Thursday, April 15, 2010

...And Back South.

So the second half of our Empire State adventure was easily as exciting as the first.

Erich and I road-tripped up to Cambridge, New York, on Friday morning. The drive itself was beautiful - the company, even better. We could tell the temperature was dropping as we headed further north. Arriving into the small village of Cambridge, Erich decided to pre-ride a bit of the course before we headed to the Cambridge Hotel sign him in. I drove around to follow, and the scenery was like stepping right into a painting - unreal. The covered bridge over the Battenkill River is the primary symbol of the race, so it was really cool to see it in person!

Once the course had been previewed and registration was complete, we checked out a bike shop in Saratoga Springs (to replace the bike pump still sitting on the 19th floor of Sarah's apartment!), then checked in to our hotel. We had fantastic hotels on this trip (not to mention our best accommodations in NYC!)...if you're ever, ever in the Saratoga Springs area, you should stay at the Hyatt Place. Clean, beautiful, huge rooms, endlessly-kind staff, delicious food...just go stay there already!

Erich and I asked the hotel staff for a recommendation for Friday night's dinner, and they pointed us in the direction of the Jonesville Store. We had the most unbelievable appetizer before devouring our dinner...with a glass of wine for me, the non-racer (sweet revenge for Erich's beverages during my Disney half-marathon!). There was also this cool old guy playing acoustic guitar for nice background music - truly, a lovely setting. It's really cool to take a chance and discover something new and wonderful!

When we returned to our hotel, Erich worked on bike maintenance, putting on his brand new tires. I went to the train station to pick up Sarah, who had taken the beautiful train ride out of the city after work. Believe it or not, it actually snowed on our way back from the station! The three of us were surprisingly relaxed that night, thanks to Shrek, Donkey, and a few chocolate chip/peanut butter cookies.

The relaxed mentality continued through our brunch the next morning, as well as all throughout our road trip from Saratoga Springs to Cambridge. Once Erich was pinned and sent off to the Start Line with his newfound buddy Frank, Sarah and I drove through the beautiful countryside in search of the Feed Zone at Mile 41 (where we would reload Erich's drink supply). The scenery continued to amaze us, and we had some great sister time. Once the Feed Zone was located, we elected to head to Juniper Swamp Road for a little racing action. We were really pumped to see Erich in a great position heading into the climb, roughly in the middle of the pack. He would go on to move into the lead group after that point.

Time seemed to pass really quickly from that point on. Before we knew it, the pace car was approaching the Feed Zone. I was a little nervous about my bottle hand-off, but I was excited to see the race shaping up so nicely. There were two guys down the road with the main peloton chasing, and Erich was right in the middle of that lead group! The rest of the race had been dropped, so he was well on his way to a Top 25 worst. I was really pumped for him! So you can imagine my surprise when he gave me a thumbs-down and pulled his bike over to the side of the road. Almost immediately, there was a big crash just behind us. Total sensory overload. As it turns out, Erich's shifter cable had completely snapped 5 miles before the Feed Zone, leaving him in his hardest gear. The fact that he had made it even that far was pretty miraculous in itself! So after months and months of training and anticipation, his race was over. Just like that.

I can't deny I was disappointed. He has worked really, really hard! And I felt invested in this whole process, too. But Erich was so positive about the entire experience, it was hard to stay down for long. And indeed, as she had all week, my sister played the role of hero, having planned an awesome dinner for us in downtown Woodstock! It's pretty hard to beat cold beer and gourmet pizza in a funky/cool the raddest cycling hat out there.

Our road trip back into NYC was a whirlwind, as usual. The feeling of chilling out in Sarah's apartment, overlooking the city with a (now very cool) breeze blowing, with Tina Fey on SNL in the background...well, that was pretty awesome. We slept in the next morning before grabbing brunch at the hip, delicious Community Restaurant with Erich's cousin, Lisa. It was great to catch up with her! Then Erich, Sarah, and I decided to spend the afternoon at the Museum of Natural History. Needless to say, that was time well-spent. We even got to meet up with Sarah's best buddy in the city, Ally. Pretty much a perfect spring afternoon in Manhattan.

It would seem that no trip to the Big Apple is complete without at least one meal at Rosa Mexicano. Their food and drinks (especially their pomegranate margaritas!) are hard to beat. The three of us decided to relax on Sarah's 'back porch' for the rest of the evening with the sounds of the city (and Erich's travel guitar) all around us. Nearly impossible to beat the views from Sarah's place. Simply gorgeous. I love New York!

What a perfect trip. All too soon, our time in the city was over. Hugs, kisses, and Starbucks all around on Monday morning, then Erich and I hit the Lincoln tunnel and headed south. We had a long, but very enjoyable road trip back to The Dash. Nothing quite like coming home to a slobbery chocolate lab who is nothing short of elated that you're back!

Having a chance to take a deep breath before heading back to work was essential to the planning of this trip. I've spent the past two days making sure our house was in reasonable order, ensuring our laundry is caught up, doing a little yard work, cheering on some buddies at a local bike race, and being straight-up lazy. It's been awesome! We have what appears to be a really relaxing weekend in front of us, and I can hardly wait.

And then, if you can believe it, we hit the road again! Destination: Athens, Georgia. Mission: Cheer for the long-overdue Argus reunion show, then head out to the Athens Twilight Pro Race in search of flying pigs. Stay tuned.

It's gonna be epic.

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