Tuesday, August 30, 2005

12.9 miles to 125th Street

An occasional light drizzle, but nothing uncomfortable.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

40 miles to Alpine Boat Dock with Mike

Hello, fellow blogodytes! Mike and I had a nice ride. We were going to continue to Nyack Beach State Park, but it started to rain and we didn't want to be stranded in case it got worse. (Our tires are virtually bulletproof, but have no traction at all in the rain.) As it happened, the rain stopped.

Here are photos of Mike and me at the Englewood picnic area and boat dock. The one above is of me, the one below is of Mike.

This morning I finally mastered the art of fixing a flat. There are five basic steps:

1. Remove the wheel from the bike
2. Pry one side of the tire off the rim
3. Remove the inner tube
4. Put in the new tube
5. Pry the tire back on the wheel

The trick had to do with Step 4: in the past when I'd put in a new tube, I'd placed it right on the rim. This caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Apparently one simply needs to put the tube inside the tire (which is not fully on the wheel). Then it's really easy to put the tire back on the wheel!

I am psyched because Mike is up for biking to the Poconos together, if we can find a route! We stopped at a bike shop before embarking on our ride, and he is avoiding many mistakes that I've made. On that note, here are some lessons from David's mistakes for all you new bicyclists:

1. Size matters: get a super bright light for riding at night, not the puny one that I got
2. My bell is too soft. Bells are great, but get a very loud one so it can be heard from a distance. Not a horn, those are awful.
3. After many flats, I finally discovered Bontrager's Race Lite - Hard Case tires. Yesterday's flat was the first I've gotten in half a year. The one drawback of these tires - no traction in the rain on hills.
4. That flat was probably due to low tire pressure. Fill the tires at least once a week.
5. Air pumps at gas stations and bike shops are not suited for road bikes, because that pressure is too low. Use a hand pump instead.
6. Raise your seat as high as possible so long as your legs don't have to stretch while pedaling. The much better leverage makes hills easier, and will keep you from getting injured.
7. Get a super large bike bag that attaches beneath the seat. Mine is supposedly a large, but I wish it were larger. With tools, tubes, wallet, keys and phone, larger is better.
8. Ditch the hard seat. Some experts claim they're just as comfortable as cushy seats, but they really aren't. I'm happy with my Trico Sports Memoflex seat - not fancy but comfortable. For guys, make sure there's a hole along the front of the seat unless you hate the thought of ever having kids.
9. Skip the water bottle; a giant 1.5 liter Poland Spring water holds much more.

Tonight K cooked a tasty Penne a la Vodka, with mozzarella cubes. Mmm. We had some leftover stir fry too, which was also fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

29 miles to Atlantic Beach Memorial Bridge

where I met K and DG. I was going to cross the bridge, but got a flat!

We spent time at Long Beach, drove back, and had tasty Indian food at Madras Cafe in the East Village. A fun time was had by all.

Friday, August 26, 2005

14.3 miles to Riverbank State Park

Riverbank State Park is around 138th street. It's along the Hudson but elevated. They have a no bicycles rule so I looked cautiously around to make sure no official looking people were present.

I rode home along Riverside Drive, and then 11th avenue, for variety. Riverside Drive is wide, pretty, and mostly downhill in that direction. The surface lends itself to faster bicycling.

13.5 miles to a 134th street warehouse

That destination was for you, Lobo - it looked like a boarded up warehouse past Fairway, right before the entrance to Riverside Park. Abandoned? Probably not - after all, Manhattan's real estate market is hot ;-).

K and I have been trying to get back on a normal sleep schedule, but that doesn't look likely for me - it's almost 3:30am, and last night I went to sleep around 4am. That's the downside of working with people in four time zones! (There are some real upsides though.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

10.2 mile midnight ride to the ferry terminal

Got home late, so I went for a shortened ride. Earlier, K and I went to S's party: a home-cooked dinner plus the movie Shaolin Soccer. Fun times! Hi M, I and S and K!

