On Thursday, October 21st I started on a three-day bike ride from New York City, New York to Easthampton, Massachusetts. It was a 280-mile day affair through three states, 11,000 feet of climbing, and millions of burned carbs.
The beginning of my involvement started back in September: I picked up a bike after my stress fracture from my friend Chris S. Chris was a huge help to my injury, lending me his $3000 Cervelo S1 to ride during my no-running 8-week recovery period. On the day that I picked up the bike, I ran into brothers Chris and Steve Root in my neighborhood. Seeing me with a fancy bike, Chris got the mistaken impression that I was a biker and later invited me to do this crazy long-ass ride with him and his brother. What he didn’t know is that I hadn’t been on a bike in 20 years. I was a runner, and only a runner at that point. Amazingly, I agreed.
On the ride would be:
Chris Root : Chris is the one with the crazy idea to do this in the first place. I know him and his brother Steve from the Amsterdam Billiard Club 9-ball League. Chris doesn’t take public transit these days, and rides around NYC on his single-speed bike. Apparently one day he wondered to himself, “Can I visit my parents without the aid of public transportation or fossil fuels? Let’s find out.” And so we found out.
Anthony B : Anthony is a proper Ironman, having completed the Wisconsin Ironman in August. He was a no-brainer on the short list of people to ask. He’s easy to get along with, doesn’t complain, and he had an upbeat outlook the entire way. Best of all he’s a strong cyclist who wasn’t afraid to lead the rest of us.
Steve Root: While Anthony is a proper Ironman, Steve on the other hand…. hadn’t exercised in 5 years. He’s clearly got superior genetics to 99.9% of the world, but he was rightfully nervous about just hopping on a bike and going to Massachusetts. Still, he agreed to do it and that mental jump was probably the biggest obstacle for him. I have to give him props for even agreeing to this.
As I mentioned above, Chris thought of this entire thing in a sort of non-fossil-fuel mentality about getting home to his parents. His parents live in Easthampton, Massachusetts and Chris just had to answer the crazy question, "Can I get home without the aid of a car or mass transit?" This entire thing was an experiment to see if he could get home with just his two legs, and the rest of the crew was just along for the ride. Yes, it sounds a little bit hippy-dippy, but that was all the reason I needed. In truth, I didn’t know about this hippiness, and so really I didn’t even need *that*. I just needed to be asked.
Barring bad weather, the three of us agreed to set off on 9W for Easthampton. We decided that Day 1 would take us from New York City to Kingston, NY — roughly 100 miles — where we would spend our one and only night in a motel. Day 2 would be a 70-mile journey to Voorheesville (near Albany) where Chris/Steve’s cousin has a house that would could camp out at. Day 3 would depart Voorheesville for Massachusetts, racking up a final 100+ miles ending up at the Roots’ parents place, where we would stay the night before being driven back to NYC.
With only 4+ weeks to train, I got on the bike almost every morning to get into biking shape. Running a 60+ mile week was no problem, but getting my ass and quads comfortable on the saddle was another thing. I was bound and determined to get into proper shape to bike 280 miles in three days without walking funny after it was over. I only had a few weeks to get into such shape, but I figured it would be enough. It *had* to be enough, because there was nothing that was going to stop me from going on this ride. And if it killed me, I was going to get to Massachusetts.