Monday, April 30, 2012

Bensonhurst - New Amsterdam Bike Show - Astoria (23 miles)

After attending a wedding with my girlfriend Saturday, I packed my gear for a trip to my first cycling event of 2012, the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

Leaving Bensohurst I rode North through Prospect Park for the first time. This path offers a decent climb, and with all my extra gear weighing me down, I felt rather sluggish. This path seems well maintained, and the pedestrians and cyclists coexisted quite peacefully. I then rode Vanderbilt Avenue to approach the Brooklyn Bridge. Choosing a sunny Sunday afternoon for my first crossing of the Brooklyn Bridge was not the best idea due to tourists, and generally oblivious pedestrians choking the lanes. The views were stunning though, and the Brooklyn Bridge was the best choice in relation to the New Amsterdam Bike Show geographically. Cutting through some classic SoHo streets, a Green Bakery delivery bike makes it's rounds. I quip, "nice bread truck". I finally find my way to the event.

Riding up Prospect Park for the first time.

Arriving at the top of Prospect Park, the Arch, and Statues are seen.

Following female road biker down Vanderbilt. Sunny, and mild in the 60's.

First ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, my wolf whistle comes in handy, frustrations with pedestrians inspire me to sing my blues away.

Soho, cobblestones.

"Nice bread truck."

Arriving at the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

I entered the lobby area of the show, where I could purchase my ticket, and before you actually enter the display area, Transportation Alternatives had a small side room almost completely to themselves. I registered my free membership with them and received last years New York Century tote bag. Afterwards I filmed their booth briefly before scanning the first few row of booths.

Transportation Alternatives had a booth right inside the entrance to the New Amsterdam Bike Show. Pedal Pushers, Vaya, Vosco, Bike Works, Cleverhood, Worksman, Bike to the Beach (discussion with booth attendant), and Truce display booths.

Cooper, Formigli, eco2, Hub, Nutcase, and KLM booths at the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

Opus bike, The Little Bike Shop, Gazelle, and Linus booths at the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

Soon I came upon the booth for Bern, the makers of my helmet. I've had issues with the foam on the inside of the helmet, and was hoping for an on the spot replacement, as they do not offer the option to purchase them online (yet). Walking up, the rep (Josh) soon cradled my helmet, reveling in it's scarred shell, it's withered lining, and the old shoe lace threaded through the foam for the base of the neck. I began to voice my displeasure with the lack of resources regarding replacement padding, and he soon acknowledged the problem, and said that they would soon offer replacements on their site. Next thing I know he is sizing up my melon to offer me the on the spot replacement I had hoped for. Furthermore, he gave me stickers, and a pair of cool Bern branded headphones.

Linus booth continued. Josh the Bern rep admires my war torn helmet, and her custom rigging to keep my old padding in place. He generously replaces, and effectively updates the bill/headband part, as well as the foam parts of my helmet, and then proceeds to give me some nice swag in the form of stickers, and headphones.

After cruising a few more booths I land at the Jamis booth, and find them giving away large waterproof plastic messenger bags, but only if you ride their demo for their new internal gearing system. I ask for an explanation of the new technology involved, and test the bike. I think the bike frame would be considered a cruiser hybrid of sorts, not an attractive style for me for a number of reasons, but it was a nice representative of it's class. The explanation of this new "seemless/gearless" shifting intrigued me, and I was honestly interested to try it out. As advertised, you never felt a shift, and the gearing got heavier, and heavier. Though the novelty was interesting, I personally would not go with any other drive train besides the standard; it's easy to repair and maintain, and I would imagine better suited to the hard urban riding I do. After receiving my free messenger bag, I then proceed to film most of the rest of the booths. In it's entirety, the whole place wasn't very large, and you could see most of everything on offer in a couple of hours, or less.

I took a short break from filming, and browsing, and ducked into the tented area in the back which hosted a DJ, free Grolsch, and some tasty pastries, and Pickled Hot Dogs. I grabbed a beer, and bought a hot dog, and sat near the entrance to chow and drink while people watching.

