I was in Manhattan. I had a bike. Where to go?
The most popular ride from Manhattan Island is over the George Washington Bridge to Nyack and back. About 70 km / 44 mi round trip from the bridge to Nyack. Plus another 10 km / 6 mi or so from where I was. I looked at an online route map. It seemed simple enough to get to the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. That would take me to the George Washington Bridge. Once across the bridge it was due north to Nyack. I thought there would be lots of cyclists whom I could follow. This was after all the most popular ride from Manhattan Island.
Riding along the Greenway on a Saturday morning required constant vigilance. It was a nice day, and the Greenway was clogged with pedestrians, joggers, inline skaters and tourists crossing over to heliports for joy rides over the city. And of course with other cyclists.
As expected I could see the George Washington Bridge up ahead, stretching across the East River.
I didn’t expect to come across the Little Red Lighthouse under the bridge.
I certainly didn’t expect to be 60 meters / 200 feet below the bridge. Of course the climb to the bridge deck was worth it. This is the view along the East River back towards Lower Manhattan. The border between New York and New Jersey runs down the middle of the East River.
There weren’t many cyclists to follow across the bridge and down into New Jersey. I had left it too late in the morning to get started. There was one cyclist ahead of me so I followed him. After ten minutes I realised he wasn’t going to Nyack. The route described online follows the river shoreline. You can see from the route I took that I was well west of the river as I rode north.
I had lost the rider who had been ahead of me. I saw no road signs for Nyack. Which was okay. The sun was shining. The roads were good. The towns I rolled through were pretty. Englewood, Tenafly, Cresskill, Demarest. There was a lot of German steel on the roads with me. Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche. I was clearly in a wealthier part of the world. Near the Knickerbocker Country Club I came upon little reminder of The Netherlands.
The views continued to be lovely. This is on the Tenakill Brook in Demarest.
After 40 km / 25 mi I was ready for a coffee and something to eat. As pretty as the ride was, it was time to forget about Nyack and its fabled cyclists stop, the Runcible Spoon Bakery. I had been alternately behind and ahead of a pair of cyclists for about fifteen minutes. They rolled past me again as I stopped to take this picture where the road carries us back into New York.
I hoped that they were in need of coffee too, and knew a place where we could get some. 4 km / 2.5 mi down the road we came to Piermont, and the two gentlemen in front of me pulled up at Bunbury’s Coffee Shop. Perfect!
Having tailed them for so long it was the least I could do to introduce myself. We sat together as we drank our coffees and ate our cakes. I had the chocolate zucchini almond bread. Which was possibly better than Sharif’s roti canai.
It turned out that I had chosen some interesting people to follow. One was the mayor of Englewood, who was on his first bike ride in years. He was being pulled along by a friend who was clearly a regular cyclist. And who knew the President of Hotvelociti Cycling Apparel, who joined our table. I don’t often have conversations about a USD180 million light rail project, or about the 400% increase in the cost of manufacturing clothing in China, during my coffee stops.
Their advice was to skip The Runcible Spoon Bakery, which suffers from its fame by always being very crowded. And to follow US Route 9W back to the George Washington Bridge. What they didn’t tell me was that there is 160 meters / 525 feet of climbing in the 6 km / 3.7 mi. It is a good thing that it was a big slice of chocolate zucchini almond bread!
I hooked up with another rider just as I got to the bridge. He used to live in Austin, so we had something to talk about as he guided me along an alternate route to the Greenway. I am not sure which would have been worse. All the other people on the Greenway, or the taxis, buses and trucks along Broadway and 7th Avenue. Riding a bike through Times Square was an experience perhaps not to be repeated.
I didn’t get to Nyack, but it was a very nice ride. Thank you Google.