Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Astoria to Cliffside Park (32 miles)

Having returned from the beautiful city of New Orleans yesterday, I felt great urgency to start racking up miles to try to reach or surpass my personal monthly quota of 200 miles. Riding 400 miles in the month of March had taken a toll, and the 2 weeks of light to no riding was necessary to heal so I may train hard in the next 2+ weeks leading up to the 5 boro bike tour.

Ever since I rode to Tallman Mountain, I've wanted to ride in the opposite direction South, on River Road into New Jersey. When I awoke this morning I saw sunny skies, and mild temperatures, which was all the more reason to take the fairly long trip. I set out at approximately 12:30, and immediately noticed that cloud cover was setting in, there was no rain in the forecast so I was not overly worried, only mildly disappointed that I would likely not be shooting video of a sunny day.

I had no need to plan an exact route as I knew that it consisted of roads I was familiar with, River Road (South) itself would be the only stretch that was new to me.

Entering Harlem via the Triboro, and 125th Street Bridges, traffic seemed light, and fairly subdued on this Wednesday afternoon. I cut across town to St. Nicholas Avenue, turning on 141st Street to utilize the entrance to the Hudson River Greenway at 139th Street. Following the stretch of Greenway through River Bank Park, and Fort Washington Park is always a feast for the eyes. There is probably an "easier" way to get to the George Washington Bridge, but I believe the scenic views make the detour well worth an extra mile and a couple steep climbs.

Arriving on the Hudson River Greenway.

Riding through River Bank Park, and Fort Washington Park.

Now in New Jersey I came upon Henry Hudson Drive, and decided I could not resist riding North under the bridge before turning back South. After passing under the bridge, I came upon a small park down by the shore which had intrigued me the first time I passed through, and rolled down to explore it. I found I was able to follow the shoreline quite closely along some brick paths, turning into blacktop, which gave way to a small grassy dirt trail littered with chunks of rock. Soon I found myself trucking along this trail quite satisfied with my discovery so far. After only a few minutes, the dirt trail led to a set of granite benches with river related poetry etched into them. Being no outlet from this point, I found myself carrying my bike up stone steps slowly behind an apprehensive Robin who then flies away.

Riding Henry Hudson Drive under the George Washington Bridge.

A park on the shore, leads to blacktop heading South.

Blacktop along the riverside gives way to a dirt trail.

A dirt trail heading South along the Hudson River leads to a set of granite benches.

River poetry on granite benches on the banks of the Hudson in New Jersey.

Slowly following a Robin up the stone steps.

The benches and steps below me, traversing the skinny stone path back to civilization.

I found my way back to River Road, and pointed myself South. I found that the though the road was marked as a "shared road" on the map, there wasn't even the arrows and bike symbol, let alone enough shoulder in some places to make the route truly safe. The only sigage featured was to tell cyclist to ride single file, with nothing other than those same signs to keep motorists aware. I only rode as far South as Cliffside Park before I decided to turn back North. Riding back to the George Washington Bridge steep climbs make for slow going. Onc back on the bridge towards Manhattan it was smooth sailing as I back tracked my route to Astoria via the 125th Street, and Triboro Bridges. After such a long hiatus from cycling it felt great to lay down some solid mileage, and get my blood pumping again. Tomorrow should be equally as nice for riding, and I plan to make the best of it.

Crossing the George Washington Bridge back into Manhattan.

Rapid descent down the 125th Street bridge, stopping just short of an uncomfortable encounter with the cement wall.

A small stretch of the new paths under the Hellgate Bridge.

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