I'm playing catch up with this post on Moving Planet New Jersey, which on a moving planet is perhaps understandable.
The weekend before last I took the Saturday train to Newark Broad Street and from there pedaled over to Washington Park for the event. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was hoping for the bicycle equivalent of a walking tour – to pedal around at a moderate pace and stop frequently to talk about points of interest. When I got there – surprise! – a walking tour was already in progress.
They were gawping at a monument to the foundation of the city in 1666 by some Puritans from New Haven who felt antidisestablishmentarianist Connecticut was becoming too liberal. They dreamed of a "new work" in New Jersey. The monument features a Leni-Lenape man and a Puritan man looking in opposite directions, having a Kipling moment (see last stanza).
Eventually I found my group. There were a few speeches. Petra informed us about the newly opened nonprofit Bike Exchange, currently the only bike shop in Newark.
Then we mounted up. Everyone else in the group wanted to ride fast with no stops, so we zipped past the usual landmarks of Newark: the New Jersey Performing Arts Center...
... the Prudential Building...
... and Art Deco Newark Penn Station.
One guy in the group was a terrible blowhard – he was horribly condescending to all the women in the group, he yelled at a policeman (!) who was nice enough to stop traffic for us (eyeroll), he talked and talked and talked. He also got a flat tire. Turns out he didn't know how to fix a flat. I trust gentle readers will not be scandalized to learn I was laughing inside.
Other people had mechanical problems, too. On the upside, these always occurred in a place where the entire group could get off the road safely. On the downside, those places were never very photogenic. In the end, it took over three hours to travel under six miles. I'm pretty sure the walking tour beat our time.
The group got a bit playful toward the end. That's the State Assemblywoman Grace Spencer posing with the Lincoln statue in front of the courthouse. She's a magnificent cyclist as well as a dedicated public servant.
Overall, I'm glad I went, although as I frequently think when I'm in Newark, the potential is there for so much more. The hope is to make the ride an annual event – one can hope for improvements!
ETA: There's media coverage! See the Jersey City Independent story on Moving Planet NJ.