This morning I woke up and sprung to action, making a list of all of the things I wanted to accomplish and setting to accomplishing them. After getting showered and dressed and brushing my teeth, I decided to embark on a bike ride.
I really only had two things I wanted to hit on the ride and I knew if I put it off for any reason, it wouldn’t happen. The weather was 55 degrees which is perfect, nearly. A little chilly, enough for a light hoodie. You’re a bit cold but the energy you exert ends up keeping you warm without making you sweaty.
11:30am to 12:00pm – Apartment to 188 Prospect Park East
I’ve known for quite some time that the esteemed Nighthawk Cinema is planning on opening a second location on the East side of Prospect Park. It is set to claim the location once held by the now defunct Pavilion Theater.
I rode the route I thought was correct based on the Google Maps search I’d done just before leaving my apartment. However, a cursory glance lead to slight miscalculation on my part which made me re-route and, on take two, I arrived at the work sight flawlessly.
The Pavilion Theater, soon to be Nighthawk Prospect Park
The site, at least from the facade, was much less far along than I thought it would be. I thought they had said it was supposed to open in the spring, but I might be making that up. It’s no rush, I’m just excited to see it as it’s closer to me than their Williamsburg location, which, though I’ve been too and looked at from the outside, have yet to see a movie there.
After taking a few pictures of the marquee, I headed to destination number two.
12:05pm to 12:25pm – Prospect Park to Domino Sugar Park (Williamsburg)
My next destination was the Domino Sugar Park. Technically my destination was the park right next to it, as this park is still under construction. I first read about this park in an issue of Time Out magazine.
Panorama of the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan skyline from Grand Ferry Park
This too I had thought was set to open in the spring or in May, but according to an article I read on my phone while sitting on a bench in Grand Ferry Park (the adjacent park), it is set to open in June.
After resting and chilling on the bench for a bit, I headed to destination number 3.
12:35pm to 1:10pm – Williamsburg to Long Island City via Greenpoint and the Pulaski Bridge
I hopped back onto my bike and into the Kent Ave bike lane, making my way through Greenpoint and briefly stopping at the Manhattan Avenue Park before taking the Pulaski Bridge into Long Island City (Queens).
It had been a long time since I had ridden over this bridge and to my surprise I found that they had added Jersey Barrier to block off the far lane to dedicate it to a bike path. I thought this was a great way to separate the cyclists from the pedestrians and to decrease congestion.
I rode around trying to find the same street I’d taken on the 4th of July to view the fireworks. I rode to the north end of Center Blvd and dismounted my bike to sit on a more posh and shadier (it was more in the shade, not sketchier) bench.
View from shady bench
Eventually I got back on my bike and rode along the waterfront, passing the iconic LIC Pepsi Cola sign, to Hunter’s Point South Park. This is my favorite spot in Long Island City and is one of the places I used to bring my students when I was an instructor for Bike New York.
After hanging out in the park for a bit I made a few laps up and down Center Blvd trying to find the exact street from which I view the fireworks on the 4th of July. When I was satisfied that I’d found the correct street (of which I am still not 100% certain), I headed to destination number 4.
? – ? – Long Island city to Randell’s Island via Astoria and the RFK Bridge
I rode up to Vernon Blvd retaking the path I rode with my Bike NY students underneath the 59th Street/Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and through Queensbridge Park. I popped out the other side and back onto the bike lane.
I took it passed the Roosevelt Island Bridge where I paused to leave my co-worker Jonathan, who lives on Roosevelt Island, a voicemail. I also took a pic of a Mercedes Maybach because, wtf are you doing in Queens?
Mercedes Maybach in Queens
I continued down Vernon Blvd, rode through Rainey Park (another spot from my Bike NY days), passed the Socrates Sculpture Park and through the Hallets Point (projects) waterfront bike path.
I made my way through Astoria to Astoria Park. I then rode through the park to the pedestrian entrance of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. I had driven, or rather been driven on the RFK Bridge while on the bus to or from New York but had never traversed it under my own power.
It reminded me of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is much higher than the three bridges that connect Brooklyn to Manhattan and is significantly longer. However, the ride down the ramp from the bridge to Randell’s Island is a worthy payoff.
? – ? – Randell’s Island to The Bronx
Once on Randell’s Island I continued north and made my way onto the Central Road/Randell’s Island Connector bike path. This lead me, inadvertently, into The Bronx. I had no idea I’d gone over a small bridge and into my third borough of the day.
? – ? – The Bronx to Central Park via the Madison Avenue Bridge
I exited the bike path onto E 132nd Street, passed Pier 132 (not an actual pier) and took my first right onto Willow Ave. I rode up to E 138th Street and took a left onto 138th to head West. After passing the Cypress Ave subway station, I took a few minutes to get my bearings.
I eventually continued on 138th street and crossed the Harlem River via the Madison Avenue Bridge into Manhattan; my fourth borough of the day. I continued west on 138th until I reached Malcom X Blvd where I turned and headed south. I knew that this would lead me right to the 110th Street entrance of Central Park.
