This past Sunday, Alex and I participated in the NYC Century Bike Tour. However, as we’re very new to biking, we did not do the full century (100 miles). Instead, we opted for the easiest and shortest route: 15 miles. Due to a series of mishaps and misunderstandings, we found ourselves 30 minutes late for the start. However, Alex and I were just in time to join the last of the 15 milers as they made their way out of Central Park. We caught up and, for the remainder of the ride, we were firmly planted at the head of the group, right behind our police escort.
It was a fun — albeit slow — ride. I really enjoyed the group dynamic and the feeling of togetherness. I’m definitely doing it again next year but will bike at least 35 miles. (The other options are 55, 75, and 100 miles.) As it turned out, Alex and I did not complete the full 15 miles because we decided to stay in Manhattan rather than cross the bridge into Brooklyn (just to have to return to Manhattan soon thereafter). However, we enjoyed ourselves in Battery Park for a couple of hours. The Dutch came to visit to celebrate New York’s 400th birthday so Alex and I walked through the “streets” (stands with Dutch house facades lining Bowling Green) of “New Amsterdam.” We pointed and laughed at the “street signs,” seeing as how we saw the real things just a month prior when we walked through the streets of Amsterdam.
Once we had enough of the herring sandwiches (meh) and poffertjes (yum!), we schlepped our bikes back on the Staten Island Ferry and went home. However, I still think about that ride. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it’d be — and it wasn’t just because we were in a large group and had a police escort. Following the rules of the road and being aware of your surroundings is what keeps riders safe. (Having a dedicated bike lane helps, too.) And I regret not riding in Brooklyn! One of my coworkers said that she prefers riding in Brooklyn because the lanes are wider and people — bikers in particular — aren’t as aggressive. (Actually, I think she said that she refuses to ride in Manhattan because she’s been yelled at by fellow bicyclists in the city.) So before I gather the courage to ride through the streets of Manhattan without a horde of bicyclists, I’d like to tackle the streets of Brooklyn. For that reason, I’m going to bike to work tomorrow.
My plan is to take the Staten Island Railway, get off one stop before the Staten Island Ferry (because bikes can’t board the ferry form the upper level, which is where the train docks), bike the 2 minutes to the ferry terminal, board the boat from the lower level, arrive in Manhattan, board a Brooklyn-bound train, get off 1 stop later in Brooklyn, and bike the 5.7 miles to work. The best part is that I’ll be in a bike lane for the whole ride. The way back is identical (just in reverse, of course). All-in-all, I think it should take me 2 hours to get to work, which is only 1 hour longer than driving there.
If all goes well tomorrow, then I’ll do one better on Sunday and bike over the Brooklyn Bridge instead of wussying out by taking the train to Brooklyn. If all does not go well, then… Well, I’ll be traumatized and you’ll find me in a corner, rocking back and forth in the fetal position. (But I really hope it doesn’t come to that.)