Day 01 — Long Haul Out of the City
After a hearty breakfast at 3:30 AM and a precarious five flights down to the street with the bike, I was on the road early Sunday morning. The bar hoppers were still out devouring their drunk food or arguing with their drunk partner. Surprisingly no one even cared why I was dressed in bright orange on a fully loaded bike rolling through Harlem to the George Washington bridge. The hobos were certainly having their fun in the outskirts of the parks without me.
I hit a closed George Washington bridge, at the gates a giant placard states, “Opens at 6 AM”. I was a whole hour early. I had some doubts for a whole five minutes before the gate was unlocked five minutes later to make way for New Jersey.
Cruising New Jersey was a “unique” experience. Along the Palisades set behind the Hudson river, large ostentatious condos root themselves in the cliff sides. One building, reeking of French Colonial architecture claimed, “Old World Style, New World Amenities”. Unfortunately, the adjacent structure also reeked of poo — a water treatment facility — or that old world smell they never told us about.
Crossing bridges over to Newark provided the first bit of fun. Winding roads, unclear pathways, a brief moment on a toll road, and one lost pair of shades started my ascent out of Newark. Riding through the slums of Newark is depressing and eye-opening to the poverty problem. How is it that miles of square blocks people are living at or below the poverty line while the French Colonial Poop Mansion seemed barely sold out?
The rest of New Jersey was idyllic. Grueling but idyllic. Smooth roads with bike lanes with other affable cyclists; a regular Stepford Wives community for anyone dressed in pro gear on a bike. Some areas looked more like cyclist training facilities than family communities.
Closing on Round Valley each mile felt longer than the last. Pedaling up the last big hill, a local cyclist caught up to me and shared with him the details of my trip. Stoked about the trip he followed me to the campground, thankfully, because bartering with the teenagers to let me camp didn’t go well. The “system” was already shut-down.
With my local guide at hand, he pointed out some stealth camping areas he’s thought about. Not ideal but hiking out to the real campsites wasn’t happening, and my legs were too burnt to make it much further. Hiking the bike into the woods was brutal, not as far, and free barring I didn’t get caught. Then I just huddled in my tent for the night and rose early to hike back out.
About: An Adventurist, writer, and photographer Christopher Barr’s current journey takes him cycling across the United States of America (Sorry, Mom). Calling Northfort home for all of the adventure centric details; present and future. Ask him anything. This entry originally appeared at www.Northfort.us.