NYC Bikers

Life is meant to be lived on the back of a bike. At least the fun parts. This blog is an effort on my part to convert the world into bikers, starting with my friends living here in Fresh Meadows! Even if I have to do it single handedly, I will civilize the bikers of New York!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Streets 2012

View Summer Streets Ride Aug 11, 2012 in a larger map
Waiting in line for bike schwagg!

There is a well known fact that the first 3 Saturday's of August New York City closes Park Avenue to motor vehicles from, 7AM to 1PM. It is a program that was first famously initiated in Bogota, Colombia only there it was called Cyclo-via. In NY this awesome event is called Summer Streets and this year it is running until Saturday August 18th. I strongly urge you to go out and take advantage of the awesomeness that is Summer Streets before it is gone until next year!

The zip line was totally booked by 745AM
It is an incredible feeling to see Park Avenue taken over by pedestrians, rollerbladers, and cyclists. Even though last Saturday there were a tad too many angry cyclists, it is still a great event for free drinks and some neat schwag! Me and TBD biked about 22 miles, crossed 3 bridges, and biked in 3 boroughs. Next stop, New York Century I presume.

View of the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn B.
Union Square Farmers Market
We got there too late for the zip line as sign up was closed by 745AM. Get there early if you want to partake in that and remember it is near the south part of the ride by the Brooklyn Bridge, Though I arrived at Park Avenue  around 630AM, I started at the north and took a long time to meander south.
It was totally my fault, but I was enjoying lack of killer cabbies careening at me. I was enjoying NYC the way it used to be. The way it should be. The way it will be. I was enjoying New York City without cars.

If you do anything summer related this year, go to Summer Streets. I promise you that you won't regret it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bicycle Gangs of the Lower East Side

This is a rough and tumble city full of sadistic cabbies, hipsters on fixies in a hurry, and Lycra-cad angry bikers trying to maintain proper cadence. Even Google mocks my slowness. Google, when giving you biking directions, assumes you are going to bike at least 10mph. On my roadster, which is my bike of choice 90% of the time, I average about 7.5mph.

What's a vulnerable "slow" biker to do for protection and safety from harassment, violence, and assault whilst biking the dark, foreboding streets in Gotham? You do what the oppressed masses have done for centuries - you join a syndicate, a mafia, a cartel, a church, a union, a rock band, also known as a gang. I joined a beer and food loving BICYCLE gang! Just don't stand between the gang and an ice cream after a ride or you will feel their wrath!
A bike gang social club. Notice security outside.

You feel safe in your gang because we all know there is safety and thus power in numbers. A car may attack a solitary biker, but a car is afraid of 10 or 15 bikers together. They really are - you can see the fear in their eyes when they slowly realize we are taking over. If you want to join the bicycle gang click here to visit their Facebook page or click here to visit their Meetup page. I promise you once you do, you will come back for more bicycle punishment and gang initiation rites like... Waiting at red lights even though no cars are coming or crossing over bridges multiple times or even the dreaded triple food stop!

The Beatles had rum and coke...
Sometimes the gang runs by night.
Sometimes the gang runs by day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bicycle Riding the Way It Should Be, In Groups!

I always say that my number one priority for getting people to bike ride is a selfish one, namely my SAFETY! The more bike riders there are out there, the safer I am. Of course the nice by product of that is that everyone else, pedestrians, bikers, and motorized vehicle drivers are safer too. Amsterdam is a perfect example where car-bike accidents are rare and when they happen you can usually blame a dumb tourist. Here is some video of me social biking Amsterdam with some friends. See how orderly and happy the streets are?

Many studies show that bicycle riders on a street lower the amount of accidents. I could do my due diligence and add citations. Since I know my audience (love you mom!) is uber sophisticated or just believes everything I say, I'll let you Google it yourselves to fact check my facts, just assume I always tell the truth, or instead allow me to wow you with another video. Bread, circuses, pictures and video for my fans now!

It's fairly easy to get my friends to bike ride to the nearby parks or the store around the corner (it's not THAT easy - I succeed somewhere around 20% of the time that I ask and I am being generously positive in saying 20% of the time). Trying to get people to bike ride in populated areas like Manhattan or Boston is slightly harder. In my whole life it has probably been less then 10 times that anyone has gone bike riding with me in Manhattan or other highly populated area. They have always been wonderful experiences, but very rare in my adult life. I can't really describe it but there is a joy that comes from bicycle riding with others. It relaxes, it entertains, it's safer, it makes the hills almost disappear, and it's just so much fun!

