This is part III in the series of a coworker purchasing a bike in NYC. Entry one here, entry two here.
Hello, friends. I am back to share updates on my biking experience. Rather than tell a narrative in chronological order, I will simply list some thoughts and share some stories.
- I have taken a name, the Pale Rider. This was given to me by a friend, probably because I am rather fair-skinned. At any rate, I like it, so the Pale Rider is born.
- I have purchased quite a few additions for my bike. Headlights, taillights, a saddle bag, and two bottle cages. The most significant purchase, however, was a set of double-sided SPD pedals, which I got online from Performance Bikes (http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product2_10052_10551_1033468_-1). More on this later.
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- I am still already thinking about to my next bike. It may come down to a Surly Pacer or some sort of Cannondale or Specialized road bike. A couple of weeks ago I was seriously considering buying a new bike and charging it, but decided that would be a bit rash. I will continue with my modified Jamis Coda until next year. It's been totally fine for riding in the city, but when I do loops in Central Park and head out onto 9W in New Jersey, I can tell I could do faster on a road bike.
- Speaking of doing loops and heading out into New Jersey, I've acquired cycling shorts, a jersey, and, most impressive of all, cycling shoes, to go along with my new pedals. My cycling friends all raved about clipless shoes and how much more efficient they are. I knew I needed to enter into this forbidden territory.
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and I rode down to a bike shop downtown to get the shoes. I wore flip-flops, which are NOT efficient riding shoes. I decided to jump right into clipless riding right away and wore the shoes out of the store. Riding in Manhattan with clipless shoes for the first time is definitely a little scary.
Feeling uncomfortable about clipping in with both shoes, I only did one and even then, on my first stop, I completely lost control and toppled over. This was in Midtown, and a crowd of people at the intersection looked at me without saying anything, probably not understanding how someone could fall off a bike while virtually stopped. Well, screw them. I got up and mounted my bike, determined to press on.
I reached Central Park and did a quick loop, adjusting to this brave new world of riding. I could definitely tell the difference. It took a couple of more days and a few close calls, but I can now say I'm adjusted and a huge proponent of SPD riding.
- In my first post I mentioned riding into a taxi door that somebody opened just as I whizzed by. That was a painful injury that left me out of commission for a couple of weeks. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was doing a quick loop in Central Park after riding back from Piermont, New York. It was an awesome Saturday, warm and blue, and I had some time to kill before meeting some friends for lunch (lobster rolls - yum!).
Well, the park was packed, and while riding I came upon a family that was walking their bikes single file across the lane. There was no time to move and I went right into the front tire of a young boy's bike. Time seemed to slow down, and the boy (he was probably 11 or so) yelled in horror, "no!!!!" I was completely thrown from my bike and did a somersault as I hit the pavement. I scuffed up my knees a little and hurt my hand, but nothing too serious.
The kid's front tire and fork were completely totaled (the kid himself was fine). I had a torn tube, my chain was torn off the cogs, and my break lever was bent, all-in-all $50 worth of repairs. The family was visiting from Seattle and thought it would be “fun” and “cute” to rent bikes for a ride in “Central Park.” Yes, but for the love of god, do not cross the lane single-file!
- This past weekend I went on an 87 mile trip to Trenton, New Jersey, for pizza at DeLorenzo's on Hamilton Avenue. I went with my friend and confidante "A." It was an absolutely stunning day, and the scenery was often breathtaking. How marvelous it was to be alive on such a nice day, riding our bikes, getting a great workout, on our way for delicious pizza. By the end of the trip I was totally spent and had trouble keeping up with A, who is an accomplished rider. In fact, I'm sure I kept A at a slower pace the whole trip. But regardless, we had a good time. Adventure, my friends. Adventure.
- Last, while doing a loop around Central Park one night last week, there were a couple of raccoons crossing the street. Not wanting a repeat of what happened when I ran into the kid from Seattle, I started slowing down a bit (I was on a descent) because it seemed like one of the raccoons didn't see me and I was worried I was going to run him over.
My headlight illuminated his furry little body and he looked over, finally noticing the incoming vehicle, and he stopped momentarily and gave a look, as if to say, "oh, why hello, I didn't see you over there." I whizzed past him and he continued on his way. I swear, this little buddy is no different than the hordes of humans I pass on the streets of New York who are completely oblivious to what's going on around them. The only difference was that this was a raccoon with a brain the size of a peanut and humans - well, let us save this discussion for another day.