Monday, August 22, 2005

12.8 mile midnight ride to Fairway

... a fast ride - it felt great.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

18 miles from Lords Valley PA to Conashaugh Lakes PA

Approximately - no odometer on the bike I used. Tooled around Lords Valley, then turned right onto 739 and rode to Dingman Township. Felt very comfortable on 739 because there was so little traffic - I rode on the white line most of the way.

Eventually reached Conashaugh Lakes and had to turn back because of the time.

I'd love to find a nice route from Manhattan to the Pocono Mountains. There's apparently a series of very long bike routes that criss-cross Pennsylvania, described at BikePA.com, and I saw some BikePA Route Y1 signs on the busride up - might work for part of the route. If there is a safe route it'd be at least 110 miles which is quite long, but possible.

Friday, August 19, 2005

8.7 miles to Robert F Wagner Park

this afternoon. Robert F Wagner Park is at the southern tip of Manhattan, just past the end of the Hudson River bike path. It's shortly before the Circle Line and the Staten Island ferry. It rained lightly but the air was somewhat cool and fresh.

Last night I was up past 7am, working til 3 and reading afterward. A bit of insomnia.

Tonight we saw The 40 Year Old Virgin. Surprisingly it was fantastic! Best movie of the year so far - surprising and original, it started out good and eventually became hysterical. I'd rank it above Wedding Crashers and on par with Elf (two examples of my highbrow taste).

Still hoping to see March of the Penguins and Grizzly Man - while I try to stay away from depressing fare, Grizzly Man's surreal and majestic intro pulls you in.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

30.2 mile night ride to Teaneck, NJ

After too many days off the bike, I got off my behind, went over the George Washington Bridge, and continued to Teaneck NJ. To get there one goes through Fort Lee, then goes over Route 80 (a 20-lane highway at that point). There's a Marriott hotel right off the highway, but the photo didn't come out.

K is on a pancake spree. Yesterday and today she made banana pancakes, and tomorrow she's planning blueberry pancakes.

Alas, there is no more Diet Sunkist in the house. Nor is there any 7UP Mixed Berry. The only drink left is a vile diet chocolate soda that has remained untouched and unloved for a couple months.

P left for Ohio today. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But we saw him off last night with dumplings, mung bean pancakes, stuffed shitake mushrooms, stone bowl rice and carrot cake at Hangawi, a tasty vegan Korean restaurant. Bye, P! See you soon!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

72 miles to Nyack Beach State Park

The misnamed Nyack Beach State Park isn't a beach, but it's beautiful - an idyllic biking locale, with a curvy path along the Hudson. This photo doesn't do it justice.

At the end of the waterfront bike trail I exited the park in a mountainy area. I climbed part of a half-mile hill before heading home due to the time. That area is actually in Twin Ponds, which is above Upper Nyack.

I reached this area accidentally, after missing a turn on 9 West. (The road read bike path so I didn't realize this until returning.)

Here's the river from the same spot.

Above Twin Ponds is Rockland Lake State Park, which is also extremely pleasant. I wasn't there today, but was last year.

Let's go back in time to Piermont, NY, which is around 27.8 miles into the trip. I stopped here for a late lunch. Piermont is a cozy little town with picturesque houses and luxury cars galore. Off of one of their two main streets, they had an annual chili bakeoff.

Across the road near the waterfront, a gaggle of geese were enjoying the warm day. They didn't mind my approach at first, but as I came nearer they began to look cautiously around, so I didn't take a closer photo.

Here's another photo of their waterfront.

I stopped for lunch at the Sidewalk Cafe, where Mike and I had eaten in July. I ate a very tasty "Guatemalan" garden burger with steak fries, and drank a strawberry margarita. Mmm. The waitress said, "I don't know whether I should card you" - then she did. I suppose I'm flattered that anyone would think I'm that young.

The last 17 miles of the return were tough. My energy was fine, but I got a leg cramp in my right leg - it was stuck straight. After a rest, I continued several miles, climbing hills mostly with my left leg.

