It’s been over 10 years since I last owned a bike. Last night, after a lucky find on Craigslist, I became a bike owner. The bike is a Trek 7.2 FX, a sturdy hybrid that’s just over a year old.
After years of telling myself that material possessions have a limited effect on my happiness, I actually felt giddy about the the prospect of taking the bike home. I think a lot of my emotions had to do with the nostalgia for my days of riding all over town in Cresskill, NJ, where I used to spend an entire day exploring the various neighborhoods and venturing across to other towns. I was so excited to ride the bike that – don’t try this at home, kids – after four glasses of wine at dinner and lacking a helmet, I still felt a strong urge to ride the bike home to Brooklyn. Dangerous as it might sound, I actually had a very pleasant and safe ride home.
I owe it to Ride the City, a very friendly website that maps out the safest bike routes in New York City. Before embarking on my 7.3 mile ride to Park Slope from Midtown Manhattan, I made sure to remember which avenues had bike paths and which way I should go in order to cross over into Brooklyn. I took the greenway on the Manhattan Bridge and enjoyed a nice view (pictured) as I crossed the East River. It took a bit under an hour to get home, not too much longer than a late night subway ride home. I wondered if I might find myself commuting by bike to and from work more often in the near future.
This morning, as soon as I forced myself up, I was instantly excited about taking the bike to Prospect Park for a ride. In the past few months, I’ve made an effort to go to the park at least once a week for a short run, and each time, the uphill slope from 5th Ave to 7th Ave has always posed physical and psychological challenges. The uphill bike ride this morning was much more tolerable, although harder than I expected. I was a tad bit winded by the time I entered the park.
Inside, I tested the bike as much as I could, going for top speed on downhill turns and trying various grips on the handlebars. Meanwhile, I kept an eye on the seasoned cyclists that whizzed by in their fancy racing bikes, aerodynamic helmets, and spandex shorts. I tried to keep up with a few of the older looking ones only to find myself running out of breath. It’s funny how, on only the second day of owning a bike, I found myself slightly envious of the faster-looking bikes and wondered when I would upgrade to the next level. If anything, I should train myself to endure more than one loop around the park – I felt too tired after one go and decided to go back home.
I’m looking forward to improving my endurance and overall skills as a bike rider in the next few months. Hopefully I’ll get a lot of riding in before the weather turns too cold. And even then, maybe I’ll brave through the winter air and breathe in the crispness of morning while on wheels.