Monday, May 2, 2011

New York, New York

It was a big weekend for Kathleen & I, we split work Thursday about lunch time and headed north for New York City. We had lined up an apartment in Spanish Harlem for the weekend, and were planning on spending the weekend riding bikes, taking it easy, visiting friends, then culminating with the Five Boro Bike Tour with 32000 other bicyclists. Friday ended up being consumed with work stuff for both of us, but Saturday we got out for our first ride of the weekend around Manhattan. We rode up to 111th street and the East River to catch the Bike Path down towards Lower Manhattan so we could get an idea of how long it would take to get to the start of the Tour the next day. Here is a view of Queens across the East River from the bike path.
A little further down the bike path gave way to be on surface streets, where we passed this groovy hot rod, not very common in Manhattan I would guess.
Once we turned onto Second Avenue and headed south we came upon Katharine Hepburn Way, and coincidentally a TD Bank office, who are the title sponsor for the tour.
About 38th Street or so were able to join the East River Bike Path again. Here is Brooklyn across the River from us.
We continued on down the path towards Battery Park, and passed by this playground where they were having the East River Park Bike Bonanza which was for kids, lots of learning how to ride, helmet fittings, and general good times for little kids.
Here is Kathleen a little further down the road from there, as well as my ear.
We finally made it down to Battery Park, and saw the Statue of Liberty, and some guy leaning against the railing.
Here is a statue of John Ericcson who designed the USS Monitor.
We then headed back uptown on the Hudson River Bike Path, where we spotted this family, dad pulling a trailer with a kid and the kids bike on it.
Up near the 80's we rolled by a park where little league baseball was in full swing beyond the freshly blooming trees.
Then it was back to our apartment to get cleaned up and head over to Brooklyn to get some dinner with friends.
The next morning came early, the instructions said to arrive at Battery Park at 8:15 if you didn't care about being at the front of the pack, which we didn't. So about 7:15 we took off and headed over to the Hudson River Bike Path to go downtown to Battery Park. This is New Jersey across the Hudson from the path.
It really was shaping up to be a gorgeous day, the sun shining, and not too cold. The closer we got to Lower Manhattan the more busy the bike path became, the yellow bibs on most of these people are for the bike tour (they use them to tell who belongs on the tour, versus the freeloaders who try to jump in).
Riding along I saw a bunch of cyclists with these tags on the back of their bikes, they had all come up from Richmond, VA for the event.
Once we got down to Battery Park, we joined the cue for the start. This couple was there, and had their dog in a baby harness thing.
Here are the massed throngs waiting ahead of us, the actual start line turned out to be about 10 blocks up the road from where we were waiting.
But finally we got rolling (about 9:30AM) and rode up a completely car free 6th Avenue.
We passed by Radio City Music Hall who had a greeting up on the Marquee for us.
About that point there was a big bike traffic jam as the tour entered central park, so I took the opportunity to get a shot of Kathleen at Radio City (that is actually the other entrance to the theater from the one above).
And here is the traffic jam in front of us.
Finally we got going again, and spotted these gals doing the tour in turquoise tu-tus as we entered Central Park.
There was another traffic jam in the park where the two groups merged again (they split the group some this way, some that going into the park, as they don't close Central Park South for the event). But once we got rolling again, I spotted this gals killer headgear and had to get a picture.
After we exited the top of the Park there was a gospel choir serenading the cyclists in Harlem.
Then we crossed over the Harlem River into the Bronx on the 138th Street bridge, and just on the other side was a percussion group laying down the jam for the cyclists.
Then it was back across the 3rd Avenue bridge into Manhattan and a ride down the Harlem River Drive/FDR Drive, normally a freeway like road, but for today no cars, just cyclists. I spotted this cool trailer, a recumbent tag-along.
Lots of room on the road at this point.
Next up was crossing over the Queensboro Bridge, the bridges are all incredibly high up to allow for ship traffic up the river, the view is incredible, and being on a bike you actually get to enjoy it. Here is the view to the north.
Here is the southern view.
It was crowded through here, but moving.
A little further along and we passed over Roosevelt Island.
We came down from the bridge into Queens, then continued along into Brooklyn.
While passing through Brooklyn, we spotted these ladies with pink flamingos on their helmets, we slowed to ask if they were from Baltimore, they weren't but were happy to represent :)
We continued through Brooklyn, where we saw this view of Manhattan.
Eventually we got on to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which was closed to cars for the day.
We continued on the BQE to where it joins up with the Gowanus Expressway.
The idea was that we would ride down the Expressway to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, and cross over into Staten Island, thus hitting all five boros. However, about a mile and a half down the road from here we ran into this.
Apparently there was construction on the Expressway necking it down from 4 lanes to 1, and it was causing a huge back up. Here is Kathleen as we shuffled along on foot for a few feet at a time.
This where things turned a little weird, we had been standing around on the freeway shuffling along a few feet at a time for about an hour and a half, when one of the marshalls climbed up on the jersey wall and announced through a megaphone that it was still 3/4 of a mile to the bottleneck, but then smooth sailing after that. Walking in stiff soled cycling shoes and cleats sucked, so Kathleen climbed up on the wall to have a look (much like the person behind her in the picture above) and realized that she couldn't even see the problem from where we were just a see of bike helmets. We talked it over and opted to toss our bikes over the wall (the left lane on the opposite side was also closed for the construction) and jet back down the open side of the freeway (as in with cars on it) to the exit about 3/4 of a mile back from whence we came. I haven't sprinted that hard before in my life. We made it down to the 38th Street exit in Brooklyn and rode down 5th Avenue towards Manhattan. On our way down the street I spotted this, I had no idea that such a shop existed.
We stopped just down the block for a bagel and and a strategy session, before continuing on down 5th avenue. We reached the end of 5th at Flatbush Ave, then headed up Flatbush in the general direction of Manhattan. A little ways further we stopped at the McDonalds for a potty break, while Kathleen was inside and I was guarding the bikes I shot this picture of the intersection.
After our little break, we continued up Flatbush to the Manhattan Bridge. We knew there was a cycle path over the bridge, but had to ask a police officer how to get there. He was happy to give us directions, and we made our way up to the path. Here is Manhattan from the path.
And Kathleen following me over the bridge.
After we crossed back into Manhattan, we passed through Chinatown, then across town on Houston Street towards the West Side. Here is the Empire state building uptown from us.
We got back onto the Hudson River Bike Trail and headed back uptown, it is a really stunning ride up the river, and lots of folks were out enjoying the day.
At about 91st Street we headed back up towards the streets, on the way up we passed through the community flower garden, it is maintained by volunteers, and incredibly nice to hang out by.
We rode up the hill further to Riverside Drive to head up to 110th street (that is the top side border of Central Park). Definitely a high rent district here with gorgeous views of the Hudson from the buildings here.
Then we cut across 110th, passing by the north side of Central Park and this lake there.
We continued on into Spanish Harlem and the apartment, where we cleaned up and headed out for a fabulous steak dinner at Ricardo Steak House just a block away from the where we were staying. All in all a great weekend, and we learned some tricks for next the next time we do the bike tour, it really was a much needed break though.


  1. Nice blog. Thanks for posting the picture of us in our flamingo helmets!

  2. Glad you like the picture :) I hope you had a good time at the tour. Robert

  3. Great Blog, Robert! Love the pics. So glad you had a good time.