I was lucky to be able to participate in some really inspiring group rides this past weekend, not due to the challenge of the route but more because of the people I rode with.
The start of Saturday’s Group Ride – Chris’ Journey
On Saturday I met up with my fellow GFNY participant Rob, who in his own quiet way is a really great inspiration – always there, always supportive to the people he rides with, always offering to take his turn at the front (in this case I had to say no as it was his first time on this particular route!). he and I got to Port Imperial and picked up Chris, a new participant, who moved here from England two months ago. His road bike hasn’t been shipped yet so he rode his commuter bike from Port Imperial to Fort Lee, including the climb up Route 5 (welcome to New Jersey Chris!). Tom met us at the park entrance and we agreed to meet up with the rest of our group who, running late, headed north up 9W while the four of us headed north through the park…….down to the Alpine Boat Basin (if you ride with me and you get to that circle in the road please keep to the right and head down; no sense in missing a warm up climbing opportunity)……
We started together and then Rob and Tom moved on a little bit faster while Chris and I rode together. It was Chris’ first time on Alpine, he had his commuter bike, he stuck with it…..I could sense he was getting tired (probably when I heard him say “I’m getting tired”) but I let him in on the secret to the climb (what, don’t you know the secret? OK, I can tell you – other than “be lucky enough to ride a DeRosa with Campagnolo components” the other secret is to listen for the waterfall when you hit the 3/4 mark; at that little pitch up it tells you that as soon as you look around the bend up and to the right you are near the top, there is only the left hand turn and the quick right where you can see the station) – and then Chris found it inside him to embody Champions Finish Strong and we stopped for some cold water at the top………pretty inspired ride! We got up to the light and he decided to head back home to Port Imperial just as the rest of the group showed up – perfect timing for the next part of our ride!
The Group takes on additional riders – Ektor’s Journey
We stopped for the required photo at State Line:
From here we took the back roads through Piermont where one of our team had a flat. Ektor decided to head back – he was time constrained because of work. Ektor was the friend who inspired me to ride all winter; had it not been for Ektor I would have remained home eating instead of getting out on the road riding…missing all this fun and gaining another 20 pounds. Ektor is a no excuses guy, rides with a bad back, almost always in pain….but he rides….and always attacks on Unnecessary Hill, no matter how he is feeling – it is a Pavlovian response – sees that hill, goes on the attack…..perhaps the mind is stronger than our perception of what our bodies can do! Anyway, I am forever grateful for his quiet inspiration.
The Climbing gets tougher – John’s Journey
From Piermont we took the back roads up Tweed and into Nyack for a snack at True Foods and then headed home along Piermont Road, leaving the climbing for Tenafly and Englewood Cliffs. We moved along pretty well, the the temperature moving right along with us, and I had an opportunity to practice riding in the drops, thanks to my coach Juan Aracena. The tough part – heat, fatigue, climbs up Hillside, Hudson and East Clinton. I could sense that John was pretty beat (I senses it right around the time he started saying “I’m beat!)…but those who know John know that he doesn’t have any quit in him. It was a little tough getting over to Hudson, then Engle is a little easier but lets you out on the lower slopes of E Clinton and there the work begins. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, John climbs E Clinton. I rode with him, knowing that I was the one who convinced him to change from a compact to a mid-compact, safe in the knowledge that he is a church going man so he would not act on the thoughts related to my personal health that were running through his mind…..
The rest of our group waited for us midway up E Clinton – they said it is the only way they could take this photo but I think they used me and John as an excuse to rest – anyway, we headed up the rest of the way…with John attacking me on Unnecessary Hill….I think Ektor and John have formed an alliance to try to kill me at the end of the rides – time will tell.
Surrounding yourself with inspiring people is a great way to change your belief system from one that, perhaps from the time you were a child told you not to push the envelope, beware of failure, don’t venture beyond your capability – to a belief system that, on a daily basis, allows you to see that you have not even scratched the surface of your potential, that you are stronger than you think and that your mind and soul will support your physical efforts if you are willing to challenge yourself a little bit…..I repeat, a little bit…..pedal stroke by pedal stroke….
“You need to believe it before you see it” – Dr. Wayne Dyer