The Bronx and home to Brooklyn for the Finish!

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IMG_1511Crossing the Tri-Boro on initial view from leading to it, seemed okay but that’s a big bridge!  Leading up to its pedestrian/bike path we had to carry bikes up the stairs – wasn’t a big deal just lot of us doing it but it was pretty organized, people taking their time. 

Once up to the path which was a pre-ramp going to the bridge we were able to ride a bit until another set of stairs.  Then same thing dismount and mount again up the rise.

The height of thing was/is pretty up there, not sure how many feet but when looking down particularly once over the water and looking down on the sports fields below people were not ants :) but pretty small.  There was a point in the going over that once again we had to walk and then were able to ride again.  Near that point we began the longest widest descending bike ramp I’ve known in my crossing of the various city bridges.  It was a nice slowly sloping smooth downhill descent that came to another descending, this time zigzagged ramp down to the street.

We exited on to the street, made a couple of quick turns and were biking along a warehouse aligned street leading to making our way north in to the Bronx.

One nice surprising turn led us through a neighborhood which several folks on the street applauded our passing through and cheering, ‘keep it up!’  It was funny and equally touching.

The tour continued north up to Fordham University routing West around 235th street.  We rode west towards Van Cortlandt Park where the area became familiar to me having done an earlier ride with fellow Crankee Dan Vogel.  George and the others got ahead at an intersection where I got caught by the light.  I got across and entered a greenway trail leading winding and downward through a wooded area that for a moment or two I wondered if I was astray.  I kept following what felt like the main trail and soon emerged in to a road that led to our Van Cortlandt rest stop.

IMG_1513After time for a bite of watermelon and stretch of the legs we followed the course out of the park, across Broadway and up a hill through Manhattan College another familiar area pedaled through.  We were routed through residential Riverdale and back towards Broadway crossing over to the Harlem River bike path leading us to Central Park, the finish line for those who had started there but for George and I and others another 13 miles to our finish in Brooklyn at the Prospect Park bandshell.

Once over to the Harlem River bike path we rode south passing through areas once I only knew via car along I87 as it came down from Westchester and beyond into the City.  As the distance passed through the Bronx and in to the 1XXth streets I began to realize how close we were to Central Park which though it was not our finish it still felt like it was more than a rest stop.  At this point it was clear that several in the pack we had been riding in would finish in Central Park – it was in the air for them.

IMG_1516The blocks passed quickly and soon we were riding in to the park at 110th and Lenox, rounding a short stretch of the inner park loop and then in to the jubilant finish line and for us our last rest stop.  The energy was the paradox as the party ensued with music triumphing success as well as a slew of vendor booths, photographers, friends of the riders and much celebration.  We enjoyed the additional celebratory ice pop and replied we’re not done yet when asked what t-shirt size and water bottle did we want and with that, ‘on to Brooklyn’ for our finish.

We headed out of the park following the spray painted markings on the road turning on to Riverside Drive to West 72nd then West End/11th Avenue/9th Avenue to a bike greenway to Bleecker Street then at some point we turned off on to Broadway again open traffic all the way to Worth, Lafayette/Centre and on to Brooklyn Bridge bike/walker/runner/tourist path across.

IMG_1522The interesting and new discovery to me was coming to know a more friendlier way to/from Park Slope from the bridge and this was our final 3 miles to the finish at the bandshell.  The TA road markings directed us from the BB ramp u-turn on to Adams/Brooklyn Bridge Blvd to Sands then to Navy then on to Flushing Avenue which would take one all the way to Williamsburg but taking it only to Vanderbilt, making a right and heading towards the edge of Fort Greene.  Continuing on and across Atlantic and towards Grand Army.  Then on to the greenway on west side of Prospect Park.  We took the greenway to 3rd street entrance, got on to the inner loop and then turned in to 9th street playground to cross the finish line at the bandshell – Yay!  Rocks!  Completed my first 100 miles in this chapter of pedaling, was a great feeling!

Finish line! Ride buddy, George and me

Finish line! Ride buddy, George and me


A reminder that your donation of $5, $10, $15 or $20 can help to advance diabetes research of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November.

My First Century (this Century), continued…

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As I’m trying to retell the details of my experience in the Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour I’m really wishing for the helmet camera I didn’t and don’t have.  The Century ride I took part in a couple of weeks ago, my first in this chapter of cycling, was a great challenging but nicely paced day and course connecting Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan in for me a really creative way, particularly and not to be coy but in places I had never been in the City boroughs.

On one level the New York area has always seemed huge to me and yet it’s not, only 100 miles around and all in 11 hours on two human-powered wheels.

At conclusion of my previous post we were crossing over the Cross Bay Bridge connecting the Rockaways with the mainland.  As I re-look at the cue sheet for reference I remember when we came off the Cross Bay I realized I had been there previously as the late June charity ride for New York Families for Autistic Children/JDRF had started/ended right where this leg of the Century was passing at 165th Avenue.  We went through the familiar Howard Beach residential neighborhood in and around the Belt Parkway and leading towards Forest Park.