Globe, Iride, and Brooklyn Cruiser booths at the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

Bobbin, Uvex, and Jamis booths.

The Jamis rep explains the new internal gearing for some of their bikes. I explain why that wouldn't be practical for me.

Ride Brooklyn, and Paragon booths at the New Amsterdam Bike Show.

Free Grolsch beer, and a 3$ pickled hotdog.

Raleigh bicycles booth at the New Amsterdam Bike show.

After entering all of the raffles, and networking with a few reps, I decided I wanted to make my way back to Queens. I picked up my bike from the valet, and then watched as a couple rode away on a tandem bike. Walking West, I notice an interview in progress and watch from the side. Apparently this young woman was a cycling advocate, and bike mechanic who enjoyed fitting people with their bikes, and spoke of the rising cultural phenomena known as "Lifestyle Cycling". Soon the camera is turned on me, and I answer a few questions, and discuss my goals for my blog. After the interview segment, we exchange cards, and speak of networking.

A couple leaves the New Amsterdam Bike Show on a tandem bicycle.

A woman is interviewed, and discusses, "Lifestyle Cycling" as a fast growing cultural phenomena. Soon the camera is turned on me, and I answer a few questions, and discuss my goals for my blog.

Still walking West, I now pass in front of the venue for the last time, and stop to ask a friendly looking group of cyclists for directions towards the 59th Street Bridge. In no time the discussion turns to other cycling related topics, bridges, Greenways, gear, and our general wanderlust. I spoke mostly with Tim, who said he blogged with still pictures, and comments for photos. I gave him my card for my blog, and bid them goodbye. Now continuing West with confidence, I find myself on the West Side bike path heading uptown, towards the 59th Street Bridge. Midtown bustled in the late afternoon, but traffic flowed smoothly to the bridge. The views on the bridge are always a nice way to start my homestretch. I feel I was lucky to have such great weather, and such a great little "Tri-boro tour" ride, with a truly enjoyable cycling event sandwiched right in the middle.

Outside the entrance to the show, I ask for quick directions to the 59th street bridge from a group of friendly people. We discuss bridges, Greenways, and crossing them.

Descending the 59th Street bridge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Astoria to Bensonhurst (16.7 miles)

Tomorrow, my girlfriend is a bridesmaid in her cousins wedding, so I made the trip to Bensonhurst once again. I plan to attend the wedding tomorrow, and ride to the New Amsterdam Bike Show Sunday from Brooklyn. This meant packing everything I needed for both events into my backpack, as well as my locks, just in case. All told, the pack probably weighs nearly 30 pounds, which is a lot, but not too much for the relatively short distances I will be riding.

Along the Vernon Blvd bike paths, there are signs which point towards the "Waterfront Route". Soon, I find myself deviating slightly from my route in order to enjoy some of the views, and I felt confident that I would not be lead so far off course as to become lost.

Waterfront route around the projects, exiting at Goodwill Park.

Queensbridge Park Greenway.

Strong Climb up Pulaski Bridge, NYC skyline.

After encountering some poorly maintained streets along this stretch of Greenway, I found my way back onto Kent Ave, and head South, to where I could eventually pick up Vanderbilt off the BQE service road.

Once on Vanderbilt, I continued South, winding around Prospect Park, and Greenwood Cemetery, until I reached Dahill Rd. I know that when I reach Dahill Road it means I'm in the last leg of the journey, and I can ride hard through here until I hit 17th Avenue, and after that, it's a straight shot to my girlfriends door.

Kent Ave, passing under the Williamsburg Bridge.

Statues at the top of Prospect Park.

