Autumn Mixed Terrain in NYC

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New York City is not the first place you’d think of for remote gravel roads, abandoned lakes and deserted miles of smooth pavement, but I found all three last Sunday. Myself and some friends started at the Williamsburg Bridge and made our way, mixed terrain style, up to the top of Bear Mountain and through Harriman State Park. We even got to ride (trespass) some amazing private gravel roads through country estates owned by the barons of New York (and one of them kicked us out with a thinly veiled menace).

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The falling leaves and chilly weather set a beautiful backdrop for the ride, and I was pretty impressed how far from the city we could get in a day with only 70 miles of riding. The contrasts are unbelievable – about two hours after the picture above was taken, we were riding through Times Square under the bright lights and blaring sound. It was a fun day exploring that definitely made me want to do more rides in New York.

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milosz

Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong

Okay, so I don’t follow pro cycling that much at all, but was slightly amused with this new image of Ben Foster being cast as Lance Armstrong in an upcoming EPIC movie. Looks pretty spot on right?

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Of course, leave it to the internet nerdz over at The Paceline keep everyone in check… user “sales guy” responded with a pretty spot on critique of the faux Lance:

Bar is wrong
Computer position/mount is wrong
Headtube is wrong(lances is taller)
Frame size is wrong
Shorts are wrong
Gloves are wrong
Watch is wrong
Hat is wrong
Wrong lens in the oakleys
People in the background are wrong
Facial expression is wrong.

C’mon Hollywood, get the details right!

Boyz in the Woods

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found myself reflecting more on how riding bikes fits into the bigger picture of my life. During college, riding bikes was something I did to explore the city that I lived in and it was an activity that occupied my free time and winter/spring/summer breaks. It wasn’t something I had to consciously think about doing, and it was nice to have the freedom to hop on my bike whenever.

When I got my first “real” job, I struggled to find time for cycling and I noticed a drop in my riding frequency which subsequently affected my happiness. I would read about Russ and Laura (of The Path Less Pedaled) and be envious of their adventures and their cycling-centric lives. Deep down I understood that they probably had to make big sacrifices to their everyday routine to make that happen, but at the time I was too busy in self loathing to see that it wasn’t “work” that was stopping me from cycling.

Over time, I began to realize that you have to make compromises between different aspects of your life but that doesn’t have to get in the way of your passions and hobbies. It’s not like I had to hang up my dreams of being a fixed gear messenger a la Premium Rush or Quicksilver, but I had to re-align my priorities and be okay with the occasional weekend ride and incorporating morning or after-work rides into my lifestyle.

If it sounds like I’m waxing poetic, it’s because I recently started a new job last month, and it feels like the culmination of a lot of (good) things. I get to bike to work, I am mentally and intellectually challenged by my tasks and the work environment is healthy. Similarly, Brian has been working for the past few months on transitioning into a new career and he started at his new job earlier this week.

To celebrate, Brian (thumbs up for rock and roll) planned a route for this past Saturday, that traversed a wide range of scenery and took us through some of his favorite types of terrain.

It’s always challenging riding down in the Peninsula and from the very beginning of our ride, Brian and I looked out of place in contrast to the swarms of other roadies while climbing up Old La Honda. A short while after we were eating our lunch at La Honda Market, some other cyclists stared at our bikes (with fatter tires and handlebar bags) and noticed Brian consulting his Krebs cycle map. They quizzically asked us “Are you guys on a tour or something?” and I blankly stared back at them before realizing why we could be mistaken for bike tourists.

With the the first road climb of the day done, we hit the trails in Portola State Park, I was really glad that I had mounted my Vee Rubber X-C-X tires (650b x 1.95″ width!) a few weeks earlier. I am by no means a skilled dirt rider, but the extra wide and semi-knobby tires really made life much easier for me during those sections.

After our awesome dirt riding through the nice and shaded forest scenery, we were subjected to the cruel and brutal rays of the sun. As you can see the weather also dictated stupid sexy Brian’s fashion choices.

Stevens Canyon was another highlight of our route and definitely deserves a re-visit with some friends. As seen in the video above, I demonstrated my ability to “cautiously” shred, while Brian got some gnar air and added another stoken to his collection.

The last section of our ride was through Monte Bello Open Space, where Brian expressed his affinity for single track. (Note: He also likes dinosaurs. Does that make him single track-osaurus rex?) At that point in the ride, the sun had fried my brains, the climbs had sapped my legs, so I sort of blanked out the next section of pedaling through the suburbs back to the Caltrain station.

I’m not really sure where I was getting at with this post but this ride really helped me clear my mind and evaluate the things in my life. It makes me think of a recent Louis C.K. interview and I’ll summarize my interpretation of it by saying that sometimes bike rides (and life) can be really hard or challenging, but if you embrace those struggles you’ll come out with a better understanding and appreciation of things. If you too are interested in possibly experiencing a similarly enlightening experience, proceed to follow the route here.