Standing Under Scaffolding in the Rain at Franklin & Lafayette in Bed-Stuy

Standing Out of the Rain at Franklin & Lafayette in Bed-StuyI heard a rumor it was raining outside, but I figured since the weather report on my smartyphone said there was a 40% chance of rain I would probably be able to avoid getting too terribly wet, seeing as how I was only riding a couple of miles. Welp, that 40% chance was 100% chance, and the ride down Bedford Avenue on Brompty reminded me–again–that fenders are good thing if you’re going to ride in the rain. Fortunately, I don’t melt, so I just kept on pedaling and when i got to the donut shoppe to meet E. I took cover under this scaffolding, rung out the back of my skirt, and listened to the music coming from the church behind me. The thing about NYC is that there’s always scaffolding. And then there were artisan donuts and a cold, wet ride up the Franklin Avenue bike lane to home, with extra donuts in a bag for yesterday’s half marathoner. This wasn’t the best weather for a ride, but I’d still rather ride in the rain than get around any other way. Thanks, New York, for another excellent weekend enjoying your fine bicycle infrastructure.

An Empty Ocean Parkway Near Avenue N

An Empty Ocean Parkway Near Avenue NOh, today was just perfect. E. and I woke up early, choked down bananas and coffee, and headed over to the crowded start of the Brooklyn Half Marathon. E. has been training for this for a long time, and it’s her first race at this distance. There were 25,000 other runners all lined up in projected pace order stretching blocks and blocks down Eastern Avenue as music and aimless chatter spilled out of loudspeakers as we both jumped up and down waiting for the start. Continue reading

View From the Manhattan Bridge

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E. is running the Brooklyn Half Marathon this weekend, which is pretty damn cool, so Brompty and I hopped on the train to NYC to cheer her on. I love that I can just pop the bike in the overhead bin and then unfold her on the other side and ride us all down to Brooklyn. Today’s ride through Manhattan was a quick reminder of the different attitude you need to ride here to avoid the pedestrians wandering into the street, the delivery trucks, cabs, and cop cars blocking the bike lane, and the other cyclists whoosing past; let’s just say I used my outside voice a lot. The left onto the Manhattan Bridge bike path was a relief, even though it was a bit tricky to avoid that one woman with all the groceries blocking my way. Oh, but the ride up the bridge! I love the slow pedal with the cars and subways, the city getting smaller and turning into water. I snapped this picture at the halfway point. I have seen this view from many vantage points in the last 20 years, but the view from the bike is the first one that’s felt like seeing all that much. I coasted down the other side and followed my directions to Red Hook for ridiculous tacos and grits and then followed Union Avenue through Park Slope and up Eastern Parkway to Crown Heights. I could ride in Brooklyn forever, but tomorrow it will be all Brooklyn Half Marathoning for me. E. can run it, but I’ll take my bike. Oh, such fun!

View Down the Williamsburg Bridge Heading Back to Brooklyn

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It was practically springtime in New York today, I swear, and lucky me had the day free and my sweet little bicycle to ride about town. I carried the Brompton down four flights, unfolded it, and 15 quick minutes later I was eating chewy yeasted donuts with E. and comparing notes on bikes, gentrification, and reality television. I let her take Brompty for a quick spin and then I headed toward the Manhattan Bridge-the Brooklyn’s too busy, and I love the separation of bikes and peds on that thing. I pedaled my way up the hill of the bridge and felt simply joyous. I know, cheesy, right? But that’s how it feels to zip along in the sky, looking over the pure density of this place. And then I was unceremoniously dumped into Chinatown. Fellow bikers were zipping by me to run the red lights, cars were pulling into the bike lane and unceremoniously throwing open doors, and pedestrians were running willy-nilly into the streets–oh, city noise! Get me back on the bridge, back to safety! I negotiated the buzz, enjoyed a lovely afternoon with J., swapping reading lists and stories about local politics in a variety of locals, and then it was back on the bike and following the signs to the Willaimsburg Bridge. This one is also divided for cyclists and pedestrians on our own level above the cars and subways, and oh my, it is such a treat. Please make all bridges double decker thank you very much. I let the bike lanes take me home, a lovely end to a lovely weekend of biking around NYC.