Greenwood cemetery, 20th Street.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Astoria to Little Bay Park, and the Throgs Neck Bridge. (39.68 miles)

In my efforts to ride as much of the Brooklyn Queens Greenway as possible, I mapped a route which would take me to Little Bay Park, and under the Throgs Neck Bridge. I had often stared at this point on the map, trying to discern the best route. I eventually decided for safety, familiarity, sight seeing, and not least important of all, access to free water (the Parks), that using the Greenway in both directions, made the most sense. I could have plotted a shorter route, cutting North from Roosevelt Ave through Murray Hill, and unfamiliar back roads, that would have been faster; but I was also interested in adding miles for training purposes.

The weather was not ideal, but far from a problem. Gusting winds, cool temps in the low 60's, and cool intermittent showers meant that when I stopped I cooled down quickly, and if I waited long enough, I would start to feel a chill. Basing my confidence in the weather forecast saying conditions would not get worse, I set out with minimal gear. I left my apartment a little later than I would have liked, and found a fair amount of traffic, which only got thicker as time went on. Riding along 34th Avenue, a man asks me to take his picture, and a friendly cyclist named Sam stops me to talk about my camera, and we talk about cycling, and my blog. When it wasn't drizzling rain, the sky would open up, and offer warm, fresh, green, spring views.

A man asks me to take a picture, I tell him I am shooting video. He asks if I am recording, so I start recording and say, "It's rolling now.", and ride away.

Conversation with Sam, also a photographer and avid cyclist. He inquires about my GoPro camera, and how I feel about it. Which leads to a discussion about my blog, and my plans for my blog.

Kissena Park looks lush, and inviting.

The fastest descent/section of the Long Island Motor Parkway/Brooklyn Queens Greenway.

Once I made my way into Alley Pond Park, I turned off of the Long Island Motor Parkway section, and found the path along 226 Street in the park. Unfamiliar with the path ahead, I was aware that the Greenway would soon follow bike lanes on the back roads heading East and North. Unlike other parts of the Greenway that I found difficult to follow along the streets, I was pleasantly surprised to find that much of this path was well marked by following the bike lanes, and the Greenway signs. After only a few miles along the roads, I found myself near the entrance to the Joe Micheals Mile, which would take me the last stretch along Little Neck Bay, to reach Little Bay Park, and the foot of the Throgs Neck Bridge. The Joe Micheals Mile follows the Cross Island Parkway and is fairly exposed for the most part. The tailwind heading North made for light work, but I was not looking forward to grinding back through that wind to head home. Entering Little Bay Park, I soak in the grand panorama, and glide under the Throgs Neck. Here a small street runs along Little Bay to a dead end, fisherman try for dinner, and I roll down to the end to eat a couple cereal bars, drink some water, and enjoy the view of the Throgs Neck, before heading home, along the same route.

Following a path of Greenway along 226 Street.

The Brooklyn Queens Greenway follows bike lanes along the periphery of Alley Pond Park, the Greenway is well marked, and easy to follow at this point.

LIRR train passes as I wait to cross to the Joe Micheals Mile. Long stretch along the Joe Micheals Mile, tailwinds offer a boost.

The end of the Joe Michaels mile. Greenway sign, "you are here".

Passing under the Throgs Neck Bridge for the first time. Cool in the low 60's, moderate to high winds, some light showers.

The edge of Little Bay beside the Throgs Neck Bridge, to the "End" sign.

Shooting the "End" sign a helicopter passes over as I begin the trip back along the Brooklyn Queens Greenway.

Rapid descents along the Long Island Motor Parkway, leading to Cunningham Park.

Lazy people parked in the bike lane on 188th Street park.

Sundown on Kissena Park.

Scooter gang in Flushing

Lucky timing as the 7 train passes overhead approaching Roosevelt Island Bridge, with Citifield in the background.

Citifield gears up for a game.

