Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Sweet Day

Bridging the Gap Vol.1 from Joseph Lobato on Vimeo.

I watched this video as I was holed up in an office in midtown Manhattan. Hernando was having a sweet day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Commuting by Bicycle: Day 2

Disclaimer: I am a fair weather commuter. Luckily, I wasn't riding my bicycle during the tornado.

I rode my bicycle to work for the second time last week to keep up the momentum. I had adjusted my seat so now it points slightly downward (picture the graphic in BikeSnob's book where he ridicules hipsters for pointing their saddles at a 90 degree angle towards the floor) but this adjustment was too far in the other direction. Luckily it was tolerable and not as uncomfortable as day one.

The Williamsburg Bridge was still a long, slow incline. My legs were slightly tired from the day before. I chose to day 1st Avenue as far as it would go - not knowing exactly where the bike lane ended (Are the Bike NYC Maps outdated??), but I was very relieved to find that it goes all the way to 34th Street! I guess 34th Street is everyone's idea of where midtown begins, but I'm more of a 49th/50th kind of gal (unfortunately) - if they could only extend it 16 more blocks, I would be golden. After 34th St, 1st Avenue splits and the entrance on the right is for a highway - a little daunting. I chose to make a left of East 43rd Street because I wasn't sure about the UN Plaza Street (I think I will choose that next time). I rode carefully up 3rd Avenue and then across on 49th Street. Let's just say, midtown could use some repaving.

The trip only took me 45 minutes and I had time to shower. My new proposal for New York Sports Club is to have a "Commuter Membership" where bike commuters pay $40/month to use the showers and lockers. $40/month is still a little steep but I can't see them doing it for less, if they do it at all. Right now I pay $79/month for...not going to the gym. Well, I suppose I don't need to if I can keep riding my bicycle to work. SO I take a shower at NYSC - which is always funny because I think all of the shampoo/conditioner/body wash options are just different colors of hand soap. I got to work early and basically washed my hair with hand soap, so it looked amazing all day.

Time it took: 45 minutes
What I drank because I was so thirsty: water, eventually coffee


I was meeting up with K after work because she had ridden her bicycle too. I dared to take the Broadway Bicycle lane all the way from 47th Street, which was a horrible idea (as I suspected). The Herald Square area is full of tourists and I'm not even sure where the bike lane is - it seems to run behind a bunch of the fancy tables but no one pays attention to it. Plus, some kid was playing the piano on top of Macy's and creating a big hold up.

Once I made it down the to 20s it was smooth sailing and I passed a film scene involving bicycles so I shouted "I'm available!" but no takers. The camera guy smiled at me though, so I might be in.

K and I met up unexpectedly on 10th St bike lane and headed over to NYC Velo. I wanted to check out the BaileyWorks small Citizen Pack, which looks like this

I really like the orange color, but I was disappointed to find that the straps and the bag in general isn't as comfortable as Chrome's Dually Backpack. Clearly, I haven't used the BaileyWorks bag, and it seemed high quality, but it is $60 more than the Chrome bag. It is shaped to fit your back so it forms a sort of "V," decreasing the amount of stuff you can fit in it. I fit a six pack of beer (bottles) and mango juice and clothes in K's Dually. Just saying. I'm disappointed that Chrome doesn't have the Dually in a rust color or in a less crazy orange color, but I'm thinking about the brown:


Luckily, after two days of commuting, K agreed to go to Wing Bar with me (275 Smith Street, Brooklyn). You can get a pitcher of beer there for $7.50 but it's Coors Light and K is too classy for that, so we drank Oktoberfest and ate 20 wings. It was delicious.

Time it took: I didn't check because we stopped at NYC Velo
What I drank because I was so thirsty: Sam Adam's Oktoberfest

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commuting by Bicycle: Day 1

I rode my bicycle from Crown Heights to midtown today (and back)! I decided that the weather is too perfect and the subway depresses me too much. I swallowed my NYC public transportation pride (gross) and bought a strong lock to use outside of work.

Riding from Crown Heights to Rockefeller Center is slightly awkward, mostly because many of the amazing protected bike lanes don't go up as far as they should. If the 1st Avenue bike lane went as high as 50th Street (and the 2nd Avenue Bike Lane), I would be set - then I could get to and from work relatively easily. Instead, I like to choose the "Safe" option on RideTheCity.com and see where it takes me. The route was this: Bedford Avenue to the Williamsburg Bridge to 1st Avenue to East 9th to Greenwich to 8th Avenue and then all the way up 8th Avenue to West 48th Street. Woohoo.

My first reaction to commuting: Wow, my bike seat really isn't that comfortable. I made a slight adjustment on Bedford Avenue beside the gas station - still uncomfortable but not as horrible as before. Ouch. My second reaction to commuting: Wow, the Williamsburg Bridge is a very long, slow incline. It's time like these I wish I had gears. I reminded myself that skinny hipsters from Williamsburg do it all the time, so I could do it too. Plus a guy whistled at me as I past him so I figured I wasn't the slowest one.

The bike path on First Avenue introduced me to the first of many darting lizards - also known as "people on their way to work." They have glazed-over eyes and are usually carrying a large coffee with a sleeve. I calmed myself down by slowing down and avoiding the lizards. At one point I was behind a girl who was riding slowly on a big mountain bike. As I got next to her I realized she was actually smoking a cigarette and riding her bike at the same time. At first, I thought "Well, at least she's riding her bike" but then, she was probably undoing all that good.

