Saturday, July 30, 2005

61.3 miles almost to Jones Beach (and partway back)

I missed a few days of biking because my stomach has been upset - especially after meals - and it's been tiring to walk.

Not sure why, but it coincides with a bout of late nights and insomnia (5-6 hours a night), and fiendish productivity at work.

I needed a workout because weekends are for long rides, and because I get moody when I'm sedentary.

So this morning, a Saturday, I headed out toward Jones Beach. Sitting on the bike wasn't tiring at all, and I kept my stomach from becoming upset by keeping it empty. From waking up to returning from the ride around 8pm, I had one 3" x 5" square of Elio's pizza :-). And lots of water.

I started with the Atlantic Beach route from two weeks ago, then continued through Long Beach which is in Hempstead, Long Island. Long Beach has a boardwalk with a dedicated bike lane, but the towns or areas after that wouldn't let non-residents onto their beaches. How lame! We should reciprocate and ban them from Central Park.

I reached Point Lookout, which is a nice, bustling beach. It's supposedly the farthest one can go by bike, because afterward the path to Jones Beach becomes a parkway with no shoulder. Here's a photo of Point Lookout beach.

And this is me at the beach. Hard to tell that my arm's outstretched with the camera - I took this photo :-)

I asked someone how long the Loop Parkway was - he thought the initial parkway bridge was just half a mile, and that a bike trail picked up around there, so I gave it a try. I hopped on the parkway at the right of the right lane, and went over the bridge. it was a bit scary. Afterward, the highway became faster but there was a wide grassy area to the side for most of it, which I rode on.

The highway just didn't end, and I crossed two drawbridges - they may have had a two-foot shoulder, with fast traffic - so I stayed far to the right. Midway across the first, I was startled to hear a siren begin to wail. I figured a police officer was mad at me for riding on this road. But no - the drawbridge was preparing to open, and the red arm descended behind me to block cars from continuing. I scooted over the drawbridge, made it in time (probably plenty of time though I didn't look back), but it was still freaky. The second drawbridge didn't open on me.

At the end of the Loop Parkway was a wider highway that led to Jones Beach, called the Meadowbrook Parkway South. No bike trail yet .. I followed this one on the grass when there was some, and on the narrow shoulder when there wasn't. It was scary when there wasn't, because I had to hope the 60 mph cars were paying attention.

The Meadowbrook Parkway South continues over a long bridge before reaching Jones Beach, but doesn't slow down and has no shoulder. The previous bridges had already been too dicey, and riding here with the cars would be riskier - there as no margin of error if a car wasn't paying attention. But there was no bike path. Instead, there was a narrow walkway that the drawbridge operator could use to get to his or her post, so I rode slowly on that one. Alas, it reached a dead end at what I assume is one of the drawbridge operator's two "offices": this is a photo of that dead end, in the middle of the bridge. I could have waited for a lull in traffic, gone over the railing onto the bridge highway, walked past the other "office" and gone back on the narrow walkway, but that seemed too likely to get someone angry. So less than half a mile from Jones Beach, I had to turn around and go home.

It was a somewhat frightening few miles back to Point Lookout - too dangerous a ride - I won't be going back there. Back to safety, I returned to Long Beach, then to Atlantic Beach, then to the Far Rockaway boardwalk.

At B-36 Street I left the boardwalk and took the A train home. I would have liked to ride all the way back, but it was getting late and I knew K would be upset if I delayed dinner too long.

We had a tasty dinner at a local Cuban Chinese restaurant - I had tofu mixed vegetables over yellow rice, K had broccoli with garlic sauce over yellow rice, and we shared some fried banana.

Then, we saw Charlie Chocolate and the Muffin Factory. A fun movie - Willie Wonka, played by Johnny Depp, is gratifyingly strange, though not brilliantly so. As tarasophia notes, much of the fun is in watching Johnny Depp play Michael Jackson.

Here's K after the movie. Hi K!

Caution to John Grisham readers: The Testament is the worst book of his I've read. It gets a 'D'. It just wasn't well written, and aside from a few plot developments, it wasn't interesting. I found myself skipping and skimming through most of the second half.

Good night, blog friends!

Monday, July 25, 2005

12.9 miles to 125th street

A night ride .. it's cooler than the daytime. For those of you wondering why the same route took 12.9 miles today but 12.8 miles yesterday, I took a slightly different route to the bike path.

Today I read Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. A charming story. It's ironic that Mr. Fox and his friends are sympathetic and don't want to be eaten, yet they don't think twice about eating their duck and turkey brethren ..

Mr. Fox just doesn't speak the ducks' language. It has never occurred to him to care about the ducks - that it's warped for him to chomp that duck's neck.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

12.8 miles to 125th Street

We certainly have some catching up to do, blog friends! Friday was K's birthday. When she woke up, a little celebration awaited her in the kitchen. Several stuffed animals attended as she opened her presents - including Muffin, a giant teddy bear.

