I’ve been religiously following the blog of the East Coast Greenway’s communications boss and her friend as they ride this 3,000-mile route from Key West to Calais, Maine, impatiently checking for the latest update. Their Florida stories hinted at what I have yet to experience, and once they reached Savannah, I could compare to my own recollections of riding the route, a one-week stretch every year for the past few years. But mostly I would just think: I want to be out on my bike too.
So of course I had to host them one night … and throw a weekday party for them. And when they suggested I ride with them the next day, how could I say no? (Unless my boss did, which he didn’t.)
The plan was to follow the D&R Canal towpath up to New Brunswick and then take the road as far as we got, until it was time to hop the train, me back home and them to meet a friend in New York City.
So off we pedaled, past a blue heron picking its way atop the pipeline already in place to dredge the canal, past a dozen or more turtles sunning themselves on one of the many partially submerged tree limbs, past ducks that hissed as we passed too close to their ducklings.
The surface varied. Parts were badly rutted: The canal had overflowed in some spots during recent heavy rains, washing away a coating of pebbles and exposing jagged spillway stones that our bikes weren’t happy about. Lisa’s front handlebar bag jostled loose at one point, and we couldn’t get the screw to reattach. Other damage probably dated back to some nasty Nor’easters in March. But as we moved further north, past East Millstone, the surface was smooth and we could lose ourselves in conversation rather than dodging potholes and puddles.
Of course, it couldn’t last. I got a flat tire around the time we crossed the Raritan River from New Brunswick into Highland Park. Although I had a spare tube and fixed the flat, my pumping skills left it soft enough to want a bike shop … or the train home.
Guess what we chose.
Sorry I was such a bad influence.