Part 1: Bridge Over the River Paulinskill
another video update to post to the blog.
Part 2: Fifty Shades of Death
Energized by the rest stop, we got back on Rt 94 to continue north. This was smooth sailing until we reached the border between Blairstown and Frelinghuysen, where the elevation began to climb. We triumphantly reached the top of a hill and turned onto Kerr's Corner Rd, only to be faced with a much steeper climb! At this point I kind of wished that I worked for a library in a much flatter region, but I chugged along up the hill and was rewarded with a lot of flat and downhill areas. We turned onto a small back road called Mill Rd, which was set in a lovely green forest. After passing through Johnsonburg, we turned onto Southtown Rd, where the scenery included an old and beautifully kept stone farmhouse. As a tour of Warren County, this ride showed us some truly beautiful spots.
Southtown Rd dropped us off onto Shades of Death Rd in Allamuchy, which defied its name and proved to be one of the sunniest parts of the course. I enjoyed being able to pedal so quickly on this section (and tuck in behind my fellow riders and coast while they blocked the wind!), although that soon changed as we turned onto CR 612 and began the 300' climb up to CR 517. This is where all of those weeks of training showed. I didn't break any speed records, but I kept pedaling and made it to the top. This was a tough hill, which looks imposing even from a car, and at times I felt that I was barely moving, but I made it! By the time I rolled into the Northeast Branch parking lot to the sound of cheers and party noisemakers, I knew that one of the hardest parts of the course was done.
And boy, was I ready for the pizza that the Northeast Branch staff had waiting for us for lunch! I relaxed, talked to many members of the community, including some members of the Northeast Friends of the Library, and filmed a quick video to keep everyone updated.
Part 3: How Green Was My Jackson Valley
Joined by another rider, we set off on the third part of the journey. This was a trial by fire, with 350' more climbing in the first mile and a half. Once we reached the top, though, it was all downhill. Well, mostly. Every time we reached an incline, one of my fellow bikers was sure to remind me that I had said it was all downhill. Well, comparatively speaking, it was mostly downhill.
Part of me wanted to stop along the way to take a picture of the valley as we rode along Jackson Valley Rd. If I had, it would have appeared here with a caption reading "How green was my Jackson Valley? This green!" But I was feeling so good , and I so enjoyed the quick pace we were keeping, that I didn't want to stop. I did have to slow down when we approached Warren Hills High School at the exact moment when school let out. Who scheduled us to pass by when buses and teens would be vying to get out of the school driveway as fast as possible? Oh yeah, that was me. Luckily, the traffic didn't affect us that much, and we soon found ourselves turning into the parking lot of the Franklin Branch right on time, even though we had been late leaving the Northeast Branch. 50 miles down and feeling great! We munched on some great snacks and talked to the staff and library users who had gathered outside to greet us. I really enjoyed seeing the library as a system by visiting each branch. Every location has its own features that make it unique to the community in that part of the county. Seeing it all together on my tour was a great experience for me, since in the reference department I serve a lot of branch customers.
Part 4: Escape to Brass Castle MountainAfter a nice long break at the Franklin Branch, it was time to bring the whole trip full circle. After 50 miles of riding, I needed to tackle one more major obstacle: Brass Castle Rd (which, for those who don't know, involves over 500' of steep climbing for over 3 miles). I had ridden this hill once on a training ride, and while I had done it successfully, I was not looking forward to doing it again. There was no choice about it, though. I volunteered for this! So I waved goodbye to everyone from the Franklin Branch and began the last leg of the ride. I took it easy, even on the flatter parts of Brass Castle Rd, and when it started to climb up, I kept my pedaling cadence as steady as I could and just kept going. Of course, the hill just kept going, too, but I stuck with it and it finally leveled off a bit. Then it climbed up some more, and I crept along, and then it leveled off again, and I got nervous because I had reached the top, and it was time for the really scary part: going down. I'm not comfortable enough on my bike yet to like flying downhill at high speeds. I'm scared of hitting something in the road or slipping while trying to go around a tight curve too quickly. I knew that the library van was behind me, so that was helpful. I didn't feet that I needed to hug the side of the road too tightly, so debris wasn't as much of a danger. I moved into the lane a little, and I told myself to relax and coasted down that hill. Even holding the brakes tightly, I was still going over 20 mph. When I got to the bottom, I was so relieved!
And then it was on. There were less than 2 miles left, and I was so motivated to get to the finish. I pushed the pace as much as I could. I felt that I still had lots of energy, and I put it to use flying down CR 519. The sun was warm and the farm fields looked beautiful as I went speeding by on my bike. As we approached the end, I saw balloons and a Ride to Read sign at the end of the new library driveway and knew that I had done it! As I turned in, with my fellow riders behind me, I could see tape strung across the finish line for me to ride through. A group of cheering supporters was standing around, clapping and waving and snapping pictures. Hooray! I crossed the line, made a victory lap around the parking lot, and greeted the friends, family, coworkers, and library users who were there to celebrate.
By that day, the Ride had raised a total of $2,147, but since then, that number has grown to $2,500! Thank you so much to all of the supporters out there who have donated, cheered me on, and made the Ride to Read such a success!
It was great to see each part of the library system coming together in support of the new headquarters.We are looking forward to its opening in early 2013, when you will be able to see the results of the fundraising that the Friends of the Library have been doing. Imagine sitting down at a wide table and being able to spread out a newspaper or sitting in an armchair in a quiet corner away from the computer terminals. The diner-themed teen area will be alight with neon, and walk into a forest - I mean, the children's room - and sit on a toadstool to read your little one a story. Soon, you won't have to imagine it: it will be real!