Around noon, we boarded an Amtrak train to visit K's family in Massachusetts for the weekend.

Our niece and nephew joined us Friday evening and we took them to the park. They are very sweet! This is K with H and B.

This is me with H.

The birthday party took place the next day, at K's other sister's house. I had forgotten to pack my bathing suit, so on Saturday morning we first stopped at Target. What a fun store! I picked up a Pac Man t-shirt and lots of socks as well.

K's mom got her a cute teddy bear in a rocking chair, holding a birthday balloon. It was reading a book that said "The Joys of Being 30".

We splashed around in the pool and ate tasty macaroni and cheese, chocolate frosted cake, and Edy's rocky road ice cream. Mmm!

This morning (Sunday), we had lunch at a nice Chinese restaurant and then went back to Manhattan by train. This is K in South Station, holding her balloon!

Over the weekend I managed to get almost no work done - but I read two books: Dan Brown's Digital Fortress, and John Grisham's The Partner. Both were good reads! Digital Fortress gets a B+ and The Partner gets an A-. Like The Broker, The Partner lets you observe the execution of the protagonist's well-crafted, clever plan to get out of a heap of trouble. It's for this reason, I think, that the writing is tight and the plot fast-paced and compelling. The Partner had one flaw - Spoiler alert, skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read it! - which is that Johnny feels compelled to make sure that protagonists don't profit from their misdeeds. I prefer fully happy endings.

When we arrived home, K and I went for evening bike rides. I was lethargic from eating too much on the train, so I didn't go very fast, but at least I got in the trip to 125th Street!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

13.1 miles to Fairway

This is the Cherry Path, from around 98th street to 125th. It gets a bit curvy and eventually a highway runs alongside the path, but it's a treat to ride alongside the water with no railing obstructing the view.

I can't bring the bike to Danvers this weekend, but in early August we'll spend a week in San Francisco and I have to ride there! Renting a bike would be more convenient than flying mine back and forth.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for long San Francisco bike rides, or for shops that rent road bikes!

Here you can map the states you've visited. Here are mine:

And here is my sister, A, with Muffin!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

22.3 miles to Fort Lee

That's a guess ... the odometer said I was making good time, then great time, then hard-to-believe time. Funny, it didn't feel that fast. It was too good to be true: I'd bumped into the Stop button. Another long, midnight ride, to make up for yesterday's artery-defying indiscretion (macaroni and cheese, and profiteroles over vanilla ice cream, at Le Zie)!

I phoned Julie this evening, from Amtrak. Julie says I can bring my bike to Boston this weekend. They'll pack it up in a box, removing the pedals and tilting the handlebar, provided I drop it off before their freight train leaves. Capybaras of Danvers beware!

Here is K in a 'pigeon variation' pose. She is applying to yoga teaching school.

Monday, July 18, 2005

12.6 miles to 125th Street

Thanks, K, for getting me on the bike this evening! After a tasty dinner at Lasagna Restaurant, I was regretting the pesto-topped bread that I had eaten too much of. I joined K for the start of her nighttime ride, though we went in different directions. It was a strong, fast ride! Strangely, according to the odometer, my average speed increases when I ride with the heavy Kryptonite chain. Some possibilities: the weight pushes me to work harder; the weight on the back of the bike speeds my downhills and is somehow neutral on the flats and slight inclines; without the extra weight, I work too hard initially and burn myself out; without the extra weight, it doesn't feel like such an achievement and I get bored; or maybe I'm just imagining it - a coincidental pattern?

On Sunday, hoping to find some nice friends to ride with, I browsed a bunch of bike club websites. My scientific survey found that 90% of bike club members are older than me, and 6 out of 7 cyclists are male. I suppose it's a low impact exercise that one can continue forever. I don't care much about the gender divide, although homogeneity is boring, but I just can't get excited about the age divide.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

8.3 miles to Depression Modern

DM sells Art Deco furniture from the 20's and 30's, some of it fabulous, at reasonable prices. They get just a few new pieces each week so it can take a dozen trips to find something to buy. Alas, a card in the window read closed Sundays in July and August. Continued down the bike path a bit, but yesterday's trip sapped my energy. Afterward, K and I walked to and from the tasty Angelica Kitchen.

Finished the Harry Potter book - an excellent one - I predicted part of the ending. JK Rowling has always thought up good stories, but her writing craft was originally very weak. It has improved tremendously since her first books.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

67.6 miles to Atlantic Beach

This photo of Atlantic Beach was taken from the Atlantic Beach Memorial Bridge. Atlantic Beach is in Long Island, past Far Rockaway.