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We came out of a series of residential and service roads, turning on to the first of occasional small climbs ergo hills that led onto the wooded Forest Park Greenway.  At the end of the greenway we arrived at our second rest stop again refleat with a range of fruits with particular the watermelon was absolutely the best, tabula, pitas and humus.IMG_1489

 

After a few minutes it was time to pedal again now starting approximately mile 40 in the ride.  George and I cycled out of the rest stop crossing Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan Avenue, left Onslow Place, right on Grenfell, left on 82nd Ave and right on Kew Gardens Road all the time looking for the ‘C’ and arrow directional spray painted on the road as our breadcrumbs leading us on.

IMG_1493Right after turning on to Booth Memorial Drive our cue sheet offered and option of taking a lap around the Kissena Velodrome of which having never done that, it was not the time to pass it up.IMG_1494

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 11.40.07 PMIt was at this point as shown in the course sectional where the 75 mile (blue) and 100 mile (orange) break/departure occurred.  Those distances for those of us who started at Prospect Park in Brooklyn would be 15 miles less which would be added back when we got to Central Park and would continue on to Brooklyn for our finish.

Leaving the recreational loop at the velodrome we followed the route headed for the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and up to Little Bay Park and Little Neck waterways leading towards Laguardia so there were no doubts, it was the longer destination.

Rounding through these areas of Queens was the most interesting to me and nicely placed as we were getting half-way through our journey.  I really can’t say there was fatigue of any seriousness this far as between the build up from my training the last few months and the contrasting route the journey was progressing positively.  It was such a nice balance of city neighborhood and occasional wooded areas and some actual ‘hills’ making things all the more interesting.  So to the route planners kudos :)

Following the Cunningham Parkway Greenway (Vanderbilt Motor Parkway) we were @60 miles in for those who had started at Central Park.  For George and I and other riders from the Prospect Park start we were @45 miles at this stage, about another 10 miles to our next official rest stop along the water at Little Bay Park.  As it was when we were on the Rockaways being by the water is always a plus.  Through this area we were on a mix of streets, greenway and by the water sidewalks.IMG_1495

Next post, heading for Astoria and Randall’s Island with a crossing via the Tri-Boro Bridge up to the Bronx.


 

A reminder that your donation of $5, $10, $15 or $20 can help to advance diabetes research of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November.

 

 

 

 

My First Century (this Century)…

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2014-mapThough I rode a Century (100 miles) ride 40 years ago I’m proud to say that in this recent return to bicycling, I just completed my first Century ride participating in Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour which offered the choice of 35/55/75/100 mile courses weaving through all the New York City boroughs except Staten Island.

I had the event in the back of mind ever since family friend George Sweeting told me about it a few weeks ago.  I wanted to do it then but was juggling both confidence and potentially work schedule conflict.  In the end all came together and along with the encouragement of fellow Crankees Dan Vogel and Bob Cohen I registered for the ride choosing to go for the 100 course.

On the eve of the ride Dan who was supposed to be my ride buddy unfortunately had to cancel and in the end George and I wound up riding together.  This would turn in to a blessing as George knew the route from previous years allowing me to shadow him.  My wife Ann who is also training for our JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in November, decided to sign up for the Century event which I was very pleased about.  With her distance still growing she decided on the 55 mile course which followed the 100 mile route without much of Queens and the Bronx.

The tour allowed two start/finish points, Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn which I chose the latter.  George and I met up and rode up together getting there a few minutes before the 6:30 am start off.  The energy was a buzz with two wheelers everywhere at Park Circle.  The draw for the tour was at least 5,000 by when I picked up my bib the day before.

IMG_1481George and I found our cue sheets, found open spaces in the mass gathering to begin and positioned ourselves.  For some reason I expected a starter gun signal to begin but I think was merely an organizer yelling to go.

We were off with the pack with moderate space between and the trust we all had move space, daunting as it is but on some level the physics of it work.  We pulled out of the park and started round the roundabout at the corner exiting on to Coney Island Avenue and beginning back street angling towards the 67th street Brooklyn greenway along the water and heading for Bay Ridge with a course going to Coney Island and the first rest stop in Marine Park.IMG_1484

Well stocked for energy reprieve was the fare at the first rest stop.  Fruits, pitas, humus and multiple spicket water refill and of course plenty of porta potties for the need as well.

IMG_1482After a few minutes break and replenishment George and I were back on course heading towards Queens and the Rockaways.  This course was a great balance for me some familiar but much new.  For my 20 years in New York much taken for granted in a blur or underground journey the cycling experience of the last several months has brought me renewed appreciation for much of it.  I had never been to the Rockaways before the first ride out with the 5BBC in late June.

Coming out of Marine Park following the yellowish spray painted ‘C and directional arrows’, visual breadcrumbs indicating the Century route on the streets we found our way to the Flatbush Avenue bike path headed for the Rockaways.  We rounded right towards the water with the Floyd Bennett Aviation Fieldhouse on the left just before the Gil Hodges bridge, a path I’ve traveled three times previously this summer.  The path rose up and across the bridge, a little over 4,000 feet, descending on to Rockaway Point Blvd, rounding Heinzelman Rd, through a short grassy thicket lined path and on to Rockaway Beach Blvd.

George and I rode through the Rockaways with 25 miles in to the Century as we headed to mainland Queens via the Cross Bay Bridge.  For me the next several miles were some of the most interesting of the 100 taking me through a mix of neighborhoods and woods via paths/roads like the Forest Park Greenway and later Kew Gardens Road none of which I’d ever been.

