There's been much busyness off-blog lately, but I finally finished the striped cycling anklets and, inspired by the sign, took them on a 25-mile guided bicycle tour of a New York portion of the East Coast Greenway. Or perhaps they took me. In any case, I brought my own bike (rentals are available from the Bike and Roll stands along the Greenway).
The East Coast Greenway is the cycling analog of the Appalachian Trail, except instead of linking mountaintops via ridgeline hiking trails, its growing network of bicycle routes will connect cities and towns on the East Coast from the Florida Keys to Canada. Like the AT, local ECG segments have their own names and are under local authority and care. Much of the extant route is car-free, but at present there are gaps, so the tour was a progress report of sorts.
The start of the ride was at Slave to the Grind near the Metro-North train station in Bronxville, which obligingly gave out free coffee to riders. It's hard to take coherent pix of a bunch of grumpy pre-caffeinated bicyclists, but I tried.
The ride south through the Bronx was a tale of two cities, indeed, two worlds. One of the most telling gaps in the greenway is at the Bronx-Westchester border, which is barred like a fortress along an otherwise placid stretch of the Bronx River. From there, about half of the time the greenway makes easy meanders on unpaved bike trails through sylvan parks; the rest of the time it's on paved, very urban streets and includes inclines steep enough to make my bike throw its chain (which was easily fixed).
Once in northern Manhattan, we had to stop for a photo op, because there really is a Little Red Lighthouse under the Great Gray George Washington Bridge. By this time the cyclists were looking a bit more perky.
I have never yet managed the arduous climb from the foot of the bridge to street level without dismounting. Coming the other way, the precipitous descent and narrow hairpin turn are even more terrifying! I bow low to all those who swept 'round and down without flinching – I flinched.
From the GWB south, the Hudson River Greenway is flat, graced with rose gardens, shade gardens, and many other amenities of a great city, and heavily used. There are long stretches that are completely car-free and other places that are car-free but crossed by auto traffic. Those intersections are equipped with the best traffic signals I have ever seen.
It's tempting to ride ass-out on the long straightaways, but that was where I saw the only accident of the day, when an adult cyclist not in our group crashed rather than run over a child who darted into the right-of-way. The kid was unhurt, there were no broken bones or bikes, but for a while the cyclist bled surprisingly copiously from a shallowly gashed calf. People who stopped generously proffered a wide assortment of hankies, tissues, wipes, sanitizers, antibiotics, band-aids, and potent analgesics in quantities sufficient to stun several charging rhinoceri. (Hey, this is NYC.) The injured cyclist was soon patched up and in the saddle again.
Ride's end was Battery Park, which was thronged with people enjoying the lovely day, not least those waiting to board the Liberty Island ferry. The observation deck in the Statue of Liberty's crown has been closed since 9/11, but on July 4 will re-open to the public. Yet another reason to love the current administration.
(If I had to be critical of the ECG, it would be that it's very focused on bicycle recreation and tourism. I certainly enjoy both, but my own advocacy interests tend toward commuter cycling for commuters of all ages, such as Safe Routes to School. The difference between mindsets, bicycle = recreation and bicycle = transportation, can be small, but it's often profound.)
After a well-deserved lunch at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and a long drive home in heavy auto traffic, my new cycling socks were still fresh and comfortable.
I think I must make many more pairs.