Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Century Training - Week 1; Day 2

Week: 1
Day: 2
Ride: Pace
Scheduled Mileage: 10
Actual Mileage: 7.87 (ran out of daylight)
Average Speed: 10.5 mph* 
Max Speed: 22.5 mph
*Includes city street speed average

Random Notes to Self:
  • Need to do something nice for my roommate for being my consummate Google guru; this evening, the search words were: how to wear a cycling headband; your ponytail does go through the hole (Thanks, B!)
  • While the avenues are fairly evenly paved, there are a lot of potholes and craggy pavement in the cross streets of Manhattan (at least from my experience thus far in West Midtown); it's one thing to expect the ruts when you're posted on stilettos in the cobblestone streets of the Meatpacking District, but it's another to have to dodge them on a bicycle going 10 mph in city traffic.
  • Biking north on the Hudson River during a beautiful sunset is incredibly relaxing and reminds you that Hell's Kitchen, the Upper West Side and Harlem are all within less than five miles of each other; it's a startling reminder when public transportation between these three neighborhoods alone can take 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Cycling south on Riverside Drive is a smooth ride with relatively even pavement and an easy, cautious disregard of most of the traffic lights since the Upper West Side cross streets dead-end on the east of Riverside and the Hudson River parks scroll along, practically uninterrupted, to the west.
  • With the progressively longer days and the additional delay of sundown created by Daylight Savings Time, it currently gets dark around 7:30pm; a 6:45pm ride would work better with my work schedule at job #1 and the short weekday rides if I could focus more on pedaling and less on sightseeing (at least the days are still getting longer).
  • Lugging my road bike (though it is very light) up the four flights of stairs to my fifth floor walk-up apartment is easier if I pull the top tube over my shoulder and wear my bicycle like a purse; I'll have to remember that on subway steps and all of the other New York City stairways.

A bicycle is to New York City what an airplane is to the world. A bicycle shrinks Manhattan with the vigor of technological globalization. Neighborhoods that feel worlds apart by foot, subway or congested traffic are redefined in smaller grids by easy pedal strokes.

I coasted onto the bicycle lanes on the West Side Highway and headed north along the Hudson River just as dusk was creating the blend of blue, green and orange skies that gives Manhattan a shimmery glow at the end of beautiful days. Today was a welcome hint of spring.

Before I knew it, I was passing the West 79th Street Boat Basin Café and cycling through Riverside Park. I glided through the garden where Meg Ryan saw Tom Hanks with his dog "Brinkley" at the end of You've Got Mail and thought about how much I love watching movies that were filmed in New York.

Suddenly I was in Harlem, just blocks from my old apartment and realizing that my old neighborhood was not a world away as it often seems. When you live in New York City, it is so easy to forget that Manhattan is only 13.4 miles long and only 2.3 miles at its widest point - or barely 23 square miles. Since moving to Midtown, I rarely venture above 72nd Street, below 14th, or crossover Fifth Avenue. I'm not one of those trite and contrived urban snobs, who brags about never leaving Soho or boasts that the only time they leave the island is to go to the airport; it's just that everything I regularly need is within a 2-mile radius of my apartment.

Thanks to my CATEYE V3, I've found that I am currently most comfortable cruising along at about 15-miles per hour - on wide open streets or bicycle lanes, of course. However, returning south on Riverside Drive, I was surprised that my cycling computer was recording speeds of over 20 mph - courtesy of the rolling terrain, I'm sure. I also made a mental note that 7:15pm on Riverside Drive is a pleasant time to coast with reasonably light traffic along the gorgeous Upper West Side pre-war architecture. I should have stopped to take more photos. I could ask my roommate to google some good ones, or I welcome you to check out the pictures from my city walks (Upper West Side 1: The Gold Coast; Upper West Side 3: Riverside Park and the Boat Basin; Upper West Side 4: Church and Gown). In the meantime, I leave you with this Hudson River sunset ...

I may have to eventually invest in a cheaper commuter bicycle so that I can make cycling my primary form of city transportation. It has already brought so much more of New York City to me.


*M* said...

wow this actually makes me want to ride a bike...


Helen Steussy said...

Sniffles get better when it's warmer. It also helps to always wear eye protection.

I love seeing your bike ride pictures. It's so different from my usual ride.