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Central Park NYC

Old 12-18-04, 11:41 AM
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Ubie
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Central Park NYC

So i just got back from my first loop through Central Park, and here are my impressions for anybody that cares, or might have some insightful comments...
First off, i'm not sure how accurate my cyclometer is (user error no doubt), i measured it out at 6.36mi, anybody know if this is the right ballpark or not? (second, yes, i know i'm a total wuss only doing 8.5mi total, but keep in mind the total accumulation of my winter gear is a skintight thermal shirt, hiking sock to go under my 11 year old addidas samba sneakers and a pair of 180's that just fit under my squash bucket, EMS gloves, and oh yeah, for my legs, mesh shorts with boxer briefs underneath. I'm amazed the woman let me out of the house to ride, it was 34F when i left).
Next, the east side seems like much easier going than the west. I will allow this may be because i enter the park at the 110th street at the base of Great Hill, but the slopes seem more gentle on the east side, and the roads better maintained. Anybody got a point/counterpoint to this?
Lastly, riding through the park with no vehicular traffic may just be the single greatest thing i have experienced while riding in the city. I went out last weekend for about a 30mi spin with 5BBC, and while an immensely good time, i hate riding in traffic. I'm still not really comfortable on the roadbike (due to inexperience) and i'm naturally twitchy. I'm sure i'll get over this, but to use a word from Lemony Snicket, it's nice to have a little 'sanctuary'. Foot traffic was fairly well behaved, even the tourists, and other cyclists were downright pleasant. Even got a compliment on my 'vintage' Cannondale. For the record, it's a '92 R600, not so vintage i'm figuring
I don't think i'll be able to do much more riding until the spring since winter riding gear isn't exactly in the budget (i can't afford shorts at the moment...), but i'm looking forward to being able to ride more in the park. I have got to take a picture of the mountain lion....
If anybody can back-up/dispute my claim on the east side being easier, or give me a little generality on the personality of the park spring/summer vs. fall/winter that would be key. thanks
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Old 12-18-04, 12:09 PM
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Sounds right on the distance. I used to run a couple of loops there, and basically it was around 10K (6.2 miles) per loop as I recall.
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Old 12-18-04, 05:43 PM
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I'm surprised slvoid hasn't chipped in yet.. he's from NYC and I'm sure he's ridden in Central Park more times than I could count
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Old 12-18-04, 07:44 PM
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Somewhere on the web I stumbled across a map that gave the distance and elevation for various points. Was it NYCC? Anyway, according to that source, it was 6.1 miles around the entire park, though I'd imagine, the distance could vary according to which lane you're in

When I was there on Friday more cyclists seemed to be using the 103rd Street Transverse than the full route. Probably to avoid the Great Hill.

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Old 12-18-04, 09:24 PM
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I always do the loop just once in the summer and that's about it for the year. There is waaaaay to much city to explore than spending hours doing the same loop year after year. It would bore me to tears riding the same park the rest of my life.

Here's what I did today. Took the F train to the LAST STOP in Queens. I spent the rest of the afternoon heading back to city but stopping for lunch and pizza. I also did some Christmas shopping and rode right along with traffic.

There was loads of traffic and sometimes I walked for several blocks on the sidewalks that were also packed with people doing last minute Xmas shopping. Overall, it was a very nice afternoon and much more interesting than doing loops in the park.
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Old 12-19-04, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I always do the loop just once in the summer and that's about it for the year. There is waaaaay to much city to explore than spending hours doing the same loop year after year. It would bore me to tears riding the same park the rest of my life.

Here's what I did today. Took the F train to the LAST STOP in Queens. I spent the rest of the afternoon heading back to city but stopping for lunch and pizza. I also did some Christmas shopping and rode right along with traffic.

There was loads of traffic and sometimes I walked for several blocks on the sidewalks that were also packed with people doing last minute Xmas shopping. Overall, it was a very nice afternoon and much more interesting than doing loops in the park.
That actually sounds like a good bit of fun, to be honest... I live in a very small city (180k people) which is quite spread out and is nowhere near as fun and interesting as NYC. Bike theft and crime overall is much lower, though. One can leave a $2000 bike locked up at the mall with nothing more than a simple u-lock or cable lock and go inside for 2 hrs, come back and your bike is still there. Heck, I leave my $300 cygolite HID and Cateye Astrale 8 cyclocomputer attatched and everything's in one piece when I come back. So I guess it has its advantages.
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Old 12-19-04, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubie
So i just got back from my first loop through Central Park, and here are my impressions for anybody that cares, or might have some insightful comments...
I got nothing like that but thank you for taking me back to my youth ... I rode that circuit many Sundays with my father back in the late 1960s on bikes that we would rent from the boat house (they still do that?).

