Winter Saturday Ride

What was supposed to be a leisurely Saturday morning ride around the neighborhood turned into an epic 50+ mile out-and-back ride up the Hudson River (sorry Nate and Martín). I checked the temperature outside right before I went out, and it was a cool 34°. As soon as I started I was feeling pretty good, despite having a bit too much to drink at last night's holiday party. I couldn't bring myself to stop with the sun shining with the invigorating cold air. So I kept going.

I started off across the Brooklyn Bridge. The path entrance is less than two miles from where we live. The Manhattan Bridge  is also accessible and close by.

What you'd think would be a great part of the ride is actually not, unless you stop to take in the sweeping view of Manhattan. Most of your attention is paid closely to the never-ending stream of tourists. I get it. It's probably the best view of the city, but it's freezing cold in December. At least it's not as bad as in the summer. I avoid it completely, and take the Manhattan Bridge instead.

Once you cut through the narrow slice of downtown Manhattan you're on the Hudson River Greenway, which runs parallel to the west side of Manhattan. While not my favorite path due to the heavy pedestrian and cycling traffic, it does offer a safe and straight-shot all the way up to the top of the island. Past Harlem and Hamilton Heights the path begins to really open up to some great views. Out in the distance is my goal, the George Washington Bridge, and beyond, the Palisades.

Underneath George Washington Bridge. It took me a while to figure out exactly where I needed to go in order to get onto the bridge. It's a rather steep, but short climb into Washington Heights, but if you follow the signs it'll take you to the very obscured pathway entrance.

Crossing the Hudson and into… Jersey, baby!

Mile 25 Immediately after the bridge it's a sharp left and down a steep road onto Henry Hudson Drive. This is what makes the ride so good. While cars are allowed on the road you typically don't see that many. It feels like you're out in the country. It runs alongside the Englewood cliffs and is lined with trees for the entire 8 mile stretch, parts of which are completely closed off to cars. It has some decent climbs and descents, which remind me of the Pacific Northwest.

I passed a few groups on my way up, but almost got passed by a guy on a blacked-out Pinarello Dogma. Almost. Even Lance Armstrong has been sighted on this route from time to time, which goes to show that this is some serious training ground.

I brought my Canon Elph with me, but forgot to put a memory card in it. All these shots were taken with my iPhone 4S, which already has a great new lens and sensor. Unfortunately I had it on the HDR setting; I usually snap pictures as I'm riding so half of my shots had this double exposure thing happening.

Mile 25-55 It's an out-and-back ride, but with hills it's so different in that the saying 'what goes up must come down' applies in reverse, to your detriment, 'what goes down must come up'. Luckily it's short enough to conquer, but not long enough to feel like you're king of the mountains.

This is one of those surprising rides you'd never think would exist just outside of New York City, but it  does. Because it's tucked along a cliff side with a wide river next to you the noises of cars and the city are completely drowned out by falling leaves, the wind passing over your ears, and steady breathing.

Just above the cliffs is another popular route, 9W, which I've ridden, 60 miles one way to Bear Mountain and back, with a total mileage of 120 miles. The most I've ever ridden in a single day. 9W features a nice wide shoulder and doesn't have as much climbing, but it takes you through some nice upstate New York scenery. I'll save that ride for a future post.