Wednesday, May 31, 2006

12.1 nighttime miles up the Hudson River

Couldn't go quite as fast as yesterday because of the nighttime visibility (eyes searching the barely visible path for branches and detours), but still a great speed.

I'll modify yesterday's hypothesis: the competitive effort and cadence get credit, but Imbert's tuneup at Master Bike gets some too, I think.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

11.9 miles to Fairway

Zipped up and down for a nice sunset ride. The first half was fast, so I figured the wind had been with me, but the second half was a bit faster
Here's my guess why: a trio of fast cyclists were creeping up behind me, and passed me. I stepped it up and kept up with them until some pedestrian and bicycle traffic forced me to slow down for safety. (Narrower paths over there.) Finally was able to speed up, and at the end of the cherry path they were standing there, taking a breather before heading back. I was pleased to see that one of them had a clone of my bike - a Specialized Allez M2 in blue. Hey, if someone's going to go faster than me, at least they can validate my choice of bicycles.

I headed back without a breather and worked on keeping the cadence up so they wouldn't pass me again -- and they didn't :-).


Bike bike.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

11.9 miles to 125th Street

Another beautiful summer day. K and I had lunch outdoors at Regional Thai, then browsed books at the Strand. I met up with MF and The Human Wall (tm) where we discussed jujitsu, tidal waves and more. Then they went to see X-Men III and I went home, read from the new Alexander McCall Smith book (Blue Shoes and Happiness), and fell asleep for an hour's nap - the long-running sleep deficit finally catching up with me.

K made a bowtie pasta dish for dinner (with feta, olive oil, garlic, tomato, basil, red onion, parsley and balsamic vinegar) and then we went biking along the Hudson River. It's still Fleet Week and people were out en masse, at least near the ships. Little kids running across the bike path without looking, pedestrian tourists streaming through the bike lane - it was good to get through that section. On the way back, once I hit 59th Street I detoured onto 11th Avenue to avoid that mess. It's downhill and wide and the lights were with me, so I was over 20 mph most of that final leg :-).

Saturday, May 27, 2006

69 miles to Long Beach for lunch

Mike and I bike biked to the beach on this glorious Memorial Day Saturday. Had a chocolate chip Odwalla bar for breakfast en route while basking in the warmth, which ranged from 62-80 degrees. We went along Brooklyn's Ocean Parkway and Shore Road, the Far Rockaway boardwalk, the Atlantic Beach boardwalk, and to the end of the Long Beach boardwalk.

We brought takeout from the nearby 'Tiki bar' to the boardwalk, parked ourselves on a bench and had lunch overlooking the beach and the ocean. There were some other beachgoers but not as many as one would have guessed. Then we reluctantly returned home.

The last part of the Brooklyn leg was along the bustling Flatbush Avenue, and traffic was out in force. Mike thought I was nuts for weaving between the cars when they would pack together awaiting the lights; I call it technique ;-). It was Friday that I realized I enjoy madcap biking in traffic - with 25 minutes to kill I sped down the avenues amid the late afternoon rush rather than detouring to the more sedate Hudson River bike path. It wasn't the smartest choice, but the focus, speed and technique bring about an incredible adrenaline rush.

Back to today's ride - upon returning across the Brooklyn bridge, Mike noticed that my bike bag was open ... and my wallet was missing. (It had last been seen in Brooklyn.) I raced home, and not knowing whether it was lost or stolen, froze my credit cards. Bearette and I had an awesome dinner at Zen Palate outdoors in the perfect evening weather, stopped by the Strand and sat in Union Square park. At home, a voicemail message awaited us - the police had found the wallet and tried to bring it to our door, from Brooklyn! As we were outside, they left it with our building's security folks.

It was such a relief - and so kind of them to go so far out of their way. Thank you NYPD!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The best vegetarian restaurants in NYC

A friend just asked for vegetarian restaurant recommendations in NYC. For those of you who may be visiting NYC, I thought I'd mention them here as well so you'll know where to go, as NYC is a great vegetarian town. Here are some of the best:

Angelica Kitchen does nice things with all sorts of vegetables and grains. In addition to their regular menu, they sometimes have great specials too. They are not a "mock meat" type place -- they are more of an organic "wholesome goodness, close to the earth" type place. Their decor is somewhat "communal" - not fancy, but a nice group of people. East Village

Hangawi is always remarkable, though very pricey - all sorts of interesting vegan Korean dishes. Our favorites: "Tofu Stone Bowl Rice" for an entree, Mung Bean pancakes for an appetizer, chocolate cheesecake for dessert. But they have lots of other interesting dishes too, and in a group you'd probably want to share a bunch of appetizers to try the various tastes. 32nd Street near 5th Avenue

Red Bamboo makes some great fake meat dishes. Their "chicken parmesan hero" is great, as is their (fake) roast beef. For an appetizer, their Asian Dragonfly Dumplings is a real winner. They don't have fancy decor - it's akin to Candle Cafe's 75th Street location - and they're popular with the younger set. (Probably because it's so close to NYU.) Near NYU - 4th Street off of 6th Avenue

