This is about my last bike ride for “Beer on a Roll”, from New Jersey to New York City.
I was up at 7:30am, with the smell of bacon wafting in the air. It had been years since I had that experience. It turned out that Bill had cooked breakfast this morning. I wanted to be out of Lambertville, NJ by 9am, as there was a ferry I wanted to catch at 3:55pm in Belford, NJ crossing Sandy Hook Bay and arriving into NYC at Pier 11, Wall Street. Bill said he would ride with me for the first ten miles then turn around and return home. I was looking forward to chatting with him some more. Bill’s an intriguing guy, who knows quite a bit about Lambertville’s history.
I went downstairs to the breakfast table where Bill, Marianne, and Terry were already sitting at the table. In addition to the bacon, Bill had cook eggs and toast. I’m not really a coffee drinker, but this morning I took a cup. For some reason, it just seemed to go with the meal. Then I tilted my head back and dropped a gallon of water down my mouth. Hydration, baby…I have a big freaking ride ahead of me — and I have to go very fast. I’m sick of freaking deadlines, making an appointment on time, getting to a destination by darkness, etc. In this case, it was to make a ferry ride so I could get to a friend’s place. He was out of town, but he was offering his place to me with the condition I get there by 5pm, as his accountant would be leaving the building for the weekend.
I said goodbye to Marianne, as well as her mother Josephine, who was easily recognized to be Marianne’s mom, as they both have the most blue, beautiful eyes. Bill said that when Josephine was younger, she was quite a dish. Apple pie, maybe? I pumped up the tires, re-filled the water bottles, and took off with Bill. I got a nice history lesson from Bill as he told me about how the canal next to our bike path was dug *by hand* about 120 years ago by Irish immigrants. Unbelievable when you get a look at the canal.
After the ride with Bill, I had about five more miles on the bike path before I entered Trenton, NJ. After that, I was bobbing and weaving in and out of city streets, neighborhood streets, and county roads. The total ride was eighty-seven miles (72 by bike and 15 by ferry—arriving into Manhattan, via Wall Street). It was a freaking awesome last day of biking for “Beer on a Roll”. I was pumped, and my legs were stronger than ever. I still took delight in my ability to go–in a suddent burst–from an easy 12mph pace to 22mph. I have added some mass to my legs and it has served me well (especially in Kentucky when the mentally disturbed dogs came after me). Now in this city traffic, I can blast through certain situations when it’s appropriate—as it is sometimes.
I was continually sprinting throughout the day in order to make it to the ferry by 3:55pm. There were so many changes in the route, I must have taken about thirty different roads on my way to my destination. Would I make it? I thought I could. Then there was a barricade (road construction) which involved a complete section of the road being torn away with nothing but a canal running through it, about 10ft below. I saw a steel beam that served as a 60ft plank to the other side of the road. Fuck it, I lifted my bike (including panniers), put it on my shoulder, extended my left arm for balance and *slowly* walked across the steel plank. They say if you don’t look down, but instead fix your sight at the end of the plank/beam/high wire, you have a much better chance of making it without falling. It worked. Even the construction workers were impressed, as they watched me while they ate their lunches. Wonder if they made any bets?
I felt a sense of victory—and that I would somehow make it to the ferry on time. But would I? I got some shoddy directions from a couple who were *sure* they knew where an unmarked road was located—I needed to find it. It turned out they were wrong and it set me back at least twenty minutes (damnit!). Will I make it to the ferry on time? The last fifteen miles included a bike path (thank god!) but then a lot of weaving through a conglomeration of streets to reconnect with the path, and find the ferry landing. I found a lady, Gabi, from Hungary who was biking along the path. She knew where I needed to go and she led me to the path (how awesome!). I sprinted like a cheetah down the bike path as fast as I could pedal for the last 10 miles. I was feeling depleted, but I wanted to make it to that ferry. On the final one-mile stretch, I took a wrong turn which set me back 5 minutes, thus arriving at the landing to see the 3:55pm ferry take off (Fuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!). I was a sweating like a pig, hands on hips, watching the ferry take off. Damn.
Just then, Terry texted me and said he made it to my friend’s address and got the key from my friend’s accountant. Yes! He made it there in time. I wasn’t sure he would. Oh man, what a freaking relief! I boarded the 4:30pm ferry, slammed a victory Heineken, and took some pics of the awesome views as I was approaching the Statue of Liberty, and then Manhattan Island. How cool. After we arrived at the Wall Street Pier, I got on my bike and rode through the streets of downtown NYC. What a rush! Man, you really have to be aware of your surroundings. I biked all the way to 64th St. and Lexington, near Central Park. I dismounted and Terry let me in. I had arrived. San Francisco – New York…I was done.
It’s over. No more biking. Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Brooklyn Brew Company for some filming, then it will all be over. I’ll spend three days at my friend’s place, then fly out to Houston, Texas and visit family (and sleeeeeep!)