Archive for May, 2010

5 Boro Bike Tour

May 11, 2010

This has been a tough week to catch up the blog in…actually, I still owe the SavingsCycle my take on the Complete Streets forum that was a couple of weeks ago now…but with vacation ahead, there should be some more activity to come.

The Five Boro Bike Tour was last Sunday, May 2, in NYC. 32000+ cyclists came out for a 43 mile (69,2km) ride through all 5 boros. In a mob this big, a bit of logistical difficulty was to be expected and the start of the ride was slooooowww. Kicking off at 8:30am from Battery – I was substantially further away, hanging out some estimated 12 blocks back. I arrived at the ride around 7:20, after a really nice ride down Broadway using all the nice bike infrastucture Manhattan has to offer. After standing still for about an hour and a half, the pack started to move around 9:15am and I made my way S on Broadway to and through Battery Park, up Trinity towards Church St.

View of the Starting Line...You can see me 12 blocks back 😛

I love big pack rides for the comraderie of it as well as the small amount of riding skill required. Much like in mass traffic, you are relying on both your own balance and coordination, as well as on that of those around you, to ensure minimal collisions (of which there still end up being a few). Everything started off well and the pack moved N through Manhattan with relative easy, stopping at regular intervals with the help of traffic control to allow pedestrians to continue to cut across the city. I can’t imagine exactly how long 32,000+, cycling at comfortable pace, looks like in terms of city blocks but my guess is that the peloton took up a good 45+ blocks of the city at any one time as it moved across. My cousin apparently started the race a few blocks from the back and that was at 32nd street…but I’m sure it stretched much more than that.

Mob Scene

We moved fairly unabated until we hit central park where we ended up standing in the shade on the S end of the park, where 6th enters, for what felt like a good hour again. This put us, I think, around 11:30am? The rumors flew about what the reason for this hold up could be. I heard there was a collision in the front with several injuries, that there was another event in the park holding us up, and even a real humdinger that said an automobile had been damaged in a collision with 3-4 of the cyclists and that they couldn’t bring it back out through the crowd. Ha! At any rate, we started moving again and wouldn’t be slowing down for any really significant lengths of time from that point forward.

Entering Central Park before a long wait.

The good news is that this lined us up perfectly to go through Harlem as 11 o’clock mass let out… meaning the streets were lined with the locals in all of their finery. There were some amazing hats and pinstripes as well as great architecture to take in as we went N before hanging a right at 138th St for a trip over the Madison Avenue Bridge and a brief interlude in the Bronx. We quickly exited the Bronx via the Third Avenue Bridge before trucking down Harlem River Rd and then the FDR south along the east side of Manhattan down to 60th Street where we took on the Queensboro Bridge. The climb onto the bridge crippled a great number of riders although it really wasn’t that much of a hill…I thitnk a great many of them were just playing it up for a better and slower view of the city.  Down through Queens, short interlude i the Bronx, and then through Brooklyn right down to the Staten Island Ferry for the ride back.

really good picture. They made me look athletic.

A couple of interesting things I noticed on the ride are that some New Yorkers have super hardcore kids (43 miles on training wheels?  WHAT?!), New York City is way way cooler than I thought, and I apparently need to start doing some road racing as I am physically unable to ride my bike at a slow pace.  The final thought is that I wish that everyone had an opportunity, in their own town, to ride with this many people.  You feel way stronger as a group this size and can really take in the world around you.  Seeing all of the varieties of bicycles (and uni/tricycles) was also grand…on a leisurely ride like this you can really see it all.  The had a great photography team on hand and managed to get 9 pictures with me in them, which were then placed online.  The only poor part?  Me.  It was $55 to buy those 9 photos and buying individuals was not an option…Oh well, the price you pay for memories.

The Ride:
2010 5 Boro Bike Ride

Total KM Ridden: 423.75
Total $ Saved: $170
Curent Savings: $5 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

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Manhattan Cycling Scene

May 6, 2010

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to lug my bike to Manhattan last weekend. While it meant cabbing it to the Toronto airport instead of biking down (having had already boxed the bike), it allowed me an access to the city that I’ve not had on previous trips. I had previously spent many nights in both Midtown and the Lower East Side, but hadn’t really escaped except for a few station to station subway trips to a few of New York’s many sights. By bike, I was able to cover a much greater part of the area and get a much better sense for how Manhattan fits together.

Broadway Bike Lane and Light

One piece that has certainly changed since my last visit is the bike lane applications that run all over the downtown area. Painted lanes as well as a great dedicated lane down broadway that integrates cycling-specific traffic lights, and many pedestrian zones created with paint and street furnishings are a few of the experiences I was able to take in. I especially thought the bike traffic lights were a great application to consider for University Ave here in Toronto. With the pilot project going down the middle, turning both left and right needs to be addressed so that cyclists can safely turn onto the streets between and including Wellesley and Richmond.  Hopefully making this stretch on University complete will include such an idea.