Now, because of the NYC Bike Train, Social Cycling New York City, & the Bayside Social Cyclists, that will all change. No longer will I be forced to bike alone. On a regular basis I can get my biking with friends fix fulfilled. I recently rode with Social Cycling New York City and it was a great bunch of riders doing it for the love of biking. If you are too far to join the Meetup, then start one in your town and take the world over with bikes, 1 block at time. Bikes won in Amsterdam so I don't see why they can't win in New Amsterdam!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oh The Difference a Bike Ride Can Make

For years now I have been primarily riding my 3 speed English roadster. Although I love the upright and comfortable riding position, as well as it's carrying capacity for errands, I average about 6mph on that lovely beast. It weighs about 37lbs and has a classic ratio of 75-100-133 split on the 3 speeds.


Slow bike riding is great and much, much safer but sometimes you need to get somewhere fast or you have a large distance to travel or you have hilly territory to pedal. My Trek has a ratio split of 41 to 108, which combined with the light weight, provides incredible hill climbing ease (without the "granny" gear). Whatever the reason, a light road bike is sometimes the best option. Last Saturday was such a day. Sam the Eagle needed my car, and having just had my road bike fixed days earlier, I decided to deliver the car to him and bike ride back home.

On my way to the Eagle's nest, I saw a street fair where they were selling grilled corn! I dropped off the car and made my way back to 86th Street and 3rd Avenue. After eating grilled corn on the cob, chicken on a stick, meat on a stick, 3 cups of lemonade, and a mozzarepa - combo corn tortilla and mozzarella cheese - I biked home.

The Trek weighs about 18lbs and has clips for my feet so not only am I pushing on the pedals, but I am pulling on them too. This allows the full use of all leg muscles and also provides a more complete workout for your legs. I haven't gone this fast in a long, long time and I loved it!. I averaged almost 13mph the whole ride home and I peaked at about 26mph on the downhill portion of the 59th Street Bridge.

Using a nifty program on my Blackberry called MapMyFitness, I was able to record my ride and create this 3D movie. You'll be able to tell where I was going fast and where I wasn't. Add terrain to your map view and it will be obvious why. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New York Bike Expo

This past weekend I attended the NYC Bike Expo with The Bike Diva. It was mostly a sign-up area for the Five Borough Bike Tour with some vendors and informational segments, but it was free and totally worth the time to be around so many bike people. I was able to get some terrific pictures and there was also a spin class on the water that TBD attended.

This was her view while spinning away -

Nonetheless I had a great conversation with Bruce Weinreb, who is a sales Director at Worksman Cycles. This company has a reputation for building great quality bikes right here in New York City. I never realized how affordable their prices are and purchasing from them would be supporting a local manufacturing business, which is always good.

Their bikes are built the old fashioned way, with lugged steel frames. As much as I love my Pashley, this bike might be of slightly better build design as their rear rack is welded on instead of bolted on. I have had problems with my rear rack shifting with use over time. TBD needs a good commuter bike and we may go visit the factory in Ozone Park, Queens to check some bikes out.

The coolest thing I saw was the commuter bike train being set up by NYC Bike Train. Let me preface by saying that I truly believe that if more people biked in the city instead of drove, this city would be a better place to live, work, and play. I also believe that there is safety in numbers which is one of the reasons I started this blog. I want to encourage people to bike when they never thought it possible before. I want people to realize commuting by bicycle is a viable option that is good for you, good for the environment, and good for our civilization.

I have gotten many people to start biking when they never thought they would and I continue to encourage my non-biking friends to do it. The biggest excuse I get is, I'm scared to bike in Manhattan. That is a valid excuse. I've been biking for about 30 years and I'm scared sometimes on the NYC roads. That is why this bike train is AWESOME! I urge you all to follow them on Twitter @nycbiketrain or start similar initiatives in your towns.

Biking alone is great, but biking in a group is awesome because it is safer, less stressful, and social. As one of the presenters said, you impart the experience of the train conductor to those less experienced in the train. It's a great idea I wish to push to everyone I know. Join a bike train!

Please click  "Read More" below for some pictures.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Bicycles of Cali, Colombia

There are a lot of bicycle riders in the streets of Cali, Colombia. There are a lot more then in the streets of NYC. It probably has something to do with the large degree of poverty in Colombia. There are few means of transport that are cheaper and more reliable then a bike.

