Determined not to let the hills of San Frans... er, The Bronx deter me from reaching the west side, at approximately 10am I packed the bicycle into the back of my Pilot and drove across the Washington Bridge towards the end of 181st Street where I was lucky enough to find a parking spot immediately upon arrival.
As bad as the hills in The Bronx were, they weren't much better on the west side as I approached my parking destination. Cyclists going to and returning from the Hudson River Greenway could be seen struggling up and down w181st street.
Once parked and with movie soundtracks playing on my iPhone, I crossed the overpass that connected w181st street to the path that I would be riding on for the next few hours. Once I made my way across, I decided to take my first photo of the day.
Immediately after, I made my way down an extremely steep path that had a sign warning riders to go very slow. Good thing because I had no idea at the bottom of this path was a left turn where I could've easily left some of my DNA. There's no exaggeration on my part when I say I descended with both brakes just about fully applied. Less than 5 minutes in and I was already intimidated.
The path straightened and after another steep drop, the road leveled off and I was well on my way. At first there wasn't much to take in. Yes, you could see New Jersey across the Hudson River to my right but, before it becomes the West Side Highway, the Hudson River Drive on my left is all that's there. I was there for the ride, not the scenery I thought to myself so tried not to think too much about it. It's that the dozens of times I drove on the West Side Highway, I always wondered what was alongside and below the ramp and roadway where I could sometimes see groups of people in the summertime.
It wasn't until about a mile or so into my ride when I finally got to see what was not visible to drivers: benches for picnics and barbecuing, basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, volley ball areas, and people. I mean, lots of people. People of all ages, all jogging, roller blading and/or cycling either alone, with a partner, a group or with strollers. It was an amazing sight. At that point, I realized I just stumbled upon a section of New York I had failed to realize even existed.
The path was divided by green paint for those traveling north and south. At some point, a third lane would begin solely for pedestrians that were either walking or jogging, leaving the main lanes for roller bladers and cyclists. All this made passing the slower people an adventure. Choosing to pass someone on the left all depended on the traffic coming in the opposite direction AND those coming to pass you on your left. And pass me they did. In certain instances, I felt as if I were riding in slow motion.
Once I adjusting to the rules of the road and had taken in all activities, it was smooth sailing. There were a few turns around sections under construction but I didn't have to stop until somewhere in the 50s near one of the piers where the path intersects with a street roadway. At that point, an officer had cyclists and joggers stop while vehicles made their way towards a parking area. I felt the wait went on a little longer than it should have but, after about a minute, we were finally cleared to continue.
A few more miles gave me views of the Intrepid, Circle Line boats, a Norwegian Cruiserline ship and, of course, many tourists. I was keeping track of my ride via the MapMyRide app and had set it to inform me of my progress at 5-mile intervals. At the first marker, I knew this was as far as I've ridden on my rides to work. At the 10-mile marker, I started to doubt whether I could complete my goal of reaching the tip of Manhattan at the South Ferry as I started to feel a bit tired.
But suddenly I came upon a beautiful sight that gave me newfound energy and determination. I guess I hadn't see it sooner thanks in part to the views on either side of me. Maneuvering around others plus the trees lining up the left side of the path also had something to do with me not realizing what I was approaching but when I finally noticed it, I let out an audible "wow!"
The beautiful sight of the new World Trade Center as she proudly stood high into the sky was a sight I had not even considered seeing today. This picture, like all the others to follow, were taken on my return trip.
Once I arrived at my destination, I tried to sit on a bench and take in what I had just accomplished but I had a hard time sitting still. Instead, I got back up and walked around. Once I saw the entrance to the South Ferry, I thought it was time for the second picture of the day.
I walked around a bit more and decided it was too crowded with tourists for me to be walking my bike around so decided to start heading back. Due to the combined use of music and cycling app, my iPhone battery was down to around 40% so decided to use neither on my return trip but instead use the phone for pictures.
1 World Trade Center
World Trade Center Memorial
Norwegian Cruise Line
79th Street Boat Basin
George Washington Bridge
And finally, as posted on my Facebook page, my one-way stats...
One last thing, while downtown near the South Ferry, I saw road signs for the FDR Drive. This is another goal of mine as I would like to ride around as much of the island of Manhattan as physically possible. Start near Dyckman Avenue, down the Hudson River Greenway to South Ferry and come back north via the FDR Drive. Don't know if there's a path that makes this possible but I'll look into it. In the meantime, would like to get a riding partner for my next trip back down by the beautiful World Trade Center.
Thanks for reading.