Photos: Jen Benepe (c)
If you thought you've been to the best cycle-cross course before, you should try Henry Hudson Drive in New Jersey.
It will knock your spokes out, puncture your tires, and make you wish you'd never pedaled a bike there before. And I am not sure it's even legal to be there.
The major storm that hit New Jersey two weekends ago from March 12 through 13 with up to 80-mile-per-hour winds, tore trees by the root out of the ground, knocked down power lines, and plunged parts of New Jersey into four days without power and water.
But perhaps the Henry Hudson Drive was the most damaged area of New Jersey per square meter. No where have I seen so much destruction, cracked and destroyed trees as if they had been split in a hundred pieces from the air all along the four-mile stretch from Englewood Cliffs to the bottom of the hill at Alpine, NJ.
I took a ride up Henry Hudson Drive on Thursday morning: all the trees that were downed from Fort Lee to Englewood Cliffs have been cleared. But go up the hill and past the gates--and you enter a world of no return.
The first quarter mile was covered in downed trees, twisted vines, and detritus. After the old cemetery, I was dismayed to see the old picnic grounds, normally a haven of towering pine trees, now covered with cracked, split, and ripped trees festooning the road side.
Then came the endless downed trees, vines, bushes, and rocks blocking the roadway. There were over 30 felled trees and more than 1,000 other pieces of detritus including vast masses of vines, fallen rocks, branches and other blockages over the 4-mile distance, over most of which I had to stop and carry my bike. At about mile two, I wanted to quit and turn around but going back through the mess I just came through was worse of a thought than making it to the end.
I would not recommend trying this, but if you have a lot of time to waste and feel that you have the skill to make your way through hundreds of downed branches, entire trees, endless fallen rocks and branches, or even if you just want to witness the utter destruction of the storm, you could try it.
But it's not recommended for the faint of heart, or for those who really just want a bike ride--this was torture.
The rest of the road at the far Marina--was clear. The Palisades Park priorities or budget are clearly not up to clearing a road that is used mostly for cyclists and hikers.