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.

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