Thursday, May 08, 2008

Five Boro Rides Again

Yours truly did her first ever Five Boro Bike Tour, accompanied by the Commish of Parks, and Bank of America president of New York, Alan Rapaport, pictured here.
The beginning of the day did not look promising: a cold 50 degrees, accompanied by constant misty rain, threatened to kill a nice day.

Undaunted I donned a semi-rainproof vest and mounted my ever-ready rain wheel spritz protection device, and headed over the George Washington.
I met up with Adrian Benepe and Rapaport at the garage for the Parks' Department and then we headed over to a triangle in Central Park near the east 72nd St. entrance to join the riders.

Many riders it appeared had started out before the lead cars, which came along flashing their lights and letting everyone know that cyclists would be coming through.
We headed up through Central Park, then Harlem, then over the bridge to the Bronx, where once again, I am afraid to say because of the short run through the boro, the Bronx got dissed in the infamous words of Steve Klein in his last review of the tour on BBB in 2006.

Over another bridge, into Manhattan again, where we eventually found ourselves riding down the East River Drive--what a thrill! No cars, and being able to experience the river and the city with such a view! It really boggles the mind how much class A trophy land is devoted to cars and highways, I really still don't get it.

Anyway, we then threaded off on about 65th st., and headed over to Second Ave. where we would cross on the 59th St. bridge to Queens. We passed the sacred territory where a cyclist was once crushed to death several years ago by an 18-wheeler making a left hand turn onto the bridge.

Adrian gave Rapaport and I an ongoing tour of the city, the parks, historic buildings, and neighborhoods for the entire ride.

When we entered the required rest stop in Astoria Park at around mile 20 or 23, we got great refreshments from a slew of kind volunteers, oranges, bananas, sports drinks, and sports bars.

Adrian boogeyed to the disco music being pumped out by giant speakers, much to the amusement of cyclists sitting nearby.

After waiting a while for the gates to be opened for the rest of the ride, we continued through Queens and then passed over another bridge to Brooklyn.

Memorably the Hasidic neighborhood has barred windows: we also saw the old and crumbling mansions ensconced in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

After passing Red Hook, and riding alongside the water we came to the base of the Verrazzano Bridge--such a beautiful bridge, and decided to continue on to Coney Island instead.
On the pathway, which was repaired by the Parks' Dept. for something in the millions--I think $18 million--we passed Sen. Chuck Schumer who was riding along on his bike in the opposite direction. Rapaport went back and said hello. I was wondering why he wasn't on the tour too.

Later in Coney Island, we ate the most delicious fried shrimp, corn dogs, and hot dogs. Adrian spoke to some of the parks' workers and listened patiently to their complaints.

We did not witness the real bunching up of cyclists that many people reported, perhaps because we were close to the front. But we also took it easy and went a bit slower than we normally do.
Cyclists were still coming through at 1 pm when we headed back (and don't ask how). Despite the wet ground early in the ride, and much crushed glass, I saw few flat tires or spills related to people taking corners too quickly. More or less everyone was respectful of each other. What a great way to see New York


Steve said...

you wrote near the end:
"Cyclists were still coming through at 1 pm when we headed back (and don't ask how)."

From your last picture, up on the BQE over the Gowanus Canal Bridge, you were sitting in the left side passenger seat of an SUV or van, driving north on the BQE from Coney Island. Correct?

The sun had finally come out by this time. I didn't get to the top of the bridge until 1:30. A few minutes later I got stuck at 45th St, the Belt-Gowanus split, and waited an hour to get down the narrow Belt ramp. I was up on the VNB at 3:20 PM. Home at 6:30.
A Long Day.

I hope that Adrian got a good look from below at the unfinished Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. You can easily see where the bicycle/pedestrian paths were supposed to be installed on each side between the cables - just like the George Washington Bridge.

When the VNB is completed, it will add not only a two mile world class view on this new bike/ped path, but extend the Shore Parkway path system into Staten Island.

On SI you land in Ft Wadsworth, a National Park, can ride south along the beach paths, north to the St George Ferry or inland into SI. This does not even address the 10 percent of the VNB drivers who drive less than 8 miles door to door - a 45 minute bicycle trip between Bklyn and SI.

With the VNB open to bikes, getting from Manhattan to Coney Island will be a shorter and easier ride via the ferry and the VNB to the Belt than crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and cycling through downtown Bklyn traffic to CI. It would certainly be an interesting loop ride.

Steve Faust, a 5 Boro Captain.

Jen Benepe said...

thanks for your comment. Yes, sorry to say, we were. I'll point out your comments about the bridge to A.

So on that ride from S.I. to Coney Island, how would you ride from the ferry to the bridge? I was thinking how great a ride this was.