Ride

May. 20th, 2014 07:59 pm
[personal profile] planet_x_one
i took the day off and rode to an appointment with my pdoc. round trip, it was about 20 miles. my legs are catching on fast, but manhattan riding takes longer to acclimate. there are new bike lanes, but i'm of the opinion they're more dangerous than just riding in the middle of the avenues. if you can hold the average speed -- somewhere around 25mph -- it's safer to be in the middle, away from pedestrians, and the lurking chance of getting doored.

the bike lanes are a good idea, but they've been implemented in a robert moses sort of prosaic functionality. all up first avenue, the bike lane mysteriously disappears and then shows up in some odd area; near the united nations, it's briefly in the middle of the car lanes. at other places, construction reroutes it perilously into traffic. since it's usually on the left-most side, you get jammed up by a car making a turn in front of you and lose your precious kinetic energy. or the same, when an oblivious pedestrian stops to stare into his phone just as you're getting into a rhythm. it makes me agro, which i like as catharsis, and i get to yell at people for not giving cyclists their fair share. Around 70th street, in the bike lane, going the wrong direction, a forty-something dude riding a razor scooter (a sight disturbing enough on its own) got my best new york accented complaint, "are you fuckin' kidding me!?"

you've got to have the entirety of your visual and proprioceptive senses at full tilt all the time if you ride to commute. it's really quite a rush. and the whole business is an exercise in controlled, white-knuckle adrenaline-laced terror. it's kind of like a roller-coaster, except every once in a while the reality of hitting the pavement for real occurs to you. i don't wear a helmet either, which i find distracting, and everyone else who cares about me finds incredibly irresponsible and stupid.

after the appointment, i head down second ave. they've been building a new subway line there for a few years and, between 90th and 80th, the construction has turned the area into a dead zone, the pavement all gone and replaced by 4x8' concrete slabs, and the stores blocked off by construction fencing. in some half-hearted apology by the city, there are mauve banners on the fencing announcing the name and type of business of the store being blocked. something about them looks funereal.

past that, i catch up to a guy working a line through traffic in a way so effortless and balletic that at one stop light i almost compliment him but i don't really know what to say that's not corny. i follow him past the midtown tunnel and all of a sudden there are about twenty of us, like a current on the left side of the avenue. something in me shuts off and i just ride along allowing the presence of other riders to act as sensors. i realize this is dangerous but i can't stop and it's wonderful.

eventually the pack of cycles thins out and i make it down to the lower east side and onto the williamsburg bridge. there's that moment where you just crest the apex of the bridge's span and start to glide down the other side. into brooklyn, things quiet down, although the industrial edge of bushwick and ridgewood is the land of the white bicycles. there are no bike lanes there, just the occasional bicycle painted white: a memorial with a name saying a rider was killed at that spot.

cut up into quieter streets, sun is going down. come home, relax. nothing to do but enjoy cooling down. nothing to be done: lately, my favorite kind of evening.
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