Friday, September 28, 2007

The Psychology of Bunnies

Shhh, Be Vewy Quiet. I’m hunting Wabbit.

The endless miles of the Twin Lights Century made me think about many things (100 miles alone through suburbia will do that to you). Snack Availability, Roadkill, and Bunnies were very popular topics.
I like a good bunny better than most cyclists – probably because I ride by myself so much, and the century provided me with an opportunity to really categorize what made a bunny good and what made a bunny bad.


A ‘good’ bunny is going the same way via the same route at a slightly faster rate than you would go by yourself.
Their bicycle should be more expensive than yours and have more gear attached to it.
(You should feel good to be keeping up with them, not embarrassed to have your ass kicked by the deli delivery guy.)
They should be wearing bright, easily identifiable clothing.
Fluorescent green, electric blue and shiny psychedelic designs are all good. The more unique the better, so that you can distinguish your bunny from other riders and objects the further away from them you fall.
There are few feelings more satisfying than losing your bunny only to spot them a mile or so later as the road curves in the distance. They need to be wearing something bright for this to be possible. White is not a good choice – there are a lot of white things in the world and as you grow tired, you may begin to mistake these objects for your bunny causing bouts of depression and sadness.
A good bunny rides predictably and lawfully.
It’s no use following someone who randomly speeds up and slows down for no good reason, only to blow through six lane intersections while cursing the honking traffic every time they miss the light – unless you like to do this too, in which case good on you both and I hope you don’t believe in Darwinism.
A good bunny does not acknowledge you until one or both of you has reached your destination.
Even if they are alone too, it’s weird to try to form a little temporary team based on a randomly shared pace. I try to keep far enough back so that my bunny doesn’t even realize that I’m there. On a country road, this can mean keeping back a few hundred meters.


And then there were none. The turn off to the 100 mile route spelled the beginning of a long stretch where I saw very few other cyclists.

I need bunnies when I ride long distances. I’m not interested enough in keeping track of my own pace to stay consistent without other riders for context. I start to daydream. I stop and take pictures. I go into a low gear to climb a hill and then forget to switch out of it.
I don’t normally think very much of it. After all, who cares really? But the Century had a finite time limit, and I have to admit, it did stress me out a little.
I really didn’t feel like missing the ferries to go home and end up sitting on the pier in NJ for hours. With that in mind, I figured that I needed to keep pace with at least the slower consistent riders. Averaging 14 mph with rest-stops would get me back in about 7.5 or 8 hours, just in time for the 4:30 ferry home.
I’m slowly discovering how these things work, and I guess the start will always be a little nervous with faster and slower riders all mixed together trying to shake out into some kind of organization. It’s a little hard on the ego, but I am not a 22 mph over 100 miles rider, and those guys are going to pass me never to be seen again.
I picked up one set of bunnies for a couple of miles, and then another set after the rest stop. I got “wheel sucked” for the first time in my life by a guy who had been dropped by his group at a light.
Boy is that annoying. I mean follow me, fine. But don’t crawl up my ass for 8 miles.
Then, at mile 30, it happened. I picked up these two guys in bright blue matchy matchy jerseys, and comfortably slotted in a couple hundred yards behind them. I followed them for almost 40 miles, until they split up at a rest stop and the one I stuck with took a wrong turn. 40 miles with the same bunnies – how cool is that? I saw one later at the last rest stop before the finish, and I almost broke the no contact rule, but I thought better of it. I mean, what was I going to say, “Hey, I was following you for 40 miles, I just wanted to say ‘Hi’?”
My last bunny was more of a buddy than a bunny. The last 20 miles of hills were every man for himself and I was keeping pace with one other guy until that last hill that I just couldn't make it over without walking. This last hill highlighted a basic difference between my philosophy and his; I hate having to walk my bike up hills, but I'll do it. He refused to dismount on the hill and I passed him while he was recovering. He waved me by and I saluted. I beat him to the finish by 10 minutes.


Adding insult to injury. The sign at the top of the hill that I didn't make it over.

Monday, September 24, 2007

2007 Bike New York Twin Lights Century


View of sunrise over Coney Island from the deck of the SeaStreak Ferry, en route to the start of the 2007, Bike New York, Twin Lights, Monmouth County Century. (You'd think with a name this long it would be a bigger ride than it is, but more on that later.)

