Gone Riding: Summer Sessions
The Rapha Open Ride
Summer’s finally hit the city and on the first humid day of many, I went for a long ride. On the weekends I join the Rapha Open Ride, mainly because it starts at 9:00am. I get to sleep in just enough to make a difference! I arrived at Rapha NYC a few minutes before they opened; I usually miss the ride because I sleep in, but this weekend the bight summer sun motivated me to get moving early.
Before each ride there’s a safety brief. The ride leaders go over the route, hand signals, and give general riding tips. We’re also reminded that it’s a social ride and not a race, though we will regroup at the top of any climbs along the way.
Because it’s an open ride, there are bound to be differences in each person’s familiarity with group riding. The safety brief helps get everyone on the same page and sets expectations for the ride.
Ready to roll
Safety talk done, it’s time to get moving. First, we have to get out of the city. Once we leave the Rapha clubhouse, we’ll head over to the West Side Greenway and head north. Then it’s up and over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.
Once we left the city, busy streets give way to quieter roads and concrete is replaced by green trees and fresher air. One of the most popular roads for cyclists, 9W offers long stretches of uninterrupted riding. Perfect for a pace-line and light conversation as we headed north.
Quiet Back roads
After a quick descent after the NY/NJ state line, we made a left and then a right to ride on the Rail Trail. It’s a paved, scenic multi-use path through lots of trees and bushes. Many hadn’t been up this far, so it was quite a surprise. This is what riding is all about, discovering new roads with great company.
Climb of the Day: Bradley Road
No ride is complete without a challenging climb to spice things up. Exiting the rail trail we made our way to the climb of the day, known as Bradley/Tweed. The climb is actually two roads; Bradley Road, and Tweed Boulevard. Bradley isn’t particularly steep at the beginning, but once you make the right turn onto Tweed it kicks up a bit. Once you’ve reached the top, you’re rewarded with a winding descent.
Up & Over
Finally at the top. Next stop? The Cafe!
We stopped to recharge at a nearby cafe. Hot weather means iced coffee, though some “traditionalists” had theirs hot. After coffee and cake (some had salad and other food) we slowly made our way to our bikes for the ride home. The break was much needed! While we were getting ready, I snapped some “mid-ride portraits”.
We took some more back roads on our way home. The IBM and Observatory “climbs” made our legs work hard to get up and over them. Finally, we were back on 9W. Once on familiar, flatter roads a double pace-line quickly formed. Our speed quickly shot up; at one point we were doing 40km/h (25mi/h) into a headwind! Obviously, safety first so no photos of that.
These back roads have some really steep sections. Hard, but satisfying!
The first riders make their way to the top of the climb, and breathe a needed sigh of relief. Well done!
Bridge Crossing back to New York
The main part of the ride was now over. Some riders would head home on their own, and others would ride back to the Rapha Clubhouse to hang out before continuing home. What a day!
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