Week 9 - Running into our home state!
Updated: Sep 5, 2022
Quick Recap of Week 9
Wow. Week 9 was amazing. We made our way to Cranford on Saturday, stopping at the Middlesex County Fair along the way. On Sunday, we were part of a huge turnout in NJ where we rode through Cranford to Elizabeth River Park to the Goethals bridge. Steve, who hosted us at his home, is working to bring attention to the old railbed that can be developed into a bike path (which seems like an obvious need). We were happy to be a part of his cause. Shan ran along the road that runs parallel to the railbed between the Cranford Train station and Elizabeth River Trail. He was accompanied by 15-20 cyclists, including my Little Isaac (my mother and sister-in-law drove him down to see us). Along the way there were fire trucks with lights flashing and sirens going (Steve is a firefighter and gave the stations a heads up that we'd be passing through). During the morning Shan was interviewed by The Weather Channel (see story here) as all of the cyclists gathered in the background. It was a rainy morning, but that didn't stop the die-hards!
Once we made our way through NY and into Connecticut (our home state) we had a lot of runners and cyclists join us. Many were old friends we hadn't seen for a while but there were also a lot of new friends, too. Some people came out to run alongside Shan for a few miles, and some hung in there for 20-30 miles. We had a lot of cyclists, including my mom, Isaac, and my good friends Jen, Mirela, Brian, and Tricia. There was also a surprise reunion when Eric, an old college friend, and Town Administrator for the town of Andover, hopped on to join us on a stretch of the Airline Trail. Good times! It was a very busy week, and it zoomed right past.
Some fun facts from Week 9
Miles this week =
Shan (running) - 219 miles
Josh (cycling) - 233 miles
Total Miles Ran = 2319 miles
Week 9 Highlights
Most delicious meal: Home-cooked - in our own home - meal of chicken and veggies. Thanks, mom!
Favorite local beer: Stony Creek's Cranky IPA series :)
Cool people we met:
Members of the Metuchen Milers Running Club gave Shan a warm welcome at the Middlesex Greenway as we made our way to Cranford. They greeted Shan with a poster, snacks and lots of cheers, horns, and a tambourine.
We met Mike and Anne at the Middlesex County Fair. This couple was a part of the first group to cycle the entire East Coast Greenway back in 2004. They've continued to be an integral part of developing the Greenway and were extremely proud that we were traveling along the entire length. Anne, who has been in a wheelchair since a cycling accident, still gets on the bike with Mike, on a fancy tandem. We can tell how much they love cycling, and it was inspiring to meet them.
We also met Andrew, who works with Michael D. at the Middlesex County Planning office. Thanks for coming out to say hello, and thank you for the cool poster cheering us on!
We started week 9 arriving in Cranford, NJ where Stephen Dunn (@thebikingfireman) met us and hosted us in his home. We had a lovely evening with his family and with Jenn Popper, a woman who walked from NJ to Calais, ME on the East Coast Greenway. Check out her blog to learn more about her healing journey (link here) - hers is an incredibly touching story. We were honored that Jenn also wrote a nice piece covering our expedition (see link here).
East Hartford's Mayor Michael "Mike" Walsh surprised Shan and Rob, one of Shan's running buddies, by providing a personal escort through his city. He drove alongside the runners with flashing lights until they reached the border of East Hartford and Manchester. Thanks, Mayor Mike!
Finnegan, a cyclist who joined us for the Cranford ride accompanied me to the Bayonne Bridge. We talked about his cycling goals, which include riding in every town/city in New Jersey and eventually, once he graduates high school, a solo bike-packing trip to Argentina. We look forward to watching his journey! You can follow him on Instagram at @finnegansezer.
Big thanks to all of the friends, runners, and cyclists who came out to cheer us on. We had so many cheers and high-fives and even some donations to the cause! It was such an honor to see so much support. Glastonbury River Runners, CT Trailmixers, and Shenipsit Striders joined us for many miles. We also had support from the Hartford Marathon Foundation, who, along with local TV stations, welcomed Shan (and me, too!) to the Mortensen Riverfront Park in Hartford.
Steven Mitchell gets a special shout-out not only for his continued support of our expedition (he was behind the free room we were gifted by the Islander Inn in Vero Beach) but for cheering us on as we passed through Avon and Simsbury, and for being in Hartford when we finished up the day. We had local government greet us, police escorts, and ECG members along the way to welcome us. It was wonderful. We also received a very nice donation from Steve
The hardest/easiest day:
Both hardest and easiest - the stretch to Goethals Bridge. It was rainy and cold, which made it challenging, but it was also like a party with all of the cyclists, fire trucks, etc. The most enjoyable part, though, was that I got to see my little man, Isaac. And he seemed to have fun, too :)
Favorite view/stretch of trail:
While I still believe that Connecticut has the best trails overall, my favorite single segment this week was the Hudson River Greenway. I had been nervous about riding in the city, but NYC has amazing bike paths! On the Greenway, the cyclists are separated from pedestrians which makes it much less stressful for everyone. The trail was an awesome balance of lush parks, river views, and the business of Manhattan streets.
Animal encounters: We saw a hundred turtles sunning themselves, a bunch of bullfrogs, and a family of ducks on the Farmington River Trail in the Cheshire area.