I love journeying for the contrasts and the last few days has certainly provided in bucket loads. From the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and the solitude of the bike to the skyscrapers and hubbub of Manhattan, NYC. Mind and senses overwhelmed somewhat!
A break in the weather last weekend gave me the confidence to commit to busting out the miles to NYC with some big days and miles. With team mate Rebecca and her son Harry already in town and heading home on Saturday morning, and local helper Phil O’Brien (who I had never met before) flying out Thursday evening, I didn’t want to miss them. One of my oldest pals Claire had also flown out and was waiting for me.
I rode some big days through Pennhillvania (now renamed as such) enjoying the warmth and tailwinds – both rather novel after recent months – either whizzing along valleys or rolling or crawling up and down hillsides according to grades. Having had Hercules’ brakes bled in State College I could now hurtle down hills with the balance shifted in favour of confidence rather than fear and would no longer have to use my foot to skid along on the tarmac to slow myself down or walk Hercules down the steep (often very long) downhills. Meanwhile streams rushed down roadsides as snow melted and slumped off roofs and dripped off doors. Where I had seen white for months through fields and along road edges, now brown grass was appearing.
So too were animals, foraging and chattering. Water, not just just ice, raced down streams or visibily flowed down rivers. I saw more people out walking or children playing than I had in months. I even met some bikers. For my own part it was a novelty to strip off some layers and enjoy air on my skin rather than covering up top to toe. It really felt like spring was here – beautiful riding conditions and I grinned a lot, happy to be alive and nearing the goal. At the same time, I got emotional thinking back on the last 6.5 months of riding and all the wonderful people I had met on the way, the ups and downs, the landscapes and skyscapes – everything.
On Wednesday I woke up with a head cold, snot monsters running riot and feeling rather rough. But I had a big day to ride – 125 miles to put me on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river, ready to ride into the city the next morning. I kept switching off my alarm clock as I felt so rubbish, and eventually got pedalling at 10.30 am.
I pedalled until 5 am the following morning after one of my favourite days (and nights) of riding, in spite of the snot. If there had been more time I would have spread it over a few days, camping in some lovely places. Even so, a starry night and big orange moon always make good riding company.
I stopped to talk to people, shared food and stories with others, enjoyed the awakening of spring and the feeling that life is being refreshed as the sun powers it. The tiredness only really hit me after pedalling over the Hudson River into the city, to be met by friends old and new and some folk from the local branch of WaterAid – one of my supported charities.
I have been in NYC a few days now, kindly hosted by Holiday Inn, topping up on sleep and rest and time with friends. The contrast of the hubbub, noise and volume of people in the city with its towering sky scrapers against my recent months of pedalling (mostly alone) through North America is huge and at times a bit intimidating.
Yesterday we took the train to Coney Island to the beach and walked in the freezing waters of the Atlantic. The last time I had salt water on my feet was Alaska – the Pacific, 6.5 months and a winter ago.
The next week is a mixture of admin, talks and friends before I ride the final 400 miles up to Cape Cod, Massachusets from where I shall begin rowing in early May. Happy Socks is already on her way, having been packed up into her container at the beginning of the month by Team L2L at home.
So for now, thanks to everyone for following along, supporting from near or afar in whatever capacity that might be. This is definitely a team effort.
I would love it if you might be able to donate a wee bit to my supported charities CoppaFeel!, JubileeSailing Trust, MND Association and WaterAid here:
Thanks and thanks,
Sarah and Hercules
Recent thanks to: Mike and Roni Sellers, Freeze Thaw Cycles, Glenn and Karon Edwards, Holiday Inn Lower East Side, Hudson River Park Pier 84, Phil O’Brien and team at W42St, Massage Envy MidTown, Team L2L here and home, Rob Eustace, Ryan Wagner, WaterAid USA.
I have had my head down for the past few months doing my best to encourage the Kurds and in particular the Peshmerga with comments to their main media organisation ‘Rudaw’; that and my usual winter activity of cracking some more logic/analytic philosophy ready for new images. All this of course is done from the warmth of my little nest under Bardon Hill, kidding myself that it’s the Viking way of dealing with the winter. Yesterday, I thought I would see how you are progressing. Mi’ duck, mi’ duck, what am I to say? Unique New York, New York unique (try saying it). All I can say to the rest of the world is “Try doing it – try doing what Sarah does!”
