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Friday, May 11, 2012

Bike New York 2012

Bike New York - that 36 mile jaunt through the five boroughs was last weekend and my sis and two friends took the ride with me.  That's us with our heads in the posters.

Back in the late 90's and early aughts ( I hate that word) when I lived in the city we did it like 5 years running, but this was the first time since 2003 I made it.   30,000 riders starting in Battery Park City, heading up 6th, through Central Park, up into Harlem and the Bronx, back into Manhattan over to Queens, into Brooklyn and then into Staten Island and the ferry back to Manhattan, then back to our car in Brooklyn.

This is a poster if you can't tell.  And below is my car all ready for the ride into the city.  Funny story about how at the end of the ride, meaning about 45 miles once you add in the getting to and getting home from the organized portion of it, I was pretty beat and trying to get my damn bike on the roof rack was proving difficult, mostly due to lack of patience.  So I'm in the Brooklyn Marriott parking garage putting my bike on and the two parking attendants who didn't speak great english are saying something to me.  It seemed aggressive like non-english can sometimes, so I waved them off and actually was a bit rude and dismissive.  It seemed like they were implying I shouldn't be doing this labor inside the garage but since the garage was very non-busy, I thought they were full of it and kind of told them so.

So I get the damn bike eventually tied down right and start getting in my car and realize I can't get the damn thing out of the garage because the entry point is very low and that actually what these guys were trying to tell me.  So I got out the bread that Lucas had left behind and made myself a big crow sandwich.

And a true test of my talent, turned it into a joke without actually having to actually apologize and got the guys to help position the swaying yellow ceiling height bar so I could squeeze by without having to take the bike off the car.

Doesn't it seem like it should be very easy to type some text to the right of this picture.  It may seem that way, but it's not, and that why the formatting isn't what I'm striving for but many times complete is more important than perfect, I'm just going with it.

We ate in Little Italy at what I think is probably the oldest school Italian restaurant in that area.  The inside hadn't been renovated ever and there was a big fat italian guy looking very Goodfellaish hogging up one of the few tables in the joint, not eating or drinking anything.  It's funny how big Chinatown is and how difficult to navigate out of it, and how little Little Italy is.  Very telling in an 'boots on the ground' way.

About 6am, getting ready for some breakfast and riding over the Brooklyn bridge to the starting point.

And my sister below.

At the starting gate with the quickly assembling 30,000 riders.  We were near the front, which is where you want to be.  There have been years where bottlenecks from too many riders created some serious bicycle traffic issues.

That's most of our team below.  Team Petersheim.  That kid in the background was 15 and he thought he was going to smoke the old man but didn't happen.

Starting line below.  It was a perfect day for riding - about 65 degrees and the sun shaded with clouds.  Partially sunny I think they call it.

Lots of fun sights and sounds.  One of the funniest reoccurring sights is the unexpected early riser pedestrian who ventures out to walk the dog or get a cup of joe before the ride begins and finds 30,000 bike riders going past when they try to get home.  Seriously, it is nearly impossible to cross the street for hours once the race begins, at least without taking your life in your hands.  One of the funnier attempts was a group of 6 strangers who attached themselves to each other and moved as a blob across 6 Ave up by the Park, I guess feeling safety in numbers.

Up in Harlem some Sunday Morning gospel singers.

So at a rest stop on the BQE, I stopped by the water station to refill and got this water bottle from the guy manning the station.  So I'm shooting the shit with the guy behind the counter who keep yelling out to passerbyers 'get your NYC water here' and it fucking turns out to be the Commissioner of the DEP, all casual, alone and talkative.  

So of course this is super interesting to be one on one in a casual environment with the head of the DEP, considering all the hubbub about hydro-fracking and all that.  You know he has been part of a lot of high-level conversations- political, environmental, financial.  So when he says things like 'Just goes to show how many people need a cause', and 'the gas companies did a terrible job when they entered these towns' and 'it would be nice if science played a part in the debate' and 'Pennsylvania's strategy of letting them in and then tightening the screws' and 'it's possible the opportunity has now passed that gas prices are so low' and 'we aren't worried about underground migration but rather spills from the pits'- those are super interesting comments to a guy who has had his life disrupted by the fading threat of gas drilling in the areas where we build homes.

I agree with him.  The hysteria and fear produced by the gas companies, who should have spent $100m educating, informing and complying with local regs and fears before they leased an acre of land, are overblown.  It's amazing to me that the largest industry on earth was so amateur as to create this unmendable public relations fiasco for themselves- when they could have created a responsible roadmap for domestic energy production.   But it was interesting to see and hear off the cuff remarks from a high-level real politic guy.

But, speaking of bananas...

And then across the Verrazano.  We crossed like 6 bridges which was pretty cool.  The only hills on the ride.  Whenever I ride my bike somewhere flat I am always reminded why people like riding bicycles for exercise.  Up here in Sullivan County, riding bike it tough, with hills galore and never-ending.  A flat piece of land is about as likely as trying to lose 5 lbs once you turn 40.

Over in the Staten Island Verrazano Park they had free massage and lots of music.

Back across the water to lower Manhattan.  The ride is a great way to see the city and a great way to experience New York and New Yorkers.  I always love it and for some reason I was really digging the city experience - it felt new and fresh.  Maybe cause I was on a bike the whole time.

And cool man Luke - with his buzz light year pez dispenser that Diane up in the Woodstock office of Coldwell Banker bought for him.

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