Well, last Friday was so beautiful that, even though it wasn’t literally my birth anniversary, I decided to go for it. My daughter Elise and I hit the trail at precisely 7AM. While we were the only humans around, we certainly were not alone.
The snapping turtle, one of two, was intent on laying her eggs, and the goslings were protected by at least a half dozen aggressively vigilant Canada Geese. The adult deer could have been the yearling I encountered on the path a year ago. During the day we probably saw three or four times as many chipmunks as people!
The first half went well, and we stopped for lunch (energizing smoothies) at the 44-mile mark in Yorktown, New York.
My daughter kept an eye on me, making certain that I was hydrating properly. What’s more, Elise was riding a folding bike! This is the cycling equivalent of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers line: “She did everything he did, only backwards and wearing heels.” While I’m no Fred Astaire, Elise is a latter day Ginger Rogers.
So….if you’re donating, do it in her honor. Or maybe you should give twice as much?
So now you want to know how it turned out? Did we make the full 78 miles?
(roll of drums)
Yes, with an extra 8/100ths of a mile (about 400 feet!) tossed in for good measure.
I know 78 miles sounds like a lot, but the secret is simple: a flat course that’s almost entirely in shade, a slight tailwind for the return half, lots of liquid, and great company. Next year I hope some of you will join me/us for a 79-mile ride (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise).
Now, about those donations. It’s time to pony up, friends. I am giving to the Network for Public Education, Planned Parenthood, and Chess in the Schools, a wonderful program for NYC kids founded by Lewis Cullman, the remarkable philanthropist who died at age 100 on Friday. I’ve served on the Chess Advisory Board for years and have seen first hand how much good it does for so many children; it introduces them to the mental discipline of chess, and that skill often carries over into other aspects of their lives.
A final note: On Monday, four days before my ride, I was diagnosed with a slight tear in my right rotator cuff. I didn’t ask the orthopedist or my new physical therapist whether I should attempt the ride, because I was pretty certain how they would have answered. But it was all good…..
Thanks for your interest. Write those checks, and now let’s get back to the serious stuff of reclaiming America and America’s public schools from the grifters and ideologues.
All the best,
5 thoughts on “Attempting 78 Miles on a Bike to Celebrate My Birthday”
Congratulations John and Elise. I just donated $78 to Planned Parenthood in your honor.
[…] He invited his many friends and admirers to contribute $78 or a multiple of 78 to a charity of his choi… […]
Amazing! congrats to you and your daughter. Can you provide any sort of map?
Google the South Country Trailway or North-South Country Trailway. That’s all in Westchester County, but the trail continues into Putnam County. We started at the very end of Van Cortland Park, but you can begin in the Park itself. it’s wooded (or at least in the shade) for all but about 3 miles; those miles go alongside a highway, largely protected by a divided bike lane with a rail, and only a few hundred yards are actually along the highway without a rail dividing bikes from cars. A few miles of the trail are in bad shape, unfortunately, but repairs have begun in the northern section. Finally, the map shows a detour (marked in red) in Elmsford, but that’s inaccurate; the trail has a new section right through Elmsford, alongside a stream. That’s where the Canada Geese were hanging out this time…