Wednesday we finally left New York and began our serious cross-country biking! But before setting off we had some important business to attend to. We needed to find Gold Street and pick up a Proclamation, signed and sealed by New York Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, declaring July 6th Bike4Friendship day.

Although we’d intended to leave from 75th and 5th streets at 3pm, it took us longer than expected to get the Proclamation, as is often the case in government offices. By the time we were ready to leave we looked at our watches and realized it was already 2:37pm and we were a full 6.3 miles away from our kickoff point. (For anyone who is counting the route is now 4006.3 miles.) Normally, that wouldn’t pose a problem, but we were in the city, and the traffic lights were slowing us down considerably. To try and speed things up we hopped onto the Hudson River Greenway and flew. We rode faster than we ever had before and only arrived ten minutes late.

As we pulled up to the crowd, we heard a tiny pop; our first, and hopefully last, flat tire. After quickly replacing the tire we were finally off and the realization that we are going to be biking all the way to California began to kick in. I turned to my friends and joked, “I hope this isn't an elaborate April fool’s joke!” His reply, “Even if it is, we’re going anyway!”

At one point, while biking along the Hudson River towards the George Washington Bridge, we all turned to each other, and said at the same time, "sunscreen!" Apparently our mothers’ had synchronized their voices to pop into our heads at the exact same moment. More likely, we were all struck by the intensity of the glare coming off the river.

We reached the bridge only to discover that the outbound biking lane was closed. That meant we ended up biking against intense winds and at one point I was pretty sure we were pedaling but going backwards! In all seriousness, our necks were pretty stiff by the time we reached the other side.

In the middle of the bridge we actually got off our bikes and took some time to enjoy the view. I’ve sat on the bridge before, stuck in traffic, but never have I seen the view this magnificently. Unfortunately, our cameras were in the car and our cell phones were tucked away in plastic bags because of the light drizzle so we were unable to take photographs.

Once we’d crossed the bridge we stopped to ask for directions. The person we asked was actually Jewish and we explained our biking mission to him. He appeared to be moved by our encounter and agreed to put on tefillin for us when we asked him to.

The rest of our day was relatively uneventful but we did have a broken spoke, which we fixed, and Thursday we were up and off at 4am, aiming to reach Philadelphia by noon!