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Cycling in Englewood and Tenafly, N.J.

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Cycling in Englewood and Tenafly, N.J.
By Jay Jacobson (member since the 1990's)

Many NYCC rides heading north or west pass through these two communities from the George Washington Bridge.   These interesting and attractive towns can be destinations themselves, especially for short rides or for breakfast or supper stops.  Englewood Cliffs, which sits atop the stunning Palisades, above one of our favorite cycling routes, the stunning 7 mile Henry Hudson Drive, a.k.a. River Road.

Climbing

The elevation of Englewood  is 30 feet and Englewood Cliffs  360 feet.  Getting up and down a vertical football field length is what makes cycling challenging and interesting!  Cycling on flat terrain is tantamount to playing baseball with only 1st and 2d base.

There are various climbing routes for getting up to the bridge from inland New Jersey—each cyclist has his favorite.   Churchill (.7 mile ,240 ft rise, avg. grade 6.6%); E Clinton-Woodland crest (1.13 mi., 198 ft rise, avg. grade 5.7)  Speer (UGH!) (dist .3 mi, rise 198 feet, avg. grade 11.4%), Walnut (.55 mile, 190 feet rise, avg. grade 6.5%)

My favorite route for approaching the GWB from 501 is: straight on recently-paved Piermont Rd. as County Rd (501) veers left in Demarest; L on Hudson in Tenafly, R Magnolia, L Hillside,, R Serpentine, L Westervelt, R Engle, L Woodland Park Dr, R Leroy(becomes Elkwood in Englewood), L Glenwood, R Lydecker,  L Cedar, R Brayton, L Walnut to end, L Woodland, R Pershing, enter Englewood Cliffs, R Summit, L Palisades, X9W, R Hudson Terrace, L GW bridge bike path.  It is the most gradual with frequent plateaus for cyclists to catch their breath.

Climbing Palisades Ave., Clinton, Hillside, and Closter Dock involves too much auto traffic and is a bit too narrow to be enjoyable.  BTW cycling on the steep approach to River Road and the Englewood Boat Basin from Palisades Ave. (Dyckman Hill Rd) is verboten.

Bike Shops

Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee, just south its Englewood border on Hudson Terrace sells Pinarello cycles which can cost into $five figures.  They also sell Specialized, Cannondale, Trek and Cervelo bikes.  Their service department can make minor repairs while cyclists wait and sip coffee at their bar.  There are two convenient, modern, and clean rest rooms.

  • Bikemaster 11 Bennett, Englewood on the traffic circle at the west end of the Palisades Ave. business district.  Sells Trek, Cannondale, and Bianchi bikes.
  • Tenafly Bike Workshop, 175 County Road, sells trek and Gary Fisher bikes, established 35 years

Englewood (pop. 27,000) has seen many improvements during the past 50 years since the racial tensions of the 1960’s.  It has an attractive and vibrant shopping area.  NYCC members and Englewood residents Diane Goodwin, Alison and Jim Galante enjoy living in Englewood, what the town offers, and its proximity to New York.  Diane loves it because it is a diverse and friendly community and she can walk or cycle for most errands and social activities.  She can ride north on 9W or 501 or venture west through neighboring towns taking more pastoral roads.  Manhattan is easy to approach by car, bus, ferry or bike.

Englewood was the first English speaking settlement on the west bank of the Hudson.

That explains the first four letters of the town’s name.

Tenafly (pop.  14,500) Upscale with an excellent public school system. The former home of Elizabeth Stanton, an important women’s rights activist is a National Historic Landmark.  It is located at the corner of Highwood and Park (marked)

Safety

The Englewood Cliffs Police Dept. has been enforcing the stop sign for bicyclists at the corner of Hudson Terrace and Palisades Ave., especially on weekends.

At the corner of Palisades Ave. and 9W there is much fast-moving auto traffic to/from all four directions.  Cyclists riding south on 9W making the left turn onto Palisades Ave. towards Hudson Terrace and the bridge must be VERY CAREFUL with this maneuver..  I have to close my eyes when I see bikers going 20 mph or more in rain, moving over to the left turning lane through two lanes of rapidly moving heavy car traffic with visibility and traction issues.  Running the red light here could be suicidal.

If I am having difficulty moving over to make the left turn I make like a pedestrian in two steps.  There are pedestrian operated push button traffic controls at the corner.

Some cyclists avoid this turn by turning right at Sage, well before this congested and dangerous intersection.  Then a left at Johnson, another left onto Van Wagoner, right at Floyd, L on E Palisades Ave., crossing (NOT turning off 9W) and taking a right onto Hudson Terrace which takes them to the bridge.

