I’ve done it! I’ve biked the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway!
My final day began with drizzle in Stamford, Connecticut, and ended on the steps of the old Post Office across from Penn Station. Those last 40-plus miles encapsulated all that the Greenway is: wonderful trails (the Hudson River Greenway), comfortable residential roads .. and some crazy stuff.
It was a work day, and if COVID has dented rush-hour traffic, it was still heavy as we made our way out of Stamford and through Greenwich, doing the same zig-zag under train tracks and I-95 as the day before. A reason to ride this route on Sunday? (Though then you’d be trading quieter roads for busier trails in New York City.)
Sometimes it really felt like this is where we were headed:
Bruce Park in Greenwich was a wonderful relief (and yay to a separate bridge for bikes so we weren’t stymied by bridge reconstruction, unlike the detour we were forced to take the day before).
It had me thinking: where’s the green space in these rich towns beyond their own acreage? Where do club riders ride? Where can casual cyclists bike and feel safe? What did they do during COVID? Do they believe in trails for the sake of their own residents? Areas like these are a challenge for projects like the East Coast Greenway and why it can feel easier to just bypass the tri-state area (and cities generally). The East Coast Greenway does the hard stuff by connecting major cities up and down the East Coast.
The Greenway route crosses into New York at Port Chester, and then we seemed to click through the towns with fewer turns and generally less rain. In Pelham we picked up a trail along a major road, the first of many off-road paths that essentially took us to the end. Away from traffic, yes, but a lot of on/off ramps to cross with no sense of signage warning motorists to look for pedestrians and cyclists. Yup, that’s New York. At least the skies had cleared.
The turnoff to City Island – the least New York City part of New York City — was tempting .. but we had trains to catch before evening rush hour. That leisurely fish lunch watching the boats will have to wait for another ride.
Finally we reached Van Cortlandt Park, where the Greenway overlaps with the new Empire State Trail. Then Manhattan, the climb to the top of the Hudson River Greenway and a final group photo at that odd Grecian Temple of a shelter, the steep, curving descent, then under the George Washington Bridge, past the Little Red Lighthouse, the view of New Jersey across the Hudson and trying to figure out just where is Weehawken and the site of the Hamilton-Burr duel, eventually the Intrepid aircraft carrier that is now a museum, the High Line on the left, and then the turn onto 30th Street and up under the High Line to the train station.
A big thanks to Kate, Lisa and Clive for riding these final three days with me and to all the friends I have met along the East Coast Greenway who made it such a joyful adventure.
A final picture, this one from breakfast. We were staying in a hotel that has yet to resume breakfast service, not even yogurt and muffins. So we went to the diner next door. My secret is that I really don’t like carb-y breakfast foods; usually I’m hungry two hours later. (Or maybe it;s an hour later.) So I was thrilled to be able to order from the non-breakfast part of the menu; that’s chili that could have used more seasoning, not some egg dish covered with cheese to disguise it:
Hey, it’s all about the food.