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Old 08-15-03, 10:45 PM   #1
Dahon.Steve
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My Nine hour coummute home from Manhattan

I made it alive from the nightmare in New York City yesterday and here is my full report.

As you all know on this forum, I commute in Manhattan on a $90.00 dollar Pacific toy bike I bought from Toys R US about four months ago. The bike travels only 40 blocks each day and saved me close to $400.00 dollars from not having to take the subway. Needless to say, when the power went out, I had the biggest grin on my face knowing my toy bike would come to my salvation. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of a nightmare.

Traffic was everywhere. The bridges, tunnels and subways were closed! People were on the street everywhere. The bike shops and all stores were closing fast since people were scared and no one could buy anything with the credit card machines not working. Even if you wanted to buy a bike, it was impossible unless you had cash. Fear of riots was on everyoneís mind. At times, I had to get off the bike and walk across the street. I was averaging about 3 miles per hour and nearly hit a several people in the process. Yet, In the middle of all that chaos, I was happy.

That happiness ended abruptly when my rear inner tube had a major blow out! These Toy Store bikes come with some of the cheapest tires in the world. I tried to repair the flat with some patches but the damage was catastrophic. I decided to walk 30 blocks to catch the ferry but there were TENS OF THOUSANDS waiting and no boats were MOVING!

When things started to get violent, I decided to walk back 30 blocks to the bike while asking other cyclists to please let me have their spare inner tube. After about an hour of walking, a guy on a Marin MTB saved my life and gave me his tube for free. It was like a whole world lifted off my shoulder. I offered to give him $10.00 dollars for the tube but he wouldnít take it. It was pitch black when I removed the rear wheel and changed the tube but guess what? I could not put the wheel back on! Fortunately, another cyclists noticed I was in trouble and helped in my moment of need. Cyclists really are community folks. I never knew this.

As I went home, there were NO lights on the streets what so ever. Luckily, I was carrying a couple of blinkies and an inexpensive headlight from Planet Bike that evening or I could have been killed or in a serious accident. I canít tell you how indebted I am to these three simple bicycle accessories. I will never leave home without them. In my mind was the constant fear that riots and looting would break out at any moment like the last blackout in 77. I wasnít in the city back then but remember the newspapers and all the pictures.

As for the bike, it was horrible. The rear wheel was under inflated and with the derailleur shot, I had to keep the bike in the LOWEST gear to make it up the hills! It wasnít long before I was in complete sweat from head to toe. The bike weights about 55 pounds when you add on the Kryptonite New York Chain and Goran cable lock, which I had to carry with me. Those knobby tires really soak up all the speed and tomorrow, I fully intend on dumping them for hybrid tires.

As I crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, all the streets were pitch black and deserted. It was a blast. I don't think I'll ever see the streets so empty and deserted in my lifetime. Unfortunately I was rapidly becoming dehydrated pedaling that heavy bike and stopped by a restaurant for some water, which they gave me for free, even though I offered to pay. I canít tell you how humbled I am from all the people who helped me by fixing the bike, providing directions, giving me a fee inner tube, water etc. It really left me speechless.

In the end, I started my commute home at 4:15 in the afternoon and arrived home at 1:37 in the morning. A one and a half-hour commute ended up being almost 9 hours to get home. I still feel tired and my legs and butt are stiff but Iím glad that I made it out of there in one piece. If it werenít for the bike, I would have had to sleep on a bench in Central Park because I would have never made it home. I know the mistakes I made in selecting an extremely cheap a bike cost me dearly. Iím not upset with the bike since the machine was not purchased for a 35-mile commute. Unfortunately, I work in a city where anything over $100.00 USD gets stolen faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

Anyway.. That's my story.
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Old 08-15-03, 10:59 PM   #2
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Thanks for the story. I've been watching the happenings from the west coast since yesterday shortly after the news broke out. I've been working at home sending my reports via e-mail to the corporate office which is directly above Penn Station. I was wondering if corporate staff would ever respond yo some of my questions. Seeing the breaking news answered my question.

I've been to NY and was just there on the weekend of August 2 to 4. I was watching and I could relate to the various scenes around Manhattan. I wondered about how all those people would be able to get home if they lived in New Jersey or Long Island, no subways, no trains. It wouldn't be so bad living in Manhattan, you could walk, it could be a long walk but you could get home.

Glad to here you were finally able to make it home. Your story does emphasize to be prepared with spare tube, patch kit, mini-tool, lights. I think too, for myself, that I might just cycle all the time to the office. I'm prepared anyways and I dont have to carry the heavy locks.

Thanks for your story. Hope others were able to finally to make home today.

