Thursday, June 14, 2012

Astoria to Bensonhurst (31.57 miles)

The chest mounted camera was a great perspective and worth trying, but I wanted to go back to my helmet mount for today and use the Omnidirectional microphone that I started with. Earlier this week I had made a lunch date with my girlfriend and had made a plan to ride to Bensonhurst. On past trips down Kent Avenue I had noticed some interesting looking graffiti and thought that I might try to film some of it at some point during today's ride.

Today was also the first time I would try my new hiking backpack, and my new 2 liter water bladder (featured in my first touring gear post). The backpack has chest and waist straps which I've never had on a backpack before. These straps took some getting used to, especially around my portly frame, but after awhile I had them adjusted so I felt comfortable and the pack felt stable. The water bladder works well, and the water even seemed to stay cool in the backpack compartment. I found the outer cap to be a little awkward, but the valve on the end worked well, and I'm sure with some practice I'll get better at fully recapping the end while riding.

I set out after 11 and immediately cut through Astoria Park to pick up the Waterfront Route and Vernon Blvd, my preferred route to the Pulaski Bridge and Brooklyn. The weather was favorable for NYC in June, mid 70's with some moderate winds around 15mph+, sunny skies and dry lanes made for a pleasant trip. I made my way through Astoria and Long Island City taking in some of my favorite local scenic spots, including a bustling Socrates Sculpture Park and soon came upon Pulaski Bridge. AFter cresting the bridge, I made my way South to Kent Avenue to find the graffiti building I had spied on other trips to Brooklyn. What I found was an interesting mix of graffiti styles wrapping around the entire structure, seemingly contributed by a group of artists. There are famous graffiti buildings in Five Points which I plan to film one day, the work on those buildings is huge in scale and variety.

Astoria Park to the Waterfront Route and Socrates Sculpture Park.

Queensbridge Park.

Cresting the Pulaski Bridge.

Freeman Street to Franklin Ave, which becomes Kent Ave.

Graffiti Building on Kent Ave.

Kent Ave to the Manhattan Bridge and Flushing Blvd.

Still heading South I followed my usual route to Prospect Park. The bike lanes along the outside of Prospect Park are continually under construction and at some point you usually have to ride in the car lane until you can get back over. Today while riding around the construction a woman decides to honk and yell at me through her closed window that I should be in the bike lane. It was apparent that she had little regard for cyclists or the rules of the road which state that any lane is mine if needed. Descending along the park to the traffic signal I find her caught at the light and decide to use this as a "teaching moment". I do believe that ignorant drivers are often best left ignored but sometimes my frustrations get the better of me. Of course the irony of all of this is that she was driving a hybrid, but I guess that could just mean a person is cheap and not necessarily "green" or bike friendly.

Prospect Park bike lanes under construction, an irate motorist honks and yells at me. I find her at the light and explain the rules of the road.

At the top of Prospect Park is 20th Street and Mc Donald Ave which run along Green-wood Cemetary for a steep descent to Fort Hamilton Parkway. On this downhill stretch it is easy to reach the posted speed limit of 30MPH, and I do. Now on Dahill Road It's a long straight burn to 17th Ave, and then a long straight burn to my girlfriends door.

Prospect Park West to Mc Donald Avenue, rapid descent, doing the speed limit (30 MPH).

Children crossing, Dahill Road to 46th Street.

I took a shower and then we walked down 86th Street in Bensonhurst to get lunch. After a few hours hanging out in Brooklyn I decided to head back to Queens to get ahead of rush hour, and the glare of Sunset.

Vanderbilt Avenue.

Kent Avenue to the Manhattan Bridge.

Along Kent Avenue there seems to be quite a few interesting spots to explore, one of which is East River State Park. Mostly gravel and grass, this little park offers beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline along the East River. As I was leaving the park I was told that bikes were not permitted though there was no clear sign saying so on the gate.

East River State Park

Exiting back onto Kent Ave I then resumed my regular route and approached the Pulaski Bridge for the 2nd time that day. Near the top of the bridge there is an opening in the fence and a small outcropping which seemed perfect for a panoramic photo opportunity.

View from Pulaski Bridge

Cresting Pulaski Bridge to Long Island City.

Rolling home through Long Island City on the last third of my trip, the temperature continued to drop cooling me nicely. I found myself thinking more and more about The Ride to Montauk Saturday, and tried to gauge my strength. All things considered, I feel strong, tomorrow I will clean and lube my drive train before riding to the bike shop in SoHo where my bike will get packed up to meet me in Babylon early the next morning.

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