How Biking from Brooklyn to Boston Helped Me Find Joy Through Pain


Riding out of Stamford early the next morning, I was greeted by the soft gentility of the town. Parents walking their children to the school bus stop, waves of courteous traffic, and a “thanks for stopping by” aroma accentuated the air. I passed through a still sleeping South Norwalk harbor. I took a breath in Westport, watching the Atlantic waves nestle onto the shore off Beachside Avenue.

Mid-afternoon, while in Stratford, memories of my first winter in the states ran up on me. It was again where I had stayed with distant relatives, far away from my family in Belgium for the first time. A wee grom big-eyed to the world in front of me. I guess I still am.

That night, I spent it cowboy camping just outside of Middletown in a state forest. The stars frozen in place; my achilles coiling up, hamstrings tight, and arms deflating. The night air dropped into miserable conditions. I went through two Cohiba cigars attempting to catch some remnant of warmth. It didn’t work—175 miles stood over me.


Cracked by the emergence of dawn, my spirit became mangled by the reality of what I was doing. Even worse, I started having issues with the gears on my bike. In proper light-minded fashion, I forgot to pack a charger for my Sram eTap battery shifter. Pain.

At this point I found myself towing Candy (the Cannondale) along the road to the nearest bike shop. I realized quickly how not so subtle the hills in Connecticut really are. Thankfully, we found our way to Pedal Power. Brett and company took Candy in and shared with me their love for Middletown.

Healing as I heard about the buttery baguettes at The Cooking Company, the clam fritters in Rhode Island, buildings constructed during the Civil War, and the taste of sizzling spices at Typhoon Thai.

I hopped back on the saddle after the provisional recharge, eastward and bound. I zipped through East Hampton. I saw flashes of Tolkien’s shire at Cranberry Bog. I felt like Jordan, Game 5 of the ‘97 finals as I rode north of Colchester, through Windham, and into the night trying to make it out of Connecticut.