Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Biggest Ride Yet

What you need to know:
This is not one continual ride. We had a few stops:
  • on Allen St., for a phone call (good news)
  • directly under the Manhattan Bridge (Bklyn side) for another call (bad news that cancelled out the earlier good news)
  • on Tillary St., to digest the bad news & give up on Bklyn
  • Starbucks, Astor Place (snack break)
  • Various & sundry terrifying spots in New Jersey, checking the Google Maps
Otherwise, it was nonstop. We left home at about 1pm, and got back at 10:15. Then we had dinner!
Here's the breakdown (in miles):
  • 4.73 to ferry
  • 2.85 to EMS
  • 2.43 to bklyn
  • 3.15 to starbucks astor pl
  • 12.55 up & over GWB
  • 7.94 to Park Ave in Hoboken
  • 2.88 lost in Hoboken
  • 2.35 lost again
  • 4.68 thru Jersey City
  • 3.57 to Bayonne Br
  • 2.12 to home
Total = 49.25 miles. All my worry about the 5 Boro is out the window.
P.S. I had noticed all through Jersey that my bike rack was being noisy. Paul just noticed one of the bolts is missing from it. Oops!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Conquering Staten Island

Today's ride was kind of magical, and by that I mean that the first real raindrops started falling just when we reached home. Rain was our biggest worry all day long & it held off until we were done. Hooray!I've been getting a little worried about the 5 Boro Bike Tour next week. This is my first full season cycling, & although I've been training (I made it to the gym around 1-2x a week all winter, riding a stationary bike), whenever we've gotten back from a long ride it seems like it turns out to have been around 23 miles or something. And some of those rides have wiped me out. The 5 Boro being 42 miles... I've been worried.
I feel much better about it after today.
We set out along our normal route to the mall, then rode the sidewalks along Richmond Avenue (well... wouldn't you? I certainly don't think I can ride 42 miles next week if I'm literally dead.) and wound our way to Woodrow Road, which we followed to its end. From there to Bloomingdale, to Sharrots, to Target! Our plan was to pick up a few necessaries there, but this being Reverse-Zombie-Jesus Day, it was closed. (Credit where due: my buddy @augiemania points out that Jesus is a Reverse Zombie, because he wants YOU to eat HIS flesh.) A bit more sidewalk riding (shh! don't tell anyone) got us to Page Avenue, where we managed to avoid lawbreaking by riding through strip mall parking lots. As we rode over the highway on the overpass, I flipped the bird to all the cars backed up for miles & miles in suffocating traffic (shh! don't tell anyone! they didn't see me). We rode on to Hylan Boulevard, which we stayed on until the alleged bike lanes ended at Barclay Avenue.
Ah, the Hylan Blvd bike lanes. Where to start? They are pretty much invisible for most of the ride, here because the paint has faded away, there because of all the mud, gravel, garbage and debris completely covering it. For a few blocks there the street had been paved, but they didn't bother to go all the way to the edge of the street, resulting in split-level bike lanes (see pic below).

I got kind of nostalgic riding past Wolfe's Pond Park. From there we wound our way all the way to Oakwood, down to Mill Road and up New Dorp Lane to Starbucks, where we took a much-deserved snack break. I loved seeing the school completely deserted! I should mention that it was killa hot when we left the house, and we were both totally underdressed for the weather we encountered in Tottenville-to-New Dorp & beyond. I had brought a scarf along, and that definitely helped a lot, but Paul was defenseless. At Starbucks, I did a check-in on GetGlue that I was thinking about the sun, and then it actually came out! GetGlue is amazing!! I'm an idiot!!
We hit the road again. We had planned ahead of time to take Fr. Capodanno Blvd. instead of the bikeway along the beach, because (a) we've done the beach and (b) it's always colder near the water. Somebody needs to tell Google that the motherfuckers took away the bike lanes on Fr. Capodanno & made them bus lanes. We rode them anyway (shh! don't tell anybody), and I was glad to find out the bike lanes on Lily Pond Avenue are still there. There was an ambulance parked in the bike lane right where it started, and Paul said, "You can tell it's a bike lane because someone's blocking it." Funny 'cuz it's true.
Our plan was to take Bay Street to Beach and wind our way uphill to the start of Forest Avenue, but we passed by Beach (we both forgot it doesn't quite intersect with Bay Street). Instead we went up Victory Boulevard, which, as you can imagine, sucked. We actually walked up the top part of the hill, and stopped outside the JCC for a breather. It was pretty grey and foggy by that point, but you could still see the Manhattan/Brooklyn skyline from there, and that was pretty cool. Then Paul felt a drop of rain and we boogied outta there.
Again, the rain was kind enough to hold off until we were AT OUR HOUSE. Came home and used the Distance Measurement tool to plot our course, and found out we rode 35.35 miles. Huzzah! The beauty part is, I still didn't feel COMPLETELY exhausted. Believe me, I was happy to have a shower, a glass of wine, and a nice meal (thanks Paul) and settle in, but if I had had to, I could've kept going. I can't even believe it's almost 11pm; it feels much earlier to me. Bring on the 5 Boro!
Here's the mini version of Staten Island we drew with our bikes today:

