Day 103

Cornwall on Hudson, NY to Greenwood Lake, NJ
$10 :: chinese, coffee, snacks
46.87 mi :: 4.25 hr :: 37.6 mph :: 10.5 mph :: 6777 mi

I cook oatmeal in my hotel room, tolerating the mundane morning TV just because it’s there. I do a little work on the bike, write, try to make the best of the room. I still feel like it’s a terrible waste.

Of course, a few miles up the hill I see all manner of places to camp, those dandies in Cornwall were just too clueless to tell me. Oh well, it’s sunny and cold, and I enjoy the ride. The sweat feels good, the view over the Hudson at the top is rugged and full of fall colors. I get no pictures though – no place to stop.

At Westpoint the guards just wave me through the gate, and presto, I’m riding through the famed Academy. I am totally out of place, nothing around jives with my energy at all. It’s a campus any college would kill for, riddled with facilities of every kind. At least a third of them seem to be athletic facilities: fields, gyms, stadiums, arenas. Everything looks brand new and spotlessly clean, people, clothes, and cars included. Even the joggers and cyclists look well-groomed. Of course uniforms abound. Signs are abundant and everything seems to move in an orderly, robotic manner. I upset the flow a bit, a pebble in the cogs. The Hudson flows picturesquely under steep, rocky banks, as if it were a grand possession, a favorite backdrop. Everything emphasizes three things: wealth, order, and security.

At the other end I see how they present their image in the visitor’s center. It gives a good idea of Cadet lifestyle. I envy these kids in some ways. They are given every tool available to develop their intellect and self-confidence. They are protected from nearly all distractions. They are continually challenged. They are told daily that they are going to be leaders. They must compete in sports, and undergo rigorous training. Great emphasis is placed on ethics. They pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do . (Even a superior officer?) Great emphasis is placed on winning. Many of the world’s ironies and contradictions are hidden or ignored. The great commitment to Honor, Duty, and Country perhaps throw a shadow over any desire to understand humanity and selfhood. This is how the men and women to whom we give the power of our arms are scultped.

The ride out reveals another good hill and miles upon miles of US Military Academy training grounds and areas.

I stumble onto a freeway before finding my way to Greenwood Lake on a good county road. The road turns to crap when I hit New Jersey though, so I turn to investigate a campground as it starts to get dark. The road is starting to scare me, I don’t want to go any further on it. But this place is decrepit, junk-filled, and overgrown. I knock on the door of a camper with a couple of cars outside, but get no answer. I spot a trail going into the trees, and take a look. Ah, yes, nice secluded wooded tent sites. I make myself at home and think no more of it.

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