Ralph Demarco Park, passing under the Hellgate Bridge.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shopping trip, then Corona Park, Meadow Lake, and Astoria Park. (25.3 miles)

Before I could take a fitness ride today, I needed to take a shopping trip to the wholesale stores near my home. I have a large capacity duffel bag with a thick padded strap which I use to carry bulkier purchases. I roll this duffel bag up and slide it into my backpack, along with the locks needed for securing my bike while I shop. Once I have my purchases I put the small, loose items in the back pack which now goes into the duffel surrounded by the bulky items like toilet paper, and paper towels. Sometimes, locks included, I think the bag weighs in excess of 30 pounds. Thankfully the trip is 3.5 miles each way and doesn't require me to haul that heavy, awkward package over a long distance.

In the past, I have seen a man with a high quality camera in the area of the stores. Once back in November 2010, I actually took pictures of him shooting from the rooftop above Closeout Paradise.

Here was what I believed to be the same man, smiling for the camera as I leave the shopping center.

Once I returned home, I put my purchases away, and geared up for a 20 mile ride. I had not returned to Corona Park since acquiring the better video camera, and felt today was a good day to try it out there.

The ride to Corona was fairly typical, except for the random pack of children on bikes on 46th Avenue as I approached the entrance to the park.

Turning on 46th Avenue, passing kids on bikes, the Rockets outside the Science Museum, the geodesic dome.

Once inside the park, I rode through the Queens Zoo to the Corona Skate Park to see if I could film any good tricks.

Circling the Corona Skate Park, the kids show off some moves.

Arriving at Meadow Lake I find the "Self Transcendence" 6 & 10 day endurance race being run.

A duck stands quacking quietly at regular intervals.

Though it was windy, and somewhat overcast, moments of sunshine through the clouds offered some pretty skies.

Flooding near Meadow Lake, the sun shines beautifully partially obscured by clouds.

Circling the globe in Corona Park.

Skaters pull off tricks on a curb by the Rocket Thrower statue.

Circling the Rocket Thrower statue.

Skaters near the Rocket Thrower attempt tricks.

Swan statue, Billy Jean King Tennis Center entrance, and some Tennis on the nearby courts.

Leaving Corona Park passing the Science Museum.

Graffiti wall near Junction Food Market.

Passing large commuter, and young commuter, on 34th Avenue.

Chopper Mini-bike.

Before heading home I wanted to shoot one of my favorite Astoria locations; the Hellgate, and Triboro bridges, and Astoria Park, and it's skate park.

Ralph DeMarco Park, the East River, Hellgate Bridge, the Triboro Bridge, arriving at the Astoria Skate Park.

Skaters in Astoria Park pull off tricks under the Triboro Bridge.

Circling under the arches of the Hellgate Bridge, in Astoria Park before heading home.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Astoria to Rockefeller Center (12.32 miles)

Today I needed to pick up some presents for my nephews birthday, and decided to make a trip to Nintendo World to find some unique gifts.

This trip was basically the same route as my commute for my last job in midtown, minus the last mile or so.

Manhattan, and New York City rarely disappoint, and I enjoy seeing what Midtown has to offer, even in the thick of Friday evening rush hour. I rode slow due to high mileage yesterday, but I felt remarkably strong considering my efforts yesterday. Carrying both cables, and my U-lock is cumbersome but 100% necessary. Though I'm used to the extra load, I'm becoming more and more accustomed to riding with less on my back. Even so, I never skimp on security, and I've found a street sign right outside the Today Show windows with cameras looking on from 5 angles. Any standard perforated green metal post style street sign is fair game for a bike lock to my knowledge. This is now my preferred Midtown parking spot.

Crescent Ave, following a motorcycle towards the 59th Street bridge.

Cresting the 59th Street Bridge, and pacing a Roosevelt Island Cable car until it passes another cable car from the other direction.

Crosstown on 61st, first sighting of green Mustang.

St Patricks Cathedral, second sighting of Green Mustang.

The perfect parking spot.

After a mostly successful trip to Nintendo World, I packed up for the ride home. Traffic to the 59th Street Bridge was thick and mostly slow due to Friday evening rush hour. I was surprised to see so few people crossing the bridge on foot or on bikes as the warmer weather usually brings out the fair weather bike commuters, and the bridge walkers.

