Saturday, October 1, 2016

The NYC 200K: Coming Home Again

The NYC 200K was the very first brevet I ever rode back in 2007. At that time, it was scheduled in early April, but since then it has become a fixture on the NJ Randonneurs' fall calendar. I've ridden this route six times over the years and this past weekend was one of my favorites. With a year filled with slower than average times and weaker than average performance on the bike, I was eager to redeem myself with a strong showing to end the formal brevet season on a high note. While work and family commitments have made it exceedingly difficult for me to ride as often as I would have liked this summer, the beautiful weather and my overall enthusiasm for this ride combined to thrust me forward along the route at a good pace.

The ride starts and ends in NYC just a few blocks north of the George Washington Bridge, which riders cross in both directions at the beginning and end of the day. On the New Jersey side of the bridge, the route heads north through some fancy suburban towns along the western banks of the Hudson River towards Bear Mountain where riders begin to climb in earnest as they make their way west through the hills of Harriman State Park.

After leaving the first control in Stony Point, around mile 50, riders soon enter the shaded, hilly and recently-paved roads that are used to criss-cross Harriman State Park in both directions for much of the afternoon before heading back down toward our final destination. Cyclists aren't the only ones taking advantage of the fine fall weather on a day like this and it was not uncommon to hear the sound of motorcycles or sports cars approaching from the distance. Despite their somewhat macho enthusiasm, everyone seemed to be on their best behavior, eager to share rather than to compete for available space on these gorgeous roads. Due to a newly-enacted traffic rule, the organizers were unable to include the famed Perkins Hill climb in the route, which chopped off a five-mile out-and-back up a rather tall hill.

I was moving along pretty swiftly through the third control, which is located at a bagel shop in the village of Monroe. Arriving at the control as a solo rider, I missed the fact that there was a tent set up by a few volunteers around the corner and so waited for 10 minutes on-line for a bagel and a signature on my brevet card. After leaving the control, time slipped further through my fingers as I missed the first turn and continued on about 3 miles more than was necessary and came upon a crash involving one of our fellow brevet riders. Apparently, one of our own had careened into a car that had recently been T-boned by a pickup truck right on the main street through town. Luckily everything seemed OK, but I somehow managed to blow through about 20 extra minutes hanging around not being particularly helpful. After consulting my iPhone, I retraced the route and was on my way.

The NYC 200K is not an exact out-and-back route, but the second half does follow many of the same roads riders traverse in the early part of the day. My pace over the back nine was not quite as brisk as it was in the morning, but I was pleased to be able to keep the pedals spinning at a fairly good clip, which got me back to the start in under 10 hours. While not my fastest time on this course, it was nice to end the season feeling strong and quick rather than weak and sluggish. With any luck, this is a good omen for 2017 when I hope to again have time to train myself into better shape than I did in 2016.

Up Next: The Coffeeneuring Season Begins on October 7!

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