Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The 2010 Manhattan Tour de Awesome

By far the best memory that will stick with me from the trip to NYC will be riding around the city on bicycles. It was such a surreal experience and was something that I have always wanted to do since the days I got re-introduced to cycling about 3 years ago and started following the premier cycling blogger Bike Snob NYC. Cycling in NYC is a completely unique experience. Here's my story:

I woke up extremely excited on Wednesday morning. Not only because it was supposed to be the hottest day of the week, nor because the sun was beaming into our 5th floor hotel room, but because we were going to rent some bicycles and ride around the city. I've been hoping for this opportunity to come during this trip, and it is finally coming true. Win and I were on board 100% but I could sense a little of uneasiness in Trevor when we ran the plan by him. Thank God he was a team player and hardly flinched at the idea of riding a bicycle on the crowded streets of Manhattan.

Conveniently, the bike shop was just across the street from the hotel. I could hardly contain my excitement and went ahead of the guys to check out the shop and the bicycles they had to rent. To my horror (not really) the bikes they had were some cheap, wal-mart-esque Raleigh-Townie 7-speed grip shift-kickstand-heavy as hell 2-wheel monstrosities; far from anything that I ride on the regular but they were certainly better then nothing and I was so excited that I'd even ride a p-far at this point.

So off we go, first stop? Who cares! We're riding bicycles on a gorgeous spring day in New York City! In our opinion, we've already reached our destination. But really, work was to be done, and by work I mean shopping. We made our way through Soho to Noho and the Lower East Side, only to find a number of the stores still closed. Dang it! It's f'n Cinco De Mayo! We then decided to make our way to Midtown only to realize that it was the lunch time rush hour! I'm sure many of you have played the game Frogger before. This moment was the active culmination of all the hours I have logged playing that damn game as a kid. You never stop and ponder your own existence until you find yourself squeezing between buses and delivery trucks in New York City traffic atop a slow and awkward excuse of a bicycle, but then again it is these moments that truly remind you that you are alive.

There is no better way to see New York then by bicycle. It's as if every block there is another famous building or monument. If you could please look straight ahead, there is the Flatiron Building. To your left, the Empire State Building. Next stop, Rockefeller. It couldn't have been more surreal to witness these landmarks in any other way. I just had to make sure that I didn't spend too much time looking up or else I would find myself getting intimate with the rear bumper of a pulled over taxi or the clavicle of a jay-walker.

Once I emerged from a store I came to find that Trevor had taken off. He had to head to Times Square to pick up a package from Fed Ex. We were running out of time, as we had to make it back to the hotel in less then an hour, so Win and I had to book it Uptown about 20 blocks to catch up with Trevor. The moment felt like a blur as we sprinted through traffic to meet up with our friend. Time was our enemy at this point and we spent too much of it enjoying the sights the City had to offer. I never knew such a piece of shit bike could go so fast, but it certainly managed under some intense pressure. We met up with Trevor in less then 5 minutes and he received the package in one piece. We took a minute to ponder the moment and it's significance before we took off like banshees for the hotel in Soho while managing to stop by some of the stores that were closed earlier.

How long do you think it takes to get from Midtown Manhattan to Soho by bicycle in early afternoon rush hour? Not very long apparently, especially when all road rules and common sense goes out the window. We were seriously behind the 8-ball at this point and haste couldn't be more of an understatement. Red lights soon lost all meaning, bike lanes seemed to disappear and dodging became a survival necessity. Imagine riding down a Manhattan mainstreet with a huge plastic bag over one shoulder and one hand on the handle bars, ever so slightly gripping the rear brake lever just in case shit got a little hairy. Angels must have been on our side because the bike store was in sight and we were unscathed minus the inflamed taints we had suffered from the uncomfortable saddles. But I spoke too soon and fate caught up with us as Trevor had himself a close call with a vehicle just across the street from the bike shop. Could you believe it?! After all we went through, just before the finish line we almost lose a teammate?! Go figure! But they don't call it a close call for nothing and Trevor will meet his Final Destination much later in his life then that day. We parked the bikes in the the shop and got charged an hour less then we exhausted to boot! What a fantastic end to a fantastic day!

In case you were wondering, the package that Trevor picked up was the engagement ring he used to propose to Lorena that same evening atop the Empire State Building. She said yes, of course, and now he's got a pretty dope story to tell his kids about how he and their Tito's raced across Manhattan on bike-back and risked life and limb to pick up their mothers engagement ring. It was definitely a great experience not soon to be forgotten.



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