**Retrieved from Friendster blog**
In my last post, I talked about how learning that something small can potentially open up new worlds…well, I feel the same way about discovering subcultures or groups. The more experiences you have, the richer life is—because worlds you didn’t know existed are revealed, things you didn’t understand become clear. Like the rave culture. The BBQ competition circuit. Poker. Fantasy sports. Publishing. Yoga.
Take joggers for example. Back in high school, I used to see people jogging by the side of the road and think that they were so cool, and wonder how I could be one of them. I thought they had all this inside information or experience that made them joggers. Then in college I started running—and felt awkward at first, thought that people watching me run would know that I wasn’t a *real* jogger. But before long, I was a jogger myself. I was one of them! I felt that way about bikers, too. I saw the people riding on the streets, so comfortable, and was envious. I had a bicycle for a little bit in college, but I never felt comfortable riding on the Berkeley streets. I was never a biker. When I received a bicycle as a gift about 5 years ago, I didn’t use it all that much, because in truth, I was intimidated. I took it on rides with my boyfriend or friends when they went riding, but I would never go by myself, and I knew nothing about bikes.
After we moved to NY, my bike sat chained to our stairwell for 2 ½ years. My boyfriend took it out once, but other than that, the scary NYC streets and the fact that we lived on the fourth floor of a walk-up apartment prevented it from being used.
Now I live in an apartment with an elevator. So when James suggested that we do the Century Bike Tour, I jumped at the opportunity. I hadn’t ridden a bike in four years, but with James’s assurance that it would be doable, I chose to do the 35 mile ride. It was a gorgeous day, and it was a fabulous ride through Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. I loved it. And although I was tired and my butt hurt, I felt like I could have gone farther. And the best thing I gained from it was I got over my fear of riding on the streets of NY. The roads weren’t blocked off for the ride, although for much of the ride I felt safety in numbers. But as the ride stretched out, I just learned how to ride in traffic.
After gushing about the ride to Tanya, she forwarded me an email about the Time Warner Road Inspectors, a team participating in the MS Ride, and I was psyched. Not only would I get to ride again, but I could do it for a good cause. The distance was 30, 60, or 100 miles. James and I debated whether to tackle the 60-mile ride, but though that we’d better stick to 30. But at the pasta dinner with part of the team the night before, we found out that there was a 45-mile shortcut option off of the 60-mile route: perfect.
Left the apartment at 6:15 am, still dark out. Went down 2nd Ave and then cut over to the East River. Saw the sun slowly rising over the water—of course had to stop to take pictures. Got to South Street Seaport, registered, scarfed down a blueberry muffin, lined up at the starting line. Blind Melon’s “No Rain” came on at the start, and I sang along joyfully. The cold, windy, but sunny fall day was a blessing after a week of pouring rain and gray.
The FDR was blocked off for us—so cool. A biker wiped out behind us--scary. Went all the way to the top of Manhattan. Then down the Henry Hudson Parkway—also free and clear of cars. The wind was powerfully strong, and in our face. It felt like we were going uphill even as we went downhill, constantly pushing against the wind. The streets counted down too slowly. We needed to get to the Lincoln Tunnel before they reopened it to traffic at 11 am. Got there with 10 minutes to spare. Riding through the carless Lincoln Tunnel was such a rush, as we swooped in, whooping and screaming, I felt an exhilaration similar to how I felt skydiving.
New Jersey was tough, full of hills, the traffic was no longer blocked off. Passed a biker smoking a cigarette as he biked—and we though the guy looking for a light after biking 15 miles in the Century Tour was crazy! The last hill felt like it was a mile long—had to walk my bike halfway. Onto the George Washington bridge, the water and view spectacular.
I felt like the worst was over, only to come down off the bridge and realize we were all the way up on 172nd Street. Chelsea Piers was a far far away. The wind was so strong that, at one point, coasting down a slight downward incline, the wind blew so hard that I was literally slowed to a stop and needed to pedal in order to keep moving forward. I was almost blown sideways a few times.
When I thought I couldn’t keep going, I just looked two feet in front of the bike with my head down. It helped.
So, I made it. My butt hurts, my legs burn, but I feel good. I rode a total of about 55 miles, if you count the ride to the starting line and the ride home from Chelsea Piers. Next year, bring on the 60 miles!
Thank you everyone who donated money. There’s still time to donate, so if you’d like to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York City Chapter, go to this link:
So…am I a biker? Not really. Or maybe I am. But at least I have a taste of what it’s like, and I ride the streets of Manhattan without fear, weaving in and out, and maybe a kid seeing me will wonder what it feels like to ride a bike in the city like that.
I'll tell you what it feels like. My as* hurts.