Life in the Bike Lane
About three years ago, our co-op building created a bike room and held a lottery for spaces. I’d wanted a bike for years, but never trusted the unlocked storage room of my previous residence. So I decided to toss my hat into the ring, and if I got a space, I’d go buy a bike. Bingo!
The Green Machine (as I call my Jamis Citizen hybrid cruiser) was intended to be my ticket to fun and fitness from the get-go … but it didn’t quite work out that way. Just a month after my first two rides (over the George Washington Bridge, and around Central Park) with a kind fellow who responded to my posting on the NY Cycle Club bulletin board for someone patient enough to accompany a new rider, a foot inflammation put me out of commission. The following spring, I got back in gear and was beginning to enjoy jaunts down the Hudson River Greenway when a fall on a stone staircase in Ft. Tryon Park put me on crutches for a week (and into a lengthy course of physical therapy for a badly sprained ankle). Once the ankle healed, my knee began acting up.
Only in the past few months have I been able to spend enough time in the saddle to gain a modicum of strength and confidence. It was embarrassing being a perpetual beginner for awhile … but at least now I can zoom downhill on Margaret Corbin Drive without keeping my brakes on the whole way; slip past the lamppost in that narrow spot on the Greenway without holding my breath; and manage the long, slow climb from the Dyckman Street entry to the colonnaded pavilion overlooking the Hudson without panting like an overheated dog. (Well, okay; maybe a little.)
Not yet strong enough for serious group riding, I nevertheless hooked up with the Inwood Cycling Club recently for a jaunt downtown and around Central Park. There were eight of us; I was both the oldest (something I’m entirely used to, having worked 15 years among college students) and the least experienced (something I’m pretty much resigned to, whenever cyclists gather). It’s an informal group; the people are friendly and the pace is manageable.
Central Park was very crowded on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and somehow I had gotten separated from the gang even before I got stuck behind a barrier waiting for a break in the boisterous stream of AIDS walkers. When the barrier slid aside and I resumed pumping my way through the pedicabs, in-line skaters, dogwalkers, and other bicyclists, I realized that my sense of direction had long since disappeared. Was I still going south, or was I now heading east? Was I already on my way back north? (Ha! No such luck.)
The sight of a friendly young fellow handing out free bottles of vitamin water was as welcome as an oasis in the desert—a good excuse to pull over, catch my breath, figure out were I was, and chat for a couple minutes. But it turned out to be more than a simple pit-stop; it actually generated a semi-crazy idea.
The real purpose of the water handout was to attract recruits for the Tour de Cure, a fund-raising bike-ride in New York City on June 26 for the American Diabetes Association. The bottles were accompanied by a brochure about the event (which had options for rides of 100 miles, 50 miles, 30 miles … and 15 miles). “That’s do-able!” I thought to myself, not even realizing I would have ridden that much by the time I got home much later that afternoon (never having reconnected with the group, alas). Of course, I made some stops along the way, including one for a burrito lunch in the middle of a street fair on my way home. There wouldn’t be the same kind of stops along the Tour de Cure, and I’d have to keep up. But since it was about a month away, didn’t that give me enough time to get stronger? Hmm … I’d be committing myself to ride rain or shine, hot or hotter. Could I manage it?
Well, I signed up!
Click here to visit my personal Tour de Cure page, and please consider making a donation to support my ride. Let’s get in gear (sorry, bad pun!) to beat one of the most insidious diseases in this country.