I never wondered what the course length was, but we would only do it once and that seemed to take all morning on three-speeds (with me taking the granny all the way!).
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Old 12-19-04, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ubie
...I don't think i'll be able to do much more riding until the spring since winter riding gear isn't exactly in the budget (i can't afford shorts at the moment...),

don't give up hope! you don't need to go out and buy the highest tech to get by in the winter. You just have to apply what you have in a proper way.
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Old 12-22-04, 02:41 PM
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Although I mostly ride Propect Park, whenever I have time, I extend my commute with a lap in CP. It trully is an amazing place. Like Steve, I get easily bored with laps, so I would suggest you also try to ride on the greenway, especially on the west side on Manhattan.

See attached for the elevation map of CP. I would like to give credit to the original poster, but can't remember who posted it here....
Anyways...
Yes, they still rent bikes at the boat house. Not sure what kind.
Yes, the pavement is better on the east side than the west.
If you really want to, you can ride through the winter; You can get "cheap" winter gear online or go to Paragon (not so cheap).

I still don't know why Slvoid hasn't chimed in yet...
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Old 12-22-04, 11:25 PM
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I amazed that you found the others using the Park to be polite. It must be that the cold weather is keeping out the usual clueless lot. Honestly, the two reasons I don't ride much in the Park:

1) morons

2) cars entering at the SE corner and crossing the road around 70 or 80 someting street (I think)

I so badly want a car-free Central Park. Join the fight! Recently the rules were revised to make it safer for cyclists (speed limit down to 25mph, wo0t! now I can go faster than the cars!).

Anyway, back to the morons. I could go on and on but to summarize:

- people riding the wrong way

- rollerbladers who zig-zag all over

- foot and rollerblade traffic in the bike path, BOTH directions (doubly bad)

- people who don't know how to cross the street / Drive

- that freaking iPod everyone has so they can't hear when I try to tell them they are doing one of the above

I don't know what's the answer with rollerbladers, to be honest, but most appear unaware of cyclists.

Edit: BTW, I grew-up with the loop being about 6.2 miles, so your computer is about right. I should check my own.

Hope to see you in the Park someday!
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Old 12-23-04, 09:54 AM
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We've been swamped at work, so I haven't had time to come here that often, plus I think this kinda flew over my head heh. And like NYCCommuter, I ride mostly prospect park. I stay off the bike paths in the park and go on the roadway, at some points in PP, the roadway is 3 lanes wide. I mean there's still morons there but not as many as there would be if I were to stay in the roadway.
Riding around the city is pretty interesting if you find a couple of friends to do it with, that way you're not restricted to the parks.

As far as winter clothing's concerned, here's what I wear:

130-180: Wuss out.
115-130: Shorts, loose white long sleeve mesh jersey, ride slower.
100-115: Shorts, loose jersey.
55-100 degrees: shorts and jersey. Skull cap.
40-55 degrees: long sleeve top, jersey, tights and shorts. Skull cap, ear warmers.
30-40 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece powerstretch jersey, tights and shorts. Skull cap, ear warmers. Full finger gloves.
25-30 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece powerstretch jersey, tights, shorts, legwarmers. Skull cap, ear warmers. Windproof gloves.
15-25 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece powerstretch jersey, tights, shorts, legwarmers, windproof vest. Balaclava. Windproof gloves.
10-15 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece powerstretch jersey, tights, amfib windproof tights, windproof vest, booties. Balaclava. 2-layer windproof fleece gloves.
0-10 degrees: fleece sweater, windproof jacket, tights, amfib windproof tights, booties. Balaclava, ear warmers. 2-layer windproof fleece gloves with liner.
-15-0 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece sweater, windproof jacket, tights, amfib windproof tights, booties. Balaclava, ski-mask/heat exchanger, goggles. Down gloves.
-45 - -15 degrees: long sleeve top, fleece sweater (down sweater near -45), windproof jacket, tights, fleece pants, windproof pants, booties (heated socks near -45). Balaclava, ski-mask/heat exchanger, ear warmers, goggles. Down gloves (with liner near -45).
Below -45 F: Wuss out.
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Old 12-23-04, 10:39 PM
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Well, good to know i wasn't imagining that the east side was easier at least. I'll usually ride down the westside bike path when i feel like gomering around, but it's a real pain in the summer, don't get me started on tourists and joggers clogging up the biking lanes...
I have a nagging suspicion that summertime riding in the park will be a totally different experience, more people, more vendors, more this and that, of course, there will also be more pretty girls... mmm... pretty girls.... sorry, i got sidetracked there.
Something else i've been considering doing is taking the metro-north up to poughkeepsie or maybe the bear mt./springer mt. area to do some rides. I really like the area (if you get the chance to hike the trail from bear to springer, it's a spectacular 2-3 day trek), and i've got friends in poughkeepsie to convince (con?) into trying to do some long-ish rides while i train for the MS ride next year.
At any rate, good info to know, the cyclometer isn't too far off, the east side is at least better maintained, and i'm not imagining things. Thanks for all the help.
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