Yesterday morning, I biked to the train station and boarded the early AM train with my bike in tow. After getting delayed at a stop near the end of the line, I arrived at my destination. From there, I had to bike up Bay St. for <1 mile to get to the Staten Island Ferry. Then, because I got to the ferry just in the nick of time, I was one of the last few people to park her bike. At that point, there was no room for my bike in the poorly designed/implemented rack… so I sat holding my bike for the 30-minute trip to Manhattan. Then! When I arrived in Manhattan and was about to board the Brooklyn-bound R train, I was informed that there were no Brooklyn-bound trains at that stop at all. I could have taken an uptown train and then switched to a downtown train at a later stop but that sounded counterproductive and time-consuming so I just decided to find the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s times like these that I really appreciate my iPhone. I was able to open up the Google Maps application to plan a decent route to the Bridge and then double-checked the route in RideTheCity.com from the phone’s web browser. (Thinking about it now, I really would have loved to have a Ride the City app that would have optimized the experience. Instead, I was forced to wait while everything loaded and then scroll awkwardly down the page to get to the directions as the map was useless to me.) Of course, I also had my non-technology backup (because we all know how reliable computers are): a paper copy of the New York City Cycling Map. With all three in tow, I still managed to get lost, though. Well, not so much “lost” as “confused.” I was right at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge but I could not figure out how to get to the pedestrian/bicycle path. I asked some really nice police officers for directions and they were — ready for this? — really nice. They pointed me in the right direction and off I went.
Can I just mention how gorgeous the view is from the Brooklyn Bridge? I was on the pedestrian path only once before, and that was last year with Stephen when he came to visit. It’s a spectacular bridge. I love it at night because then you get to see the whole city up in lights. It’s great in the mornings, too, because it’s full of joggers and people out for a morning stroll. However, the climb up on a bike is torturous. I’ve never biked over a bridge before but I’ve heard that they’re tough. Most people don’t realize that suspension bridges are actually shaped like an arc… so you have an incline to the apex and then a decline. The decline is fun on the bike and totally worth the effort of the climb up the other side.
Once I was on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, I had to pull over and whip out my map(s). Because I wasn’t prepared to bike over the bridge that day, I didn’t have a planned route. So I did my best to make something up as I went along. As a result, I ended up confused and circled the same place several times while I tried to orient myself. Finally, I figured out the route and off I pedaled to work. I made it to the college campus about 10 minutes before I had to be at work, which gave me just enough time to lock up my bike and gather my bearings. I found it surprising that I wasn’t as sweaty as I thought I would be. (I even brought a change of clothes in case what I was wearing got drenched in sweat.) But, then again, it was a chilly morning (with temperatures falling below 60°F at 8 in the AM). I wasn’t prepared for such weather (so I was under-dressed) and was actually somewhat cold during my ride.
The ride back felt even colder. This was probably due to the fact that I took the Manhattan Bridge, which is slightly farther away than the Brooklyn Bridge. (I didn’t plan on taking this bridge home. Instead, that was the route that was planned for me by Ride the City.) I also rode down the East River Esplanade, which is right on the water. The views were gorgeous (I could see both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges) but the breeze was chilly. Then I sat on the ferry — which was crazy-breezy because of all the open doors and windows. To make matters worse, the train that I took home was air-conditioned. (And since I’d just biked the <1 mile from the ferry to the train stop, I was sweaty.) By the time I got off at my stop, I was shivering.
At the end of the night, I was exhausted. I left my house at 7 that morning and did not get home until 9 PM. My workday was only 8 hours long, which means that I spent 6 hours commuting to and from work. I didn’t actually spend that much time on my bike (my cyclocomputer tells me I was in motion for only 2 hours and 20 minutes, covering about 25 miles) but I did spend a lot of time on ferries and trains. It was an exhilarating commute but it was also very draining. I don’t know that I will be able to do this every day that I go to work. I couldn’t even do it today! I was just too exhausted when I woke up this morning to try to tackle all of that again. However, weather permitting, I will do this again next Saturday. It’s nice to do this once in a while but not everyday. My job is just too far away. Actually, I like to think that it is my home that is too far away — as soon as I can, I am moving out of Staten Island and into Brooklyn.