? – ? – Central Park to President (bodega) via the Williamsburg Bridge
As I was approaching the entrance I briefly considered taking Central Park West and avoiding the crowded park. However, knowing that most of my ride through Manhattan would consist of few turns and essentially be filled with long straight stretches, I decided to take the scenic route.
After emerging at the Columbus Circle exit, I went around the rotary and headed south on Broadway before cutting over to 9th Ave. I took 9th all the way down to 14th where I cut over to 2nd Ave.
While on 14th Street I came across a bus that was starting to pull away from the curb. Standing in the street between the sidewalk and the bus was a tiny older woman with an oxygen tube in her nose. She was waving at the bus driver to open his door and let her in, but she was too small for him to see.
Defeated, she made her way back to the sidewalk to wait for the next bus. Seeing this, I caught up to the bus and waved and yelled to get the driver’s attention before he pulled away from the curb. To my amazement, he saw me and opened his door.
“There’s an older woman who wants to get on the bus,” I said to the driver, “can you wait for her?” A little confused, the driver nodded. I yelled back to the woman, “Ma’am, the bus is waiting for you, you can come back.” Eventually she heard me and slowly shuffled back to the bus. The driver said to me, “I thought you were yelling at me because I was gonna hit you or something. Thanks for doing that, that was great. You’re awesome man!”
I was really happy to have helped this woman and that I got such a positive reaction from the driver. It’s moments like this that give me faith in people. We gave each other thumbs up and I rode on.
I took 2nd Ave all the way down to Houston, across Houston and onto Chrystie Street then left onto Delancey and then onto the Williamsburg Bridge.
I slowly made my way up the Williamsburg, and, as expected, my legs began to cramp. I had by that point done at least 25 miles with essentially no breaks and no food besides my small breakfast. I barely made it to the top and, once I did, dismounted my bike to give my legs a break.
I stood to the side of the bike path and let my legs stretch out. I must have looked like a winded wuss who couldn’t even handle a relatively easy climb. I literally could not move my legs. I was in so much pain and the cramps were so bad that there was nothing I could do but stand still.
After a few minutes it subsided and I decided to punk out and ride back down. I could hop on the (F) at Delancey/Essex and take it to Carroll Gardens. I mounted my bike again and began the downhill. As I rode, I got a second wind. I didn’t want to bring my bike with me on a crowded train. I didn’t want to punk out. I had come so far under my own #PedalPower, I could survive another 5 or 10 miles.
I turned around yet again and, struggling, made my way over the crest of the bridge, down the other side and back into Brooklyn. At the bottom I turned around and made my way back to the waterfront and to the Kent Ave bike lane. I made my way out to Franklin Ave and took a right on Dekalb Ave towards Downtown Brooklyn.
I passed Fort Greene Park and eventually took a right onto the Fulton Street Mall. I took a left onto Smith, a right onto Schermerhorn and a left onto Court. I rode down Court for a bit before going right onto Sackett before eventually taking a left onto Columbia and arriving at President bodega.
? – 5:00pm – President (bodega) to Red Hook Crit
Because I didn’t have my lock with me, I took my bike into the bodega. I figured they wouldn’t mind and, as expected, no one said a word about it. I ordered an Italian Sub and grabbed an Arizona Ice Tea from the fridge. After my $10 transaction, I took the short ride to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.
I followed some other cyclists to the Red Hook Crit, a foot and bike race two of my coworkers had told me about. I was due to meet one of them at 4:30pm but by the time I got there, set aside my bike and found a loading dock to sit on, it was a little after 5pm.
I called my buddy Darryl and found out that he wasn’t there yet. Even when I’m late to things I’m early. Good thing I didn’t rush to get there by 4:30. I sat on the dock, ate half my sandwich and drank some of my drink. Eventually I got up and walked around a little bit.
The day, which had started out chilly and had gotten warmer was now getting cold again. The sun was going down and clouds were rolling in. I was exhausted but I wanted to meet up with Darryl since I’d already come all this way. I looked at my phone, it was 6:13pm. I decided that if he wasn’t there in two minutes, I was gonna bounce.
Moments later I looked over and there was Darryl and his girlfriend Jess, riding over to greet me. I told them this story which you’ve now read and that I was cold so I was going to need to leave. After hugging both of them, I headed back to my apartment.
6:15 to ~7:00pm – Red Hook Crit back to my Apartment
I took the half hour or so ride through a dark and chilly Prospect Park. I returned home with a sunburn and bloodshot eyes. My lips were chapped from dehydration, my neck was sore and my legs were shot. I had survived a seven and a half hour day out on my bike.
The first half, the adventure part, the way there, all the way up to the point where I got to The Bronx, that part was cool. It was the whole ride back bit, particularly the Williamsburg Bridge that killed me and was less fun.
A rough idea of my route starting at the bottom right and ending at the bottom left
I learned to always wear suntan lotion and a hat (that’s what you bought it for dummy) and to maybe stop for more breaks or for food. That said, I’m proud of myself for pushing through the pain and not punking out and taking the subway. My trip totaled somewhere between 35 and 40 miles. Tomorrow will be low key.