I will likely take the next couple of days off as the weather is turning poor, and I need some rest for my weary legs.

Crossing Lexington and 2nd Avenue on 50th Street.

Negotiating the treacherous stretch before the 59th Street Bridge on 1st Avenue, exiting the mayhem with the Lucky Strike Racing motorcycle man.

Rapid descent on the 59th Street Bridge back to Queens.

Astoria to Hicksville (57.31 miles)

Yesterday I decided I wanted to try to ride to my friends house in Hicksville again. When I call to make plans, I find out that he had made the decision to purchase a bike, and it was being shipped the next day!

He also informed me that he had the day off from work and that I was welcome to come over anytime I liked.

Soon I was gearing up and finalizing the new route which I would use to hopefully make a successful trip to his place (my first attempt went long/got lost, and fell short ending with my friend picking me up....).

The weather was ideal, breezy in the 60's, mostly sunny the whole way there. The first 3/5's of my route consist of familiar territory. I basically use the same route as if I was going to my fathers house. It's the last 10 miles of back roads and shoulder-less main roads that gets particularly tricky for me. I tried to keep the route as simple as possible, consisting of only 19 turns to get me from Alley Pond Park, to my friends block in Hicksville.

I notice a pesticide sign stating unsafe conditions for humans uncomfortably close to my person. A motorcycle pulls up to the light.

Crossing Roosevelt Avenue Bridge into the heart of Flushing.

Bowne to the entrance to Kissena Park.

Resting near the entrance to Kissena Park, a man stretches while a plane passes overhead.

Kissena Park, along the Brooklyn Queens Greenway.

Rapid Descent into Alley Pond Park, the Greenway ends.

Union Tpke, Creedmoor, and some commentary.

As I made my way into Nassau County, I found the route I had decided on was mostly bike friendly leading up to Herricks Road. Herricks becomes Old Country Road, and turns back North, towards my friends neighborhood. This slight dogleg South then Northeast is necessary to avoid the more complicated, and dangerous roads that run through the middle of Nassau County. Once on Old Country I found some creative use of sidewalks was necessary as the afternoon traffic didn't seem to want to bother with a bike where there often isn't one. This made for slow going heading East, but I was prepared for this as it was my first time riding this road. 87th Avenue, Broadway, and Eisenhower Park were very nice this time of year; many trees in bloom. Also seen was the Oscar Meyer Weiner Truck. With only one wrong turn and a small back track I made it to my friends house in just over 2 hours, covering 26.17 miles.

I stop in some shade and comment on the trip so far.

Broadway through Garden City Park, Westbury.

It's the Oscar Meyer Weiner Truck!!!

Passing Eisenhower Park, Westbury.

Unfortunately for me, my ride back from Hicksville did not go as well as my trip there. Trying to follow directions backwards, forgetting to read street signs, and an unfamiliar route, added an extra 5+ miles to the ride home.
The first 5 miles went exceptionally well, I found the traffic at 9:30pm to be light on Old Country Road, and I could ride in the shoulder or extra wide right lane keeping a 17 mph pace. At this point is where I made my fatal error. In my exhilarated state from having made such good time, I rode past my next turn, and rode nearly five miles too correct, and back track my route. After making one wrong turn, a small consolation was footage of an arriving train on Railroad Avenue.

One great thing about night riding this route is the abundance of 24hr stores which can easily accommodate a bike, and carts where you can get food or beverages, not to mention that this particular route includes the Greenway, which features many running water fountains for at least half of the year. I stopped for some trail mix at a 24hr Walgreens with a large entrance, and snacks at a register by the door. Also, I stopped at a Latin food cart on Roosevelt Avenue, and had a delicious Fruit Punch soda for a treat.

