Jersey Shore in Jerseys and Shorts (USA Day 7)
We began today the way we wish to continue: late.
Our ferry to Sandy Hook was to leave at 8:15 from Wall St Pier, so a 6:30 start seemed like ample. But as the minutes ticked by and the final jobs compiled, the chances of making it grew more and more distant. We tried, bless us, scrabbling our first five miles of this multiple-thousand-mile adventure down quiet Sunday-morning roads, snarling at red lights until they turned green, swearing blind at Brooklyn Bridge for hiding its bike entrance ramp so effectively.
The boat left without us. To be fair, we weren’t even close, and at some point gave up racing for it. Brooklyn Bridge eventually granted us access, and we passed back into Manhattan one final time, sliding through the background of photoshoots of two Korean brides and one leotarded lady with pink roller skates.
Our boat, two hours after the intended one but really just as good at what it did, zoomed us south to Sandy Hook, a quiet peninsula that boasts the oldest lighthouse in the USA (we didn’t see it) about thirty nesting pairs of Ospreys (we saw a bunch of them) and some picturesque Atlantic beaches. We dipped our rear wheels into the rough waves, as is customary, then Amy was bonked on the leg by a horseshoe crab, which is terrifying if you don’t know what they are (we don’t) as they’re dinner-cloche-sized armoured sea-juggernauts with stingray tails and go-faster tendrils. They’re also pathetic, according to the lifeguard. The tail is simply there to flip the poor thing back over again because it spends its life being toppled upside down by the waves.
Today’s ride took us south, through endless seaside suburbia, into New Jersey towns with promenades and ice-cream shacks and sudden, unannounced, wonderful Pride parades and not-so-wonderful Italian American teens with over-styled hair and loud shoe choices. Every single pedal was marred by a brutal headwind, so even though the profile was flat, it felt like a chore. That took its toll on Amy at first, who is still adjusting to the radically new bike fit and setup. It only became desperate just once, in Belmar, when blood sugars and optimism were at a real low. I coaxed her to a coffee shop and plied her with a coffee/donut combo, and things improved almost instantly. Ambushed by a drunken local who accused us of being Australian and scoffed at our claim to be travelling further than the nearest bus stop, we pedalled on with renewed energy and gobbled up the final dozen miles with ease.
Leg-wise, knee-wise, neck-wise, we feel great. We finished the ride in remarkably high spirits, finding our hosts’ beautiful lake house empty with a note plastered to the kitchen table inviting us to make ourselves at home. We dipped into the warm, saltwater lake out back, cracked open a cool beer (completing challenge 3. Thanks, Dan!) and stretched out our stiff bits, retreating back into the house for a fish dinner just as our paradise was invaded by the first drops of what turned into an almighty thunderstorm.
Now cosy and dry and trying to understand basketball, we’re playing house and wondering how we can wangle it so that we can stay here forever. Alas, tomorrow, inland.
Miles Today: 44
Total Miles: 44