Nice Ride Anyway

A friend asks: Have I been on the bike at all during our trip east? Yeah, I have. But it has been strange. After months of riding hard and getting neurotic about whether I was riding hard enough, now I’m deliberately trying to ride just a little — enough so that when I get to France and this 750-mile ride kicks off, in eight days, I will have maintained the fitness I built up over the spring and summer while not having exhausted myself. (In other words, it’s something else to get neurotic about.) So the riding I’ve done since leaving Berkeley has been a little sporadic and mostly not very intense: half a dozen rides, five states*, only once more than an hour; that’s just enough to remind my legs what they need to do.

Tonight, we’re staying with friends in a little town in Westchester County, on the Hudson just north of New York City. This afternoon, looking for a ride to do, I headed up the South and North County Trailways; they’re paved paths on the right-of-way of an old commuter railroad that used to run up to Putnam County, the next one north of Westchester.

The paths were mostly great,, even though they run close to a couple busy roads most of the 16 or 17 miles north that I rode. The paving was a little rough in places, but there weren’t many other users, the strip of land the path runs along was beautiful, and given how hilly the country is, the route was very flat (that figures, having been a railroad grade).

One thing I discovered is that folks using this trail apparently shun all contact with strangers. I probably passed a couple hundred people in 33 miles — mostly other cyclists, but also a few shaky looking in-line skaters and a handful of runners and very determined-looking walkers. Only one guy I passed acknowledged my wave as I passed; a couple people responded when I told them I was passing them. Mostly I got blank looks — sometimes because people were wearing headphones and listening to iPods, mostly from people who were just disinclined to respond in kind. Strange and oppressive and off-putting, this isolation people take with them out into the world.

Nice ride anyway, though.

*The five states: Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York.

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