As I got on East 9th Street, around the NYU area, I slowed down to pass an ambulance. I was horrified to see that an older woman had bad cuts all over her arm. She didn't seem homeless and she seemed pretty calm about her bleeding arm but I shuddered with thoughts of domestic violence (and before 9 AM?).

The ride up 8th Avenue was fine until about 34th Street, when it gets really crowded. The clock read 8:24am and people started streaming out of the train stations under Madison Square Garden. It got worse when I neared Port Authority because I was stopped at a light and what seems like hundreds of Jerseyites (?) walking every which way across the street. For lack of anything better to do about the bike lane that suddenly disappears, I stayed as far to the left as possible and continued on.

I turned East on W. 48th Street. I locked my bike up a hundred times to make sure the lock actually went through the frame and then I ran into NYSC to, literally, change my clothes. Had I been more ambitious, I could have showered too, but time was running out before work, so I rocked the half sweaty/half envigorated style.

At work, I was elated. Commuting makes me feel much more like a cyclist - even if I still worry about my rickety bike or what components everyone else is flashing around.

Time it took: 1 hour
What I drank because I was so thirsty: coffee (I do that a lot)


Unsure of which route was the best to take home, I convinced myself that taking 2nd Avenue all the way down would be worthwhile - since parts of that route have bike lanes. I also didn't want to take Broadway, and I'm reluctant to ride all the way to the West Side Highway, although I may do that in the coming days.

If I thought the lizards were out BEFORE work, being in midtown at 5:00 PM is much, much worse. Near Rockefeller Center, people dart around cars and behind parked trucks to cross the street - it's not really J-walking so much as playing DDR in the middle of the street.

Second Avenue was a poor choice. Although the street is really wide, it's undergoing a lot of construction and there are crazy old people that don't know what exactly what bike lanes are. By the time I got down to St. Marks Place I was happy to beeline home over the bridge.

Taking Wythe Avenue from Williamsburg to Crown Heights was not as easy as I had hoped. I was sure the Hassid bus drivers were gunning me down and at one point a large bus sped up, cut me off, and then put out it's little STOP sign. (Is it illegal to pass those?).

I took Franklin all the way to Shorty's Deli and purchased many beverages (not beer, they don't sell it). I am using commuting as an excuse to eat everything and probably go to bed as early as possible. So far, so good.

Time it took: 1 hour 12 minutes
What I drank because I was so thirsty: Nantucket Nectars Orange Mango, ice water

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rockaway Debacle: On Being Prepared

I shudder to think about my most recent flat tire fiasco. Two weekends ago I rode with DOBC to the Rockaways. This is a pleasant ride from Park Slope/Prospect Heights area because you can take the protected bike greenway on Ocean Parkway almost all the way to the Rockaways.

I should have known the morning was doomed because, when I woke up, I had a horrible hangover and I was in a fight with my girlfriend. I had work looming over my head (LSATs) but since I knew I wouldn't do anything productive, I headed over to meet DOBC. I spoke dismissively with a friend about how I had been getting so many flat tires, but I had just bought new Continental Gatorskins and was feeling confident.

On the long bike path that runs alongside Flatbush Avenue, before you hit the Marine Parkway Bridge, I heard the dreaded "pop." Considering the terrain we had been going over - the path turned to sand at one point, and the sidewalks are pretty choppy - I shouldn't have been surprised. Unfortunately, I was unprepared. Fooled by the thought of my protective new Gatorskins (C'mon! They're called Gatorskins!), I just didn't have anything with me - no tube, no patch, no pump. Also, I ride baby tires, so any old 700c tube wouldn't do..

My bro Dez stayed with me as we started the 2 mile trek towards the beach. Now I was hot, hungover and keeping my friends from getting to the beach. At one point a very friendly and enthusiastic biker chick stopped and tried to patch my tube with her friends (Emily, wherever you are, I will come cheer you on at the track). My other bro, Candice, rode back and forth over the bridge to bring me a patch kit. The tire had popped along a seam and the glue from the patches weren't sticking. Emily and her friends were able to repair it enough for me to get over the bridge, and I rode with a flat tire along the beach's boardwalk.

After a few hours of sunbathing and watching many, many drunk gay men strut around in tiny bathingsuits, we headed home. My friend Heidi walked the 60 small blocks to the subway with me. (Hell yea, hell yea). All I could think of was how I didn't want to be a burden to my bike friends again.

Enter: Bike Nashbar. I have been getting promotional e-mails from Bike Nashbar and Pricepoint.com for quite a while, but I hadn't bought anything from either website. They offer bike parts and accessories at a discounted price and they have a wide range of products. I tend to think of these stores as being geared towards the Dad riders - people who work in the financial district and buy fancy Trek road bicycles. Whether or not this is accurate, they have some good deals. I bought two tubes, a patch kit, glueless patches, and a small hand pump for $22.50. I also got a really cute pair of gloves for K (I think BikeSnob would enjoy the knuckle tattoo theme:)

I am finally coming to the realization that bicycles, like any vehicle, require emergency repair kits. Usually I just get angry and think that I am the only person who suffers from flat tires. Now I have my Chloe bike bag stocked for the next ride. No more walking to the beach.