To be continued/updated soon….

Still shaky but moving, pedalin’…

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Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 8.43.00 PMI’m still shaky riding since last Saturday’s crossing with a car.  I guess it’s to be expected just discouraging but hoping little by little to get back my confidence. I have been riding daily anywhere from 4.5 to 16 miles since the accident, feeling that if I miss a day I lose more mental.  Today I made a work schedule change for a work mate so I was unable to ride my base loop this morning.  In its place I got out this evening as soon as I could but it was dusk, ironically similar to the time last Saturday so I was really edgy this evening.  I rode 4.5 miles in and around the park but felt on edge about the bicyclists/runners ahead/behind/left – feel like a real skits.  It just feels like fear of getting hit or hitting.

Not a very positive post this is but feel like writing some feelings.  The whole experience and vibe all week has felt like a magnification of how vulnerable the experience is which we all deal with.  It’s not like a sudden realization but I will say with confidence down it feels more prevalent to me.

Reality and soberness I should be totally glad my encounter was minor, that I didn’t get hurt or worse and in vanity and wheels were pretty much unscathed.  I know most of this is in my head but it’s clear it’s taken a toll and is taking some time to build up again.  I’m sure in coming days/weeks if I stay at it this will pass other than being more on guard.

To continue to push if I don’t have to work on Sunday (Sept 7) I’m planning to do the Transportation Alternatives 25th NYC Century Bike Tour with fellow Crankee Dan Vogel and a family friend.  The advocacy event slogan is a Ride of Passage which feels like it might be really good for me right now.

The image top of the post is where I hit the side of a car that turned in front of me last Saturday evening.  I rode by on Monday on a confidence ride in to Manhattan.  Still a blur as to exactly how or what, not from standpoint of whose fault as that does not matter really.  In a sense it was both parties to me.  Perhaps I was tired from the ride over to New Jersey that day and just couldn’t react fast enough.  Anyhow not to wallow and continue to be thankful just having head games and trying to get my ‘game’ back.  All in time.

On the positive in terms of the bigger picture, purpose of what I’m doing, the blog, I got a few more donations today for my JDRF fund-raising and am now up to $3,895 which actually is a 100 dollars more than I thought when I started writing this evening so another donation came in, wooooot! as they say and there in should be my cause for confidence and regained focus!  Thanks to those who are reading and following.

Jim

A return and someone turned…

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IMG_1434Of late I’ve been doing relatively short distances in my immediate area.  With that in mind this weekend I wanted to get in one long ride.  I decided to do a return ride to the Hudson River Drive (ergo River Road) from just below Fort Lee, NJ, to Alpine in the Palisades.

I mapped out in my head to ride from home in Brooklyn over to Manhattan, take the West Side greenway, exit at 125th street, make a brief stop at the familiar Crankee meeting point Riverside Church, proceed up Riverside to 165th street, Fort Washington to 177th, over the GWB and down to the River Road access and take the road to Alpine and back.

Due to some work distractions I didn’t get away till early afternoon but made good time through downtown Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, through edge of Chinatown, across Manhattan and on to the West Side greenway at W. Houston Street.

Though it was peak time on the West Side greenway with walkers, runners, bicyclists, families, tourists on ride share, I finally arrived at Riverside Church at 122nd street in about an hour twenty.  I hung out for a few minutes to gather my energy and take this ‘selfie’ for my fellow Crankees.IMG_1428

Mounting my bike again I headed up the quiet Riverside Drive and made a good clip along the two overpass sections and soon turned on to 165th street heading up the hill to Fort Washington Avenue through Columbia Presbyterian towards 177th street.  I’m pleased to report For Washington by the way is now newly paved after being ripped up for the last several trips.IMG_1431

I was up and over the GWB a few minutes later.  The day at this point was cool and overcast.  Though not a sunny view, the look south from the GWB was still beautiful and vast.IMG_1433

I was through the chain link fence welcoming cyclists, runners, walkers and the like to suburban Fort Lee, NJ.  I made the familiar left turn to ride the sidewalk down to the River Road entrance.

But to my brief dismay the gate was up and road appeared off the docket for today’s journey.  I hung out a bit wondering what was up as according to the signs it didn’t close till Dusk and it was just about 3pm.

Just ahead of getting to the gate I had noticed a fellow going around the gate and carrying his bike over the neighboring stone fence.  While waiting and wondering if I should do the same along came another cyclist ready to exit the road.  I asked him what was up and said they have just closed the gate early to keep the cars out.  Humm… okay good enough for me so I picked up my bike and over the stones and cycling I went.

Ever since the first introduction to this 8 mile stretch back in June I’ve been a big fan. The road offers solace and challenge with being serene, reflective and equally abiding with nice downhills and modest to beast uphill.  Riding the route you see occasional sight seer cars but predominately other cyclists, walkers and runners of which today was no different.  I pedaled along enjoying the cool almost fall air at times and rolling landscape.

The last mile of the road is a big climb which always promises a sense of ‘this thing will not beat me’ and I’m proud to say it’s only done that once out of 5 or 6 trips.  Before ascending I stopped to get the energy happening.  Two other cyclists were hanging out at the base point and asked me if I had a Philips screen driver which the infamous Park Tool all-in-one set has.  They needed to make a derailleur adjustment and so I obliged, hung out and chatted.

