I rode in the NYC Century yesterday after being reminded about it by my friend. I agreed to join her on her only ride of the year, and with my Woodrup, I set off on MetroNorth from Poughkeepsie. We woke up on time, but the tube patch I had applied to her tube the night before either didn't work or there was another hole. A quick tube change was in order because I couldn't find an obvious leak, and yes, we needed to get going. At the subway, the trains didn't seem to be awake yet, and we arrived nearly 1 hour late. We started riding at 7ish with the 75 mile group, and knowing that the rain was coming, we accepted the fact that this may be all we could do anyhow.
It took a few intersections to watch how other cyclists dealt with the traffic, but after a couple miles, I got comfortable with the necessary level of assertiveness that was needed. As the day went on and more traffic was on the road, I felt very comfortable riding here...maybe even more so than here in the "mini" city I live in.
Riding over the Brooklyn Bridge was AMAZING, and definitely my favorite part of the ride. I would love to go back and walk it to enjoy it more. I tried to stop and take pictures, but it was a cluster of people, and apparently wasn't a great idea.
Riding past Coney Island was a mix of smells, one minute, sewage, and the next, hotdogs. In Queens, we rode by the beach with winds so strong that I could feel myself getting blown over. We stopped for a much needed Falafel special in an Islamic neighborhood, and got back on the bikes. At about mile 70, there was a split in the road: 75 miles straight, 100 miles Right.
We debated shortly, and went in for the kill. At about 5 miles in, it starts to rain. Lightly at first like a mist, but then the mist got heavier. Luckily I had my rain jacket and full fenders, her, not so much. It's 60ļ, raining, and very chilly. We pick our way through the Bronx, and then nearly at the zoo, I feel the unmistakable rim and pavement connection: flat tire.
I had been secretly hoping that this wouldn't happen, as throughout the whole ride, the flat tire was a common theme. It was raining hard now, and I hoped for the best. I pumped it up as hard as I could, reasoning with myself that it could be a slow leak, and I could make it the rest of the ride. No dice. Ten minutes later, flat again. Still raining, I pump it up again. Five minutes later, flat again. This time though, I had the comfort of an underpass. I found the three holes, but the tube was soaking wet and I didn't have any dry absorbent cloth to dry it off with. The patch wasn't adhering with confidence, so I had to bite the bullet, and go back to the dry tube I had patched for her bike the night before.
My hands are cold and black with the filth of the road, but I feel the inside of the tire for any objects. I spread some more glue on the patch as best as I could, hoping to seal up a presumably faulty glue job. I pump it back up, and it's doing the trick!
Three miles before the end of the ride, it flats again. We have been on the bikes much longer than expected, my attention span for the ride is slumping, and it's getting dark. As I'm pumping it up with no unnecessary stress, the valve rips off. The cherry on the sundae. The patches aren't sticking, our tubes are dead, and did I mention we're cold and it's getting dark?
We decide to walk to Central Park or the subway, whatever we came to first. Three hundred feet into our trek, I look down, and see a tube and a banana lying on the side of the road. The banana was definitely from a rest stop on todays ride, and reasoning that it hadn't been eaten, the tube that was with it may have very well fell out of someones bag. Lets do this again. Still, no obvious sharp objects in the tire, I mount it back on, and pump up the tube I found in the street.
Success! It's still dark, and the bright pink paint arrows are very hard to see with the glare and low light. We're picking our way through traffic up the final hills, and we somehow ended up in Riverside Park, about 10 or so blocks away from where we needed to finish.
We find our way back to Central Park. The tables are packed up, and the food people are loading the final boxes of fruit into the trucks. After all of that, and I don't get my t-shirt! ArggggggHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhh.
We make our way to the subway at 110th, and as I lean my bike up against a beam, the tire lets out a violent hiss, and it flats again. Sigh, no matter, we're not riding any more today.
It was a fantastic adventure, a great ride, and great company with an old friend. Here are a few cell phone pictures I managed to snap. Usually, with rides, I stop and take some decent pictures, but not so with this one due to weather, time, daylight, and crowd constraints.
Astoria Park in Brooklyn:
Holy Cow Playground in Queens:
This woman got run over by a bike! Those are tire marks across her back, and a nasty bruise on her left arm. Her right arm had a couple of bandages from the same incident. I was so astonished at this, I had to document it:
In the Subway at the end of the ride. At the 110th St. Station watching the rats and starting my journey back to Grand Central: