Today's ride was quite stressful. Wind, rain, snow, sleet, and hail made the ride unpleasant from start to finish. Much of the day was spent on the East Coast Greenway or EGC. This connection of bike trails and bike-friendly roads runs from Maine to Florida and attracts tens of thousands of riders each year. Some people take long trips of the ilk in which I am engaged, and others use it for commuting or weekend fun. In general, the ECG is well-signed and relatively easy riding. HOWEVER, this was not the case for the last 10 miles of my ride today. Navigating under the overhead highways was a real headache. I am very glad I did this on a weekend as I had to carry the bike over a guard rail and across an exit ramp at one stage when I made a wrong turn. My iPhone GPS did the best it could, but the area just has some many criss-scrossing ramps stacked on top of one another that it was difficult to tell exactly where I was. Many of the roads are in very poor condition, and it seemed as though I was dodging broken glass from shattered beer bottles on many of the footpaths on which I found myself. I also had to carry my fully loaded bike up the equivalent of 2 stories to get it onto the footpath of the Triborough/RFK Bridge. I was ready for these headaches since I had done my research ahead of time. I also lived in NYC for six years so I was prepared for some of the shady areas through which I had to ride. The take away message is that this leg of the trip is NOT for you if getting lost in the most urban of environments sounds intimidating. I would also suggest that you carry at least a few tubes and a spare tire should you chose to replicate this ride. This you'll be prepared if you aren't able to navigate all the holes and glass along the route.
On the bird front, I did manage to tack on 7 new species today once I got into Manhattan. In order, these were Double-crested cormorant (#109), Brown creeper (#110), Wood duck (#111), Pied-billed grebe (#112), Northern shoveler (#113), Baltimore oriole (#114), and Common grackle (#115). The Baltimore oriole was very surprising given the time of year. Actually, there were two orioles, a male and a female. Very unusual, but not as unusual as the Scott's oriole that spent the winter of 2007-8 in Union Square Park 2 blocks from my apartment at the time! New York is actually a surprisingly good birding area. This is likely because there are lots of capable eyes searching a relatively limited number of hot spots where the birds become concentrated. Central Park is fantastic during May and September migrations, and Jamaica Bay NWR in one of the best places in the country to view shorebirds in late summer and early fall. If you ever find yourself in New York for any reason, be sure to pack your binoculars in case you have a few free hours!
Brown creeper from today - first time
I've photographed this species well.
*click for full sized image*
Just for fun, here are the top birds I've seen in NYC:
1) Broad-billed sandpiper (Jamaica Bay)
2) Sharp-tailed sandpiper (Jamaica Bay)
3) Rufous-necked stint (Jamaica Bay)
4) Boreal owl (Central Park)
5) Pink-footed goose (Kissenna Park)
6) Varied thrush (Central Park)
7) Fulvous whistling-duck (Jamaica Bay)
8) Golden-windged warbler (Central Park)
9) Cerulean warbler (Central Park)
10) Long-eared owl (Central Park, Pelham Bay)
It looks as though we are going to get another blast of very cold air on Tuesday. I need to make the decision if I want to split the ride to Philadelphia (where my parents are based) into 2 days of ~55 miles or 3 days of ~35 miles. It would be nice to make it to Philly and then rest during the 2-3 days of cold air before I start the long run to Florida.