But it was time to go so I set off.  Today’s ride was first trip of my new bike which among other upgrades for me as a wonderful 18-gear set contrasting my previous eBay bike 12.  Though not without some puffing today’s climb was noticeably easier with the new ratios in my drive.  I once more successfully arrived to the top and the Palisades Park information and rest station.

I decided for today’s trip to make my return on the River Road as opposed to doing our usual continuation/and or return via route 9w.  After a few minutes rest I started my descent down the hill which if one was a flyer this downhill is the cat’s meow.  For me the more cautious it was a kitten’s meow with some occasional braking but still was great and amazed me at how long it actually is and why it’s such a good ‘training’ workout in itself as well as this road.

Doing this route in reverse was equally enjoyable and gave some views that I stopped to make a snap or two.  Nearing the GWB offered this one.IMG_1440

And this one as I was passing under the bridge which it’s amazing how the breadth of this thing hangs in the air.IMG_1441

After passing under the bridge it’s a short distance to the exit at the entrance gate I began a little over an hour earlier.  It was now nearing 6 and time to be heading back to Brooklyn.

I headed up the modest hill from the entrance and turned to go through the chain link fence and on to the GWB walkway/bike path.  Going and coming on today’s trip the bridge was lightly traveled as far as walker/runner/cyclists.  I suppose it was the overcast sky.

Once over it was down the bridge bike ramp and on to Cabrini Blvd, right on 177th and left on to Haven to Fort Washington again and down 165th to Riverside Drive.

I followed Riverside all the way down to 72nd street and got on the Hudson River Park greenway which though still had some occupation was less at this hour so I made good time.

I was debating along the way about my return, Manhattan Bridge or Brooklyn and decided the later hour and dusk coming the latter would be easier/quicker so I turned off on Warren and over to Broadway and City Hall.  Made a brief sidewalk ride to Chambers and then on to the bridge up ramp.

Though the path over was still fair amount of people traffic making my rather loud announce of ‘biker, biker’ necessary mid-way I came up behind a father and two off-spring that it made sense to stay behind as he had a loud whistle!  From that point our caravan made good time charting a clear ride over.


At this point in today’s chronicle I could say on arriving in Brooklyn it was home free and a satisfying day.  However turning on to Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn brought an unfortunate change and meeting with a car.

I was crossing the intersect of Jay and Johnson streets.  A car coming from the other side suddenly began a quick turn in my path.  I reacted suddenly swerving and reaching for my brake levers.  I don’t recall either of us thankfully going very fast, just recall as I got hold of the brakes my front wheel met his door and I went down.

The car now on Johnson stopped as I was getting up, and a man hollered was I okay which it seemed I was though hyper and stunned.  I didn’t feel any pain just shaken and wondering how my bike had faired.  As I got up on the sidewalk the young man and his lady friend came over offering concern and timely there were two police officers who had come on the scene just after my crash.  All asking if I was okay which I was talking and moving so seemed I was.  The police officers kindly said let’s make sure your bike is okay.  I had flipped by this point fear wheel/tire issues.  My front brake needed a budge back to center and handle bars needed a torque as well back to center.

With me and bike seemingly okay car folks and police left and I gathered my wits and started my ride home. Though shaken, I kept telling myself I was lucky and thankful neither of us was going fast.  It was a troubling end of an otherwise nice ride, a reminder of how aware and constant vigil I as any cyclist have to be.  I have witnessed 3 crashes of other cyclists in the last month and now I’m 4.  Not to be naive or pompous, I honestly didn’t feel I was careless in any way.  Yes I was coming in at 50 plus miles for the day, tired and needing nourishment but I was alert and watchful but… it’s never enough, never.  My lesson, be ye thankful as I was today.


A note, in addition to my training for the November 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes cycling event in Tucson, AZ, I am fund-raising for the cause.  You may donate here and help further research in type one diabetes, helping to make type one type None.  Thanks.

 

Cobblestones of Red Hook…

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Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 6.39.21 PMOn Sunday I continued my Brooklyn/lower Manhattan exploration that I did day before.  I decided to bike over below the Brooklyn Bridge, find the greenway and follow it to Red Hook, the reborn still somewhat funky, up and coming waterfront area of Brooklyn.

I left the house early afternoon, rode down Ninth, turned on Sixth Avenue through the Slope to Union. Took a left on Union and rode down to Third Avenue. Made a right and rode along shadowy tree-lined Bergen to Court street.  I made a left on Court to Warren and turned right riding to its end at Hicks street.

IMG_1377A right turn on Hicks and I followed the street all the way through Brooklyn Heights just before its end as the Brooklyn Queens Express (BQE) passes overhead.  I hopped on the sidewalk going under the BQE and entered the bike lane on Old Fulton Street taking it to the beginning of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway.IMG_1376

Entering this point of the ‘greenway’ was much akin to being on the bridge at peak hour, lots of folks and despite noted separation on the path of bikes left pedestrians right it was pedestrians everywhere :-) but then again its tourism and as the saying goes, good for ‘bidness’…

I followed the packed gravel path along the waterfront which felt more like a stroll down the thorough way of a carnival than a bike path.IMG_1378

I was soon through the commercial sector and began to come in to the warehouse interspersed commercial beginnings of Redhook, now famous for Fairway, barbecue and seemingly one of the borough’s next ‘things’.

