The Big Ride, Part 2

Once you get outside with the bike, there is a decision to be made: Right or left. I usually go right, which is the opposite direction from my destination, but has its advantages.

Unlike other people, who seem to accept riding in traffic as a necessary danger, or a welcome thrill, I avoid it at all costs -- sometimes even doing the Bad Thing and riding on the sidewalk. The choice comes down to a quick equation involving how many other objects you are likely to encounter. Under the bridge there is a bike lane, but there are also cars backing out into the lane without looking (on the right of it), cars whizzing by (on the left of it), and double-parked cars and even schoolbuses (on top of it). I'd prefer not to get a rear-view mirror stuck in my ribs, so up on the curb we go. Unless a corporate softball game has just ended and there's a small mob coming back from East River Park to party at Boss Tweed's, you're unlikely to encounter more than one or two people.

There are times I've continued straight on Delancey and pedaled up and over the bridge that spans the FDR Drive. I don't like it, though. The bridge has a steep incline and then a few hairpin turns on the descent. The first day I started riding again after 25 years, embarking on this bridge was goofy indeed. I was still piddle-paddling with my feet along the pavement every so often, trying not to fall over. Once I hit that first angle on the bridge, it was hard to keep upright and keep my dignity.

So instead of hitting the bridge, I cut right onto Lewis. There is a bike lane here, but far less activity -- it's a side street. And after a few beats, I make the momentous (for me) left turn onto Grand, and then cut behind onto Henry.

This part of the neighborhood is unfamiliar to me. It's behind the supermarket, so I never need to go there. It's nice and quiet. I can hop the sidewalk without encountering anyone. And within the space of a few pedals, I'm at Corlears Hook Park, with its long, virtually empty mall and slow ascent to a run-down ampitheater. Heaven.


The Big Ride, Part I

On Saturday afternoon I was feeling a bit restless. The house was kind of a mess, but it was nice out! The perfect day for a ride. But there was just one problem: traffic on the bike paths. I've only been out a handful of times and don't feel ready for the weekend warriors. From the kitchen we can see a serious uptick of riders on the Williamsburg Bridge once Saturday rolls around. Would the East River path be the biking equivalent of the Cross Bronx Expressway on a Friday afternoon?

As I was mulling this over John and I drove down the east side to drop stuff off at the storage space, and we didn't really see that much bike traffic on the path! So John encouraged me to go, as he was heading off to Brooklyn for a few hours anyway. So I suited up in my Saturday best: leggings and t-shirt and track jacket and windbreaker and sneaky sneaks and, of course, helmet. The helmet, as well as the bike, belong to John. He also has leather riding gloves, but they're too big so I don't bother with them. In my backpack I put house keys and water bottle and wallet.

When I get the bike out it's a bit of a procedure, as I have to roll it around the boxes of books on the floor awating rearranging and then across the apartment and into the vestibule, and then press the elevator button and wait for the elevator which is an extra-long wait on Saturdays because of the Sabbath, and once the elevator comes it is sagaciously slow, and once the digital numbers count from 12 to B and the car touches down I roll the bike through the gray-painted cinder block hallways and out the door into the sunlight. And we're off.


A Note on Hegel, and women and men, courtesy of Rebecca West

From BIRDS FALL DOWN, in which the 18-year-old female protagonist is being lectured on the dialectic:

“The dialectic,” echoed Laura. It was one of those words to which she never troubled to attach a precise meaning. Teleology, oolitic, proportional representation, symbiotic; what they stood for was part of the world, and might once have been bright like the world, but the dust which falls wherever there are males had buried them in its dingy drifts.