This major blackout has to be the story of the summer.
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Old 08-15-03, 11:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for relaying that story with some humor inserted. It's good to go through this to learn a few lessons- the "I'll never go out without that again" or "I'll always make sure I have one of those again". I learned my lesson a while ago too about not bringing emergency contingencies too, and I won't make that mistake anytime soon!

I say forget about swapping out the wheels- just get a normal, regular bike, and I bet you won't have anymore problems should there be any other acts of God or man that inconvenience you!

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Old 08-15-03, 11:58 PM   #4
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Thanks for the story, Steve. Now, with absolutely no city lights polluting the skies over the Northeast, did you get a chance to look up into the sky for some naked eye astronomy? The dust lanes of our Milky Way Galaxy, including several globuars should have been plainly visible. Wish I was there.....
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Old 08-16-03, 05:44 AM   #5
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George: I didn't even think about that, but you're absolutely right.

And the milky way is an absolutely beautiful, awe-inspiring sight....
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Old 08-16-03, 08:10 AM   #6
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i can feel your pain.

i had to walk from 42nd street to my home in brooklyn. thats 10 miles of walking in FLIP FLOPS!!!!!!!!

im nursing my fist size blisters now.
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Old 08-16-03, 08:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by George
Thanks for the story, Steve. Now, with absolutely no city lights polluting the skies over the Northeast, did you get a chance to look up into the sky for some naked eye astronomy? The dust lanes of our Milky Way Galaxy, including several globuars should have been plainly visible. Wish I was there.....
Although lights were out, there were still a few stars on the sky. We would have to go about a month without cars so all the pollution could disappear.
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Old 08-16-03, 02:51 PM   #8
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that was an amazing story. So many nice people out there
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Old 08-16-03, 04:03 PM   #9
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I definately agree with you're reasoning to have a cheap x-mart bike for you're normal commute. Slicks would make it alot better if you ever have to do a longer ride again and they are fairly inexpensive.
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Old 08-16-03, 04:44 PM   #10
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I got the slicks on the Toy store bike this morning and increased performance by 30% from the knobbies. The only thing I regret is that I didnít get them sooner. OH WELL. I canít wait for the next blackout! Iím ready!

Looking at todayís newspapers and seeing hundreds of people sleeping on the streets made me realize how dependant we are on cars, trains and buses. Furthermore, all the tunnels leading out of the city were for motor traffic only thus creating chaos as people rushed for ferries.

It seems like the population is so removed from the bicycle, that people would rather sleep on the sidewalk than cycle home. All the pain and suffering going on that evening could have been resolved for thousands if people just biked to work instead of taking a car. What seems like common sense to you and I was impossible for the rest of the population to comprehend. In just 100 years since the invention of the safety bicycle, we have forgotten what it was like to use a human powered machine for personal transportation. I really think the situation is hopeless folks. We will be an auto dependant country until the last drop of oil is pumped from the face of the earth.
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Old 08-16-03, 08:05 PM   #11
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Why were people sleeping on sidewalks rather than going home? What was wrong with their homes, other than that they didn't have electricity?

Maybe you should write an article for the local NYC paper urging people to ride their bikes and use this story as the example. It might make people consider cycling for transportation rather than being dependent on their cars.

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Old 08-16-03, 08:10 PM   #12
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People were sleeping because most people like me are a 45 minute train ride away from home, an di am pretty close to manhattan. It would be next to impossible to walk home. If i had been in manhattan during that i would have slept on the sidewalk to. I am in a suburb on long island. Trains were shut down completely.
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Old 08-16-03, 08:14 PM   #13
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Did you have fun doing the 9 hour commute?
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Old 08-16-03, 09:05 PM   #14
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Thanks for the story. I was really curious to see how you made out with the toy bike. What happened to the derailer?
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Old 08-17-03, 02:17 AM   #15
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Steve. So I take it your one way mileage is 17-18 miles.? Too bad you could not have a slight bike upgrade. can't keep a bike in a part of the work place, where it would be safe. Guess I should know that answer. Certain bike lanes outside of LA, vandals will take the bike from the rider in broad daylight. Know of one instance outside of Corona where a cyclist was shot in order to steal their expense bike.
Would be the same on the city streets leading into New York.
In April of 1990 my then, employeer loaned me out to work for one month in the New York office. we had a company house on New York Avenue in Fort Lee, NJ. About 8 blocks from the George Washington Bridge. I would run across the bride each night after work. That was an inspiring run. Must be a thrill to ride across it. Seems I remember wide passenger lanes on that bridge. Plenty of room to ride.
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