I must have been more nervous than I realized. I did everything the night before, including showering, so all I had to do in the morning was eat breakfast and leave. Still, it took an hour and half to get on the road. I didn’t even make it out of Brooklyn before my bear canister fell off my back rack. I use a bear canister because I’m not quite coordinated enough to hang my food and the northeast has black bears. In past tours, I have put it in one of the rear panniers. I am trying something different this time to save space in the panniers. I have a stuff sack with my sleeping bag and anything related to sleep. The sack and the canister are strapped to the top if the rack. I put the stuff sack next to my seat because I could force it a little under the seat. Then the canister was behind the sack. I kept hearing a little banging with every bump until the canister slipped out from the straps holding everything down. A little rearranging, putting the canister next to the seat and synching up the straps tight into the sack, fixed the problem.
It took about 4 hours to get out of the New York City, which is about what I expected. I took a route that I’ve taken before, crossing the East River by the Queensborough Bridge, then through Central Park, along the Harlem River, into the Bronx and Westchester County. In Westchester, I took the South County Trail and North County Trail. Once I crossed New Croton Reservoir, I headed east to Mountain Lakes Park.
South County Trail and North County Trail are multi-use paths that follow an old railroad. There were quite a few cyclists on the path. Many nodded or waived. As a bug flew into my mouth, someone said, “Hi.” I responded, “Hack, hack, ptth.”
The first 40 miles went surprisingly well. I felt really good and my legs handled the extra weight well. After the first 40 miles, however . . . That was a little different. The bicycle is remarkably stable with all the extra weight. At low speeds, it is a bit wobbly, but above about 10 miles per hour and it rides very smooth. On some downhills, I reached about 30 miles per hour, and the stability was perfect.
During the last 25 miles, the distance began to wear on me. The final mile or so to camp involved a steep hill. After 65 miles, that was not nice. I actually ended up walking my bike up the hill a bit. There was no one at the park office. They left a sign on the door with a phone number, but I could not get a signal on my cell phone and could not find a pay phone. I waited about 40 minutes, including waiting through a brief thunder storm. No one came, so I found an empty campsite and pitched my tent under a lean-to.
For dinners, I am experimenting a little bit. I tried to buy a little bit of meat at the last grocery store before camp. I make rice, with brown sugar, garlic powder, soy sauce and beef bullion, then fry up the meat and eat it with the rice. I think it will work. Dinner certainly had plenty of flavor, but I need to play around with the portions for the ingredients. As I go along, I may have trouble with the soy sauce. Right now, I am using packets I saved up from Chinese takeout over the past several months, but that won’t last long.