I don't know why I decided to do this Century - maybe to prove that I could, maybe to see what it felt like to actually ride 100 miles instead of survive the 100 which is how I felt about the NYC Century, or maybe just because the days are going to get shorter and every opportunity for a beautiful ride seems like a good idea.

The day started well. The forecast was perfect for a ride and I made it to the pick up point at Pier 11 with time to spare.

The SeaStreak Ferry runs to NJ year-round, but this route gets busy during the summer when smart city dwellers run away to the beautiful, clean, uncrowded beaches at Sandy Hook State Park. The ferry ride itself was beautiful and relaxing. I chilled out for the 45 minute ride, and even had a cup of COFFEE.

The start was two minutes away from the ferry landing in Highlands NJ. The sun was up. The day was looking grand. All was right with the world.


The longer distance riders all looked pretty homogeneous. Not that there weren't many colors of people, but not that many different 'types'. Everyone was riding a 'nice' road bike, there were one or two exceptions to the spandex, but we stood out like sore thumbs, and the median age felt like it was about 45.

I checked in (again) and went to get my 100 mile cue sheet. Considering how few people there were, it seemed chaotic at the start. The nice man who I asked for the 100 mile cue sheet, kindly offered me a 50 mile sheet in case I wanted to back out. I very nicely declined and even resisted the urge to drop-kick him for patronizing me before 8am.

I set off down the road, a little nervous about riding in a completely unfamiliar area, but that's one of the best reasons to do these rides - they are plotted, planned, marked, and fully supported, so if you run into trouble, you've got help coming.

I arrived at the Oceanport Rest Stop with a group of riders who left at about 8am - and it wasn't set up yet.
I have no idea what the 7:30 riders did, my guess is they just skipped it. It was only about 10 miles in, so fine.
Got to the Sunnyside Rest Stop - and this is where my memory fails me because they all melt together at a certain point - either here, or at the Shark River Rest Stop they had no water. No Water. I filled my water bottle out of a sink that said "Please, only use sink to wash hands". I'm assuming (mostly because I didn't get sick) that if the water wasn't drinkable, it would have specifically said - "Don't Drink The Water". As it was, the water was warm, I was unhappy, and the rest stops were about 20 miles from each other - out in BF NJ, so water seemed pretty important.
Oh, for those of you who wanted a PBJ - I took the last half they had. Sorry.

Somewhere around the 70 mile mark, I saw my first marshal. He asked me what I was doing so far behind him and I commented that if he was supposed to be sweeping the tail of the ride, I had just left a large bunch at the last rest stop. No idea what that was about. The he asked me how I was enjoying the ride. I said, "Eh".
I thought I was just being cranky at the time.
Don't ask me if I'm enjoying myself at mile 70. Until 50 or 60, I'm usually feeling pretty good. More than 60 miles is where the Century turns into more than the average ride for me and it becomes work. Like a work horse, at about 85 miles, I can smell the stables and start sprinting for home. Between the two, I'm cranky.

The total climb for the 100 is 4,058 feet. Most of that falls into the final 20 miles.


I made it almost all the way to the end and then had to walk the final hill at mile 100 that led past the turnoff to the ferry landing.
There's a sadist laughing somewhere in Monmouth County.

The Twin Lights Century is much much smaller that the NYC Century and I'm not sure if that's the problem, or if that's what makes their lack of preparation even worse. I have much more respect for the organizers of the NYC Century now than I did when I rode it. It's tough to get it together the way they did and the Twin Lights proved that.
I saw one marshal, no SAG wagon, and spent at least a half hour wandering around various rest stops looking for some water to drink, or something that wasn't a cookie to eat.

In the end, I didn't enjoy this as much as the NYC Century, but it was a good experience. It made me think about what I like about biking, and what I'm less than fond of.
I don't like going around in circles. I like seeing new things. I like to focus on a goal. I don't like hills. I like drinking cold water. I don't like mealy cookies. I liked the parkour aspect of the NYC century, I was less enamored with the 85 of 100 miles through suburban NJ.

