Yeah, I know this is a pretty broad activity to count as just one moment, but I’m gonna cheat a little and combine all the organized bike tours I’ve taken into one experience. I’ve participated in, I think, seven(?) tours over the years = two “Five Boroughs” and at least five “Centuries.” As I’ve mentioned before, we walk a lot ’round these parts and it’s pretty easy to feel an intimate connection to the city when you are out on the streets unprotected from the weather, the sounds, the sights and alllll the people. But on a bike you can cover so much more ground, so much faster and still not sacrifice any of that adhesion to New York. It’s quite grand.
My first ever bike tour in New York, 35 miles total (2005):
Several years later I biked in a “closed route” tour which meant – to the screaming frustration of drivers – we owned the roads. I got to pedal over stretches of all five boroughs that are normally traversed by car alone. In a way it broke that connection a little, but it also meant getting to feel out an entirely different New York. It was very empowering to bike along the FDR, over the Queensboro Bridge and along the BQE – busy, fast highways usually crippled in gridlock.
Normally we all go from Point A to Point B underground and see nothing but a shocking amount of graffiti and the occasional wandering ratones along the way. Above ground you get watch the neighborhoods change. They go from Mexican to Greek, from Hasidic to Hipster, from rich to poor, all within mere blocks. The city is 8 million strong but it’s broken up into bite-sized communities that feel like a collection of small towns. And perched comfortably on my bike I’ve coasted through the variegated ebbs and flows of a lot of those towns. Still, there are miles and miles and miles left to see. Perhaps one day…