Saturday, January 14, 2012

A nice chilly ride

Today was a chilly day for riding.  It started at about 29 degrees in the city (lower outside the city), and gradually warmed up from there.  And by "warmed up", I mean to a balmy 31 degrees.  This was officially my first cold weather ride of the season.  I got some minor ice formation in my uninsulated bottle, but not enough to call it a frozen bottle ride.  I like my bottles to be nice and solid before I put that label on.  It usually takes several hours in the low 20s to pull that off.

I like this new route.  It doesn't have a name yet, but that's not nearly as important as the fact that it doesn't repeat.  I dislike repeating with a fiery passion.  I had previously resigned myself to needing to repeat the last three miles to the bridge, along Hudson Terrace.  Basically you take 9W to Piermont (or beyond), and 340/Piermont Rd back to Churchill, over Churchill, up Palisades, and back to 9W/Hudson Terrace.  Now I've found a new way to continue past Churchill (i.e. not over it), into Fort Lee, through downtown, returning to the GWB from the south.

It's not flat as a pancake, but I think it does pretty well given that this part of NY and NJ is littered with ridges.  Certainly there's nothing to compare to Nyack's Old Mountain Rd or Toga Hill.  While we omit Churchill and Palisades, the altitude gained during those climbs must be made up somewhere.  This route splits those big hills into several shorter ones.

Total mileage is about 55-57, and it takes me about four and a half hours.

View Sickletown addition in a larger map
That said, if I'm going to do 55-57, I might as well do 60, so I'm exploring some options for extending it a little bit.  Rather than turning down Sickletown from West Nyack Rd, I'd like to try continuing on West Nyack until it turns south after Rockland Shopping Center.  West Nyack ends at Church St, so then we jog east to Blauvelt Rd, take Blauvelt to Townline (CR 42), and Townline back to Sickletown.  I've done Townline from South Middletown (CR 33) to Sickeltown, and that was pretty reasonable.  We'll have to see how the rest looks.

My success with finding a nice way through Fort Lee (I had previously thought that escaping east via Palisades back to 9W was the only way to go) inspired me to take another look at the beginning of my Philly route.  I'd been going south from Fort Lee, through Palisades Park, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, and then Little Ferry.  This involves a truly unfortunate river crossing on US-46, which is so busy that even I ride on the sidewalk.  That bridge is then followed by a very busy roundabout.  All in all, not a good time.  I had accepted that crossing as a necessary evil, but now I'm not so sure.

View Northern start of Philly route in a larger map
What if I could cross that same river at Bogota/Hackensack?  Basically come around from the north side of I-80, rather than staying to the south of it.  Streetview suggests that there are some nice crossings into Hackensack on Cedar Lane and Main Street.  Cedar Lane looks a bit busier, but the bridge is paved.  Main Street is quiet, and goes through a park, but its bridge is metal grate.  I'll need to investigate both to be sure.  Getting to those bridges might be a bit tricky, though.  Fort Lee Road / Degraw Ave is the obvious choice, but it gets very busy in stretches.  Today's route put me further west on Palisade Ave than I had been before -- far enough down that I could see quite a bit more to the west than I had been able to see from my typical crossing at Woodland Street.  Palisades definitely crosses a ridge to the west, but I'm going to give it a shot to see what it's like.  If this works, it should add about 6 miles to the ride, but it'll get rid of some unpleasantness.  Probably worth the tradeoff.

So much riding to do!  So little time.

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