Finally reaching the entrance to Alley Pond Park, all was black, and silent. My legs were tired but I refused to walk the hills, resigning myself to spinning as best I could. Flying through the dark conditions on the Greenway is not recommended for safety, but sure is fun. The cool crisp air was refreshing, even as my legs began to complain more and more. Arriving home tired but not too sore, I set my videos for upload, and went to bed.

Making good time on Old Country Road.

From the Majestic Diner to Cherry Lane.

Herricks Road, Mineola.

I pull up to Railroad Avenue just as a train approaches

Bryant becomes 87th Avenue.

Commonwealth Blvd at night.

Rapid descent through the Brooklyn Queens Greenway at night. (Dark footage.)

Following the Greenway through St Josephs Prep and into 188th Street Park.

Kissena Park at night.

Creepy building.

Flushing to Citifield, the 7 train arrives over head.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Astoria to Cliffside Park (32 miles)

Having returned from the beautiful city of New Orleans yesterday, I felt great urgency to start racking up miles to try to reach or surpass my personal monthly quota of 200 miles. Riding 400 miles in the month of March had taken a toll, and the 2 weeks of light to no riding was necessary to heal so I may train hard in the next 2+ weeks leading up to the 5 boro bike tour.

Ever since I rode to Tallman Mountain, I've wanted to ride in the opposite direction South, on River Road into New Jersey. When I awoke this morning I saw sunny skies, and mild temperatures, which was all the more reason to take the fairly long trip. I set out at approximately 12:30, and immediately noticed that cloud cover was setting in, there was no rain in the forecast so I was not overly worried, only mildly disappointed that I would likely not be shooting video of a sunny day.

I had no need to plan an exact route as I knew that it consisted of roads I was familiar with, River Road (South) itself would be the only stretch that was new to me.

Entering Harlem via the Triboro, and 125th Street Bridges, traffic seemed light, and fairly subdued on this Wednesday afternoon. I cut across town to St. Nicholas Avenue, turning on 141st Street to utilize the entrance to the Hudson River Greenway at 139th Street. Following the stretch of Greenway through River Bank Park, and Fort Washington Park is always a feast for the eyes. There is probably an "easier" way to get to the George Washington Bridge, but I believe the scenic views make the detour well worth an extra mile and a couple steep climbs.

Arriving on the Hudson River Greenway.

Riding through River Bank Park, and Fort Washington Park.

Now in New Jersey I came upon Henry Hudson Drive, and decided I could not resist riding North under the bridge before turning back South. After passing under the bridge, I came upon a small park down by the shore which had intrigued me the first time I passed through, and rolled down to explore it. I found I was able to follow the shoreline quite closely along some brick paths, turning into blacktop, which gave way to a small grassy dirt trail littered with chunks of rock. Soon I found myself trucking along this trail quite satisfied with my discovery so far. After only a few minutes, the dirt trail led to a set of granite benches with river related poetry etched into them. Being no outlet from this point, I found myself carrying my bike up stone steps slowly behind an apprehensive Robin who then flies away.

Riding Henry Hudson Drive under the George Washington Bridge.

A park on the shore, leads to blacktop heading South.

Blacktop along the riverside gives way to a dirt trail.

A dirt trail heading South along the Hudson River leads to a set of granite benches.

River poetry on granite benches on the banks of the Hudson in New Jersey.

Slowly following a Robin up the stone steps.

The benches and steps below me, traversing the skinny stone path back to civilization.

I found my way back to River Road, and pointed myself South. I found that the though the road was marked as a "shared road" on the map, there wasn't even the arrows and bike symbol, let alone enough shoulder in some places to make the route truly safe. The only sigage featured was to tell cyclist to ride single file, with nothing other than those same signs to keep motorists aware. I only rode as far South as Cliffside Park before I decided to turn back North. Riding back to the George Washington Bridge steep climbs make for slow going. Onc back on the bridge towards Manhattan it was smooth sailing as I back tracked my route to Astoria via the 125th Street, and Triboro Bridges. After such a long hiatus from cycling it felt great to lay down some solid mileage, and get my blood pumping again. Tomorrow should be equally as nice for riding, and I plan to make the best of it.

