The weather over the U.S. Memorial Day weekend was perfect for a family bike ride, so on Sunday I packed up la familia to have a look at Fleet Week NYC. Thanks to visionary city planning and determined community advocacy, many Fleet Week attractions are easily accessed from the car-free Hudson River Greenway. The ride didn't turn out quite the way I'd hoped, but it was still happy and I'm including it as part of the LGRAB Summer Games.
Finding parking for cars or bikes can be a major headache in NYC, but we lucked out and got a free on-street spot next to the Clinton Community Garden on West 48th Street. As we unloaded the bikes from the car rack, it was very noticeable how much cooler the garden was than its surroundings. It's hard to imagine a more charming Mile 0.
After a short on-street ride west (including a one-block stretch of exposed 19th-Century cobblestones – a bumpy novelty!), we were at the Greenway. The area around the Intrepid Museum, a converted aircraft carrier, was simply thronged with visitors, so we dismounted and walked.
We've biked parts of the Greenway before, and experience shows. Right before we got to Hudson River Park at Pier 84 (44th Street), a chorus broke out about needing a breather (we were walking), a bathroom break (we just got there), refreshments (eyeroll). I watched the bikes while the others scampered off, almost as happy as the children cavorting in the fountain.
Plan A was to ride south to Battery Park (where there are more bathrooms and concessions), but that was declared "boring." The sugar buzz must have kicked in, because a majority of the party announced a burning desire to see the Little Red Lighthouse (181st Street). So we headed north.
Along the way, we clomped up the old detour rather than ride the new Riverwalk, leaving the Greenway to look at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at 89th Street. In recent years the Civil War-era memorial has become the focus for some of the more thoughtful reflections on war and remembrance.
At 155th Street, we were turned back by police, who insisted nothing was happening but we couldn't proceed. Between us and the lighthouse we could see two ambulances and a police helicopter which seemed to be using its downdraft to intimidate and disperse what looked like a peaceable picnic. That rather soured the mood of the day and provided ample fodder for speculative discussion on the ride south. Not to mention my camera jammed, perhaps from all the dust in the air.
Back in Midtown, conversation was no longer sufficient fodder, so we stopped at Pam Real Thai Food to refuel. Their spicy lime sauce – tart, salty, spicy, and sprightly in its freshness – makes taste receptors on the sides of the mouth go gaga. It was a perfect restorative after an afternoon of biking.
Full dark fell while we ate. As the ride back to the car was short, but not one I'd recommend for inexperienced cyclists, we judiciously retired to the sidewalk and walked. Chatter on the way home and subsequently was so subdued that I thought maybe the ride was a failure... but the other day someone asked about going to the lighthouse, so maybe not. To be continued....