Monday, June 4, 2012

I want to ride it where I like

The first few years I lived in New York, I had a bike that I never used. It was bequeathed to me, and I was convinced that having a bike would be the crucial step to becoming an avid cyclist. It wasn't, and I spent the next two years moving that bike from Astoria to Brooklyn and back to Astoria. Roommates and their boyfriends' borrowed the bike many times, but I only rode it twice in the entire period. When I moved into my current apartment over a year ago, I finally parted with it as I reasoned if I didn't use it when I only had to bring it down one flight of stairs, I certainly wouldn't bring it down four flights. Consequently, the last time I was on a bike was a long time back and for a short duration. 

This all changed this weekend. Some friends convinced me to sign up for the Tour de Brooklyn--a 21 mile bike ride around the aforementioned borough. I was able to borrow the bike of a friend who was out of town and arrived in Brooklyn bright and early Sunday morning to begin the journey. We couldn't have asked for better weather. Blue skies and warm, but not uncomfortably hot. We rode through several neighborhoods I had never been to before including Bay Ridge which is quite a lovely little hamlet and Fort Hamilton which is actually a working army base. I for one was surprised at how many hills Brooklyn has. The ride itself was fun, and the group moved at a nice slow, family pace. Several people toted babies or dogs, which, as an amateur, I found very impressive. And not all were even pocket or purse dogs. One guy had a full sized corgi bursting out of his backpack and occasionally seeking opportunities to lick the back of his owner's neck. 

Although we had a police escort and a number of amazing volunteers who held back traffic and allowed us to stream through the streets, I was still amazed at how aggressive pedestrians and drivers are towards bicycles. One of the reasons I never really used my bike when I had it was because I'm sort of terrified of New York drivers, so the police escort was a huge basis of the Tour de Brooklyn's appeal. Part of the reason, we witnessed so much anger from cars and walkers is probably because we were toward the back of a pack of 2,000 cyclists, so by the time we were whizzing by, people had already been waiting for 20 minutes or so. New Yorkers do not take kindly to waiting 20 minutes or so.

I didn't bring a camera (per the usual), but my friend who is a wonderful photographer took these shots:  

Some of the 2,000 bikers taking it to the Brooklyn streets.

A view of the bridge to Staten Island from Brooklyn. 

Our crew, resting for a bit in Sunset Park, while waiting for the bike traffic to clear up.
I got home from the ride about 4:00 and didn't want to do anything else all day. I had promised a friend I would go to a zumba class with her, but I realized on the train ride home that had been fool hardy. Instead, I drank the weird sugary energy drink that had come in some charity gift bag a month or so ago and made myself a giant plate of biscuits with sausage gravy. Not a bad Sunday.


  1. People in SF hate cyclists too. I think just everyone in every mode of transportation hates everyone else who gets in the way of them getting somewhere. Although, I am very impressed by how pedestrians will walk boldy in my path when I'm biking but I don't see them doing that for cars as much...

  2. Good job! I think you are wise to only ride when you have lots of other people to protect you from cars.

  3. so you guys were the ones that prevented us from driving down flatbush that day! we were in the group of angry cars at flatbush/atlantic (although we were definitely not honking at you!)

  4. Yep, that was us! I think they need to advertise temporary road closures ahead of time so people don't get upset. No one honks at the marathon after all, because they know about it in advance.