Today was one of my favorite riding days. It was clear and cool again. We have been so blessed with the weather. I started every day of the last three weeks with my arm warmers on.
Claire and I left camp before 7 AM. About a mile out of camp we climbed the first of several hills. We rode high up along the Hudson River, enjoying beautiful old houses along the way. Doug soon joined us as we continued along a tree lined Parkway with wide shoulders. There were many cyclists passing us from the other way. I assume they were getting out of the busy city for a Saturday morning ride. It is amazing to me that there was so little traffic so close to NY City. At about 25 miles, we came to the Washington Bridge over the Hudson. It is a double decker bridge with lots of traffic. We cycled the narrow pedestrian/bicycle pathway along one side of the bridge. The excitement and emotion of being there among all those people and cars and trucks approaching NY City was overwhelming to me. The shaking of the bridge, the smells, the sights of the skyline, the many people all rushing by seemed to be surreal. We found several places big enough to stop and take it all in. There were many cyclists and people coming toward us and passing almost handlebar to handlebar. Sometimes we used our bikes like scooters with one foot down to stay in control. On the far side of the bridge there was a very narrow winding ramp down. It was a relief not to meet another bike on that ramp. We found Roger at the bottom of the ramp. He had been hit by another cyclist. He was unhurt, but the rear wheel of his bicycle was frozen. He was considering calling a cab. The SAGs couldn't pick anyone up today. We were all trying to figure out what was causing the problem when an angel stopped by. He was another cyclist who told us that he was a bike mechanic! He asked for an Allen wrench which he was given, and he was able to release Roger's wheel! Roger turned around to thank him, but he was gone.
We rode into the city on the Hudson River Greenway Bike Trail. It was great fun to join the New Yorkers seeing the city from the river side. Families were out with young children enjoying the day.
We all gathered in our matching Sea to Sea jerseys at the Staten Island ferry. As we boarded a dog sniffed our bike bags. Odd?? None of the pedestrians had their bags sniffed.
We had a police escort a short distance to Project Hospitality, one of the organizations who will benefit from our fund raising. Rev. Roland Ratmeyer who cycled the entire trip started this ministry. The director, Terri, spoke to us both in the afternoon and later in the evening. This organization has impressive services to the poor on Staten Island. It includes housing for homeless and AIDs patients, feeding the hungry, serving the undocumented, and many others.
The police then escorted us to Midland Beach for our tire dipping. This area was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. We carried our bikes through the hot sand to the water. I was so thankful to see Phil who helped me get my bike down to the water. There were lots of family and friends to share in the excitement and many pictures taken. We concluded by forming a circle with our bikes, had prayer together and sang the Doxology. This was all so impressive! There is so much to be thankful for, especially the safety we were given on this trip.
With what seemed like a P.S. to me, we were again police escorted 10 miles to the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin - a Catholic Charities campus. The Bishop amazingly allowed us to camp there, and have our final dinner there. This apparently is very unusual. Project Hospitality has a good relationship with this organization and uses one of the buildings on this campus to house AIDs patients.
Phil and I had reserved the Comfort Inn, so went there for a wonderful hot shower before dinner. The dinner included family and friends. It was great to meet some of these people. The program after dinner included speakers from our sponsoring organizations: Greg Elzinga from Partners World Wide, Andy Ryskamp from World Renew, and Jay Harsacort from the RCA. One of my favorite parts of the program was a signing of the song, "Jesus is Faithful" by Thea and her daughter Sarah. Sarah has Downs' Syndrome and has become the "darling" of the tour. Her signing was so beautiful!
I must say congratulations to Bev who cycled today and did so well! I think that she has caught the cycling bug and I am happy about it.
It is hard to believe this tour is over. We did not get a chance to say proper good byes to our new friends. Hopefully we can stay in touch!
Phil spent much time looking on line to check the route, and marking the roads. In the last week, Barb Mellema assisted him. Check her blog on SeatoSea.org to get her perspective of those days.