The talk of “keeping it mellow” with the pace is non existent. 18 MPH average my ass. As soon as we hop onto our machines, the dormant excitement is awakened by a 24 MPH pace line on wide open roads surrounded by the most peaceful scenery I’ve seen in quite a while. I decide (let’s be honest. It was more of didn’t have a choice but) to stay in the back of the pack and try my best to keep a wheel.
I make sure to take mental snapshot of how incredible my surroundings are at this very moment. The usual honking of New York City traffic that we’re so accustomed to were replaced by the silence of crisp streaming water flowing through the rocks of the Catskills, and our usual and now predictable weekly Central Park loops seem distant as we ascend and descend through the unknown winding roads that greet us with open arms.
I barely make it up Big Indian Mountain, which was only the second of six climbs that were on our agenda. I recall hearing Dylan yell out “Downshift!” halfway up the climb and laughing out loud to myself as I screamed back with an “I can’t” as I attempted to hammer with the last lifeline on my cassette - a 25T. I make it up alive. Barely. I knew I should have purchased that 12-27 for days like this. Oh, the should haves.
We cover 40 miles, 3 climbs, and about 3500 vertical feet of the Catskills by noon when we decide it’s time for a snack break. “Nutella sandwiches” James says. Fuck yeah. As we hide in the shade and wait for our support car to meet us with ice cold beverage refills and the ever so promising sandwiches filled with hazelnut goodness, I reflect on the first part of our journey, as well as what lies ahead. I refill my bidons with some ice colds, devour my chocolatey sandwich, and prepare to hop back on the saddle. Fifty miles to go, and about 4500 feet of Catskills left to climb. Let’s have some fun, boys.
To Be Continued in Pt3 …