NYC Bike Light

Hudson River Greenway was a great ride as well and went past some great uses of public space. From cute patio restaurants, a basketball court beneath a raised expressway, and 100 different ways New Yorkers and visitors were taking respite from the city along the river, the Greenway is a really nice space. Further south, the High Line makes for another great urban park space along Manhattan’s West Side. My favorite thing about cycling in New York is the way that traffic just plain works….for everyone not in a car.

I’m not saying it’s pretty, but the way pedestrians, bikes, cars, police, buses, and pedicabs all function with equal urgency and manage to move around each other is awesome to be a part of. I can’t imagine seeing a pedestrian or cyclist being pulled over nearly as often as in other places. There seems to be an understanding that cars are the only dangerous predators on the road (when used irresponsibly) and that any seemingly courageous or stupid risk taken by pedestrian or cyclist rests entirely on their shoulders, and with that full burden of responsibility is the suggestion that slowing anyone else down on their way, assisted by the system of lights and police direction, will result in some reaction by everyone who would be inconvenienced. New York simply functions through a mix of peer pressure and urban planning. The general public feels a responsibility to uphold its own set of rules for moving through the city and it takes only a minute to be absorbed into the shared knowledge on what those rules are and how they work.

Highline Park

Rides since March 20, 2010

To Audrey’s and Back: 05/02/2010 Rooftop at Audrey’s

To NYC ING DIRECT Cafe and Back: 05/03/2010 To the Cafe

The Roosevelt Hotel to Tech Space on 28th: The Roosevelt to Tech Space

Scarpetta to Ace Hotel to The Roosevelt: Scarpetta to Ace Hotel

Total KM Ridden: 352.4
Total $ Saved: $165
Curent Savings: $0 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

NYC Saturday

May 3, 2010

I flew into NYC (well, technically Newark) on Saturday evening in preparation for Sunday’s 5 Burough Bike Tour.  This is the first time that I have ever flown with bicycle and doing so caused me to be in more than my usual last second packing-frenzy.  For starters, it turns out I have a unique size of bolt on my pedals…so unique that I couldn’t get it off.  Luckily, the box I rented from MEC had enough space for me to leave my pedals on meaning I only had to remove wheels and bars to get everything together (easy!).  At the airport, the great people at Porter Airlines didn’t miss a step, even waiving my fee for bringing the bike (I really wish I could fly everywhere on Porter).  As I watched them X-ray the bike box, I couldn’t help but wish I had an art print of the image on the screen…very cool.  I also noticed what looked like a twisted chain…how’d that happen?  At any rate, I slept the whole way on the flight (1.5 hours) and then got into my cab in Newark for a 2 hour cab ride into the city…the summer street closings are in full effect in NY, which means traffic is brutal on the weekends.  I couldn’t be upset though as 32000 cyclists would surely cause even more issues the next day.

After arriving at The Roosevelt Hotel, the “Grand Dame of Madison Avenue”, I started right away on re-assembling my bike in my 300 sq ft room.  Bars and front wheel were easy as always…now for that twisted chain.  After nearly an hour of fiddling and maniupulating the very tangled chain, and with grease not only all over my hands but also staining the bathroom sink and having ruined two washcloths, the answer came to me.  Apparently, my rear derailleur is able to rotate 360 degrees…and had done so while being placed in the box.  As soon as I rotated it back the other direction, everything came together and a sense of peace in knowing my bike ride would be happening the next day washed over me…I was free to go and find dinner!

I met up with my cousin Audrey and her fiance Brad (congratulations guys!), as well as their friend Meghan, at Krunch at 52nd and 2nd for a light pizza dinner and then walked with Audrey and Meghan back to the Upper West side (80th and Broadway) to grab my packet for the Bike Tour the next day.  The excitement wasn’t done yet!

After cabbing it back to the hotel, I talked to Erin on the phone for a bit and headed out for a 1am walk around midtown.  Strangely, Time’s Square was totally closed off for like 10 blocks leaving teeming masses crowded around the police perimeter.  I figured stupidly that this was for some filming…turns out it was a car bomb.  Luckily, wtith a combination of savvy veteran/street vendor, the fantastic work of the NYPB, and the good fortune of having a very poorly made bomb, everyone was kept safe and no damage was done.

A Quiet Times Square...photo courtesy of James Maher (google images)

Nothing like a night in the city…to bed at 2:30 with best intentions to be up at 6 to head to Battery Park and the big bike ride.

