For me, Route 9W is a cycling haven.
“Cycle Haven 9W” represents an escape from the concrete jungle, an escape from the daily stresses, and a return to center. It never ceases to amaze me how I can ride an hour out of one of the busiest cities in the world, and be immersed in quiet, tranquil nature.
Descending down the NY State line on 9W can only be described in one word: euphoric. It’s there that I’ve approached 40 mph (according to my Garmin). The wide, sweeping descent into Piermont makes the daily stresses seem meaningless. In that short span of time, I’m 100% engaged in the moment, every time, without fail.
Remembering the first time across GWB:
When I first started cycling in NYC, about 5 years ago, I’d only read about 9W online, it seemed to be portrayed as this mythical land, one that I did not feel confident in my riding abilities to conquer. I can still remember the very first time I crossed over the GWB. I was riding a Trek 7.1fx on a chilly March day in 2013. The early spring winds from the Hudson River were unforgiving. I rode up the West Side Greenway and couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to get up onto the bridge. I asked a roadie how to make it up there. He said, just follow me, but you have to keep up, I’m late for a club meet up. I tried shifting on what I *thought* was a steep hill in Morningside Heights (turned out to be 158th street, before the two-way protected lane was put in) and my gears crunched like the derailleur was about to snap.
I vaguely recall the guy looking over his shoulder with a look on his face like, “Are you kidding right now?” Needless to say, the roadie ended up dropping me, I just couldn’t keep up and he was pressed for time. I finally made it on Cabrini Boulevard and followed the rest of the cyclists heading over to this “Mecca” that I had heard of for so long. I got off the bridge ramp, made a right like everyone else and proceeded. I hadn’t even reached Strictly Bicycles when I said to myself, “it’s time to turn around. What’s so special about this road?” So I did, I descended, my Kmart bought odometer reading 25 mph, a record for me at the time. That was my first and last visit across the GWB that year. I sold the Trek 7.1fx thinking that maybe cycling wasn’t for me.
Well, after contending with appendicitis, a bilateral inguinal hernia, and a few misguided bike purchases (a singlespeed, the Trek hybrid I mentioned), I eventually bought my current steed: a Cannondale Caadx, SRAM Rival. From Spring – Fall, I swapped out the Cyclocross tires for smooth Gatorskins and the stock crankset for a compact road crank. This bike was perfect for the rough, torn up streets in NYC, but didn’t have any issues on club rides.
Since this is my first post, I’ll end it here – but I’ll write plenty of stories about my adventures on 9W, and the lifestyle enhancements that have come along with this great sport that we all enjoy.