Returning home, having returned to upper Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge, I went down Fort Washington Avenue instead of going through the Hudson River park, because four sketchy looking guys (and one girl) were just hanging out on the narrow pedestrian overpass. Nobody hangs out on that overpass. At least one was wearing a wifebeater. Had I passed the first two I would have been defenseless, so midway over the overpass, about 18 feet from them, I just turned around and headed to Fort Washington Avenue, angering them but avoiding a needless risk.
Back on the streets of upper Manhattan, my left leg then cramped. I got to the side of the road - somehow got off the bike - and let myself fall to the grassy sidewalk to recover. Though my left leg was stuck, sticking out straight, I tried to appear uninjured so passersby wouldn't realize that I couldn't move! (Manhattan's super safe but this part of Upper Manhattan was a bit more sketchy.)

Both my right and left legs were in bad shape so I switched to a low gear to minimize the leg cramps. I had to stop three more times when they started cramping up too much. One of these stops was on the Cherry Path, where a family of ducks were just hanging out.My photos of them didn't come out - I was too far away and couldn't move closer ;-).

I had drunk over a gallon of water because of the heat (a high of 98 degrees and humid), but started to get faint and nauseous from low blood sugar. After half an hour I reached a riverside cafe and had a regular Coca Cola. It helped a bit but it wasn't until dinner that I felt better - tofu mixed vegetables with yummy brown sauce from a local dive.

With the exception of the last leg of the trip, it was a very pleasant ride. I think the leg cramps were just a result of too many skipped rides in the last two weeks due to the San Francisco trip and a busy workweek; and because my seat is currently about an inch too low.

Friday, August 12, 2005

12.8 mile midnight ride to 125th Street

K and I rode together! Good to be back on my bike - we were underwhelmed by San Francisco's Bike & Roll.

I biked 402.9 miles in July - not bad!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

35 miles to Sausalito's Coastal Trail and back

First, a roundtrip with K over the bridge to Sausalito. Here's Sausalito from the bridge.

Then, K left for yoga while I returned to Sausalito for more bicycling fun. I continued to Rodeo Beach.

From there, I started off on the "Coastal Trail" which was closed off to cars. This trail meandered up the mountain and supposedly ended at Tennessee Beach, which I didn't reach. It began as a road, but then turned into a dirt-paved, rock-strewn hiking trail. High up, rugged and beautiful, nobody around, a sign warned that some travelers had been blown off the mountain and drowned. It wasn't especially windy but this was the untamed outdoors - my brakes got a workout to avoid biking off the mountain.

I turned back before "Hill 88" because of the time and because a sign had warned that beyond that the path wasn't bikeable. (As it was I had to carry the bike part of the way.) An adventure I'd like to repeat, though next time on a mountain bike and with more time!

Friday, August 05, 2005

12 mile ride to Sausalito (and back)

With only an hour and a half to ride, I rented a bike and went over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was enveloped in fog and very windy. The bike path curved outward around each of the two supports, causing the wind to pull ferociously. I had to walk around the supports to be safe. I wonder whether anyone has been blown off the bridge!

The fog lifted at the Sausalito side, revealing a breathtaking mountain. I hope to have time for a longer ride on Sunday to explore Sausalito.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

10.5 mile walk around San Francisco

Just finished Chaim Potok's The Chosen. A strong story, with a riveting ending: it gets an A overall. In the more competitive category of great books, it gets two stars out of five.

There are some books that get your neurons firing - captivating, engaging reads that spark interesting thoughts, explore a novel perspective, feel like they're stimulating your brain. This book was one of these, to some extent, though it's not in brilliant territory.

Others in this category? Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was incredible, despite the title - let's give it 3.5 stars; and Joyce's The Dead had a breathtaking, five-star ending. K loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which I'm looking forward to trying.

Let me know if you have any great book recommendations - ideally books that are riveting and smart.