Most people in Colombia seem to use their bikes for commuting and single speed roadsters are common in the flat mountain valley that is Cali.

But even BMX bicycles are common means of transporting people and goods for sale. The gentleman below is apparently selling brooms off the back of his BMX.

Tricycles are also very common as they can carry more stuff and are more stable. There were a myriad of sales people selling anything you can imagine. This is the milkman making his "special" delivery.

There is nothing tastier then fresh bread. Well, this particular baker sells his wares off the front of his trike. His wheat bread is all natural and delicious! Although he looks angry, I asked his permission before I took the picture.

This was an attempt to take the picture without a flash on a different night when it was raining. As you can see, I wasn't very successful.

Selling ice cream off the back of a trike was also very common.

This dude's megaphone plays Fer Elise. You don't believe me? See the video.

These two dudes are selling something called mazamorra. It's a creamy and milky drink that is served cold and has bits of corn floating around in it. It is kind of bland in my opinion and I don't find it particularly appealing but Colombians LOVE IT!

Sometimes trikes were used to carry cargo such as dishwashers, fridges, or dryers. Unfortunately I did not have a camera handy or was in an unsafe place when I saw them so I have no pictures. The closest I came was an empty one.

Then there was a night watchman that I would hear every night honking his horn. He was out there in the wee hours of the night, rain or shine. Finally two nights before I was to leave I was able to take some pictures of him and video tape him.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Biking up to Hacienda El Paraiso in Palmira, Colombia

As some of you may know, I have been in Colombia now nearly a month chilling with my mom and helping her out after some major surgery she had undergone. She is feeling much better and I have more time so I figured I would post some of my pictures of bicycle riders in Colombia. Taking out a camera in Colombia is not the safest of things to do in some places, so I missed a lot of pictures.

I was of course desperate to bike ride in Colombia, though I was told that it was not safe nor recommended. When I arrived I saw a lot of people bike riding, which further encouraged me to get a bike. In the days before my mother's surgery I was able to speak with some construction workers that were labouring across the street. They had some sweet bikes so I asked them if they knew where I could get a sweet bike like theirs. They told me 8th Avenue. I asked my mom if I could walk there and she said it was too dangerous over there. She was sure there were other places where they sold bicycles.

Later that day my mom's friend came by to say hello and he mentioned he used to be a pro biker in his younger days. I asked him where I could find a bike to rent or buy. He also said 8th Avenue. The next morning me and me mom walked to 8th Avenue. Needless to say it was too dangerous for me to take out even my cell phone and take pictures.

The former pro-biker, at hearing of my love of biking invited me to his families ranch in a nearby city and to Hacienda El Paraiso.
There we could bike ride up a small mountain to a river where we would celebrate my mom's birthday. Below are some pics of the attempt. I say attempt because we never made it to the river on the bicycles.

My fat butt broke both bikes on the way up the mountain. The rear dérailleur started acting up and the gears were not changing properly.

A look of terror come's across this man's face as he realizes his vintage 1972 Cannondale is about to die.

With both bikes broken we tied one bike to the roof of the truck we were in and I rode the rear bumper of the truck. It was finally safer to take out my phone and camera to take pictures.

In the end we made it to the river by car for some relaxation, sancocho, and a swim.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1st and I'm Biking in Shorts?!

 Is it possible that yesterday was February 1st (my birthday), and I was bike riding in shorts?

It's true - it was 61 degrees and  I went with Queen D to drop off my laundery and pick up Bike Diva's laundry.

 With the laundry safe and sound on the back of my bike, a bottle of diet pepsi and the Diva's "special" laundry detergent in the front basket, I'm off for the 2 mile bike ride back to the Maison du Jouir. Protein gets out protein!

Once safe at le Maison du Jouir, I proceeded to set up my telescope in the backyard (an awesome gift from the Diva) and looked at Venus, Jupiter, the moon, Mars, and Saturn until the clouds came and the cannoli birthday cake (a gift from Diva and Queen D) beckoned. Notice the star Sirius eight behind the telescope. It was a great birthday thanks to some great friends and cooperative weather.

Cow Bike!

Cow Bike!
Maes kept getting attacked by the cows whenever she biked through the fields. She decided camouflage would be the only way to survive.

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