This has nothing to do with how the ride was organized but man, New Jersey People, what is it with the roadkill? I saw so much roadkill that I'm surprised there are any living things left in Jersey. For a while I was keeping count and making up modes of categorizing the different types, but I gave up at about 35 carcasses and shouldn't a whole deer count as more?

I would absolutely do this ride again, but either I would only do the 30, which is a lovely loop around the most picturesque areas, or I would try to talk someone into going with me. It's just not interesting enough to do alone.

I finished in 8.5 hours including rest stops and missed the 4:30 ferry by minutes.

Friday, September 21, 2007

No Floyd, No...

Say it ain't so Floyd Landis.

"Landis’s Positive Doping Test Upheld"

September 21, 2007

More than a year after winning the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis lost his lengthy, costly and very public doping case yesterday when an arbitration panel upheld charges that he had used performance-enhancing drugs to win the race.

I'm so depressed, I don't even want to talk about it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Boys vs Girls

It really is ‘OK if you don’t love me’.
I know there is a God for Margaret.
and I learned everything I ever needed to know about sex
from Judy Blume.
(I still can’t meet guys named Ralph and not laugh like a character out of Family Guy.)

But apparently, I still haven’t figured out that boys and girls are different.

Ladies, no matter how repulsive you find the apparel designed for female cyclists – and for Pete’s sake, it’s ugly. Don’t buy men’s jerseys and think they will fit.
They don’t.
I’m sure there are some exceptions to this rule. After all, some women look good in low-rise jeans. Not as many as think they do, but some.
Jerseys are different.
Women’s jerseys are cut to flare over your hips so when you lean over your handlebars you don’t moon the universe. Men’s jerseys are ‘elasticized’ to make up for their lack of hips. This means that fat guys look fatter, and women look like misshapen potatoes.
I, of course, learned this by purchasing a quite lovely jersey the other day from the men's sale rack. I don’t have ‘bike clothes’ and most of the stuff I’ve seen is just embarrassing. I saw this perfectly plain jersey and thought now that I’m riding a lot, I should give it a try. Maybe there’s something to all this specialized gear?
Well, I still haven’t figured that part out.

(It’s not called bike dummy because I’m a brain surgeon.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

As seen on... Roosevelt Island


The ruin of the smallpox hospital at the tip of Roosevelt Island is one of my favorite 'urban decay' landmarks in NYC.
Known as "The Renwick Ruin", it was built by James Renwick in the 1850's to serve the victims of the smallpox epidemic that was sweeping the country in the days of the Civil War.
Renwick was famous for his Gothic Revival structures, of which more than a few have been designated as NYC landmarks. These include; Grace Church, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Greyston Conference Center in the Bronx.
I love biking to the tip of Roosevelt Island. You can take a bike over on the tram from 60th street in Manhattan, but it's much more satisfying to use pedal power and come across the connecting bridge from Astoria at Vernon Blvd. and 36th Ave.
It's one of those great hidden places where you are at the center of it all and yet, are almost always alone. From East to West, there are spectacular views of LIC, the Williamsburg Bridge, the UN, and Sutton Place.
The view of the ruin, glowing eerily on the shore of the island, has mesmerized many a New Yorker over the years. I've always been jealous of those who have been inside - but not jealous enough to jump the fence.

For more info on the ruin go to The Roosevelt Island Historical Society.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

There's got to be a morning after...


Happy Birthday Neil.
Great Gig.
I should have gone home, but I didn't.

Don't drink and bike.
(It's not called bike dummy because I'm a brain surgeon)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Almost perfect, Prospect Park


This was going to be an entry about how beautiful today was. How much I love this weather. How great it felt to get back on my bike for the first time since the century. But instead, it's back on my soapbox I go.
Today is Saturday, right?
There are no cars allowed in Prospect Park on weekends, right?
Saturday is considered part of the weekend, right?
So how come every single time I turned down onto the East Drive I got passed by a car?
Now, don't go blowing this picture up to report the license plate on this car. This one was just unlucky to get caught on camera by me. It was the other 8 or 9 that got me steamed.
The first one, ran right up the asses of these two kids on BMX bikes and honked at them to get them to move. Another one honked at me as it blew by doing about 30 mph. The others just scared people who didn't expect them to be there.
There is a special place in hell reserved for motorists who honk at cyclists.
I can hear you, OK?
I am not the one who is hermetically sealed in a metal box with air-conditioning running, a radio blaring, and my face permanently attached to a cell phone. Before you ran up behind me, I was enjoying the quiet sound of the wind and the click of my wheels.
I don't want to be in your way any more than you want me there. I will move over as soon as it is feasible. You do not see the pot hole on the shoulder or the glass in the road.
If you have come up on me too fast for me to react, then surely blowing an airhorn at my back and surprising me, will make me more capable of getting out of your way.
Give me one good reason why it is OK to honk at a group of kids who have the right of way in a park?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Green, huh, Good God Y'all...

