In our last episode, your heroes were camped behind an elementary school in sub-arctic temperatures. They woke from their slumber early so that they would elude detection from the young scholars making their way to their morning lessons. This was the first mistake of the day for your intrepid heroes.
The idea was to get out of Cuddebackville early so that we could make it to Belvidere, NJ by the end of the day. However, our early departure led to the discovery of a scientific fact. It did not lead to our arrival in Belvidere. The fact: biking when it is cold leads to numbness of the extremities, and makes me a whiny, wimpy baby.
The temperature was barely warm enough for our water to be liquid, and the faster we pedaled, the more our eyes watered and the less we could feel our toes. We rode 2 miles in the cold, and I couldn't feel my hands or my feet. I began to convince myself that I had frostbite, and that I would have to ask Vanessa to amputate my toes.
So, 2 miles into our day, we stop at a tiny breakfast place to drink coffee, eat a bagel, and regain feeling in our extremities. This ritual was so comforting that it lasted for over an hour. We told ourselves, "Who cares if we lost a couple of hours of riding? It's better that we ride when the temperature is a bit warmer anyway. Besides, we'll be following the Delaware River all day today, so the terrain will be flat." Mistake #2. We expected the terrain to be something that it clearly was not.
We rode on a very isolated road for a good bit of the day, and the road was moderately flat. Flat, that is, until it got hilly. And rainy. On goes the rain gear. I had trouble seeing for most of the day because my glasses got wet and foggy. We also had trouble riding too, because the hills were steeeeeeeep! We'd climb a steep hill, and then get a gradual downhill for a few minutes. Then another monster of a hill. On the final monster hill, we decided that we would move faster and put our energy to better use if we just walked the bikes up the hill. I've never claimed to be a tough guy, but those hills proved that I am indeed not a tough guy.
We did meet a Real Life Tough Guy, though. We took a break on the side of an isolated road, and a gentleman passed by in a car and asked if we needed help. We told him that we were just relaxing, and he told us that he was a former touring cyclist himself. Jack had ridden his bike across just about every road in the United States. I would estimate that Jack has a few hundred thousand miles of cycling underneath his belt. He told us some great stories from his time on the road, and wished us well. He also told us to expect some more hills. Ugh.
If we remove the hills and the rain from the day, the ride was impressive in a serious way. The Delaware Water Gap gave my eyeballs all the fall colors they could take, even through the rainy muck. The clouds also played some interesting tricks by rolling down the sides of the river valley, almost like fog.
As we kept riding, we realized that we probably wouldn't make more than 55 miles that day, so Vanessa called her friend Liz to tell her that we wouldn't be able to make it the extra 15 miles to Belvidere, and we agreed to meet in the city of Delaware Water Gap, NJ. The Appalachian Trail runs through this city, and, since the hiking season is over, the hotel we got was cheap and empty. And when I say empty, I mean empty like The Shining. But, they had dry, warm beds, and insanely cheap rates. So, we ordered 4 pounds of buffalo wings, ate, and fell into some much needed comfortable sleep.