I just love hearing about all the wonderful people you meet along the way and how they help you out. Justine will be in Ottawa next weekend and I am really looking forward to meeting her and getting a copy of the DVD of your Aleutian paddle. I can hardly believe that you will soon be heading off again in Happy Socks! May the remainder of your cycle to Cape Cod be safe and speedy. Cheers, Sarah!
Brilliant going, just brilliant!!
Many Congratulations on reaching the point of where you are at the moment. Its great to read your blogs and to know you have lots of lovely folks who are so kind and helpful on the way.
Just enjoy those sleeps along with all the other lovely things planned, itwas great to know you had such a welcome especially the banner.
Take great care and all good wishes
Kathleen and Christine
So lovely to read about the new friends you’ve acquired along your journey! What wonderful memories you’ve created…for you AND others!
~Gigi in Virginia Beach
I have been following your adventures closely since the first Pacific crossing attempt. I admire your amazing tenacity and love for people and life.
But what strikes me the most is not the journey itself but the people you meet along the way and their generosity and kindness. It makes me optimistic about our future as a species.
Thank you for giving us this window into our world.
Blimey ! It only seems days ago that you were in Andak.
Be well rested and god speed and fair winds when you attack the Atlantic.
See you on the other side Spike! Maybe everyone out for a trip on Wet Wheels to escort me in? Just like the PE days!
Good to see all your progress Sarah – keep ’em coming!
I was able to attend Justine’s presentation of the Aluetian Islands portion of your journey. In Homer where, if it was me, I would have collapsed to the ground, thankful to have completed and survived such a journey – but YOU get on a bike and start peddling across the continent. My hat (and everything else I’m wearing) is off to you. You are the definition of badass….badass with a great big heart. Good luck on the Atlantic. Godspeed to London Sarah
Thanks Jerry! Though clothes can stay on. ..
Congratulations on making it to the east coast. Big achievement , we totally understand the felling of making it to one of your big goals having just finished our tour in Santiago. Good luck in the preparation for your next challenges.
Woop woop! Nicely done guys.
Sarah!!! Flying colors to you!!! Your friends in the Aleutian Islands are awed and proud and jubilant you’ve it from sea to sea!!! Oh my gosh your legs are amazing. I am SO elated you are part of our lives, your journey, every mile of it, has been shared in spirit! Rooting for you as always!
Lovely to hear from you Suzi – thanks for your kind words. I often wonder about how you are all doing up in the Aleutians.
Love to all and one.
I’m in Sleepy Hollow, 20 miles north of NYC.
Hope you pass through and god speed on your trip to Cape Cod.
I hope I get a glimpse of you!
If you see a guy on an orange folding bike, give me a wave.!!!!
Sounds good. Maybe I shall be that way – still need to plan my route. I think I have to cycle over to Brooklyn and then North.
Will look out for the orange bike!
Well done on getting another leg of the journey done. You are Superwoman.
Enjoy the next few weeks of recovery time.
glad to see that you have made so far all the way to NY city, keep safe. hope to continue following your journey.. God Bless
Six and a half months ago we watched you and Hercules pedal down our hill for the start of your crossing America in the winter bike ride from our house in Anchorage. And now you are in NYC! We are so happy this leg of the journey is over.
Your Enthusiastic Fans,
Debbie and Scott
My Anchorage family !
I skyped with Emily yesterday – your other wintry cyclist – and recounted cycling down your hill on that sunny day in September. It was wonderful riding.
I am into the final few hundred miles now – nearly over.
Hope Team Cameron all super well,
Your original wintry cyclist 🙂
Comment ne pas être fier de connaitre un peu une grande Dame de coeur comme toi ,,,bravo et félicitations
je te suis depuis le début et te suivrai jusqu’au but ultime de ton voyage,,,bon voyage ,,,Nous t’aimons et
we have kept up with you ever since Ninilchik, Alaska and have vicariously travelled with you through each post and photo. We are so thankful for having met you and having this experience. We look forward to your last leg to reach your goal and loved ones. We will keep watch along with the other hundreds of followers you have charmed and amazed along the way. Thanks muchly!