What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again...


I always thought this was a protected parking lane that belongs to the Brooklyn Marriott on Adams Street - and apparently I'm not the only one.
I have never once seen this clear of cars and never once seen anybody trying to do something about it. Until they painted the damn thing puke green, I never even knew it was there.

To read up on the Adams Street bike lane, go to the Transportation Alternatives Magazine Archive
Here's an edited selection of what you'll find.

Dear Brooklyn Marriott:
I travel for business about twice a
month, and whenever possible, I stay at
Marriott Hotels. When I am not travelling,
however, I commute every weekday to my
Midtown office by bicycle via the Brooklyn
Bridge. This takes me past the Brooklyn
Marriott every morning at about 6:30 am
on the new Adams Street bike lane.
Frequently, taxis and car service limos
are parked illegally at the curb directly in
front of the Marriott; meanwhile, the Mar-
riott driveway is almost always empty. This
forces me and other cyclists to swerve out
into traffic as we pass the hotel. This is
extremely dangerous, exposes Marriott to


The Marriott replied:
Thank you for sharing your concern
regarding bicycle safety, particularly the
Adams Street Bike Lane.
Since the Bike Lane opened in late
1998, the hotel has been addressing the
problem you have mentioned.
...the New York Marriott Brooklyn has been
attempting to keep the appropriately
designated areas in front of the hotel as
clear as possible. However, our staff has
encountered verbal and attempted physical
abuse as we attempt to police the area...

Ken Schwartz, GM
NY Marriott Brooklyn

"staff has encountered verbal and attempted physical abuse as we attempt to police the area"

Whoa. How about the lone bicyclist who is trying not to get killed?


I've got a radical idea ... How about the Police police the area?

Before you get too excited about the fact that the Marriott and/or NYC is attempting to address this issue, keep in mind that the pictures were taken today...
and the letters were written in 1999.

Nuff said.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Green Half Mile


Daily News - Riders say abrupt end to bike path on busy road is dangerous
Brooklyn cyclists are seeing red over a new bright-green bike path in Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill.
Bikers and advocates said they have no problem with the brightly painted Henry St. path itself, which they said makes the lane stand out better and helps keep cars from parking there.
But they charge the popular new lane abruptly ends at Amity St., just south of Atlantic Ave., where Henry St. becomes too narrow for a car to safely pass a bike.

Brooklyn Heights Blog
..."why is the bike lane on Henry Street being painted such an awful shade of green? It’s hideous, and it seems more of a distraction than a safety aid. What gives?"

Kermit’s Bike Lane

hideous!!! and what precisely would make a driver think: green=cyclists?
it’d be so much clearer & safer if they just bother to actually repaint the bike-lane signage with fresh (& reflective) coats every now & then.
instead, idiot bureaucrats let the paint coats deteriorate & fade away, then decide (genius) to splatter the whole of Henry St in puke-green.

I haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, but I am curious how slippery it will get when it rains (or is the paint not that thick?)

- I've been seeing so much stuff about this recently that I figured I might as well share a penny's worth of what's on my mind.

I hate the green bike lane.

(and here comes the other penny)

The flat all-over color makes it almost impossible to identify the many obstacles that they've arbitrarily painted over, like - manhole covers, inset utility access holes, and potholes. It's like navigating an obstacle course with night-vision goggles on.
It's slippery when wet - and not in a fun Bon Jovi way either.
The color hasn't changed motorist's driving (and illegal parking) habits in any way. By far the worst offenders stop in front of the First Presbyterian Church just past Clark street, and painting the lane hasn't given them pause.
For some reason, every Tom, Dick and Harriet, Yellow Rat Bastard T-Shirt wearing, we're too cool for helmets, cruiser rider, feels like the green lane should allow them to ride the wrong way down the street on it.