This was the boardwalk in Jacob Riis Park, which is in Far Rockaway. It's a long boardwalk. They have signs saying you can't bike on it between 10am and 6pm, but a Parks Department person there said you could. There were a few folks on bicycles, and neither the police or the parks department folks gave anyone trouble.

This photo is of the Far Rockaway side of the Atlantic Beach Memorial Bridge.

There was an unpleasant incident on the way there - in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I got a bit lost and was returning to the route, but the road I was supposed to turn onto went the wrong way. I rode a block on the empty sidewalk and saw that it became a two-way avenue there, and waited for the light to turn onto the avenue. A policeman was crossing the street toward me so I asked him whether a certain street was in that direction. He said he'd never heard of the street. Then he started staring at me with his pupils shifted in toward his nose, so mostly the whites of his eyes were visible. He stared without saying a word, trying to intimidate me but looking very strange. His badge said Kosta. He asked me where I was going, and acted like he didn't believe me when I told him. It was a contemptuous tone, like he was interrogating me, trying to get me to reveal the criminal truth. He asked me where I lived, then wanted some identification, all the while keeping his cyborg stare going. Is this a recent photo? No, I'm getting older. Then he said, "you were riding on the sidewalk." Yes, a block ago I was surprised to find this street went the wrong way. Have you gotten a ticket before? No. Now he tried to befriend me: If I don't write you up ... long pause ... people might think I give preferential treatment. I see, I said. You see, in this area lots of kids get hit by bikes. I looked at that empty sidewalk, on the industrial side of a car-filled avenue, but said nothing. He called in my info over his radio. Then, you need to take care of it by this date. Just explain to them what you explained to me and they'll probably cancel the ticket, he said. If they don't, it'll be just $15 or $20. Okay. Where did you say you're trying to go? You can go down this street, then turn left. His tone indicated that he wanted my friendship, my understanding. I said I appreciated that - avoiding the phrase he craved, "Thank you".

It took me a while to get back into a pleasant mood, and his directions lengthened my trip, but I learned some Brooklyn geography and eventually the pleasant trip resumed.

With the benefit of many wrong turns in Brooklyn, here's a route that's easy and much more direct (probably around 60 miles roundtrip):

1. Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
2. Find Flatbush Avenue, and take it pretty far.
3. Turn right onto Bedford Avenue. Bedford Avenue has a bike lane! Take it to the end.
4. Turn left onto Emmons Street. Take it 0.6 miles.
5. On the right-hand side of the street, the Shore Parkway bike path will start, at Binham street or something similar. Take it - it's quite scenic.
6. Follow the bike path as it turns into a sidewalk and turns right.
7. You'll hit the Marine Parkway - Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Apologize, then cross the bridge. Signs say you have to walk your bike over the bridge, but the dozen bicyclists of all ages were all riding across with no problem. You're now in Far Rockaway.
8. Follow the B-169 street which goes in the same direction as the bridge (after crossing a road to get there). This leads to the first boardwalk's start.
9. Go to the end of the boardwalk. You'll then need to detour on the streets until B-129 or so (I forget the exact street) to get onto the next boardwalk.
10. Get on that boardwalk, and follow it to the end - to B-8, I believe.
11. Continue on the streets until you reach the Atlantic Beach Memorial Bridge, which is around B-1. Cross it - you'll need to walk the bike across.
12. You're now in Atlantic Beach. That's as far as I made it, but Long Beach is just around 5 miles away.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

13.7 miles to Brooklyn

We had a cocktail party at the office - mojitos and sangria. Super fun, especially toward the end. It was only when I found myself dizzily meandering home that I realized I'd had too many! They're sweet and hit you all at once. It took a few hours to undizzify; it didn't feel good.

I biked south this evening - to the ferry terminal, then over Brooklyn Bridge, and back. In part just to get some fresh air. Arrived home just after 2am, feeling a bunch better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

23 miles - stuck on the GW Bridge!

Another nighttime ride: I made it to the New Jersey end of the bridge, but before I could exit, the bridgekeeper said they were closing up. (It was around midnight.) He'd phone the fellow on the New York side to let me out, but I had to turn around.

I turned back, but a thick iron gate kept me stuck on the bridge. I waited, and waited, and waited, but nobody came. I had left my cellphone home, and the bridge wasn't slated to open again until 6am.

Finally a big fellow lumbered over and unlocked the gate .. then another gate .. and a truck was at the final exit to unlock that gate. They're sure into gates!

(If he hadn't come, I could have climbed over the railing and walked alongside the cars briefly, or some other such machinations, but that wouldn't have been super safe and I didn't want to get arrested!)

I entered Riverside State Park to follow the Hudson River bike path home, and biked to the end, but that gate was locked too! I turned around, found a dark exit - climbed up many stairs - and finally found an ungated path home.

It was an adventure - but the adrenaline and surprises are an exciting part of bicycling ... (as are the challenge, new paths, speed and mood-enhancement).

