Thursday, May 24, 2012

Astoria to Roosevelt Island and Wards Island (21.59 miles)

Roosevelt Island is mostly unfamiliar to many New Yorkers, including myself. Having only recently realized that a bridge (Welfare Island Bridge) connected Long Island City to Roosevelt Island, off of Vernon Blvd, I followed the Waterfront Route along Vernon passing through Socrates Sculpture Park, and crossed the small bridge to Roosevelt Island. This bridge is narrow, and offers a small mostly unprotected shoulder for cyclists to cross in. The blacktop surface of the bridge gives way to a metal grate which I did not feel comfortable riding on with my thinner tires. Once over the bridge you descend a twisting ramp not unlike a parking garage ramp, and spill out onto Main Street where I quickly picked up East Rd and headed toward the lighthouse. Though it was warm, humid, and hazy, only a few cool drops fell once in a while, and I was never concerned that I would get soaked trusting in the forecast which called for rain in the late evening.

Vernon Blvd and Socrates Sculpture Park.

Crossing Welfare Island Bridge to Roosevelt Island.

More than a few times, I had viewed this miniature lighthouse from a distance and I was glad to have a chance to get close to it. Once I was on the West side of the Island I was able to chase a Seastreak boat along the East River all the way until it approached the U.N.. Having gone as far South as my path permitted, I found myself inside a small park under construction, slated for completion in 2013. Inside this park a crumbling building sat overgrown with strategically placed spot lights at it's feet, to provide what would be a chilling sight, lit up at night. Riding along a small stone wall, I found a nice fairly clean and modern public restroom and water fountain; and the bathroom was even big enough for me to bring my bike in with me, and lock the door. Once I exited this park the way I had come in, I cut across to the East side of the island again and completed my first lap around. On google maps it shows a complete circuit of bike lane around Roosevelt Island, this is not truly accurate. There is poorly maintained MUP, quite dangerous and somewhat narrow in some sections. There are sections on the East and West side where there is no MUP at all and you must ride in the road. Yet another example of maps showing what is planned for an area rather than what is actually there. The island has nearly 80% of it's perimeter traced with MUP which looks as if it has not been maintained in decades. Cracked walkways leave jagged sections too dangerous to ride over, the edges of steel plates jut out between where cement and grass meet, and the path makes equally treacherous and awkward "U" shapes around the man made shoring structures that line the island. All of this made for fairly slow and somewhat hazardous riding, and after a few laps around the island I decided to leave and make my way over the Triboro Bridge to try to get some decent climbing in and a few miles around Wards Island.

Traveling the West side of Roosevelt Island, chasing the Seastreak to the 59th Street Bridge.

A crumbling building inside a park under construction, slated to open in 2013.

Riding a small stone wall to find a bathroom

Leaving the Park a Seastreak boat passes, I then cross over to the East side of the Island and arrive back at the Welfare Island Bridge completing my first full circuit of Roosevelt Island.

Nearly half of a full lap around Roosevelt Island, including the Lighthouse to the 59th Street Bridge.

The 59th Street Bridge to the Welfare Island bridge.

Stopping at the lighthouse I view the water and Manhattan as well as the plaque honoring Vicki Holland at the foot of the lighthouse.

Bow shaped structure on the West side of Roosevelt Island.

Walking across Welfare Island Bridge to Long Island City.

Following Vernon Blvd back through Long Island City, I made my way to 27th Street and Hoyt Avenue to enter the Triboro Bridge path and cross over to Wards Island. Enjoying the rapid descent down the bridge, I continued to film as I glide through a wooded area and crest the rise near the 103rd Street bridge. Riding into the wind I find myself pacing a DEP boat as it approaches the Triboro Bridge. Quickly climbing the last small but steep hill, I stop in the shadow of the Hellgate Bridge to finish filming the boat until it passes.

Descending the Triboro Bridge, following a DEP boat to Hellgate Bridge.

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