And finally, now that it's dirty, it's just FUGLY.

The scariest part of the Daily News Article?
"The green path is the first of its kind in the city. If successful, other bike lanes also will be painted, officials said."


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Follow the white rabbit


"I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing.
I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit at your computer.
You're looking for him.
I know, because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me, he told me I wasn't really looking for him. I was looking for an answer.
It's the question that drives us, Neo. It's the question that brought you here.
You know the question, just as I did."

"Who is The 0001?"

Ed DeFreitas
President, Five Borough Bicycle Club

Knock. Knock. Neo

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

2007 NYC Century - reflecting on the backside of 100 miles

First of all...
If you check the very bottom of my Sept. 8 entry, you will see this...
"Coffee should move to the top of this list. I don't think I can face 5am without a cup of coffee."
If you then go to anywhere in my Sept. 10 entry, you will notice that there is no mention of my solving this problem and finding myself a cup of coffee.
This is because, I rode the whole #^%*ing day with NO COFFEE!
2008, NYC century resolution #1
Never again will I attempt to ride this without a cup of coffee. I will not get freaked out about losing my group. I will just let them go. I will stop at the first place that has coffee, and I will drink it.
2008, NYC century resolution #2
I will NOT fold up my cue sheet, stick it in my trunk, and never look at it again, because I might learn something useful from it. Like that the actual length of the route is 103 miles - not 100. This may save me from future bouts of depression and anxiety when my odometer turns over at 100 miles - and I'm still not at the finish.
2008, NYC century resolution #3
I will try to read something other than the weather report, because I might discover that, oh say, Farm Aid is going on on Randall's Island, or the Race for the Cure is happening in Central Park - and I might not be so confused by what I perceive to be route changes.
2008, NYC century resolution #4
I will not be intimidated by or make snap judgments about cyclists based on their choice of outfit. Some of those spandex guys and hipsters turned out to be quite nice - And because of all the stopping and starting and traffic and obstacles, you never know who you are going to be grouped with from one minute to the next. I lost more people at red lights, only to regain them at hills, than I can count, and everybody, without exception, was friendly, supportive and non-judgmental of my own lack of fashion sense.
2008, NYC century resolution #5
I will make suitable offerings and blood sacrifices to the Gods of bike luck throughout the year in hopes that I do not become one of the hundreds of mechanical failures and blown tires that littered the course like bleached bones in the desert.
2008, NYC century resolution #6
I will remember that no matter how bad it hurts while I'm riding, when I'm done, popping 2 Advil and putting ice on my knees, is better than sex.
2008, NYC century resolution #7
I will ride again next year.

6:30 am - Depart 110th St.
8:45 am - Coney Island
11:00 am - Flushing Meadows
1:45 pm - Astoria Park
4:00 pm - Van Cortland Park
5:00 pm - Arrive 110th St.

Total Time - 10.5 hours
Total Miles - 107 (I don't know - that's what the CatEye says)
To see the route, click on the map to go to

Go To Bikely

Monday, September 10, 2007

2007 NYC Century - There I Went

Slow and Steady did not win the race.
But I did finish my first century.

