Sunday, June 27, 2021

Taking a Day Off in NYC

Our Empire State Tour is complete, and we have a day to spend doing stuff in New York City before Debra and Max drive home, and I start riding home.

Debra planned a day jam-packed with activities, like a tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and a visit to the top of the Empire State Building.

On the other hand, at dinner the night before, our friend Wendy said she had an old bike that's been in her closet for 8 or 10 years, and she wanted to start riding it again.

I offered to go over to her place and check out this bike, and do any easy maintenance it needed, and tell her what she needed to get for it to make it rideable. Because what is more fun, doing tourist stuff or tinkering with bikes? 

Max and Debra did all the tourist stuff. They had a great time. I did my laundry, got a corned beef sandwich from the deli downstairs, and headed over to Joe and Wendy's. Which was a great opportunity to see of you can actually get around the city on a bike now. They live on 14th Street on the East Side.

So I headed around the island on the bike trail that runs along the waterfront. Here is a nice row of warehouses near South Street Seaport.

I headed inland at the Williamsburg Bridge, up to one of my favorite bars from back in the day, King Tut's Wah Wah Hut. 

The Wah Wah Hut hasn't existed in about 25 years, and there is a different bar there now. It was playing "Swinging Party" by the Replacements when I rode by, which made me happy, and got me thinking. The Wah Wah Hut had amazingly eclectic music, a mix of then-current (circa 1990) alternative (e. g. Replacements) and stuff going back to country from the 50s and 60s and jazz from the 40s. I realized that when we were in the Wah Wah Hut 30 years ago, the Patsy Cline songs they were playing were as old then as the Replacements song playing as I rode by is now. I feel really old.

A bit later, I got to Joe and Wendy's building, and checked out the bike.

First thing, it's in great shape, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with it besides flat tires, and it's ready to ride. It's a Raleigh Capri 12 speed, probably mid-80s. It has 27" wheels. It horizontal dropouts in back, so it could be easily converted to a single speed. It's steel, and pretty heavy. It has flat handlebars and thumb shifters. It's a nice vintage bike. Wendy told me later she took it to the neighborhood bike shop to borrow their floor pump, and they were all condescending to her because of the bike. Sorry bike shop guys, this is a perfect city bike.

I decided to ride back to the hotel on regular old city streets, instead of following the bike trail along the waterfront. Turns out, this was super easy. Almost every street has a bike lane now. You can ride anywhere no problem.

And at one point I felt especially right at home! There was a Black kid riding down Broadway on a dirt bike. Just like Baltimore. I couldn't believe it.

Here's the Strava Track.

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