Since 1903, every January 1st dedicated cyclists in the New York City area get together for a century ride (~100 miles/160km) organized by CRCA to celebrate the beginning of the new year. This was my first year participating in the "fun ride." The ride starts at 7:30am on the east side of Central Park near 90th and 5th avenue, does two loops of the park then continues north through Manhattan, over the George Washington Bridge(GWB), and up towards Bear Mtn where the route turns around, and the motley crew still present returns to the city.
This year was nearly perfect for a leisurely celebratory 100 miles due to the starting temperature of around 38F(3C) and a high of 50F(10C).
I left my apartment at 7am as the sun began to peak over the Bronx and East River, and headed south towards Central Park. The roads are improving every day after last Sunday's blizzard dumped two feet of snow, and for the most part snow is not present on the roadways, but it's still really wet and generally nasty on all city streets.
I rolled to the Engineer's Gate in Central Park, the meeting point, right at 7:30 and was greeted by about 20 or so other riders. Very shortly after I arrived, the whistle blew and we were off! The pace was steady and mild for the two loops, 12 miles, of the park. I rode up front until near the very end of the second loop to snap a photo, and was quickly greeted with a spray of nasty, brown city gunk from the riders' rear tires in front of me. A quick aside, everyone should use at least a rear fender in winter group rides!!!!
Occasionally during the laps of Central Park and even later after crossing the GWB, more riders joined the group. After the laps we headed north through Manhattan up St Nicholas. There were some sections that had lots of snow still. I heard a few mutterings of not breaking a collar bone, etc but no one went down, and everyone rode smart.
After a minor bottle neck entering the bridge due to snow plowing, we left the city and rode across the GWB single file.
A short break ensued on the opposite side of the bridge, and then we were off at a steady pace. The pace was slow, in my opinion, and I was calculating the hours it would take to finish this ride and not happy with the results. I decided I would leave the group eventually, and ride at a higher pace so I would not be gone the entire day.
On the return route, I was solo most the way, and decided to ride on River Rd for the end before crossing the GWB. For those considering it, a warning, it has a lot of hills and is not as easy a return as 9W. But, tackle the hills, and be rewarded with solitude and expansive views of the river and city.
For those not from the city, the Bear Mtn century route is the definitive century ride out of NYC, and for the most part, it's a nice route on roads with mostly very wide shoulders with minimal traffic, great views of the Hudson River and surrounding areas, and a decent amount of climbing especially if you ride all the way to the top of Bear Mtn. The final climb is about 4.5 miles long with great views on the summit, and on clear days you can see the outline of Manhattan a ways off to the south. If you are in the area I highly recommend doing this classic route, and even starting from Central Park to get the full experience.
A link to the route. Note: the GWB crossing is not entirely accurate since there is a separate bike path on the north side of the bridge which does not show up on the map.