For all my planning and list making, I was too nervous to sleep. I felt the beginnings of a cold coming on on Friday which I promised myself I could have later if it would just go away until after Sunday. Instead, it put me in bed for most of Saturday which made it really difficult to get to sleep (as opposed to bed) at a reasonable time.
I awoke before my alarm, walked my very confused dog, picked up my carefully prepared bike bag, and then decided to ride to a different subway stop because mine is a little lonely at the best of times, and I don't count 5am as the best of times.
I was already running late - and I hadn't even left Brooklyn.
There were a bunch of cyclists on the platform, and many more on the train. I ended up in a conversation with a guy on a mountain bike and no helmet who said he was going to ride the 100. He was very polite, and kept insisting he didn't need a helmet, so I gave him some safety pins for his number and wished him luck.
By the time we all managed to haul our bikes up and out of the subway, it was 6:15 am and I was not feeling too happy with myself. Considering how little sleep I got, I could have been there by 5. Starting on time didn't seem too much to ask.
I got myself a cue sheet, stuffed it in my trunk and took off with a bunch of other late arrivals.
My first surprise was the long swoop down Riverside Drive. I don't know why I thought we were going through the park, but obviously, we weren't.
I wish I'd taken a picture of Times Square at dawn. There is something refreshingly sleazy about Times Square when it is empty that the tourists and the Disneyland gentrification have stolen from it over the years. Sort of like catching the prom queen on her early morning walk of shame.
The early parts of the ride were frenetic and full of moments of panic. I was riding with people who were much faster than me, and the effort it took not to get dropped at every light was making me wonder how I would finish the 100.
A lot of the people starting early seemed to come from bike clubs. Lots of hand signals and yelling 'Clear' and 'Passing'. Endless clicking in and out of clipless pedals at stoplights. I'm not used to riding in a group, so the argot was both strange, annoying, and oddly compelling. Fairly quickly, I was joining in - pointing at holes, signaling turns, and motoring along a little faster than I would have gone on my own.
Ain't peer pressure grand?

Crossed the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was rising, curved around through Dumbo, and then off to Prospect Park.
The route through Brooklyn is very familiar to me, so I settled down a bit and found a more natural pace. I was getting passed a lot, but I no longer felt like I was getting 'dropped'.
I peeled off to use the rest room at Coney Island and for one shining moment had the early morning world all to myself. I didn't remember there being a generous number of bathrooms at the Canarsie Pier, and I just couldn't face the long lines. Ate bananas one and two, bemoaned the lack of things NOT made of chocolate, recognized a couple of people from the subway, and took off toward Queens.
The section through Queens was the least familiar part of the route for me. And now I know why.
I hate to say this. It's really quite rude. But...
I never want to see Queens again.
The ride into Flushing was beautiful.
In all my years in NY, I've never seen the Unisphere's fountains turned on. It is an awe inspiring sight. Flushing is about at the halfway point on the 100 mile ride, and I felt pretty optimistic about my chances. Brooklyn had seemed easy, Manhattan went by so fast, it was barely a memory, Queens would pass into the Triborough Bridge, and I would only have the Bronx to finish.
Oh, no, no, no.
Queens sucked.
Forest Hills. Jackson Heights. Richmond Hill. Are you seeing the pattern?
From Flushing to Alley Pond Park and back again to Astoria, all I did was ride up and down, up and down. Hills, hills, hills. I hate hills.
My lowest moment came in Alley Pond Park, where after what felt like miles of hills, I was finally flying down a long, steep, downhill to the rest stop, when I saw riders struggling back up the hill toward me. I realized at that moment that every foot I descended I was going to have to fight my way back up, and I crumbled inside. Things were starting to hurt, the day was getting hot, and that Godforsaken corner of Queens felt like the end of the earth.
I decided to call my family and friends to inform them that I would now be living at the Alley Pond Park Rest Stop - because there was no way in hell that I was getting back up that hill.
One powerbar later...
I decided to leave.
There's no use living at a rest stop where you have to wait on line to get a banana, and I was in no mood for a line.
So I took off toward Astoria in hopes that getting back on a recognizable route would perk me up.
Some parts of the ride back across Queens were lovely. There are stretches of waterfront promenade that are breathtakingly beautiful. However, there are also seemingly endless stretches of hilly, asphalty, sun beating down on you, cars trying to run you over, semi - suburban streets, that I am not likely to revisit anytime soon.
I arrived at Astoria park and was heartened to see some familiar faces. - Not that I actually knew any of them, but I kept finding and losing the same basic group of riders. - The bunnies to my tortoise.
Ate bananas three and four. PBJ number one and orange number three. Was momentarily confused by the sign that said, "55 milers - 5 miles to go. 100 milers - 28 miles to go. 75 milers - (scribble out) 28 miles to go."

I rode this part of the route on Monday.
It goes over the Triborough to Randall's Island, across to the Bronx, and then East across Bruckner Boulevard. I thought the 75 milers had been riding with us up until this point and were almost done.
Maybe delirious.
Went over the Triborough, which didn't back up as badly as I expected, but I think it probably sucked earlier in the day given that you have to carry your bike up and down three sets of stairs. Onto Randall's Island, and then - across the pedestrian bridge to 106th street?
Wait a minute.
This isn't how it's supposed to go.
But there are the green C's.
Pointing North.
Right smack into a Saint's Day Parade.