View Down the Shore Bikeway at Erskine in Brooklyn

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Yesterday’s ride was a short one-down the hill to Penn Station on the Brompton for our ritzy train ride up to NYC. Best laid plans to ride across ALL THE BRIDGES were spoiled by a snowy deluge-this cat does not ride on ice- but today it was warm, sunny, and breezy, just perfect for a ride. I wrote down directions from Crown Heights to Jamaica Bay so I could see water, and off I went. My map took me out Eastern Parkway on its busy bike/ped path where you can see the segregated neighborhoods switch over by who is sitting on the benches to a right onto Rockaway’s buffered bike lane filled with glass and double parked cars, and then through the scrap metal district leading to that Brooklyn that looks like Queens to me, all single-family homes with awkward awnings and the lattice work that looks like it’s done with bed poles-you know what I mean if you’ve seen it. I dodged some hairy traffic back on Rockaway, but then I was on the bike/ped path that hugs the shore of Jamaica Bay, and oh, it was smooth sailing. It is still obvious that Hurricane Sandy was here, and much of the ride was sandwiched between the KEEP OUT signs of rebuilding and the cars speeding by on the Belt Expressway. I pedaled out until the path disappeared, got lost in Queens due to my tendency to follow a bike lane no matter what, and then I was 12 miles out, taking a break, performing a quick shifter repair, saying my good mornings to this particular set of dogs, and wondering when they’ll rebuild all the tiny piers outside the homes at 165th Ave. and 99th Street. The ride home was into the wind but worth it as I retraced my steps, and this spot, at least, was downhill. Pedaling along under the NYC sun, yep, I am pretty lucky. Lesson learned again: it is always worth it to take your bike along if you can.

Stopped at an Intersection at 17th Street & 8th Avenue

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It’s time to head home to Baltimore after this quick trip to NYC with the Brompton, so after a lazy morning, I packed up and rode the bike over to Bergen and Flatbush for brunch with E. She took the subway and just missed her train. I took bike lanes and stopped twice to double check directions, and I beat her by about four minutes. I wonder how long I’d have to live in NYC for that game to get old. Anyway, the Brompton neatly folded and sat next to us, and after I watched a couple of strollers barrel through there I wondered why I would ever be nervous about this bike taking up too much space. After breakfast I popped the bike open and headed toward the Brooklyn Bridge en route to Penn Station. I basically followed the signs to the bridge where I was greeted by a zillion walkers pouring into Brooklyn as part of some kind of walkathon. Sigh. I used my bell and my voice to navigate the throngs successfully and then I was in the city again, zigging and zagging to Hudson and then the slight right to 8th Avenue and the fancy protected bike lane, complete with its ver own stoplight, studiously observed by no one but me. I wonder how long I’d have to in NYC before I would be flying through those along with the other bikers who passed me (but who never ended up more than a block or two ahead of me, but whatever). I snapped this picture stopped at one of those intersections~dang, that is good design, and frankly, I’d marry that bike infrastructure if it were legal in New York State. The light turned, I pedaled through, pulling up again at 31st Street where I folded up and hopped into the train station, got my ticket, went down the escalator, shoved the bike above my seat, and now I’ll read my way home, having seen more of New York on my bike this weekend than I have in years. Brompton for the win!

Broken Satellite Dish on a House at Bedford & Glenwood

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It was a beautifully sunny day in Brooklyn, not to hot, a slight breeze, and all of it demanded our presence outside. E. and I spent our morning and early afternoon walking around Park Slope, and after a quick breather, I left her at home and took the bike out for a ride. I wanted to see water, so I checked a map and it looked like Bedford Avenue would lead me to it, so off I went. There’s a bike lane on this street, which I have quickly discovered means extra room to double park, or even another place for pedestrians to wander. I used my eyes, my bell, and my outside voice to navigate my way through. When I stopped at a red light, a pedestrian thanked me, said he’d never seen a cyclist stop before. Listen, if we’re all going to share the roads, we all have to actually share, and that includes walkers and bikers. The fairly quick 7 miles or so took me through parts of Brooklyn ithat looked like Philadelphia or Boise’s North End, or even Queens. I lived here for a number of years, but I probably saw more of Brooklyn today than in all that time. I snapped this photo of a broken satellite dish atop a brick house that looked like it belonged in Baltimore more than here, but perhaps the only reason I think that is because I have never actually seen Brooklyn. That satellite has certainly seen better days. I kept on riding, and then I was at water. I took a right and tried to feel my way to a beach, got turned around and had to look at a map again, and then I was on the beach. So, so many people, so much noise, and so many signs, but still the beach was just beautiful. We can’t mess up the ocean, yet. I rode down the boardwalk and back again, and it was already time to head home. I took Ocean Parkway, grateful to be away from parked cars, frustrated that there were still pedestrians, everywhere. Sigh. It was a long ride home, and I was thoroughly beat down, but in the very best possible way. I could go on countless rides in this city; please stay here, New York.