Teany is a special dessert spot in the East Village (several blocks south of Houston, on Rivington). It was started by the vegan pop star Moby along with his ex-girlfriend, though I've heard rumors that he's no longer part of it. Their focus involves 98 types of exotic teas, but I'm more interested in their amazing strawberry short cake and other desserts, and their "teany bagel" - vegetarian canadian bacon, grilled cheese, and grilled tomato on a whole wheat bagel. It is a hip and fun place. Lower East Side

Blossom is a recent addition. They have some delicious dishes and attractive decor, though they are more expensive than they should be. Their "black-eyed Pea Cake" is a fantastic appetizer; their Phyllo Roullade and their Risotto and I'm sure others are good entree choices (their seitan and their mushroom entrees aren't, in my opinion); and they have some great desserts. Chelsea

Tien Garden is a Buddhist restaurant in the East Village. Wholesome and excellent food, inexpensive, but no decor. Their nori rolls are an excellent appetizer, and their deluxe cookie is a succulent dessert. You always feel virtuous and happy when you leave. Lower East Side

Candle Cafe is quite tasty too, though also a bit more expensive than they should be. The decor at their 79th street location is much nicer than the decor at their 75th street location - I personally prefer the 79th street location - but they're both enjoyable to visit. Upper East Side

Chennai Garden's South Indian dishes are delicious yet fairly healthy, and very inexpensive. Recommended: saag paneer. Not much decor so it's best for more casual outings. Murray Hill

Quintessence is a 'raw food' restaurant - surprisingly yummy. Their combo plate offers fun variety. East Village

Honorable mentions - not quite vegetarian

Thailand Restaurant in Chinatown isn't vegetarian, but they have some great vegetarian dishes. Clearly the best Thai restaurant in NYC, I love their yellow curry with tofu. (They're also two blocks away from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, which is another winner.) In Zagat they list two other sister restaurants ("Pongsri Thai") in other areas of town, but those are vastly inferior, drag down the real one's Zagat rating, and sully their name. Chinatown - near the courts

Grimaldi's in Brooklyn makes the best pizza around. (Thin crust, brick oven pizza.) They're right over the Brooklyn Bridge so it's always nice to walk home over the bridge. They also have tasty cannollis. For two NYC pizza recommendations, try Pinch (Pizza by the Inch) - a close competitor with lots of topping options (extra cheese is a good start) - or Vinnie's, whose slices are extremely cheesy and delicious and unhealthy.

Overrated?

Souen is bland - when I was watching my weight I suggested going there as an appetite suppressant. It's popular though, so maybe others see something in it that I'm missing.

Gobo - the food is good, but the portions are very small and the service a bit impersonal.

Monday, May 22, 2006

11.7 miles up the Hudson River bike path

Got an early morning ride in -- one of the few benefits of sleep problems -- but I need more sleep. Zzzzzzz ....

Sunday, May 21, 2006

62 miles to the Runcible Spoon in Nyack

For some reason it's the only place cyclists go when they reach Nyack. Nice place, great collection of snazzy road bikes parked outside.

Nyack is apparently somewhat of a a resort town in the warmer months, and they have some cute stores. One of them, called The RC, makes custom shirts with your content. So I hereby unveil the official Bike Bike Revolution t-shirt!

In another nice turn of events, at my Friday eye doctor followup they checked my vision: 20/25, compared with my 3/2004 vision which was 20/60. I think the cycling gets the credit -- that when you're cycling fast you have to focus on objects that are further in front of you, exercising the nearsighted eye. Just my hypothesis -- let's see in a year if I'm at 20/20.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

16 miles to Fairway and the bike shop

and finally we have speed again! (we're measuring it, at least.)

A warning to anyone considering financial planning: stay away from Ameriprise - the con artist spinoff of American Express. They charged my parents for pre-retirement financial planning, then after wasting everyone's time through four long and unproductive sessions, concluded that some unbelievably expensive insurance policy would be perfect for them - initially claiming that this type of policy was only offered by their sister company, River Source. He even tried to get them to sign the forms in the office without reading them - I don't think so.

Disturbed, I asked whether the guy would get a commission. He admitted he would but lied and said it would be 5% of the first year's premium. He later emailed a correction -- it would actually be 55% -- many, many thousands of dollars.

He had also tried to get them to "consolidate their investments" with him -- to move away from Vanguard low-fee index funds and instead invest in other American Express-affiliated funds with high fees. This was such a violation of the guy's fiduciary obligations, it's not funny.

I think the guy knew their scam was over when he corrected his lie. I did a Web search for "Ameriprise complaints" and found a complaint site called www.amexsux.com that describes this exact thing. We told him by email that we weren't going to do anything that would give him an extra commission, and he offered to refund his fee.

