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DC AIDS Ride 4: Ride 9: The Great Five Boro Bike Tour

Ride 9: The Great Five Boro Bike Tour Sunday, May 2 Distance: 42 miles

Bike New York is definitely an experience much like hanging out at Times Square on New Year's Eve: I'm glad I did it, I'll remember it forever, I might do it again sometime, but I'm very sure it won't be any time soon. There is nothing as satisfying as biking through Manhattan and waving at the taxi drivers who are honking angrily and demanding that the cops get all the bikes off the road so they can cross 6th Avenue. Nothing as fulfilling as being part of a 30,000-person crowd booing Giuliani while a sycophantic DJ requests applause and cheers for Rudy, We Love Rudy, Your Rudy. Nothing as breathtaking as the views of Manhattan as you cross the Queensboro, Brooklyn and Verrazano bridges. Nothing like being caught in a massive bike traffic jam.

I drove up from DC on Friday night, and after getting stuck on the Gowanus Freeway and the Baltimore-Queens Expressway for a 1AM traffic jam, I arrived at my friend Eric's place in Brooklyn. His apartment is nice, comfortable and near two major subway lines, plus it's close to an ugly part of Brooklyn. This provides the sense of in-touch-with-the-real-world that visiting Eric always provides. I like Eric. He always pushes me to explore my own boundaries of social consciousness. I'm afraid that if it weren't for people like Eric I'd most likely succumb to the temptation of living a cluelessly yuppie life without so much as a thought to all the privileges I enjoy because of circumstance.

Saturday Eric and I went to a street fair, saw a Portuguese movie with no sense of finality and ate great Indian food. We then headed back to his place, where I slept while he prepared for a cocktail party he was invited to.

I woke up early on Sunday, got dressed and ready and took the subway over to Don's place. Don is a friend of John Harpold (his name emerges yet again!) John's friend Don registered us as a team, which allowed us to begin one block from the starting line rather than at the southernmost tip of Manhattan, Battery Park. As soon as Dennis Coyle, Dave Mallory and another group of people arrived we headed off over the Brooklyn bridge into the fray of Sunday Morning Manhattan.

The route was scenic. Up 6th, through central park, through Harlem, across a bridge into the Bronx, then back across another bridge into Manhattan, then the Queensboro bridge into Queens, down main streets through Queens and Brooklyn, then onto the BQE and down towards the river to then swing around and head up the Verrazano bridge onto Staten Island. The trip ended at the ferry terminal, where a tired mob of bikers filed into the ferry to be floated across back into Manhattan. Along the way I met a man from Pereira, Colombia who was very happy to tell me about his trip to Peru and the woman he shagged. I actually enjoyed his company, but he got lost at the first pit stop in the Bronx.

I thought I'd be riding the rest of the trek alone, but I ran into Dennis and Dave, both of whom I had followed closely until we got to Central Park. I was surprised at how well I kept up with Dennis and Dave--my pedaling was steady, my beat was continuousSurprisingly, we managed to stay together almost to the end--I lost them on the last mile over the Verrazano bridge. At that point, after waiting for them for 30 minutes i continued the trek towards the ferry--that last stop where I clambered over many bikers standing in the car gallery, trying to find the restroom. Every now and then the consumption of many ounces of water got the better of my bladder, and I missed a couple of pit stops I should which I should have used--the ferry finalized that.

Back in Manhattan, I ran into Mark from Adventuring who I had seen at the ride fair, standing next to his bike. I wasn't sure it was him until he put on his Washington DC AIDS Ride jersey (to my chagrin, I should add in the interest of full disclosure). I also met a veteran DC AIDS Rider on the ferry, and she gave me much advice about training, riding and the many uses for ibuprofen. I didn't know how to get to the subway, so I wiked (walked my bike) to Houston Street and got on the line I knew.

I got home in Virginia at 1 AM on Monday morning.

Leasons learned:

  • New York City has many bridges. All of them will look flat until you bike on them. Then you realize they're 30 or 40 stories from base to roadway
  • Morons are everywhere, and they're dangerous when they're on bikes. - This ride needed 25,000 fewer riders to be awesome
  • The sight of the UN building from the Queensboro bridge is beautiful.
  • There is a Polish neighborhood in Queens.
  • Don't drive across three states after biking 42 miles.
  • The Club is important when parking in NYC.