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 everyone’s 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 wouldn’t 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 can’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 can’t 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 I’m glad that I made it out of there in one piece. If it weren’t 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. I’m 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.