Crossing the George Washington Bridge back into Manhattan.

Rapid descent down the 125th Street bridge, stopping just short of an uncomfortable encounter with the cement wall.

A small stretch of the new paths under the Hellgate Bridge.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Astoria to Penn Station and Rockefeller Center (15.16 miles)

After a setting a new personal high mileage in a single month in March, minor sports related injuries, and personal obligations, have made the start of April unusually low in mileage.

This will likely be my only post for this week, as I will be in New Orleans until next Tuesday.

If possible I might be able to borrow a bike for a ride while I am down south, but I may not have the opportunity.

As I like to be an appreciative guest, I decided to collect a few gifts for my gracious hosts in New Orleans. I rode through Long Island city on Crescent Avenue, to reach the Triboro Bridge, and Midtown.

I walk my bike through Rockefeller Center commenting on the sights.

Still needing to print out my Amtrak tickets for my trip down south, I rode to Penn Station to find their Kiosks where I can print out my tickets. Once inside Penn I find a Latin Guitar duo who I record for a few moments, and then walk through the station.

Back outside on the street again, I walk past some skateboarders using some nearby steps to attempt tricks.

Soon, I'm heading back uptown along Madison Avenue towards Rockefeller Center again, this time I plan to lock-up my bike and purchase some gifts from the fine shops there. First I went to Teuscher for their exquisite Truffles. Then I went to Nintendo World to find my friend a unique gift.

Leaving Rockefeller Center, I crosstown on 51st Street to 1st Avenue, and negotiate the final tricky stretch before the 59th Street bridge. Once over the bridge I made a short detour to Tony's Bike Shop for a little tune up and friendly conversation, before heading home.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Astoria to Central Park via Harlem (20 miles)

I had hoped to try to ride out to Hicksville again this week, but my schedule, and my friends schedule didn't match up. Having to change my plans at the last minute, I decided that some laps in Central Park would be a good idea. I rode over the Triboro and 125th Street bridges and used 126th Street to cut across to St Nicholas Avenue. Out of habit I made a right, and traveled a few blocks out of my way before realizing my error, and turning around. Now headed in the correct direction to link up with Central Park, I see a soupped-up car, with an awesome paint job sitting at a red light. I start my camera, and pan along side the waiting vehicle, to find the passenger wearing a creepy mask, which definitely caught me off guard.

Deciding to go to Central Park is always a good idea, and today, with such pleasant weather (Sunny in the 50's), and spring blooming brightly, the park was bustling, and beautiful. Central Park features a few good descents, some of which you can use to carry you through the next climb. When I'm riding in the loop, I sometimes use stronger cyclists to try to motivate myself to ride harder. A cyclist in red passes me, and I attempt to pace him for a stretch.

Trying to follow the cyclist in red, an exercise in futility, but good exercise none the less.

Rapid descent past the lake in Central Park.

I had planned on buying Cashews from a cart in the park, but I had not seen any carts selling them in almost an entire lap. After seeing more and more ice cream carts, I had assumed that the season for the warm roasted treats had ended, and I might not find the food I desred at all. Just when I had all but given up hope, I locate the Cashews I was craving, and munched them down. Observing the tourists, and the commuters on detour, I finished my snack, and set out for another lap around the park.

Beautiful spring scenery in Central Park. My wolf whistle alerts a group of anxious teenagers.

Descent, strong climb, and rapid descent behind SUV, in Central Park.

Rapid descent, catching up to the commuter on a Bianchi.

Lush green fields in Central Park, 2nd rapid descent past the lake.

More gorgeous skyline as I approach Columbus Circle to head home.

