|photo by Shane B.|
Once underway we cross the George Washington Bridge on the bike path and head north passing through pleasant New Jersey towns along the Hudson River. The crossing into New York state is reached as we continue north to Stony Point and the first control. The first section went smoothly. The miles were shared with my friend Todd, who has been on the ride every year as well.
|Yours Truly on Mellow Yellow Friday photo by Shane B.|
|Christine with Air Friday at the top of Bear Mountain|
After downing a bagel I notice Todd coming into the control. He recounts the difficulties he had making it there with frequent leg cramps. He asks that I go on without him while he tries to recover. His girlfriend, Leslie, is there doing some sight seeing in the area while Todd is riding. She agrees to stay nearby should he run into trouble. On that basis I reluctantly leave him with the idea that we may meet up again at the next control.
The section from Monroe to Conklin is the most challenging of the route. There is constant heavy climbing throughout, which includes a second crossing of Harriman State Park, which has a ten mile stretch including some extended climbs. I feel comfortable and strong on the Friday handling all the hills without benefit of the small chainring. I enjoy this section immensely. Most especially the 46 mile per hour descent at the exit of the park. From there it is just a few more miles to the control, which is a farm market called Orchards at Conklin. Upon arrival there I see lots of riders I know. I chat with everyone while eating fresh fruit and bread. I take my time hoping for Todd to come in. Leslie arrives in the car and informs me that he is about fifteen minutes out and riding a bit better. I agree to wait for him so we can finish the final section together. Todd arrives and agrees to keep his stop to about fifteen minutes. After which we leave the control together.
|A suffering rider gets help climbing in Harriman State Park photo by Shane B.|
Of the forty riders who took the start thirty-four would reach the finish. Of the six riders who didn't make it cramping was the number one reason for not continuing. I have great respect for Todd's refusal to allow heat related problems to end his day. He clearly suffered for much of the ride, but never wavered from the goal of finishing. In the true spirit of Randonneuring he finished with a smile, saying it was a good ride.
From my perspective I was pleased with the Bike Friday as it took on all climbs and descents admirably. Also, I feel like my training worked for me as I rode strong all day. Despite the heat, I never suffered. The succesful finish of the ride would earn me my second SR series of this year and my eigth in total. I would celebrate with a bowl of chilled watermelon/beet soup and a salad at the cafe near the finish.