Page 45

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DAY 142

Worcester to Cheesequake, New Jersey 

Elbert is fine. When he realized that he might be off-route and lost, he went back to a location he knew was on the DRG. He tried calling the emergency cell phone numbers but couldn’t contact anyone at TK&A. He plight was noticed by two young women who put his bike in the trunk of their car and drove him to our campsite. They explained that cell phone reception is poor in that area. Dinner was still sitting out waiting for him. We were all overjoyed to see him arrive warm, dry and happy.

Of course it was another rainy day, raining hard the first couple of hours. At 12.7 miles there were some killer railroad tracks that got some of us including me. I got off easy with a skinned and bruised elbow. But when Mark and Sandy, tandem riders, fell he took a hard fall spraining his shoulder and wrist, and banged his head so hard he was not really aware for sometime. He was taken to hospital but came to camp in the evening. Sandy was luckier and was only bruised. The trouble with this particular set of tracks was the angle at which they intersected the road, and the very wide gap between the tracks and the pavement. To cross railroad tracks safely the bike’s wheels need to be at a right angle to the rails. This was not possible without making a wide swing and then crossing the tracks nearly like you were going to cross the street. I had made the wide swing and got across the first rail safely but then a car crossing the tracks right beside me caught my eye, my reflex action was to turn my wheel away from the car to avoid a collision, but of course that was a big mistake. My wheel went into the gap between the road and the rail and down I went. I was not badly hurt and got back on my bike which was not damaged either. Next time there are tracks at such an angle I’ll get off and walk.

We rode through Washington Crossing Historic Park. When we came to the Delaware River we had to walk our bikes across the bridge. It is a wide river with a good current. Our ride took us through Princeton but we could get only a glimpse of the University. The houses on the main street into town are probably the biggest and grandest we have seen. They were even bigger than the churches!

We camped at the Cheesequake State Park which has a grassy area big enough for thousands, but only two toilets! (There were two more but quite a hike away.) There were no other buildings or facilities but fortunately TK&A has a very large tent into which the luggage could be unloaded to keep it dry. TK&A also has showers and sinks making it possible for us to camp anywhere there is a water supply.

The DRG stated that dinner would be at  Pizza Hut, but at the last minute (some riders were already at Pizza Hut) the plan changed. We were shuttled to T.G.I. Friday’s where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and we even had choices! I had salad, steak kabobs with a baked potato, and ice cream with hot fudge sauce. All the shuttling to and fro took time so dinner consumed the evening. We went to bed with visions of the Big Apple dancing in our heads.

 Goodbye, Alice 

DAY 143

Cheesequake, N.J. to New York City 

We had only a 40 mile ride to do to reach our destination in New York, the Park View Hostel, so the temptation was to sleep in a bit. But I couldn’t, I had agreed to ride with a group and I wanted to be ready to go on time. But what with one thing and another we got a very late start. Breakfast was to be catered and arrived late, so late that some riders had given up and left without eating.

We had barely started up the road when Judy realized that she had a flat tire. We all stopped, having agreed to ride together, while she changed her tire. Bill of Seattle helped her. It was the rear tire which is more of a pain to fix. They couldn’t find anything in the tire so they put in a new tube and pumped the tire, having a lot of trouble with the pumps they were using. That consumed the better part of an hour. Then we were off, riding on a gravel road to exit the campground, when Judy’s tire went flat again. Judy was getting very frustrated by this time at having delayed our departure but there was nothing to do but stop and deal with it. This time Priscilla got involved and showed Judy how to check her tire for foreign objects. She found the culprit, a tiny piece of broken glass was embedded in the tire, going through and poking holes in her tubes. With a new tube and my pump we soon had the tire fixed and were on our way at last, the very last ones to leave camp.

We slowly made our way along the route, stopping time and again for one reason or another. That is why it is so frustrating to ride in a group. But we were joking and having a good time, not really concerned about hurrying because it was such a short ride. In our group were Judy, Elizabeth, Roma, Lynn, Priscilla, Gudrun, Bill, Jacque and me.

At the very last minute, at the late breakfast, it was announced that we would be shuttled across the Goethals Bridge. When we reached that point, we stopped, took all our bags off our bikes, loaded the bikes and bags and ourselves, and were driven the four miles or so over the bridge. Thank goodness! The bridge was long, very busy, and there was no bike lane or sidewalk.  Back on our bikes again we pedaled to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal for a 30 minute ride to New York City. It was a gray, overcast, smoggy day so visibility was poor, but we could make out the Statue of Liberty and the famous New York City skyline.

Then the hard part began. The thought of riding in New York City was so intimidating that there were only 84 riders, the others having found other ways to get to New York. We still had our little group of riders but we were  confused about the route. That’s when we shanghaied Bill Bliss, one of the six riders to have ridden every mile, to be our leader. He did a fantastic job, never getting lost once. If it had been up to me we’d still be out there. The ride through the city streets was harrowing to some and thrilling to others. The streets were very busy, everyone in a hurry and honking. Busses, trucks, and loooong limousines parked anywhere they pleased, pedestrians, delivery people, bike messengers, construction, whew! But we made it safely. Not so lucky was at least one rider, Pamela Zack who got doored, someone opened a car door in front of her and she crashed into it hurting her knee. We’re always aware of that possibility and watching parked cars but there was so much happening it was not possible to see it all.

Our hostel, described as ‘newer’ on the DRG, is on the north border of Central Park in the Bronx. I wonder ‘newer’ than what, as it is very old and decrepit, but very colorful. We have never seen such colors! The brightest most intense shades of blue, lime green, yellow and orange have been used to paint every room and hallway. I think the colorfulness is to cover the dreariness. Oh well! The location is great and the price is right. Having fun! Wish you were here!

Goodbye, Alice

Spain                New York


    Odyssey Riders





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