Whenever I pass through Columbus Circle I always dismount and walk my bike through the connecting path, and sidewalks. As I walked along the path I see people looking up to a tree with their cameras ,and phones. As I walked around them, and looked up, you could see a hawk eating a smaller bird. It was dimly lit on it's perch, but you can see him well when he briefly spreads his wings for a moment. After that bit of excitement, I found my way to 54th street, and cut crosstown to pick up 1st avenue, and the 59th Street Bridge. My timing as I crest the 59th Street Bridge was such that when I slid my camera between the bars for a shot of the river, I happened to get a very nice shot of the Roosevelt Island Air Tram as it passes, before descending the other side of the bridge. Once back in Astoria, I rode through the park, enjoyed a milkshake from the resident Mr. Softee, and briefly soaked in the clear scenic expanse, watching the waters under the Hellgate swirl.

People stop to film, and take pictures of a hawk eating a small bird on a branch above our heads, near Columbus Circle.

The golden statue in Columbus Circle.

An interesting paint job on the side of a van crossing the 59th Street Bridge depicts a stick figure holding a movie camera.

Lucky timing as the Roosevelt Island Air Tram passes me at the top of the 59th Street Bridge, then following the yellow rider down the bridge.

Standing between the Triboro, and Hellgate Bridges, stunning skyline, and my commentary regarding the tumultuous waters running below Hellgate.

Fooling around for effect, riding under the Hellgate, rolling out from the grassy hill towards home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Astoria to Randalls Island, and the 59th Street bridge. (17.03 miles)

Today I had planned a short utilitarian ride to some local wholesale stores, and also wanted to get a decent ride in before the sun went down.

As I checked over my bike before leaving, I noticed that the faint scraping sound coming from my back wheel, that started about a week ago, was getting worse. I had thought that I had possibly knocked my rear brakes out of alignment, so I brought my bike to Tony's BIcycles to have it looked at. Upon inspection, the mechanics tell me that my rear rim is worn, and bent, and will have to be replaced. Having purchased my bike at Tony's my maintenance, and often labor costs, are waived, and I sometimes leave having only paid for parts. Thankfully today was one of those days, and in short order they had the new rim on, ready to go. I paid the 87$ for the rim, tipped the mechanic 5$, and got my receipt. After paying, the mechanic asked me if I had received my pass to the Ride To Montauk. I told him I had not. He then hands me a laminated pass:

Very pleased with this outcome, I made the ride to the stores, and picked up some general household supplies. I then returned home, took a quick shower, grabbed a couple of cereal bars, and hit the road for my real ride. I decided to cross the Triboro Bridge and soak in some of the views on Randalls Island before crossing the 125th Street Bridge to ride the East River Esplanade, and return via the 59th St bridge.

Some unusual sites today, firefighters doing a burning house drill, homeless completely blocking the path on the 125th Street bridge, sitting in the path with shopping carts, drinking Cobra from the can, and likely huffing spray paint, by the smell of it. Approaching the East River Esplanade, I see white Police Tape and a single officer standing near what seemed to me from a distance could have been a body under a sheet. I asked the officer if it was a body, who said it was not, and as I got closer, that was apparent. Also, when I reached the sculpture park in the shadow of the 59th Street bridge I found a Fashion shoot in progress.

A finished stretch of the Hellgate rail trail.

Retracing my path back along the Hellgate rail trail.

Riding back along the riverside, I crest a small hill to find a firefighters drill in progress.

I approach a scene blocked off by police tape cautiously, and question the lone officer, "Is that a body?", before passing through.

Riding a busy stretch along the river, I lean down to better shoot a trotting Chihuahua.

Approaching the 59th Street bridge I aggressively climb the hill up to the sculpture park, and find a fashion photo shoot in progress.

The entrance to the 59th Street bridge, and my commentary regarding it's rightfully negative reputation.

Descending the 59th Street bridge, my frustrations with other riders are vocalized. Realizing I am pacing/passing a tow-truck on the bridge I proclaim, "Faster than a Tow-Truck! More powerful than a Golf Cart!"