The North County Trailway is a Rail-to-Trail that runs from the Putnam County line to Elmsford NY. It is a 10 foot wide, 22 mile long slice of beauty.
I rode it today, North to South, with my friend KG. KG is a good friend and she has been steadfast in her encouragement as I wander along on this Journey of mine.
A couple of years ago I was in much better shape than I was at the start of my Journey. I rode the 42 mile Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC and I did a few other rides. KG took up cycling at about that time to compliment her running and we did a couple of these planned rides together.
As I piled on the weight I stopped cycling. Which came first is really hard to say but let us say they happened concurrently.
Now I have been hiking and walking and I took a couple of ten-mile rides but I had not yet attempted a longer ride, something over 20 miles, something a little more challenging. A few weeks ago I came up with the idea of riding this trail and KG agreed to ride along with me. Cold weather, rain, busy schedules, pushed it back until finally I said damn the chill, I am doing this ride.
After leaving one car in Elmsford, we drove together to Somers, NY to the start of the trail. We got going at about 10:20 AM. Still chilly but warming. I thought my ears were going to freeze off after the first mile or so…
I rode strong. I felt strong, my legs felt good and I was not at any time winded on what was admittedly a pretty flat ride. There were some long inclines but nothing steep and some long down hills but, again, nothing steep. All in all we stopped only twice, once to admire the view on the Croton Bridge and once, about 5 miles from the end when I wanted to stretch my leg out and let the numbness in my right foot subside. I ended the ride with my right calf healthy, my quads fine, nothing out of sorts.
22 miles. 13.8 miles per hour. A nice little lunch afterwards. Then off to home.
22 miles from Somers to Elmsford.
A thousand miles from where I was.
The very thought of this ride would have seemed a pipe dream, a fantasy, a delusion just three months ago when walking up the stairs to my bedroom tired me out. Three months ago when walking a mile and a quarter felt as though I had just run the NYC marathon. Three months ago when I finally said ENOUGH, I am tired of being fat, tired of being out of condition, tired of being a worn out old man before my time.
It isn’t easy to look at yourself and say these things. Don’t think it is. Don’t think that it is easy to admit you get tired walking the stairs to your bedroom. Don’t think that asking for a table at the diner because you don’t fit in the booth is an easy thing when the three people you are with want a booth. This is not easy; it is hard, it is painful. The day I tried to ride the wind trainer and couldn’t because my belly was in the way of my peddling… That was painful, embarrassing, hard.
Today I swung my leg over the saddle, snapped in to my pedals and began to ride. I rode easily. I rode comfortably. I rode as though I was at home on the saddle. I rode smoothly and I rode confidently. I knew within the first three to four miles that I would be able to finish the 22 miles. What I didn’t expect was to feel so good at the end. All the walking and all the bleacher-sets are paying off…
I rode 22 miles today.
I rode 22 miles today.
It feels so good to say that
It feels even better to know that I am a Thousand miles from where I was…