Monday, July 21, 2014

Hudson River Greenway - 7/20/14

After the debacle that was my last attempt to reach the west side of Manhattan, it didn't take me long to make a second attempt. Set out to ride down to South Ferry alongside the Hudson River, I went out with one more item on me than my last attempt: my car keys.

Determined not to let the hills of San Frans... er, The Bronx deter me from reaching the west side, at approximately 10am I packed the bicycle into the back of my Pilot and drove across the Washington Bridge towards the end of 181st Street where I was lucky enough to find a parking spot immediately upon arrival. 

As bad as the hills in The Bronx were, they weren't much better on the west side as I approached my parking destination. Cyclists going to and returning from the Hudson River Greenway could be seen struggling up and down w181st street. 

Once parked and with movie soundtracks playing on my iPhone, I crossed the overpass that connected w181st street to the path that I would be riding on for the next few hours. Once I made my way across, I decided to take my first photo of the day. 

Immediately after, I made my way down an extremely steep path that had a sign warning riders to go very slow. Good thing because I had no idea at the bottom of this path was a left turn where I could've easily left some of my DNA. There's no exaggeration on my part when I say I descended with both brakes just about fully applied. Less than 5 minutes in and I was already intimidated. 

The path straightened and after another steep drop, the road leveled off and I was well on my way. At first there wasn't much to take in. Yes, you could see New Jersey across the Hudson River to my right but, before it becomes the West Side Highway, the Hudson River Drive on my left is all that's there. I was there for the ride, not the scenery I thought to myself so tried not to think too much about it. It's that the dozens of times I drove on the West Side Highway, I always wondered what was alongside and below the ramp and roadway where I could sometimes see groups of people in the summertime. 

It wasn't until about a mile or so into my ride when I finally got to see what was not visible to drivers: benches for picnics and barbecuing, basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, volley ball areas, and people. I mean, lots of people. People of all ages, all jogging, roller blading and/or cycling either alone, with a partner, a group or with strollers. It was an amazing sight. At that point, I realized I just stumbled upon a section of New York I had failed to realize even existed. 

The path was divided by green paint for those traveling north and south. At some point, a third lane would begin solely for pedestrians that were either walking or jogging, leaving the main lanes for roller bladers and cyclists. All this made passing the slower people an adventure. Choosing to pass someone on the left all depended on the traffic coming in the opposite direction AND those coming to pass you on your left. And pass me they did.  In certain instances, I felt as if I were riding in slow motion. 

Once I adjusting to the rules of the road and had taken in all activities, it was smooth sailing. There were a few turns around sections under construction but I didn't have to stop until somewhere in the 50s near one of the piers where the path intersects with a street roadway. At that point, an officer had cyclists and joggers stop while vehicles made their way towards a parking area. I felt the wait went on a little longer than it should have but, after about a minute, we were finally cleared to continue. 

A few more miles gave me views of the Intrepid, Circle Line boats, a Norwegian Cruiserline ship and, of course, many tourists. I was keeping track of my ride via the MapMyRide app and had set it to inform me of my progress at 5-mile intervals. At the first marker, I knew this was as far as I've ridden on my rides to work. At the 10-mile marker, I started to doubt whether I could complete my goal of reaching the tip of Manhattan at the South Ferry as I started to feel a bit tired. 

But suddenly I came upon a beautiful sight that gave me newfound energy and determination. I guess I hadn't see it sooner thanks in part to the views on either side of me. Maneuvering around others plus the trees lining up the left side of the path also had something to do with me not realizing what I was approaching but when I finally noticed it, I let out an audible "wow!"

The beautiful sight of the new World Trade Center as she proudly stood high into the sky was a sight I had not even considered seeing today. This picture, like all the others to follow, were taken on my return trip. 

Once I arrived at my destination, I tried to sit on a bench and take in what I had just accomplished but I had a hard time sitting still. Instead, I got back up and walked around. Once I saw the entrance to the South Ferry, I thought it was time for the second picture of the day. 

I walked around a bit more and decided it was too crowded with tourists for me to be walking my bike around so decided to start heading back. Due to the combined use of music and cycling app, my iPhone battery was down to around 40% so decided to use neither on my return trip but instead use the phone for pictures. 

1 World Trade Center

World Trade Center Memorial

The Intrepid

Norwegian Cruise Line

79th Street Boat Basin

George Washington Bridge

And finally, as posted on my Facebook page, my one-way stats...

One last thing, while downtown near the South Ferry, I saw road signs for the FDR Drive. This is another goal of mine as I would like to ride around as much of the island of Manhattan as physically possible. Start near Dyckman Avenue, down the Hudson River Greenway to South Ferry and come back north via the FDR Drive. Don't know if there's a path that makes this possible but I'll look into it. In the meantime, would like to get a riding partner for my next trip back down by the beautiful World Trade Center. 

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

First bike ride of 2014

Decided its time I start moving this body outside of turning over in bed. Here goes my first bike ride of 2014. 

Well that sucks. Made it as far as w170th street and Jesup Ave when I had my first collapse. I had no idea the Bronx had so many hills going west towards University Ave. Got off the bike, leaned it against some parade barricades and tried to gracefully crumbled to the ground.  I can imagine all I needed was an empty coffee cup to complete the perfect image. Some Jehovah's Witnesses walked past me with a look that I was beyond saving. 

Oh well, time to push on towards my second collapse. Stay tuned...

Initially, I set out to find the best route towards the Washington Bridge (not the George Washington Bridge, mind you) so I could then cross over to the Upper West Side of Manhattan and continue on 181st Street towards Riverside Drive. All this so I can find a way to take a ride on the Hudson River Greenway which spans from near Dyckman Avenue all the way down South Ferry. 

But when I finally managed to reach the entrance to the Washington Bridge, I noticed two things: an alarmingly escalated heart rate followed by a suddenly decreasing will to live. As I contemplated what to do, I took a look at the time and realized I was up against the clock. My car was parked on the wrong side of the street and I had to return before I'd get a summons. I guess I can say that alternate side parking rules saved my life today. :)

Ah well, they'll be other days to tempt a heart attack. 

Update #3:
No, not a collapse update but decided to take a pic while stopped at a red light on E. Tremont Ave and Grand Concourse. 

Update #4:
Pic while waiting at the light on E. Tremont and 3rd Avenue. Almost home. 

Final Update:
Was so happy to finally arrive at my block that my apartment building looked like a giant pillow that I just wanted to crash my bike into. Overall, the trip only took 1.5 hours but according to Cyclemeter, I only traveled a little over 5 miles. Embrassing! When I used to ride to work, it would take me between 45-55 minutes for the same distance. Granted, it's a route with 1, maybe 2 inclines to deal with but the Bronx is like a mini San Fransisco with all these damn hills. 

Anyway, I have much work to do to get back to my riding ways. At least I'm not as bad as when I first got the bike 5-6 years ago and on my first ride crashed into a parked car. O_O

Maria tells me that I just have to start slow again but to do it everyday. She's right but I don't think my ass can take all that abuse. I definitely need to buy padded bike shorts. I already have a granny seat and that's not enough. :)

Also a bike mount for my iPhone. There are a few options on Amazon that I'm looking into. Maybe someone can throw some recommendations my way. 

Thanks for following along on this *cough* ride *cough* ;)