Sunday, July 10, 2005

42.7 miles to Alpine

Despite a late start, I rode to Alpine and back. Afterward we had dinner at La Chinita Linda - a tasty Cuban Chinese restaurant with nonexistent decor. I had tofu mixed vegetables over yellow rice, and K had broccoli with garlic sauce over yellow rice.

Surprisingly, La Chinita Linda was K's suggestion. Maybe Tara's poo-avoidance advice subconsciously inspired her. Thanks, Tara!

The ride started so late because of a compulsion to finish John Grisham's mediocre book "The Last Juror". What a disappointment. I wonder whether my Ebay purchase was a mistake. Here's how I'd rate his books so far:
The Broker: an A. Impeccably paced, smart and captivating.
King of Torts: a B+. An engaging adventure. Not that smart.
The Firm: a B+. Pleasingly sinister and fast-paced.
The Street Lawyer: a B. After an engrossing beginning it trailed off, but it was still enjoyable.
A Time to Kill: a B-. Some memorable characters, but I lost a few brain cells.
The Last Juror: a C-. Pablum. A dull waste of time. The connection between the title and the book is tenuous.

Johnny crafts an exciting plot. Unfortunately, his characters lack depth. When the plots slow, his stories become duller. And some of his resolutions feel simplistic and artificial.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

21.4 miles to the Bridge and back

A long ride was planned for today, but in the middle of the George Washington Bridge, ominous dark gray storm clouds appeared. Rain and a strong wind forced me to turn back. It eventually stopped but I didn't want to chance it. My bike tires are virtually bulletproof but they have no traction in the rain, especially downhill. As I began the steep descent back into the park, the bike flailed aimlessly and I grabbed the iron side-rail to keep from falling; had to walk it down the rest of the hill. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be suited to a longer ride!

This evening our friend DG joined us at the awesome Thailand Restaurant. It's good to have him back in NYC!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

13.1 miles - Knightrider again

Another late-night ride, this one shorter. (Weekends are for long rides.)

Yesterday the 18 John Grisham books finally arrived. Purchased on Ebay for about $17. Yay! They're great beach reading, except for A Time to Kill, his first book - he hadn't hit his stride yet.

And after two weeks of waiting, Dan Brown's worst book (according to the Amazon reviews) arrived at the library. I had put it on hold prior to the Grisham purchase, when I was in desperate need of a mindless thriller.

The trouble with libraries is the time pressure. I now have, say, 18 books I'd like to read before this one, but it's gotta go back in three weeks!

This is your lucky day

You are so lucky - It's pictures galore day.

We had Thai food with Pat this evening. Pat is a dessert-o-philic carnivore who has broken the "pop" habit in favor of cranberry juice.

Here's Marlon, who I'm trying to get into long-distance cycling. He's not biting yet! But the massive weights he lifts at Drew's make up for it.

K after lunch - notice the four new library books! (Two are for me!)

And K at lunch - Thai twice in one day, mmm. (Different restaurants.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

20.3 mile midnight ride!

Rode to the GW Bridge and back tonight - refreshing! Last night I was up programming til 6:30 am, so this workout was for two weekdays.Yes, the rumors are true - they closed New Jersey! From midnight to 6am at least.
Speaking of refreshing, I am now officially addicted to 7UP's new Mixed Berry drink. It has no caffeine and just 10 calories, and it tastes great - fruity yet not overwhelming!
K and I had a very tasty dinner at Chennai Garden tonight. She is now watching a movie: Love Actually. We may visit San Francisco in early August! K may or may not have patted several puppies today.

My friend from Brown, V., wrote from Sri Lanka. He's been a Buddhist monk for several years over there, and has renounced possessions such as 7UP Mixed Berry and road bikes. He'd like me to join their merry band for some meditation, which I suppose could be cool if I had the patience for it. If he had to join a cult, that's probably not a bad one, but I hope he'll rejoin society - he was a lot of fun and really interesting before he made his big move!

Pedalboating in Queens

The view from a pedalboat in Queens's Corona Park - just minutes from the World's Fair featured in Men in Black. Fun and relaxing, but not much of a workout - your legs can only move half a foot forward and half a foot back.
Here's my friend and occasional exercise buddy Josh.

Let me know you can recommend a good Web-based RSS feed aggregator, that lets you keep up on blogs without visiting each one! Ideally one that includes all new posts on a single page, avoiding the need to click on each article!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

57.8 miles, Piermont NY with Mike

Mike and I biked to Piermont NY today! In the top picture we're on the George Washington Bridge (photo taken by cyclists with 'SF to NY' banners draped in back of their bikes), and in the bottom photo we're in Alpine NJ. We ate at the Sidewalk Cafe in Piermont .. mmm! (Actually too heavy food, but attractive and pleasant!)

Tonight K, M, I and I saw Batman - fun for all!