So, off I went, across the Willis Avenue Bridge and into the Bronx.
I really enjoy riding in the Bronx. There are some bike paths that are true hidden gems. But I was not enjoying myself this time. My back hurt, my left hand was going numb from clutching my handlebars too tightly, and all of a sudden, I developed a blinding, shooting pain in my knee every time I had to put pressure on the pedal to grind up a hill.
My odometer said 90 miles. I was almost home.
I fought my way to Van Cortland Park, dreaming of Advil and cold water. Ate bananas five and six, and orange number four. Compared odometers with a guy who got lost in Queens and somehow managed to shave three miles off the route. I was going to make it.
The volunteers were giving advice and pep talks. "Last rest stop before the finish in the park. Remember to use the rest room. Only eleven more miles to go."
My odometer read 96 miles.
How was that possible? Maybe my odometer is set wrong and I just never noticed because it's a cumulative discrepancy. Oh God. Riding 10 miles in pain is one thing. Riding 17 was way too much. ...But I had already done 6 of those miles. I only had 11 more to go. ...I was so close...How could I give up now?

That little voice is really annoying sometimes.

I saddled up and took off.
This time, there were no groups to go with. We were stretched out too thin, and the faster riders were already done.
I know this part of the ride really well. Which is a good thing, because, going up a hill in Washington Heights, I had my first mechanical failure of the day. My chain slipped, and I tumbled onto a parked car. Some nice marshals made sure I was OK, and I hopped onto the back of their group and let them lead me back down to the park.
110th Street seemed like a foreign land. Bright and crowded, with blaring music and daytime park users. It was like crossing the international date line and landing the day before you left.
I saw the guy whose classic Italian racing jersey I had admired in Bayridge, and the kid who I passed in Flushing riding what looked like a food delivery bike, complete with metal basket. There was the 'hotter 'en hell' chick who left me in the dust at Alley Pond Park, and finally, the guy in the green t-shirt who I saw for the first time at 5:30 in the morning on the subway platform in Brooklyn. Just then, I felt that I knew them all.
I stood for a moment the the afternoon sun and wondered if it had all been a dream.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

2007 NYC Century - Here I Come

Ride Gear

º Bike
º Lock
º Cycling Gloves
º Shirt
º Shorts
º Socks
º Helmet
º Jacket
º Sunglasses
º NYC Bike Map
º Water Bottle
º Headlight

Bike Bag
º Patch Kit
º Spare Tube
º Tire Levers
º Multi-tool
º Mini Pump

Misc Items
º Advil
º Cell Phone
º Handi-Wipes
º Camera
º Confirmation Letter/Ride #
º Directions to Event
º Energy Bars
º Energy Drink
º Money
º Sun Block
º Bandana
º BandAids
º EyeDrops
º Chapstick
º Remember Rosie Ruiz Membership Card aka Metro Card
(just kidding, I wouldn't, really...I wouldn't, stop staring at me like that, I said I wouldn't!)

Things to do:
Figure out what is making that annoying 'clicking' sound.
Lube Chain.
Check air pressure in tires.
Find someplace in my neighborhood that is open at 5am on Sunday where I can get a cup of coffee.
Figure out how I am getting to the start. Am I riding? It's going to be pitch black at 5am and I am at least 10 miles from the top of the park.
Coffee should move to the top of this list. I don't think I can face 5am without a cup of coffee.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Rain, rain, go away

No, no, no.
No rain.
Not on Sunday.

If anyone knows an anti - rain dance, please start doing it now.
Better yet, if you teach it to me, I'll do it.

On a brighter note, if you missed today's bike snob nyc, go there now for a withering and hysterical skewering of mid-life crisis road bike culture.

Please God, never let that be me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

As Seen In...Hell Gate


Built in 1917 by Othmar Ammann, and engineer Gustave Lindenthal, the bridge over Hell Gate is more properly called the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge.
Ammann was also the builder of The George Washington, The Triborough, The Throgs Neck, The Bronx Whitestone, and one of my personal favorites, The Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
Le Corbusier once called Hell’s Gate the most beautiful bridge in the world.
I love the view of this bridge from the bike path on the Triborough - I just wish the stairwell leading to the path on the Bronx end didn't stink so much of shit.