PS. To whoever spit out pink gum on Decker Avenue this fine Easter morning: I'm probably more efficient with my foot stuck to the pedal, so... um, thanks?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Killer S.I. Ride

Yes, I waited too long to do this & probably won't remember all the details. Blame the iPad - I tried to write this on it but it only lets me type in the title & tag fields. #applepissesmeoffsobad
Any ol' hoo, I flipped my weekend by getting my work done on Saturday & riding on Sunday. Our first order of business was to try out the bike paths we recently discovered going through Latourette Park. First we rode to the far end of it on the street, out past Costco on the corner of Richmond Avenue & Forest Hill Road. We rode it all the way to Rockland Ave., then doubled back to the fork to follow it down to St. Andrews Church in Richmondtown. It's interesting in that it goes from fairly thick woods (for Staten Island) to golf course & back again, & we saw a duck & what Paul said was a beaver (I only heard it, but it scared the shit out of me) right off the bat. But hands down, its overwhelming characteristic is that it's made of very fine gravel over dirt. Compared with a paved road, it's like the difference between running on sand vs. grass. It was probably worse for Paul since his tires are much thinner & less grippy than mine. We had to pedal DOWNHILL. It was EXHAUSTING. But it was pretty early on, and between the gravel & the hills we were really feeling proud of ourselves, and ready to conquer more of the Island.
We chose not to ride down the foot of Snake Hill (duh - I'm afraid to DRIVE there), but walked our bikes through Historic Richmondtown to Clarke Ave. From there, we rode to North Railroad, where Paul checked to GPS to get his bearings & never noticed that right at his feet was a dead cat curled up in a box. I'm really glad he didn't have to see it. It seemed like it was in a comfortable position when it died, at least.
So we rode the railroad pretty much the whole way, stopped at Lee's so I could use the bathroom, & pressed on to Old Town Road. Somewhere around there we were riding up a hill that Paul didn't have the necessary momentum to get over (I had raced past him to build it up). He said, "Give me 5 minutes?" though of course it didn't take that long: he coasted back down to the base & rode back up while I hummed "Gonna Fly Now" in my head.
About two blocks from there, we had to stop. I mean both of us. My legs were on fire. We sat by a tree on West Fingerboard Road near Tacoma Street. Then we took that to Steuben, to Hylan Blvd., to Edgewater, and rode along the water.
Windy! Chilly! And my legs were still EXHAUSTED! I got up the incline at the end of Front Street & wanted to pat myself on the back, but instead yelled "Fuck!" as I realized I still had to get over the Hannah St. Bridge.
We made it as far as the Esplanade across the Terrace from St. Peter's Girls, and then we had to take another break. We sat there for 10 - 15 minutes before we finally rode home.
Now for the goocher. Paul estimates the total length of our ride: 23 miles. TWENTY-THREE. That makes it the shortest ride we've taken in weeks; we usually do at least 26. I guess the gravel & hills just fucked us. But since the 5-Borough is 46 miles... I'm slightly concerned.
Speaking of, we got our info packets w/ vests & helmet stickers in the mail today. Gotta get my training on, I guess.