I MADE IT!!!
With only some 40 km to go, I take my sweet time in the morning. And there's plenty of it on my hands since, all excited, I am unable to sleep past 5:45.
I write a bit for the blog and leave Orange - a town west of New York where I spent the night - only at noon. And the craziness begins.
There are so many cars: nobody cares and nobody pays attention. But my naive smile persists because today: I am getting into New York City!
I am actually only 20 km from Times Square when I hit the road, but the two closest bridges don't allow bikes and the ferry charges a fee. That's okay. It'd actually feel strange if I cycled for too little. I stop at 2pm for another break in order to publish all my latest entries and catch up on a couple of remaining ones. Finally, I hit the road again at 4pm - which is quite late, I admit - but hey, I am SO close: I'm going to be there in NO time.
Except that... I haven't factored a couple of very last but also very steep hills in. They seriously slow me down, especially since I refuse to cycle on the road for there are too many cars and the sidewalks are not exactly bicycle friendly.
So, listen to this: I have cycled across the entire country, I have braced the snow, the wind, the rain and the desert but nothing, NOTHING has prepared me for the George Washington Bridge which separates New Jersey from New York. The pathway has just gotten closed for renovation so I have to get across through the steepest staircase I have EVER seen. I have four grown-men help me get through. Half an hour for some 100 steps. Ridiculous.
I am finally on the bridge, ACTUALLY getting into New York City but, to my disappointment, there is no "welcome to" sign. Ahhhh... I was hoping for a photo! Such a pity. I get off the bridge (through additional staircase: kill me now!) into some of the busiest and craziest streets I have ever been in. OH MY GOSH: am I going to hate New York?
I get to my host's, Geoff (who contacted me through my Facebook page and offered a sweet landing pad for when I arrive), we exchange "hellos" and off I go into the jungle in order to reach Times Square before 8.
The heart of Manhattan is not only a good - and symbolic - place to finish my trip but it's also where I'm meeting a high-school friend-turned-photographer whom I haven't seen in over 16 years. With our respective phones about to die, we have set a meeting spot and time and I now have to rush LIKE CRAZY to get there on time.
The ride is one of the most difficult ones I have ever done: there cars are determined to exterminate me, the pedestrians are trying to commit suicide under my wheels, the bicycle couriers scare the shit out of me... The omnipresence of ad, lights and sirens feels more than overwhelming, I am having difficulties concentrating on the road and what's ahead of me. It's already gotten dark, it's starting to rain, my phone is out... and I want to pee SO BAD!!! Will I have to give up on the finish line???!
NEVER!!! I will risk my life if I have to but I . WILL . MAKE . IT .
And I do.
I roll into Times Square, hungry, thirsty and tired, with exactly 8599 km on my bike computer. By the time we find the perfect photo spot, that number has changed to 8600km.