I rode through a couple of deserted streets with minimal appearance of occupation yet street art on one was robust and amazing.IMG_1380

From here I went down what appeared to be a dead-end cul-de-sac but hosted a small barbecue eatery housed in a railroad car and circled with picnic tables for customers.  Just beyond that was Steve’s Key Lime Pie which sounded yummy and towards New Orleans than the sparse nook it was in.  To the right was a lawn and a pier showcasing a nice view of the harbor, Staten Island and back towards Manhattan.

From here it was home which was a zigzag short hop to 9th street which led home.  A few more snaps in close….IMG_1384

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And I did mention cobblestone streets didn’t I…IMG_1392

 

 

 

 

 


You may support me supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International on Nov. 22nd as I ride in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Tucson, AZ, by clicking here.

The Tucson cycling event is one of 7 national JDRF ride events bringing together cyclists with a common goal of raising money and awareness to further the research in type one diabetes so one day soon ‘type one will be type none’.

How I found a Piano on the Beach…

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This weekend I did two exploration rides – first to Williamsburg and lower Manhattan chronicled here and a little later, Redhook.

On Saturday’s ride I had limited time.  I took a look at the Brooklyn waterfront between home and Williamsburg via NYC Bike Maps, targeting a route going from the park (Grand Army Plaza direction) over to Vanderbilt and on to Williamsburg.Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.54.17 PM

From home I rode up to the park and over to Grand Army Plaza, crossed over on the greenway to Vanderbilt Avenue and rode it all the way down to its end just beyond the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, turning right on Flushing Avenue.

Following Flushing led me to Williamsburg relatively quickly.  As I mentioned in the last post, venturing out by bike has led a whole new discovery particularly with Brooklyn on how easily connected the neighborhoods are.  Better put how easily it is to get from one to the other.  For years like many New Yorker’s on the average day I’m underground via subway going from my Park Slope neighborhood to work in lower Manhattan and the in between has been a blur of point A to B.  Bicycling is now teaching me much about the space in between.

I cycled along Flushing with an agenda of getting to the Williamsburg Bridge and bike path but I had left some of the directions up to chance, looking for the occasional bridge and bike path signs.

I came to Marcy Avenue and turned left.  Within a block or two I saw a sign for the bridge indicating a right turn and very shortly it was within view.  I came to a block where there were several bus line stops and asked a driver where the bike path entrance was.  He motioned ‘head straight under the over pass and just around the corner’.

I followed his guide and about a block and pass through a small park, got on the bridge bike path.IMG_1358

The path over was shared between walker and cyclists but not crowded and plenty of room for both creatures.

On the Manhattan side of the bridge I came in to the Lower East Side and just above Chinatown, with the bike exit concluding on to Delancey Street.IMG_1360

My path at this point was to cycle my way down to the Manhattan Bridge to take my return back over to Brooklyn and home.

Crossing over Delancey and I saw a sign for the East River Park greenway and headed that way.  I took the pedestrian overpass over the FDR Drive.  I rode a short distance down a gravel section by the East River Park to the beginning of the greenway beginning now underneath the FDR Drive.  I quickly discovered this was the conduit for getting to all the bridges connecting to the east side.IMG_1362

I followed the greenway down to just under the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out there for a few minutes of picture-taking at this new vantage point.  I’ve been in NY for 20 plus years and now seeing all this by bike has led me on a whole rediscovery.

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And it was here that I found a piano on the beach.IMG_1367

 

 

 

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Heading home over the Manhattan Bridge, street market below.


Support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and type 1 diabetes research through my participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes in Tucson AZ. Donate.

 

We are riding…

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Dan

on a railroad, singing someone else’s songs now sing along, forever riding on a railroad…. but I digress.  Paraphrasing James Taylor the title led me to the lyrical memory.  But it was the weekend and though nothing official was on the radar in Crankee land, new blood Crankees’ Dan Vogel and myself planned an adventure.

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Jim

Actually a few weeks ago when a ride date was unknown Dan tossed out a trek through Riverdale, Bronx and Westchester which stayed with me.

IMG_1343I rode over from Brooklyn via the Manhattan Bridge which has been on my list to work out the routing to/from the Manhattan west side.  I came off the bridge which by the way for me has one of the best on/off bike path ramps of all in the area I’ve now traveled.  It has separate sides for pedestrians and cyclists.  On the Brooklyn side the access ramp is at the intersection of Jay and Sands streets, with a wide graffiti lined curve which leads you up to the bridge.

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Exiting off the Manhattan side of the bridge I got on Chrystie street, followed up to Broome and over to Varik, zigzagged couple of blocks to Hudson then to W Houston then straight intersect to the west side greenway.

I cycled up the west side and met Dan at the Boat Basin.IMG_0375
From there we rode the greenway up and beyond the George Washington Bridge to the greenway exit and a shoulder path along Broadway.  Followed by brief construction disembark/stairs and then on to residential Riverdale.

