My alarm went off at 4:00am, but I was already up, preparing myself for the exciting day’s event–the four-hour ride for the third Annual Double up 4 Vision fund-raiser held by Lighthouse International. I’d decided to wear an insulated jacket in addition to three layers of shirts and two pair of pants, rather than five shirts. It was requested that all team members wear an official biking shirt over their own clothing. Eagerly, we trooped outside to wait for the 5:10am pick-up that turned out to be more like 5:35 as our repentant driver had become lost somewhere in upper New York. We sighed in relief as he showed up with two of our team members.
We arrived at a fire station where friendly firemen greeted us with breakfast treats and beverages. I declined as I’d had my favorite Quaker Instant Oatmeal, which I knew would hold me over for the duration of the tour. Never having been in a fire station, I was given a brief tour before we got started.
Bikes were checked, seats lowered, handwarmers handed out, pictures taken, ride guidelines announced, and off we went through the lamp-lit, fairly-busy streets of Manhattan. Our first stop–Central Park. We did one full loop around and then made our way downtown. Tom, my Captain, is an avid cyclist and I felt supremely comfortable riding with him. There were six pairs, lead and tail riders, and a supply van.
Our next destination was the famous Brooklyn Bridge. I noticed the unique sound of our wheels on the wooden slats and the brilliant sun overhead. The air was as fresh as New York air could be and we rolled along quite nicely. The ride was so smooth I didn’t even realize we were going uphill until Tom mentioned it. Our adrenaline was freely flowing and we made excellent time. The lead rider stayed in contact with Lighthouse personnel in the van, who modified our route for the sake of timing and we peddled back over the bridge and promptly made our way to the Hudson River. Tom and I were shocked to see many runners wearing only shorts and t-shirts and, incredibly, one woman sported a tank top.
At Pier 63, we were told that we were early and should be the vanguard riders up Riverside Park. I’m telling you, it was already a chilly day, but was particularly blustery by the Hudson and I was thoroughly grateful for my new mountain biking gloves and handwarmers. Tom acquired a spurt of energy and before I knew it, we were racing up the pebbly path. It took all my balance to keep my flying feet on the pedals and derriere on the seat. Where the path was paved, it wasn’t a problem, but where the renovations ended, it became quite bumpy. We zoomed up to 130th street, far beyond the ride for the general Double up 4 Vision walkers and riders. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem as rough speeding back to the main venue. We had ridden approximately 30 miles in total.
Once back, I devoured two small cups of Junior’s delicious famous cheesecake, a granola bar, and some water. The ceremony was short but heartfelt, and all of the 24-hour relay riders were awarded medals.
I fell asleep on the bus ride home and crashed shortly after entering our apartment. Did I have fun? You bet, and we’re eager to do it again next year. It is an excellent ride for a worthy cause. And how often do you have cheerleaders and well-wishers cheering you on as you approach the finish line?