So avoid these scam artists at all costs - American Express and Ameriprise are sleazy and evil.

Monday, May 15, 2006

14 miles up Riverside Drive

Partly on a borrowed hybrid while waiting for my bike, then back home on the Specialized. My bicycle is now nicely tuned up - new brake pads, cables, handlebar tape, a working magnet to measure the cadence, and maybe other mystical fixin's.

Except - the speed stopped registering. Cadence vs Speed, the cadence barely wins out, but I do want both.

I gave in and watched the season finale of Gray's Anatomy. Two hours is too long. There's a patient on the show who declared that he's a horse of a man; Bearette has decided that I'm a Capybara of a man -- because they are vegetarian and they like to take baths. And they'd probably like to ride bikes if they could.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

5.5 miles to Pier 40

on Bearette's jaunty hybrid. (My bike's getting a tuneup and new brake pads.) A fun and different experience - maybe it was too small for me, or perhaps the "girl bar" changes the balance -- it felt like I was on stilts, or on a Big Wheel, speeding along the Hudson River path.

At first I worried that people would wonder why I was riding a girl's bike, and that they might think it was stolen. When I looked at the other cyclists I had to work to notice the slope of their bars, so the edginess mostly went away. Also it's gray -- not an attention-getter.

We had Mother's day dinner with my folks at a Thai restaurant, and one of the presents was a big hit -- the first book in the Nancy Drew series, which my mother liked as a kid.

We made it home in time for Sunday's stellar TV. Desperate Housewives was excellent, as always, though I was cringing with embarrassment for one of the characters. Gray's Anatomy was riveting, but I dislike the drawn out life-or-death theatrics -- I prefer happy escapism, and resent them for prolonging tonight's story with a two-hour finale tomorrow. Maybe I'll ride my bike while it's on and ask Bearette to fill me in.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

23 miles to Riverdale

and mostway back, to meet MF for lunch. We had Chinese food at Hunan Balcony's tasty Riverdale location: vegetable dumplings, vegetable chow fun with tofu, and Diet Coke for me. Afterward he lent me a running shirt that wicks away sweat.

On the way back I got something in my eye. As I write this over four hours later it's still not out -- neither water nor "artificial tears" nor gloom of night has dislodged it! I am on the emergency room waiting list at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as their lowest priority of the evening. Thankfully they let me go home while waiting; I'm periodically calling to see how they're doing. Bearette says I should get sunglasses for biking - a wise suggestion.

MF might give biking a try. I think he'll be all over it like white on rice. ;-) That strange phrase was used at yesterday's dinner. Bearette had to explain it to me -- rice is white. Maybe MF will be all over it like brown on brown rice.

Over the past couple months, countless friends (that is, three or four) have asked where they can rent a bike in NYC. In this city, most quality road bike rentals are exorbitant -- around $100/day. But today I found a much better deal: Master Bike, on 75th between Broadway and Amsterdam, rents all-carbon fiber bikes for $50/day! The "master mechanic" who runs the little shop is tuning up my bike. He's highly recommended at the New York Cycle Club message boards and he seems like a good guy. I'll keep you posted.

***

Postscript: Shortly after midnight - 4:15 hours after I first came in - they finally treated me. A piece of a leaf had embedded itself underneath my upper eyelid. I was a squeamish patient and had trouble not flinching, and the doctor didn't have the best bedside manner - he wasn't happy to be there and we were both tired. He freaked me out with his banter about how if he ultimately needed to remove something with a needle I'd better not flinch. I pictured a needle approaching my eye and, unable to imagine how I could avoid flinching, resolved to leave and go see someone else in the morning if that happened. (Thankfully it didn't.)

This was my second emergency room experience; the other was 2.5 years ago. While that one was one million times worse -- I'll never again go to St. Vincent's even if I were in critical condition and every second counted -- both times I had to wait for many hours. That ticks me off. If they'd just bring more doctors in for the early evening, they'd save their patients a lot of agony. And some of the doctors could go home earlier, because 90% of the patients who were there at midnight were also there at 8pm.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

8.5 miles to Duckville

Duckville meaning lower Manhattan, of course. Today was B&C's anniversary; we celebrated with supersized episodes of My Name is Earl and The Office, and B's home-cooked spaghetti with tofu and peanut sauce.

Fun facts from the menagerie:
  1. We now have three fluffy red chairs from Ikea. I love that store! CU feasted on Mac & Cheese and chocolate milk in their cafeteria.
  2. B's mom and sister are visiting China. Maybe they'll detour to the Wolong Giant Panda Research Center.
CU needs a book. Angela's Ashes just isn't cutting it - Frank is some writer but so depressing! His later book, Teacher Man, is more upbeat. Speaking of books, Willie Sutton's partially ghost-written memoir, Where the Money Was: The Memoirs of a Bank Robber, is a fun read: recommended!

A secret: we are working on a website for Bearette!