Day 7: Fairfield, CT to Plainsfield, NJ (105 miles)

There was a lot of good today. There was also Newark. I left Bill and Sue’s around 7:15 with a domestique breaking the wind for me. Bill rode me out for the first 15 miles of my day through Fairfield, Southport, Westport, etc. These are some pretty cool parts of Coastal Connecticut.  Bill and Sue and their family are special and inspiring. Add them to the list of people like Cindy’s parents, my parents who got the kid thing right. I hope Cindy and me can join that list.

After what seemed like 95 crossings of I-95, I meandered along the coastal towns until reaching Greenwichand/Port Chester near the NY border. I took my first break of the morning at Whole Foods in Port Chester for coffee, snacks and a bio break around 10:30. Love, love, love Whole Foods. C’mon Fort Mill/Rock Hill – it is time. 

After the break in swankville, it was west to the Bronx (my selfie face clearly needs work).Interesting ride into New York City although with many fewer bikes and many more cars. Most roads had a bike lane and most New Yorkers were more than used to having bikes all around them. I felt oddly comfortable through NYC. The goal was to get first to High Bridge (pedestrian only bridge) to cross the Harlem River, then back to 177th Street in Harlem to get to the George Washington Bridge, another I-95 crossing. Once there, I crossed the Hudson with about 30 other cyclists looking to get some space from the city. 

On the other side most cyclists were asked to complete a survey about cycling in the city. I obliged. Then a small detour to Weehawken to see the spot where the Hamilton/Burr duel went down. Weehawken. Dawn. Guns. Drawn. Charlie inspired this diversion way up the hill to see it. 

Another small bio break at a Weehawken Dunkin Donuts and off towards Newark. Surely it wouldn’t be as bad as I remembered, right?  Nope. It was worse. This was the bike lane going across one of the bridges. It got narrower once you actually got to the bridge. I’m pretty sure I was the first bike over it in years. Once over it I routed into a shipyard, oil refinery field and tractor trailer depot. You know those scenes from the Sopranos where someone typically got whacked. I was there. I could have been done in and not a soul would have known.  Oh how I longed for that area of desolation when I reached the streets of Newark. I’m convinced inner city America would be less depressed if they had better roads to travel on. The potholes and patched potholes were epic. Tough, tough town. 

I traversed my way from Newark to small town Jersey until I finally realized that I’d either have to stealth camp on a golf course, in a baseball dugout or see if a firehouse would put me up. The. I ran across a nice diversion. Five Guys in Westfield, NJ. An oasis of a town in Jersey. I asked a few folks in their restaurant where they go to camp around here and they said Pennsylvania or Western New York. The closest Campground was 30 miles away still, I had gone almost 100 miles already and it was 6:15pm. I threw in the towel and rode the 7 miles to the HoJo in Plainfield (perfectly named). Yes and no. Yes, there are ACTUALLY still Howard Johnson’s around (although this one is an ‘Express’) and no, I didn’t get the Clam strips (Cindy’s first question). After watching Dateline or 20/20 about bed bugs, cleanliness and safety, I’ve taken a few extra precautions. Geez. 
Tomorrow, I’m aiming toward Amish country. I don’t want to sniff anything remotely like a big city. Here’s looking at you Philly. 

What did I love today: Riding out of Fairfield with Bill along the great roads of Coastal Connecticut. 

Oddity: The random jay-walking woman in Newark who upon passing beside me screamed out like the boogieman. Thanks for taking years off my life lady. 

Zen moment: Riding onto the George Washington Bridge with all of those other cyclists. Or riding through NYC on this bike loaded down with my stuff and no one in that city batting an eye. 

Not-so-zen moment:  Newark. All of it. 

Who did I meet: Not a soul after riding with Bill today. Quiet day. 

Food I ate:  Coffee and a bar at Bill and Sue’s place. Another bar on the bike. Coffee and you guessed it, another bar in Whole Foods. Two slices of quiche outside of Whole Foods. A banana on the bike. A bar at Weekhawken. A bar just past Newark. Five Guys veggie melt sandwich and Cajun fries. A scoop of Whole Foods Nutella. 

Pictures: 1) me and my domestique, 2) unnamed Coastal Town with view the Atlantic in the background and a rowing team in the foreground, 3) me and my selfie face in the Bronx, 4) view at the start of the GW Bridge, 5) Hamilton Park in Weehawken, 6) bike w/ lower Manhatten in the background, 7) “piece yourself together Newark” picture, 8) The joy that is HoJo’s.

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