Our destination were the Old Putnam and South County trails, the first an original rails-to-trails which ran through Van Cortlandt Park.IMG_1325

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photo: dan vogel

 

 

The Old Putnam Trail was a mix of dirt, brief mud hole near our start and then back to fairly even packed dirt with occasional rivets or washouts but a cool woods trail furrowing through overhung trees interconnected leaving the experience akin to through a tunnel. It was a lot of fun though initially I’m thinking I just dropped 2k on my new bike to take it through this but soon forgotten and enjoyed the moment with Dan reminding it’s why the ‘Roubaix’ is dubbed the Roubaix.

IMG_1326The trail was 1.5 miles followed by the South County Trailway greenway which in itself runs 40+ miles up to Brewster.  Due to time we only scratched the surface riding 2 miles of it before turning back at Yonkers Avenue but it’s a new route definitely calling for a longer return another day.

While we were resting for a bit before our return, a woman looking for folks on bikes came up to us and promoted the Yonkers Bicycle Club Tour de Yonkers coming up on Sept 21st.  If you are free that weekend do check out.

On our return we rode at a brisk clip until we hit the Old Putnam dirt trail again complete with mud hole which required another dismount.  I know the tried and true are saying come on plough through plough through – er ye men!

At the trail’s end and back on the streets we headed up a moderate hill and cycled through the campus of Manhattan College.  From there we rode in to residential Riverdale and arrived at Dan’s home for a brief rest before I headed home to Brooklyn.

The greenway home was usual mid summer Saturday busy.  You get the pace up then encounter other pedalers, roller/skateboarders, walkers/runners/dogs/cats…  The same hit me this morning on my base loop in Prospect Park.  It’s a ‘shared’ path and needs a constant watch over the shoulder as someone can stop right mid path, presenting the sudden obstacle of dodging them but equally anticipating who might be booking behind you.  In some ways I’ve come to prefer open road traffic but not to be a grudging old cycling dude :)

IMG_1337I decided to do as I came, go back to Brooklyn on the Manhattan Bridge as once you’re there it’s so much more comfortable than the dodging/darting challenges of the Brooklyn Bridge at mid-day.  This morning the coming across I discovered was relatively straight-forward.  For return I turned off at 11th, slight jag to Bank and followed it to 6th Ave, took another jag and right on Bleecker, following it all the way to 2nd Ave.  I turned right and went down to W Houston, left to Bowery, down to Grand, left and over to Allen, right to Canal to the bike path entrance on the Manhattan.IMG_1336

Home free to Brooklyn with a total of 52 miles for the day.IMG_1340


On Sunday I decided I wanted to make another path to/from the Manhattan Bridge to etch it in my mind.  I rode over and cycled around Chrystie to Grand to Allen to Canal to the bridge, got it!

On my return one fellow rider who was ahead of me on the bridge took the Brooklyn side off-ramp either too fast or his knobby tires lost the slope or both.  He was in the curve and laid down hitting the wall.  Another cyclist and myself dismounted and stopped to check on him as it looked bad.  Thankfully he was okay.  He seemed genuinely amazed that we had stopped to check on him which was both sad and touching.  I have witnessed 3 crashes of other cyclists in the last month and each time was not alone in stopping to see if help was needed, it is encouraging that it seems to be an understood among many of us that it could easily happen to anyone and it’s what we do, perhaps it’s the code.

From arriving in Brooklyn I rode over through Brooklyn Heights, turned on Dean, down to 3rd ave and over to Union.  I went up Union to the Park, rode across Grand Army Plaza to the green path and rode down Vanderbilt to Dean, following Dean over to edge of Crown Heights at Franklin Avenue.  From there I rode up to Eastern Parkway and back over to Grand Army, entered the park for a loop and back home with reinforced confidence of trek to Chinatown and back.  Tally for the afternoon was 16.5 miles.


A note to remind that part of the purpose of this blog is to bring awareness that I am riding in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation 2014 Ride to Cure Diabetes cycling event in Tucson, AZ on November 22nd.  Should you like to support me supporting JDRF and type 1 diabetes research furtherance please see my fund-raising page.  Thank you!

Finding our way…

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IMG_0435Bob, my wife Ann and I were the JDRF Crankees assembly Sunday, beginning with Bob’s trip over from Manhattan to join us for a few warm up loops in the park followed by our destination of Coney Island.

Part of the trips adventure began on Saturday when I got new wheels (see video end of post).  After riding a bike of my son’s we got on eBay several years ago for @800 miles this season, I came to the decision I was hooked and wanted to take part of my ‘retirement’ and invest in the ‘now’.  After some back/forth yin yang last few weeks I had ordered a Specialized Roubaix and Saturday was my day to pick up.  Amazing bike and journey has begun.

Though we had a suggested queue sheet we decided to toss caution to the wind and ‘find our way’ aiming for the coastal route along the green way running from 67th Street to the Verrazano Bridge and beyond.

I had made part of this trip before when I went on the 5BBC’s Revolutionary War ride. With that in mind for a start we rode down slope from the park on 2nd street heading for 5th avenue.  Turned left on 5th and headed towards Sunset Park.  We were passing the Old Stone House park area, and heard a familiar voice say ‘hey guys’, was our fellow Crankee Jon Reitzes and his son Marlin headed for the park.

After hello and some confirmation of my instinct and past memories we continued on 5th, past Greenwood Cemetery, past Medley Lanes bowling which always brings back so many memories of taking my kids there for birthday parties and the like.  As the blocks passed we were nearing Bay Ridge coming to the 60’s, then 70’s, 80’s, then 95th street where 5th and 4th avenues unified.

