Day 4: New York, New Jersey

A beautifully/happily sunny morning today, and started out feeling optimistic- a few more miles in NY, then on to New Jersey and hopefully Princeton by dinner. Well, that didn’t happen, but it was a beautiful day anyways.

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I started out riding on US Route 6, known from days of old as “US Ride Your Bike On This Route To Get To Cape Cod.” This time I was going west, though, and didn’t stay on it long before heading into Orange County NY’s farm region. Apparently, something like 80% of the nation’s onions are grown here- delicious! I also found that Orange County is “where beer is grown,” or at least where hops are grown in great abundance.

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New Jersey snuck up on me, and it wasn’t long before I was heading down, more or less, towards the ocean, passing car crossings, pizza deals I was a day too late to take advantage of, and a place where “Space Phoebus” is not just someone from a Tim and Eric skit.

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New Jersey has a lot of trails. They’re all a little different, ranging from “almost perfect” to “well at least there are no cars,” and most of the riding today was on these former railroads. In some places, they’re quite good- even though they’re unpaved, the gravel is small and packed down firmly enough to almost get up to road-like speeds.

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In other places, though, there are so many many tree roots, fallen logs, and large rocks that anything more than walking speed will make your batteries jump right off your trailer- and then you’ll have to retrace you path for 3 miles until you find them, take everything apart to engineer a way to keep them in place, and get a flat tire at the same time. At least the weather was nice, but it was still frustrating to not take advantage of it by going forwards.

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In the end though, they are rather pretty, and make a great place to watch the sunset. Hopefully today’s setbacks won’t be too critical, and I’ll still be able to make Philadelphia by tomorrow night.

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AND, after a year of reflection:

New Jersey gets a bad rap for being a terrible, ugly, horrendous place, sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia. It turns out… it’s actually quite beautiful. Some of the nicest riding I’d had of the trip- scenic trails, forests, remarkably calm traffic- totally, totally, changed how I think about this state. IT was just the first time of many that I’d be reminded that what you hear isn’t alwasy true, and by taking the time (which in this case, means traveling at 12 miles per hour instead of 60) you’ll be surprised by the beauty you’ll see and the kindness you’ll experience.

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