my eyes leak icicles and my gloves decide they’re not really up to the task of keeping my fingertips warm anymore. We swing right, left right. Through more shady lanes. We lament the cold. We can’t find any sun. The breeze is not our friend.
It seems to be taking forever to get to Piermont and I just want to be there already with my hands around a cup of hot, steaming coffee. My arse is a block of ice - I’m just wearing regular bibs with a nice thin lyrca and leg warmers - and my fingers are burning with pain. There is much rejoicing as we pull up to the bike rack in front of the cafe.
We sit inside. I take a cheesy photo of Wai inspecting pastries, though neither of us get one. I opt for a banana, and Wai goes for a Clif bar. We both get coffee. We both sit inside at a table that’s soaked by the sun and cup our java with ungloved hands. We pick up each other’s gloves and I am amazed Wai’s hands haven’t dropped off completely - the material is kinda thin. He agrees.
He checks his phone. It is 33F. I wonder, briefly, what it is with wind chill. And then I push that thought from my mind. It’s not useful to know these things.
After about 45 minutes, the cold sets in and I say we should move or we’re never going to. We pushed off and it’s that horrible pain of sitting too long and walking back out into a fridge. It’s freezing. I shiver.
We spin along through Piermont. Try get the blood flowing. Trying to get warm.
Thankfully, there’s a stiff, short climb on the way out of town, and we muscle up to get some heat flushing to our faces. Still not much better, but we’re in the sun now. 9W has a lot of sun, not like those back roads, and we roll along and soak it up. For the first time in a long time, I’m eager for the State Line climb. It’s long. In the sun. It will warm us up.
It does. The temps are coming up again, and after some good pulls and putting our heads down for a reasonable place, we hit the GWB and swing back into Manhattan feeling pretty toasty and good.
"Show me the way, Wai," I joke, then follow he shows me how he gets to the lower East side, instead of my usual Riverside Drive and 10th Avenue roll down. We end up flying down Park Avenue, and I love the wideness of it and the flow of it. Well, apart from the red lights we keep catching every 4 or 5 blocks. When Park runs out, we turn and head over to 2nd, chatting about what we’re going to eat when we get home. I wave goodbye at 25th.
A roadie grabs my wheel on the rise of the Manhattan Bridge, and although tired, I grit my teeth and hammer all the way up. I don’t notice I’ve dropped him until I begin to head down the other side. Guess he didn’t want to play.
I roll into the apartment and immediately scoff down a peanut butter sandwich. I’ve forgotten to drink very much today and I’m feeling quite limp. The cold makes me forgetful, I guess. I shower, thinking I’ll make the omlette I talked of on 2nd avenue after. Dressed and fresh, I grind coffee beans.
"I’ll just lie down for a second," I think.
Three hours later, I make that omlette and finish brewing the coffee.
I gotta say, for all the cold and suffering brought on by it (between one winter and the next I never remember exactly the right combos of clothes for different temps), this ride was an absolute, beautiful corker.
Man, I love fall.
David from Austin, describing me in such an awesome way that I must share it. I must say that he’s a bit hard on himself, though. We had the advantage of knowing what that climb entails, where to pace ourselves and quite frankly, how long it lasts. I used that to MY SUPREME SOUL CRUSHING ADVANTAGE! haha.
Anyway, the quote comes from a piece DandyLion wrote (hey, he sets ‘em up, I knock ‘em down) about a ride Dkcholo and I recently took him on. A standard training ride for us Noo Yawkers - GWB to Piermont via River Road. It was a lovely fall day, and a great day for riding. Go read his writeup of his Texanite impressions of it.
It’s easy to forgot how great these routes are when you do them so often. Nice to see an outsiders perspective.