Tuesday, September 04, 2007
What A Weekend!
There really isn't going to be enough space to describe the extraordinary experience we had this past weekend. Since this is a bicycling blog, I will focus on our ride, which was wonderful fun, challenging and satisfying almost beyond words. But the real meaning of the weekend transpired from Friday night until Saturday night: the experience of being with a multi-generational, eclectic and diverse practicing Jewish community inspired to use all of its resources to developing a healthy and sustainable Jewish community and thereby contributing to create a healthy and sustainable world. But if I begin talking about that part of the weekend I won't stop, and its not the topic of this blog.
So, that's me at 6 AM on Sunday morning just before we took off from Camp Isabella Freedman in Falls River Connecticut at 7 AM. I am wearing my full Hazon NY Jewish Environmental Bike Ride kit: socks, shorts and Jersey, all earned as fund-raising incentives. I was a couple of hundred dollars short of the jacket and a couple of thousand short of earning the GPS.
And that's Annie at about the same time. A few minutes later, obviously, as we joined the group for the mass start. There were three routes: 50, 75 and 100 miles from Falls River to Hopewell Junction NY. Annie and I did the 50. On my own I may have tried the 75; I doubt I would have tried the Century yet, but I was happy to ride with Annie and most of the group. The 75 and 100 mile routes all included the 50 miles we did and all agreed that the 50 miles we did were the hardest part of the ride. It was hard, but not too hard. Probably not as hard as the hills we did on the Lancaster Metric Century, but close. And then there was the killer, nicknamed "Frank," the final 3 miles straight uphill at about a 6 to 8% grade. Knocked the socks off us all.
Along the way we passed country as pictured above. Just beautiful! The roads were fairly free of traffic, though there were some exceptions on more major routes. In a few places local police directed traffic, which was very helpful. And the ride crew! Enough cannot be said about the support, the cheering, the Marshals and medics riding the route and the SAG wagons passing by. There was even a bike mechanic with a trailer-bike shop. I had my front hub bearings greased and new brake pads put on Friday afternoon - free - this was the mechanic's contribution to the cause! Annie's fender was rubbing the wheel the second morning, probably got pinched in the truck carrying the bikes, and he fixed it right up.
Speaking of support, that's our lunch stop on the first day. The food was plentiful and better than expected. (Except that they could have done a much better job of accommodating folks like Annie with wheat allergies. We will try to gently communicate this to the leadership. We know they tried, but it really does need to be more of a priority. It's a long way to ride without proper nourishment.)
Sunday night was spent at Camp Kinder Ring. Marvelous accommodations! Above is the view from our room at sunset.
I didn't take many photos the second day but here are the last two. Above we are all congregating at 79th Street and Riverside Drive for the ride en mass to the Manhattan JCC for the conclusion. And below is a shot of the group on the roof of the JCC at the concluding ceremony. All in all an awesome ride and an awesome weekend.