IMG_1302A few more blocks and we were at the entrance to the Shore and Belt Parkways.   We crossed over Shore Road and followed the sidewalk down to the quick descending entrance to the bike green which runs from 67th street to along the East River in to the bay, around the point in Bay Ridge past the Verrazano Bridge, along the ocean front, through several park areas and concluding in Bensonhurst Park.

IMG_1300We followed the bike path all the way to Bensonhurst Park and came out on the Shore Parkway service road if memory and Google serve me.  We rode along the service road to Bay 52nd street and took that over to Cropsey Avenue following it till it turned in to W17th street.  Then on to Surf Avenue and turned left till we came to Nathan’s Famous at Surf and Stillwell Avenues.  We had arrived, lunch!IMG_1305

The trip home began trying to find the quickest access to the bike trail.  We headed down what seemed right a street which escapes me but probably W15th.  After few blocks it seemed a better way was somewhere else as we saw other cyclists parallel in the distance.  Ironically when we stopped a woman hollered from a car which had stopped as well and as if reading our minds, ‘are you looking for the bike path?’  Gift horse…  She replied you have to go back to the no longer in business (or looks like it for that matter) Burger King.

IMG_1301So that we did.  Bob’s instinct was good and the description of the ‘no longer in business’ he found couple blocks back.  We turned right and headed for what turned out to be taking the sidewalk on the service road we had come in on.  Other cyclists were on it so we took their lead and soon were turning on to the beginnings of the bike path in Bensonhurst Park once more.

From there it was home free and great cruising particularly from the Verrazano up to the path end at 67th street.  I felt the speed of my new rig through here :)

IMG_1304Exiting out at 67th and a couple of jogs finding the best route, settled us on to 3rd avenue which took us all the way home, Ann and I to 9th street and Bob to downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Good ride, adventure and good hot dogs!

Jim

Post… a short video of my new bike shortly after getting it.  As opposed to the infamous crotch video posted in my haste earlier this has been revised for general audiences :)

Weather forecast, rainy morning but…

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IMG_1286Last Sunday, Aug 3rd, that didn’t stop an assembly of the JDRF Crankees orchestrated by Coach Cary James with a Brooklyn departure of 6:55am with a destination of New Jersey and 9w and I’m pleased to say my wife Ann and I were present and accounted.

With Cary in lead, fellow Crankee Jon Reitzes, Ann and I rode amongst raindrops along Bergen heading for downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge.  Great thing about crossing the bridge in what was now a steadier wet is we pretty much had it to ourselves other than an occasional hell or high water runner :).  Rubber on the wet boards of the bridge approximately half the distance was bit slippery, maybe more mental but soon we were over and heading for Chambers and the Hudson River bike path which also given the damp early morning was pretty much ours.

Due to a triathlon getting ready near the Boat Basin we turned off the path at 72nd and started going up the west side streets and eventually Riverside Drive hitting a few blocks of torn-up road till we broke free and arrived at Riverside Church where we were joined by Coach Bob Cohen.  After few minutes rest we continued up Riverside Drive to 165th street, turned right then left on to Fort Washington to 177th, then Cabrini and on to the GWB bike/walk up to the bridge.

Though again more mental than reality what seemed daunting early on in the training with the GWB seems routine and familiar now and pleasant actually re the crossing.  There is a lot of desire to anticipate and over-prepare in my personality and often in my biking experience thus far and probably if I cared to admit it in life as well, much of that trait does not pan out to the anticipation or fear if you will or reality.  Hence this experience two wheeling is trying very hard to teach me to let go and as something one of my coaches in the group constantly says to me, ‘take it as it comes…’.

On those thoughts I will say with having lived in New York now 20 years plus, the bicycling experience now is teaching me to value what I’ve either oft taken for granted in this area or even not cared for has led me to take things in a whole different perspective on the bike.  As a co-runner of my wife’s acquaintance said about running, it’s cheaper than therapy and perhaps the bike is as well in its own zen.

Over the bridge and we were round the corner down the short road to the entrance of the Hudson River Road drive, a part of this ride I was excited to introduce Ann to.  I knew the climbs in it would be challenging particularly but the tree-lined very little 4 wheel traffic and the sun here/there long shadows has made this back road cycle to Alpine on the Palisades very enjoyable to me.

This was my wife’s longest and most challenging road to date in this period of training. I had told her that if she came on this ride and at any point it felt too much, it was her call and I’d support her and we would head back. I had thought that probably we would do the shoreline road and from Alpine head back. The last hill on this road is challenging and each time I start the ascent I have my doubts about getting up the bastard and I believe I am either 4 for 5 or 3 for 4 re the trips on this course. I relayed to Ann the last hill was a hard ascent and stop if need be for breather and we’d meet at the top.

For me I was stronger this time it seemed and kept slow steady rotation. Mid way up I came upon a runner zigzagging his way.  We got to talking which turned out to be a nice distraction and we both soon crested.  I joined Bob, Cary and Jon who were patiently waiting and a few more minutes Ann came in to the view as she rose to the top determined pedaling up.  She had made it, excellent, I was very proud of her for having came today, joining in and had done pretty well on this road and I thought okay I made a deal, we can head back.

