Yesterday I had the pleasure of riding with a new friend I met through a cycling forum. It turns out Jim, who had been looking for someone to ride with, lives in Bensonhurst near where my girlfriend lives. This made planning rides between us simpler for me as I could use my girlfriends apartment as a way point of sorts, and I was already quite familiar with the route between us. When we had planned the ride over the phone, I told him of my idea to ride over the Marine Park bridge, along Beach Channel Drive, over Broad Channel to Crossbay Blvd, (stopping in Howard Beach for pizza) and through Queens via Woodhaven Blvd to return to Astoria. Jim said that he liked this idea, and would likely tack on more mileage by returning to Bensonhurst via Manhattan. So the ride was set for 1pm Saturday, starting from Bensonhurst. Leaving my apartment and entering into the relatively bright and mild late morning sunshine, I started toward Bensonhurst along my usual route. When I reach the first entrance to the Waterfront route, I encounter construction and attempt to make my way around using my sense of direction. While trying to find my way back to the Waterfront route I passed groups of runners either running in a club or in a seemingly small charity event. After having little success finding an alternate neighborhood route I found myself back near the entrance to the Waterfront route, but this time I found an alternate entrance and was able to resume my usual route. As the morning progressed the temperature steadily rose along with an ever thickening layer of gray cloud cover. When I reached Prospect Park I witnessed a small but bustling farmers market at the top of the park, then baring right to follow park traffic, I rode through the interior of the park South to where I could then reenter the Brooklyn streets and find Dahill Road, which will connect me to the last stretch before reaching my destination.
Rapid Descent to 1st Street.
Community garden in Astoria, graffiti.
Doubling back past the other side of the community garden on Astoria Blvd.
Waterfront route around projects and through Goodwill Park, riding through Socrates sculpture park.
Queensbridge park and passing under the Queensboro Bridge.
Pulaski Bridge to Freeman, Franklin, Kent, and the Manhattan Bridge.
Decorated bike path along service road to Navy St.
Double decker bike made from three bike frames?
Open air market at the top of Prospect Park.
Riding South through Prospect Park, following a road bike rider before exiting.
Horse back riders at the Southern end of Prospect Park.
Arriving at my girlfriends apartment I took a shower and we went for a walk to get a light snack, and some bubble tea. After helping her with a few light chores around her apartment I heard from Jim and soon I was outside awaiting the arrival of my new cycling friend. We took a moment for salutations and I introduced my girlfriend before we left and made our way down 86th Street. I left navigation to the Marine Park bridge up to Jim as I trusted his local knowledge of the streets. He opted for a route on Avenue T and U, connecting to Flatbush Ave which leads to the bridge. Once at the bridge I followed behind Jim, into intense headwinds as we made our way over, landing in Jacob Riis Park. Jim is a much lighter rider than I, and it seemed the temperature and humidity combination was not taking quite the same toll on his endurance. I tried my best to put a strong effort forth but I felt I was reaching into a dry well as my usual afterburners were not present. On top of that at about the 30 mile mark, I found that when I tried to stand and pedal, my thighs wanted to cramp.
Riding down 86th Street in Brooklyn with Jim.
Floyd Bennett Field to the foot of the Marine Park Bridge.
Following Jim over the Marine Park Bridge into intense headwinds.
Riding along Beach Channel Drive traffic was light, and we rode over Vietnam Memorial Bridge. By now, the skies were an ominous shade of gray, more hinting than threatening rain at this time, but still something worth noting. Now with the wind at my back, I set my gearing high on the third chain ring and spun comfortably into that smooth "torquey" acceleration. According to GPS results, we averaged nearly 20mph for a 4,000 yard stretch here. All the while I could tell things were not improving with my thigh muscles, any attempt to stand and pedal resulted the beginnings of cramps. So I resigned myself to spinning more and basically dialing back my overall speed just to be 100% sure I could complete the ride home. Entering Howard Beach, we made our way down Woodhaven Blvd to New Park Pizza for a couple of slices and beverages. Most of the conversation Jim and I had was centered around cycling, such as our strategies regarding training, gear, and safety. We shared many of the same ideas but of course, differed in a few.
Making our way further North, I was now leading the way along Woodhaven to make our way through Corona Park, and finally hooking up with my usual route via 34th Ave and past the airport into Astoria. I had hoped to follow him over the Triboro Bridge before sending him on his way to Manhattan, and Jim had even urged me to just go home as it was apparent my condition was not improving. I had even made it as far as the first staircase on the Triboro before my legs just began twitching terribly, and the only way to allow them to relax was to sit on the bike and hold the fence, standing even made my legs cramp. At this point it was obvious that to follow him to Wards Island would not be wise, so I said my goodbyes, Jim suggesting a banana before riding to avoid potassium deficiency (which I rarely have experienced). Turning around, I rolled back down to Astoria, and just made it under the awning in front of my door in time to avoid the torrential downpour that I had hoped Jim might have avoided somehow as well.
Following Jim over the Vietnam Memorial Bridge.
Cruising North on Crossbay Blvd with Jim, crossing the final bridges approaching Howard Beach.
Crossing Corona Park with Jim, through the Zoo to the Science Museum.