I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so nervous as I did when I woke at 3, unless it was when I left the apartment where I was staying on the upper east side at 3:45. It was pouring rain, the doorman doubted he could find me a cab, but he could and he did. I gingerly tiptoed across the street in my bike shoes… In full gear, carrying my helmet, gloves, and pedals in a plastic bag.

Maybe I got more nervous when we arrived at the cross streets I had for the Irish Hunger Memorial and I saw no one, nothing.

But we went around a corner, and I saw tents, vans, eager volunteers in their Deloitte t-shirts. My name was on the list at the registration table, and there was a jersey for me. I found the row of pristine citibikes reassuring, as if I’d be able to ride one of them 100 miles in the rain. My rental bike arrived, and a wonderful mechanic affixed my pedals for me.

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The rain would clear, I knew it. My rain jacket would prevail. I wouldn’t bemoan my inability to find my poncho while I packed.

Look at this optimism:

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Autism doesn’t get called for rain, and neither does our ride!

Look at this cue sheet:
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We rode around the southern tip of Manhattan – a lot of it familiar turf – and over the Williamsburg Bridge, which wasn’t quite the biggest climb of the day… but it was pretty close.

For me, the biggest challenge of the route was all the stopping and starting. We were on city streets – lots of traffic lights, lots of stop signs. Lots of waiting for lights to change while shaking out the rain jacket.

I still look pretty happy at mile 20, don’t I?

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Here’s some video of how Jacob Riis Park looks at the onset of another tropical storm…

Hello headwinds! Hello Hurricane Sandy devastation and construction. I was hoping it would be hello, bike paths, goodbye traffic. Not so much.

Rest stop 2: You know you’re on Long Island when you have three bagel shops next to each other in one block.

Rest stop 3: The very kind woman behind the counter at the World Gym let me charge my phone in her car!

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The real Strava challenge: finishing the ride before my phone battery dies!

Rest stop 4: Leis, but no restrooms.

Rest stop 5: 8 hours and 68 miles in, shaking uncontrollably, making bad decisions, time to get off the bike. The volunteers there were so kind. One got me a blanket out of his car. Another ran to Dunkin’ Donuts to get a big container of coffee. Three more riders – all young guys – decided to call it quits after I did. We rode to the finish line together, carpooling from rest stop to rest stop with volunteers.

The last thirty miles looked beautiful through the fogged windows of the jeep… Less traffic, fewer stops. Another day, perhaps.

At our final destination, because I didn’t know we could check bags, I had no warm clothes. Because it was the middle of nowhere, there was nothing to purchase. I changed into a dry t-shirt in the ourdoor restrooms – which I’m sure would be fine on a hot day. The whole place would have been perfect on a hot sunny day. Just not during Tropical Storm Andrea.

I will never ever ever be dry again.
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Seriously, I was almost a little dry and got drenched running to the bus.

On the bus ride back, I learned that I didn’t get any of the rider e-mails (bag check, buses back, etc.) because I was signed up for all three rides. Made a new friend who I’ll see in DC and Boston!

Almost dry… drenched again exiting bus at train station.

Changing trains in Babylon, I slipped and fell. At least I wasn’t on the bike when the inevitable happened.

Not quite dry at Penn Station, but back to fully soaked waiting in the line for a taxi.

Successes? 50+ miles in New York, and the triumph of good judgment over ego.
Failures? Not finding the poncho, not riding harder, not finishing.

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