But after a short break she said she was game to continue to Piermont about 6 or 7 miles or so which was our turnaround destination.  I was excited, pleased, surprised and proud of her.

As I’ve written on this the Crankee most repeated training ride in my time, from Alpine and our start on route 9w, we begin at the landscape top elevation with 3 long descents down to the Piermont turnoff to head in to the town.  The downhills are fun and always a nice respite though the return is paying the piper albeit maybe not as challenging as the River Road couple of rises.

We were soon underway pedaling in to the descent and then down the three glides.  As the day had been wet which forgot to mention by now the rains had stopped and the sky was playing hide and seek with the sun sometimes peeking out.  The Tallman State Park turnoff we normally had done going in to Piermont the coaches thought might be slippery in its short descent so we decided to go a little further down from there and go in to town the way we usually leave.

The glide in to Piermont along the canal like creek which flows through is always kind of dream-like and pleasing.  As we cycled along the residential Piermont avenue passing the creek and circling in to town square crossing over the wider Sparkill Creek.  We pulled up to our traditional resting stop of Bunberry Coffee for replenishment and hanging time.

Which while there another cyclist pulled up and parked his sleek-looking titanium/carbon fiber Seven bike in the rack for on looking by us and speculation about its ‘ride’.  As the owner said on his return to his bike, kind of like riding a ‘Rolls Royce…’IMG_1283

So it was soon back on bikes, heading out Piermont Avenue with a slightly new departure on to 9w this time.  We rode up a slight rise, hairpin and on to a crossover bridge which was new to me though I realized it’s whereabouts as we came up to the connection back to the main road shortly after.

We were soon on to our first climb on to the rise out of the Piermont lower valley and up to the Alpine area of the Palisades.  Cary and Bob had gotten ahead and Ann, Jon and I were in our own ‘peloton’.  We steadily rose up the first, Ann was doing great.  We started up what Jon had earlier dubbed the Big Sky climb which now in hindsight ran together with the last two.  In a sense they all do as the contour is connected until it levels to the top around Alpine and you see a sign which indicates Fort Lee is another 10 miles.

The rest of the ride on to Fort Lee flowed easily with its usual rolling hills and open country coming in to the urban limits.  Traffic which never seems like much on 9w does start to pick up nearer to the town and that said it seemed bit busier on our return.  Soon though we reached East Palisade Avenue left turn and then a right on to Hudson Terrace.

On our group rides we usually stop at Strickly Bicycles to water replenish and rest a bit before those of us heading for Manhattan cross the bridge and those going on to home in New Jersey go their way.  So Ann, Jon and I pulled in and learned Bob and Cary were waiting at the bridge.  Once realized we began to go meet them.  As I was getting my bike out of the rack I reached down to what has become instinctual or possibly back to the alluded anticipation anxiety and felt of my front tire anticipating a comfortable soon to be realized firm tire.  However something else occurred, I pushed down and it went all the way like a weak balloon with subtle resistance.  Gosh what gives or gave!

Well after just about 800 miles of pedaling since early May I had just received my first flat! Humm… So said goodbye to Jon who went on to meet the fellas and though I need the experience of a first self flat fix, I decided not to look fate foolishly in the eye and chose to have it fixed by the staff at Strickly.  We hung out (see happy couple above :) ) and browsed a bit.

I will say I at least took the wheel/tire off and a few minutes later, paid a few dollars and was twisting down the quick release axle with not only new tube but new tire as I was encouraged to trade out.

Tire on, pumped the back a bit more, checked Ann’s, saddled up and we rode on down Hudson Terrace, under the I80 overpass and hung the left to the chain link fence and began our GW crossing over to Manhattan.  I’ll speed along as I’ve made this account of the trek back to our Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn now a few times.  From the bridge it was down the back street parallel Fort Washington to near 165th, down to Riverside heading for the bike path initially at 72nd.  We came upon the torn up street repair at @118th and decided to trek back towards the church and find the path sooner back by 125th street.

Got on the path and made good time all the way down the west side reaching Warren street and over to a slight sidewalk jag at City Hall park to get on to Chambers, then on to the Brooklyn Bridge.  As the sun came out so did the tourists and the bridge was a contrasting thicket to the earlier morning sparseness.  We plodded in and out of walkers, picture takers and Citibikers finally reaching the Brooklyn side off ramp to Boreum Place, over across Atlantic to left on Dean.  Then finally to a right on 3rd and over to a left on Union and our now traditional post ride reward lunch spot of Dinosaur barbecue for a beer, Chardonnay, burger, fried green tomato sandwich and few wings before the few remaining blocks to home.

A great first long ride for my wife Ann who I was and am very proud of, special thanks to our lead coach Cary, secondary coach Bob and Crankee mate Jon.

See you along the road… Jim


 

This blogs purpose continues to be to document my wife and mine’s preparation for our cycling participation in the 2014 JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes ride event in Tucson, AZ, on November 22nd.  Please consider supporting one or both of us as we support JDRF through our commitment to this one of seven national bike rides across the country to raise awareness and support so one day ‘type one will be type none’ when a cure for diabetes is found.

Our donation pages are…

James Goodin 2014 Tucson JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes

Ann Jeffrey 2014 Tucson JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes 

Thank you!

 

 

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