Many cycling accidents occur on downhills.  Losing control of the bike due to loose gravel, wet or oily road surfaces, a car, pedestrian or dog running out in front results in an accident.  Make sure your brakes are in good order and brake EVENLY on both sides (I learned this the hard way.) Lean back.  I would unclip but this is controversial.

There is cross traffic at many points on the Palisades Ave. descent.  Just at the point where the descent levels Engle Street with its heavy traffic volume intersects.  So if a cyclist were to lose control he or she would fly into intersecting traffic.  Past Engle is the main commercial downtown part of Englewood with diagonal parking on both sides of Palisades Ave. and motorists pulling out of diagonal parking places cannot see cyclists zooming by.  Aside from going slowly, they may observe cars’ back lights or exhaust pipes as hints of what is going to happen.

Allison Park

In addition to scenic overlooks, ornamental gardens and pleasant walkways, it has a parking lot and two recently renovated large rest rooms.  If you have a car and want to eliminate some “junk” miles on a ride coming over the GW bridge, you can leave your car there all day free.  It is just off Hudson Terrace, less than ½ mile south of Palisades Ave on the river side.  It is off the only street going east between the two Palisades Parkway exits and next to the St. Peter’s University campus.

Ride to eat/Eat to Ride

There are two unusual venues on the right side of South Dean St in a light industrial zone in Englewood.  Balthazar Bakery, which supplies many of the top restaurants in the New York area has a retail shop in the main building (coffee, etc. available).  A few blocks south is Jerry’s with Italian sandwiches and gourmet specialties to die for (not expensive/outdoor benches)

In downtown Englewood there are many restaurants including fast food with at a least a dozen different type of ethnic kitchens.  Many have outdoor tables.  Among them is Benny’s (Middle East), Blue Moon (Mexican) and It’s Greek to Me.  Baumgart’s is a very unusual (and very good!) Chinese place.  Diane likes Bartolomeo, an Italian deli (voted Bergen County’s best deli) at 105 S Dean.  If any place doesn’t have outdoor tables, there are plenty of benches along the mostly unused railroad tracks.

Overlooking the Englewood Boat Basin down by River Road near the Palisades Ave access is Snack Shack (seasonal).  There are rest rooms in the adjoining park.

Among Tenafly’s many eateries is Café Angelique, which is housed in the old train station (1 Piermont Ave.)  It has outstanding baked goods and sandwiches and is endorsed by chef/member Maggie Nguyen.  Just over Tenafly’s northern border in Cresskill (on Madison near Piermont Ave. and behind the Delta station) is the Farmhouse Cafe.  Both have outdoor tables.

Celeb sightings

Leslie (It’s my Party) Gore lived in Tenafly as did Glenn Miller (1 Byrne Lane off Inness) His widow received a telegram on Christmas Eve, 1944 at this address advising her that he was killed in the war..  David Cassidy, Sarah Vaughan, Regina Belle, 2 Isley Brothers, Q-tip, Kitty Kallen and Wilson Pickett were also Englewood residents at one time.  Scuttlebutt has it that Alicia Keys has recently purchased Eddie Murphy’s Brayton St. mansion.

Dizzy Gillespie lived at 477 N Woodland and the street near the tracks and Englewood city hall has a sign “Dizzy’s Place” in his honor.  He passed away in Englewood Hospital.  George Benson, who has lived on Lydecker, annually packs Bergen’s PAC each year with his neighbors and jazz fans (including me).  PAC has an eclectic music schedule year round.  Rudy Van Gelder who still lives in the area owns a prominent recording studio at 445 Sylvan Ave.  Many jazz classic albums including some of Miles Davis’s best were created there.

Yankees Don Mattingly, Yogi Berra, Tino Martinez and the late Gil McDougald (1951 rookie of the year-3rd baseman) all have lived in Tenafly.  Tenafly native Ron Insana doesn’t have to commute far to CNBC in Englewood Cliffs where he is a financial commentator.  Lori Stokes, WABC-TV anchor person and our friend is a Tenafly resident.  Other Tenafly-based media people have included Claudia Cohen, Charles Osgood, and Forbes Magazine founder, B.C. Forbes.

Exhausted from cycling up Walnut, cyclists can take five and get a look across the street from the end of the climb at ‘’Gloria Crest”, Ms Swanson’s magnificent chateau which was listed recently for over $35,000,000 (marked with a plaque on the front gate).    Brooke Shields and John Travolta have also called this area home as did Dick Button, Upton Sinclair and the Lindberghs.

 

A Short Dutch Lesson

  • Tenafly – 10 swamps
  • Lydecker – roofer

Contact the writer at: [email protected]

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