Since March 20, 2010
Total KM Ridden: 352.4
Total $ Saved: $165
Curent Savings: $0 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Toronto Road Pizza

May 1, 2010

(thanks @heiditee for the witicism)

I bit it for the first time this year, leaving a small patch of arm behind me on the road. I was headed down queen w trying to gather some last second items for my bike packing efforts that I’ll describe in a moment, when, at McCaul street, I hit a perfect storm. The entire right lane was taken up by a public works vehicle, leaving only a slim bit of road between me and the streetcar tracks. The, the driver’s side door opened…no problem…there’s still time…next, the driver stepped out, spotted me and decided that standing close to the truck was his best bet….less room between obstacle and streetcar tracks. Other issue, the truck had evidently just blasted the whole road surface with water…tracks and concrete soaking wet…i pass the man, thank him for noticing me…into the street car tracks. Oh no, this is not just a streetcar track but the exact place where the track branches off to the north…too much streetcar tracks….wobble….did I inflate my tires? No. Down.

You can see the culprit here

The man was very concerned and asked if I was ok…I was. Just chalk this up for more practice falling down (which has to come in handy in times like this). I got up, walked across the rest of the intersection, inspected my bike, and rode on with the understandable shakiness of someone who just ate asphalt. Arm bloodied, and a second strike against cycling on Queen W…I think I might give that one up.

In better news, I then made it back home and got my bike packed up to bring to NYC. I was originally headed just for business on Monday, when I discovered the 5 Burough Bike Tour (5BBT) was happening. This was a great reason to spend some of the savingscycle dollars I’ve saved up. In the end, it’s $180 for the ticket for the ride and the bike box rental from MEC ($10 a day! Sweet!). That means only $15 out of pocket and am empty savingscycle account.

Saturday Ride about:
05/01/2010 Route

Since March 20, 2010
Total KM Ridden: 352.4
Total $ Saved: $165
Curent Savings: $0 – 5 Burough Bike Tour ($165)

Total Falls: 1

A Dandytime and My First Bike Box

May 1, 2010

Thursday was spent downtown for me, mostly at 221 Yonge St with the remainder in liberty village and on king w. It was such a beautiful day that I rode back and forth to the west side of town an extra time just for the sake of being inefficient and enjoying the rhythms of king st traffic. The Dandyhorse release party was a great place to have a couple of beers. Erin and I ate at “Forget About It” across from the Bell Lightbox, which was a bit overpriced and had warm beer. In their defense, I would go back for the mussels in white wine and tomato sauce…they were amazing. The patio was charming as day turned to dusk and passersby trawled their food options. The only reason we ended up there was that the hostess was perfectly aggressive and welcoming in inviting us in. We were caught off gaurd and seated before we knew it which is both a testament to her and also exemplary of how hungry we were. Over at the Canadian Corps Club on Niagara (which sadly seems to have just been sold?) there were cold beers, and many many bikes.

The new issue of the magazine looks really good as it takes a look at women who have strengthened the bike scene in Toronto. We bought 5 raffle tickets, which seem to have come up dry, and chatted for a while with some folks from Bike Sauce, the new DIY place on Queen and River. I can’t wait to swing by as my bike needs a little love (i think new cabling…and coming up on a new chain and crankset in the next month or so). They were awesome and their t shirts, made by Me to We, looked great too.

The local connections didn’t stop there. Friday was spent connecting and collaborating with local businesses. At first, Toronto didn’t seem to have the sheer mass of local business that I was used to in Chicago but as I’m digging deeper, I realize I don’t spend enough time looking. We found some great local businesses to work with on some exciting upcoming events. For now, I just want to give them a quick shout here as they are all doing some great work:

Big It Up – hats, hats, and more hats. But they’re all sweet.
Ms Lube – auto shop run by women for anyone who likes understanding their car’s issues
Lam’s Hair Spa – Lam’s mission? To remind people of themselves. Website under construction.
Curbside Cycle – Great bike shop that pushes city bike culture as the next revolution.
Freshbooks – Invoicing system for small biz.
Play de Record – Awesome tunes shop on Yonge. Really the kind of place you want a record store to be.

Can’t wait to work with these guys…in fact, I already found a concert to go to through @Playderecord on Twitter. JW and Blaze boat cruise in June…back to Palancin like at Carnival for me…

I finished my Friday with a trip to MEC and rented a Bike Box as I’m headed for some stateside riding this weekend. Only $10 a day for a functional (not highly technical) bike box. Still beats the heck out of cardboard and being questioned by TSA.

Thursday Round the Downtown:
April 29 Rides

Friday Round the Downtown
Around town on Friday

Since March 20, 2010
Total KM Ridden: 346.1
Total $ Saved: $159