The Long Ride
The morning broke bright, calm, warm and dry. We were antsy to go. Deciding to take a bike ride through Central Park, we located the nearest bike stand that had bikes, (Sometimes they are not at the closest rack), and walked over to 50th and Broadway, about a mile, to find our rides waiting for us. We tapped the bike code into our cell phones, unlocked them, mounted up and took off. It didn’t take long for it to dawn on us that we were in the middle of Manhattan on 6th Avenue weaving through a gazillion taxis, ubers, buses, limousines, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Other than a few days earlier when we got the Citi bike apps, neither one of us had been on a bicycle for over a decade. Maybe you never forget how to ride a bike, but the skills sure diminish over time. It was harrowing but we made it safely to Columbus Circle. And there we were. In Central Park. And getting ready to take a nice, peaceful bike ride through the rolling pathways of the most famous city park in the country. We rolled across the park to the east side and then peddled north to 73rd St. We had to stop to recheck the bikes because the 45 minute time limit was expiring. Placing the bikes back into the racks, we waited the two minutes to recheck the bikes.
That was fine, because our leg muscles were burning and we were sucking wind. A welcome rest. There would be more before this ride was over. The riding street was full of other bikers, skaters, joggers, and pedestrians. So many people out to enjoy the arrival of the spring sunshine and warmth. And here we were, leisurely pedaling our way through the peaceful winding streets of this beautiful manicured landscape. This was one of the items on our NY bucket list and here we were…checking it off! Life is good.
And then the hills.
The North end of the park begins to be pretty hilly. There are long, steep, winding inclines that pulled us off our seat and had us walking several times. The hills were taking its toll. My muscles were cramping, I was panting like an overworked dog and my butt was chaffed from being on a bicycle seat for the first time in decades. Fortunately, there was a man selling bottles of cold water on the north end. I sucked that stuff down like a dying camel!
Our intentions were to cut across the park on one of the east-west traverse streets, but we rode right past each of them. Not realizing that we had missed our turns, we stopped to consult our park map and discovered that we were now travelling south on the west side of the park. We had ridden up the entire east side. On the way back toward midtown, we passed the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Historical Society. Both of these places are on the visit agenda. When we got to 72nd Street, I had to stop.
At 72nd and Central Park West (8th Ave) stands the Dakota. I got off my bike and walked around the corner to the gate on 72nd. The massive stone façade and black steel gate looked just like the pictures from December 1980 when Howard Cosell broke the news to America that John Lennon had been shot and killed.
This place still draws a crowd of curious tourists, all taking pictures, just like me.
From the Dakota, we cut over to the Hudson River Park to take the biking trails back towards home. The bikes are much more relaxing and enjoyable when not squeezing between buses and taxis.
Nine miles later of cycling through the urban jungle we returned to the apartment. I stumbled through the door and crashed into the recliner. Immediately, my bones and muscles started talking to me. They said, “Hey! Do you know how old you are?”