As we sat and reviewed our route for today, I noticed an option that involved a ferry across NY Harbor that departed from Belford, NJ rather than across the Hudson from Paulis Hook, NJ. The mileage was 78 miles to the ferry dock rather than 101 miles. After thinking about it, I posed Chandler the proposition that we could get up early, probably miss lunch, ride hard, and catch the last ferry to World Financial Center at 5:50PM. Chandler thought it would be appropriate to consult Lauren and I agreed. I reminded the ladies that there may not be anywhere to stay if we missed the last boat. We all agreed to give it a go. We woke up early and got out on time. We stopped for breakfast as soon as the cafe where we had breakfast yesterday opened. It was either a perfect morning to ride or it was going to be wet. We pedaled away from breakfast in a drizzle and under heavy overcast. It seemed like it took us forever to get out of town but it was mostly in bike lanes and drivers were very decent. The traffic was also relatively light on the North side of town. I lost count of the traffic lights but for miles we seemed to catch every one of them. I had calculated a departure time that should have given us time for a couple of quick stops for hydration plus a fast lunch, while getting us to the dock with a hour to spare. I always figure that it's when time is critical that you're most likely to flat or break a chain or something worse. BTW, thank you Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. We rode 7200 miles collectively with zero flats. I used up two and a half tires due to the weight of my load and extreme surface temperatures. As we made our way Northeast, the minutes were slowly dribbling away. We got to Princeton, then South New Brunswick and our pad was down to about 65 minutes total with about 30 miles remaining -- and we hadn't eaten lunch. A serious bonk would delay us more than a fast lunch stop but everyone was still feeling good. Even after all my Ironman training and racing miles, double centuries, and 8,000 touring miles, I sometimes mistake enthusiasm for reserves. Just North of New Brunswick we were on a stretch with dozens and dozens of dump trucks. It was two lanes each direction and divided but no shoulder. The trucks had been very friendly by and large and moved over a lane when they passed us. Everything was going well when two trucks came past me and the truck in my lane did not move off the white line at all. It forced me off the asphalt and Chandler said it was less than a foot of clearance. I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. I had noted the plate number and the operator asked me to stay put while she sent a unit. I told her we couldn't wait, that we had a ferry to catch. She confirmed our location and direction of travel. Within 5 minutes a unit came around us and stopped in the lane close in front of us. The officer got out and we stopped. He was great. Very sympathetic, very concerned, and very professional. He took my info and said he understood we were on a mission to make the last ferry so didn't want to delay us further. The whole exchange delayed us no more
than ten minutes. Back on the road we went. With about twenty miles to go everything flattened out and we really picked up the pace. We were gaining back about a minute every fifteen minutes. Very soon we passed a roadside food trailer. I gave it a few seconds of thought and pulled over. I told Chandler and Lauren that I was worried we would run out of gas before we got to the dock. We each enjoyed an Empanada from "The Empanadas Guy" and drank a couple of Sprites for some quick sugar energy and hoped it would take us the last hour and a half. About twelve miles before the dock we were routed onto the Henry Hudson Scenic Trail. It ran diagonally across several dozen streets going almost directly toward our destination. I was watching the clock and it was looking like we would arrive with about 40 minutes to spare as long as nothing went wrong and we didn't get lost. A few miles from the destination I changed the nav destination to take us to New York rather than the Belford Pier. I looked at the estimated travel time and it had changed from 2 miles and eight minutes to 22 miles and 46 minutes. I began to apologize that I had somehow blown it when I realized that it was now including the ferry trip. We continued as directed, on faith, and that's when we caught our first glimpse of the city across the harbor. Later, Chandler and Lauren told me that when I pointed it out they both cried. We exited the trail and rode past a sign that said "No Outlet" and after a few minutes we saw the ferry terminal. When we got there I went inside and asked for three tickets. The ticket seller said the 5:15 was just pulling m and we could catch that if we wanted. I asked if it went to the 39th street pier and she said no, it went to World Financial Center. I told her our quick story and said we would ride up the island rather than wait. She was excited for us. After the ferry docked and about 200 passengers debarked we rolled out bikes on. The deck hands were very interested in our loaded bikes and when they heard the story they were excited too. They let us sit outside, in front of the bridge, for the ride across the harbor. The captain took us very close to the Statue of Liberty and I realized that was the view an immigrant would have seen if they were above decks as they were entering their new world. It was very moving for all of us. The ferry docked at WFC and we rolled off. The route directed us onto the Hudson River Greenway which was very busy with walkers, runners, cyclists, and families. We saw quite a few blue "Citi Bikes", which are NYC bike share bikes. I thought the path would probably end North of Battery, but it ended up going all the way uptown. It was fantastic, with walk/run and bike segregated lanes. We rode all the way up to 96th Street where we exited the path. Our first stop was at a deli for drinks and some kind of snack. We were all on the edge of bonk. When we stopped an older woman was sitting out front and asked us about what we were doing. When we told her she was excited for us and asked us all kinds of questions. As we stood outside, the owner of the deli came out and talked to the older woman. He than came over to us and asked if we were really from New Mexico. When we said yes he asked where and when we told him Santa Fe, he told us his daughter lives in Santa Fe. Small world. We got back on the bikes and rode another block when I saw a pizza place. In we pulled for a slice. Mmmmmmm. Then back on the bikes and up to Central Park West where we turned North for another 6 blocks to Chandler's cousin's apartment. The doorman recognized Chandler and we told him what we were doing. We gave him the blog address and from then on declared us his heroes. It was an amazing trip. Certainly there were times of doubt and digging deep to go on but we persevered. The country felt much more polarized to me than 8 years ago when I did my coast to coast ride. The media has done a good job dividing its audiences and our nation's citizens. There are a lot of angry people out there and our political candidates, one in particular, really plays on that and reinforces the idea that we should be angry. It spills out of politics and becomes the prevailing attitude. People are more apt to identify differences between themselves and others that they are similarities, and the reality is every human being is far more similar to every other human being than they are different. It may be I'm particularly sensitive to the divisions because of our recent international travel. When people really don't have anything they can see more clearly how similar we all are. When people have something to protect, be it possessions or lifestyle, they are fearful they will loose it. As Bob Dylan said in a song lyric, "the more you have, the more you have to loose". When we told our story about the fundraiser, you could feel people coming closer. It may be that fear of mortality is one of those shared human emotions that cuts through the static of our first world lives. Love really is the only hope we have and the only thing we need. And Pop Tarts.