Monday, September 3, 2007

I See Cs

I went out for a ride, and look what I found.
They've marked the roads for the upcoming NYC Century and I couldn't help myself. I started following the green C's up through Brooklyn and then on to the Bronx before I came to my senses - and started losing the sunlight.
I'm getting less freaked out and more excited as the day draws closer, and today's little test run was actually a lot of fun.
It was pretty easy to follow the route - even without any kind of map, although I did run into one WTF? that has to be the result of financial or political route gerrymandering.
Right after crossing the Pulaski bridge into Long Island City, the route takes a quirky turn down to Gantry Park for one block of teeth chattering cobblestones before it returns to 5th street. I mean, Huh? Is that necessary? For a view of the mega-condos and the back of the Pepsi sign I have to dismount off my bike or risk a flat? Whose bright idea was that? Seriously, it's a detour to one stinking block on the waterfront. Anyway, I think that part is on the 55 mile route, so if you are riding that distance on skinny wheels, look out.
I picked up the 100 mile route at Astoria Park and followed it over the Triborough and into the Bronx. I knew I didn't have enough time to do the whole loop of the borough and make it back home to Brooklyn before the sun set, so I bailed in Sound View and set out for the University Heights Bridge. I saw one green C in Inwood, but I was heading for the bike path, so I let it pass.
Those things are like popcorn. You want just one more before you go home.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Who doesn't love the onion...

PARIS—A small but enthusiastic crowd of several dozen was on hand at the Tour de France's finish line on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées Tuesday to applaud the efforts of the 28 cyclists who completed the grueling 20-stage, 2,208.3-mile race without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

"It became most difficult for us on the 7th stage, which was almost 200 kilometers and the first stage through the mountains," Kvistik said while accepting the non-doping victor's 100-franc check from his stretcher. "Not only did the excruciating pain and weakness in my legs make it difficult to walk my bike on the steeper stretches, it was mentally very hard to know that half the other clean riders were dead or dying."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Little Hell, A Lot of Heaven

Oh Wow.

I set out to find the South County Trail again.
I keep hearing that the Putnam Trail is in fact paved and passable on a road bike, but considering the mini - disaster that was my last attempt through Van Cortland Park, I decided to give up on that for the moment. I skipped riding through the park entirely and stayed on Broadway heading north.
I think I can honestly say that the stretch through Yonkers is the most miserable I've been on a bicycle, without actually falling over. The traffic is terrible on Rt 9. It's all buses and potholes and cobbles and exhaust and then - hills. Hills, and hills and more hills.
I think I've mentioned that I hate hills. I'm not a triathlete. I'm not in training for the tour de Georgia (don't even get me started on that name). I ride for fun and because it's a great way to explore my surroundings. Ok, I mean there is a great deal of personal satisfaction in achieving goals and feeling healthy and strong, but I don't go looking for things to climb over.
Up and down, up and down, the wind whipping into my face off the Hudson. In the words of the inimitable Bob Roll, I was "Doing the PaperBoy".
I forget who he was describing when he said that, but unlike me, I think that rider bonked while climbing an alp.
I thought about bailing out, but I knew I'd just be pissed the whole way home.
Long story short, I found the entrance to the South County Trail at Barney Street in either Yonkers or Hastings - on - Hudson. It runs right between the Saw Mill Parkway and Saw Mill River Road - and it is heavenly.
Paved, shaded, tree-lined, smooth, picturesque and a complete and total surprise to me. In classic Bike Dummy form, I used to live about a third of a mile away from this path when I got out of college - and Friday was the first time I ever saw it.
I felt like I could go forever.
Unfortunately, I got a late start, so I started to lose the light around New Castle. I had just enough sun left to take a slight detour around part of the Croton Reservoir, dive down to the Mount Kisco Metro-North train station, and head home.
view across the reservoir to the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Research Center at Kitchawan

If anyone knows of a more pleasant way to get to the trail head from NYC, I'd appreciate hearing about it. I'm not even sure where it starts on the southern end.
To see my route, click on the map to go to

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