While days, weeks, and years pass by, I think it’s important, especially during Thanksgiving, to take a step back and reflect on some of the smaller things in life that we may not have paid close attention to.
Of course, I’m thankful for my family and my puppy, but here at Cyclehaven9W, I want to put a special twist on things: Top 5 Cycling Moments (Year-to-Date) for which I’m thankful:
*The list will be in chronological order*
1) January 1st, 2016: “All is Quiet on New Year’s Day”
Now as I’ve mentioned previously, I used to row in college, in fact I raced several times by Glen Island Park. I hadn’t been back there until this ride. Over the past year and a half, I made the decision to kick start most holidays with a bike ride. This New Year’s Day was no different. I decided to ride up into the Bronx and up to this former city oasis. Though, it was pretty windy as I recall that day. Nevertheless, being back there ignited a sense of nostalgia in me, remembrance of warm days out on the water. I found myself starting to daydream while I was snacking on a banana, and a particularly aggressive sea gull nearly swiped it from my hand!
Another thing to note was that it was extremely quiet, almost eerily so. I’d never seen the Bronx so empty in my life. I also did get a little bit lost, despite having a general sense of where I needed to go.
2) June 19th, 2016: “Father’s Day Ride”
This ride was particularly memorable because it was the first time my dad had ever ridden close to 20 miles. He had begun cycling this year sometime around May, but had not ridden more than ~11 miles in a single sitting. I mapped out a route that would take us up into Bedford, NY and further on to the Cross River Reservoir. There were a couple of notable hills, but I didn’t want my dad to be discouraged by that fact alone since I knew he could do it, with the right support.
All in all, as I suspected, my dad felt very accomplished to have done this ride with me. Not only did we have some much needed bonding time, but he was also able to break a mental block and (as mentioned before) ride nearly 20 miles, a big PR for him! I’ve yet to take my dad to our cycle haven 9W, but it will happen at some point, likely in the spring.
3) June 26th, 2016: “Vultures, Falcons, 9W Community Service Cleanup”
This ride was one of my very first rides with NYCC. I had done a preliminary 4-lap test around CP, but only later realized after returning to Queens that my Garmin didn’t link up to GPS / GLONASS. I tried to use the elevation profile as a way to determine my laps, but it was rudimentary at best. Since I’d never been on an organized ride of this nature, I opted for the C-13 level. I learned that this was not the right category for me and later found B-15 to be the right balance.
With all that said, this community service event was a wonderful initiative. I think it’s so important to give back, especially to the communities that you most often frequent. After cleaning up the side of the road, and enjoying some steel cut oats from “The Market”, I felt very accomplished.
4) July 4th, 2016: “4th of July ride – ‘Murica”
As previously mentioned, I started this tradition of riding on national holidays. With beautiful, mild weather in the forecast, there was no doubt that I’d go on a route. Along with a good friend of mine, we set off from Grand Central up to Brewster, NY – right at the terminus of the North / South / Putnam County Trailways. This route was one that I had dreamed of taking for a long, long time. I’d done section routes of this 47-mile rails-to-trail greenway, but never the full start to finish.
I would highly, highly recommend this ride. It can be a little bit bumpy in sections (from tree roots warping the concrete), there are two off-trail sections where you’re riding around traffic, and the last 0.5 miles at the south terminus is packed dirt with some roots. Other than those “considerations”, this is a must-see! If you’re riding North to South, the elevation profile is such that the overall trend will be a decreasing slope. If you want more of a challenge, you can start in NYC ride up and then back for a full century.
5) August 3rd, 2016: “Cunningham Park Trails”
I’m including this route in my top 5 thankful cycling moments so far this year because it was such a unique experience. I’ve ridden my Caadx in Cunningham Park once, a few months after I’d gotten it. To be entirely honest, I left with a bad impression. The Caadx may be the jack of all trades, but even the green, gentle routes were pretty rough with that frame, for me.
However, in August, I decided to take a half-day from work with one of my colleagues and head back out to Cunningham to rent full suspension mountain bikes from Peak Bicycle Pro Shop. They were very friendly and outfitted us with $20/hr Kona Precept mountain bike rentals. We had brought our own helmets, but they had offered ones to us as well. We loaded up the bikes on his car’s rack and drove over to Cunningham.
I was a bit apprehensive because I knew my coworker wanted to try some of the blue and black trails. I felt okay on the green trails (the full suspension was excellent). As soon as we ventured onto some of the blue ones, my lack of mountain biking skills became evident. My coworker gave me a tutorial on basic mountain bike stances and bike handling skills around the technical features. With these ideas at the forefront of my mind, I began to take on some of the rock gardens, smaller drops, and logs.
It was very tiring, but a ton of fun! I didn’t let my ego get in the way, and decided to walk past some of the very advanced technical features (I.e. the 5ft drops on the black trails). No shame in that, better to walk around the feature than to suffer a broken collarbone from falling.
This has been a recurring theme for me – not letting my ego get in the way. We’ve all seen “ego lifting” in the gym where people lift well beyond their means just to show off. I’m guilty of that, in the past. Now I’m definitely trying to be more responsible and prudent with my choices. I think it’s working out well – just like in my 1st Bear Mountain post. I’d made it 2/3 of the way up, but I hit “the wall”, didn’t have enough food with me, and I just knew the best decision for my body at that point in time was to turn around. In the end, this second attempt at Cunningham was awesome. The experience was unique, different muscles / thought processes were engaged, and just goes to show all that NYC truly has to offer.