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NYC Trip report: Manhattan to Glen Cove, LI

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NYC Trip report: Manhattan to Glen Cove, LI

Old 07-24-18, 02:07 PM
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NYC Trip report: Manhattan to Glen Cove, LI

I’ve enjoying reading other people’s ride stories lately so I thought I’d share my experiences with an urban trek I took last weekend.

Background:
I recently bought a new bike, a Cannondale SuperX. I live in suburban/rural NJ where there are plenty of rail trails and other off-road opportunities to actually grind gravel, and I plan to expand my roadie cycling habits to include them. However, I also appreciate the gravel grinder’s ability to tackle all roads, including paved and badly paved. So I decided to try out my new bike in the urban jungle of NYC. I grew up in upper Manhattan—Washington Heights—and I still have family there, including my brother who happens to keep a sailboat in Hempstead Harbor on the Long Island Sound. My goal was to park near his apartment and ride out to meet him on his boat. He would then transport me back to his place at the end of the day where I would load the bike onto my car for the 40-mile ride back home to NJ.

The Route:
https://ridewithgps.com/trips/25805698
This route took me from my old neighborhood overlooking the Hudson River (where I first learned to ride a bike), east and south through Harlem, over bridges at Randall’s Island into Queens, along Astoria Blvd. and Northern Blvd. out into Nassau County, past Manhassett Bay and Hempstead Bay, and up to Glen Cove. The total distance would be 28.7 miles and I averaged 12.5 mph for 2 ľ hours of riding. I took a short break around the 20-mile mark during one of the few hillclimbs to eat a powerbar.

The Trip:
I enjoyed trip thoroughly. It began in very familiar territory but by Mile 4 I was seeing new sights. The foot bridge over the Harlem River and the Triborough* span at Hell Gate are both thrilling by bike. (*Sorry, I will never call the bridge by its alleged so-called new name, RFK. Not gonna happen.) Two sections of the route are waterfront promenades—Bobby Wagner Walk on the Harlem River and the Flushing Bay Promenade—and each were welcome respites from hookin’ and jabbin’ with the buses and cars; no double-parked delivery trucks to avoid in those parks. Speaking of parked cars, I must have rolled past at least four or five police precincts and without fail each one was obvious by the parking for blocks in each direction. In a city full of parallel curbside parking you can tell you’re near a precinct house when the cars are all backed onto the curb perpendicular to the street. Bike lanes no longer matter on those blocks. Neither do the sidewalks.

Overall, I think my favorite view was passing through the brownstone townhouses on 120th St. in Harlem, east of Marcus Garvey Park. The houses just have a dignified air about them, as if they put up with us humans because they know they will outlive us too, just like those that came before us. Most of the route passed along the commercial retail avenues of Astoria Blvd. and Northern Blvd. Lots of rich urban activity going on even in the morning hours on a Sunday. Markets and restaurants and repair shops and banks were all happening much of way. At the other end of the journey, the sleepy little village of Roslyn is a super cute old timey main street that my ’73 Raleigh would feel at home in. It was interesting to watch neighborhoods change from one to another. It’s hard to notice that in a car going 25-30 mph.

The one climb noted as significant by Ride With GPS came at Mile 21 in Manhasset, about a half mile in length and 118 ft. of elevation gain averaging 5% grade which touched 7.2% towards the top. For some reason RWG didn’t note the climb at the end of the trip, also a half mile but with 148 ft. of gain, average grade 6.1% with a peak of 8.9%. That climb occurs in the swanky village of Sea Cliff with its beautiful homes overlooking the harbor. I felt a little self-conscious about huffing and puffing and sweating my way to the top. I expected someone holding a cocktail to admonish me, “I say, good fellow, you’re working entirely too hahrd at this whole cycling thing; do sit down and have a drink, will you?”

The Bike:
My bike performed exactly as I hoped it would. It was fast and responsive like a road bike need be when mixing it up with traffic. It sucked up the crappy pavement found on much of the route, including about a mile of construction zone on Northern Blvd. where the surface has been graded down for a future layer of new asphalt. I even had a short climb of cobbles at the very beginning which date to the early 1900s development of Audubon Terrace (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audubon_Terrace). The combination of 37mm low-pressure tires, SAVE-designed stays and seat post, and the gravel-slack geometry made the road conditions disappear; if I had my Selle Anatomica saddle mounted, I daresay it would have been plush. The 1x11 drivetrain (40T front, 10-42T rear) always offered a good gear to be in without having to plan for and executing a crossover shift of front and rear cogs. I simply shifted down down down when approaching a red light (plenty of those) and up up up as the terrain allowed.

The Verdict:
Success! I proved the value of my gravel grinder as an urban warrior. I saw parts of The City that were unfamiliar to me (basically, all of Queens). I ended up on a boat sipping a nice whiskey. In all, a fine way to spend a Sunday morning.


The beginning: Washington Heights in Manhattan


The end: Brewers Marina in Glen Cove, Long Island

Last edited by davlafont; 08-14-18 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 07-24-18, 03:19 PM
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Good ride and nice write up, glad you enjoyed it. It's nice when a plan works out so well.
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Old 07-24-18, 07:44 PM
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Great trip report! One of our frequent contributors on the Long Island thread loves his SuperX as well.

It's cool to traverse different environments as the miles go by, but the "hookin' and jabing'" with traffic I'll leave to others. I'd rather dodge cows.

My wife & I and our friends winch ourselves up those slopes in Sea Cliff with some regularity, and that "I say, good fellow....." line is guaranteed to resurface in my head the next time we do so.
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Old 07-25-18, 09:38 AM
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That sounds like a very pleasant ride. And your comments show that you enjoyed it.

But the choice of Astoria Boulevard and Northern Boulevard in Queens was probably not the best one, if I may say so. I like urban riding more than anything else; but those streets are particularly inhospitable, even hostile. Instead of those streets, west of Flushing Meadow Park you might have used a combination of 31st and 34th Avenues. Then you'd still cross the park at the Marina.

And, on the eastern side of the park you could have gone north a bit and taken 35th Avenue all the way out to Bell Boulevard. But then, of course, you'd have no choice but to come back down and start dealing with nasty old Northern Boulevard into Douglaston and Little Neck and out to the City limits.

Anyway, I am glad that you had fun. And, if you are unfamiliar with Queens, then you should check out the vast expanses of that borough on future rides. There are few bike lanes, unfortunately; but there are plenty of side streets on which the riding is great. Recently I had a day of just noodling around Queens that totalled 40 miles. Also, I should mention that, notwithstanding the general paucity of bike lanes in Queens, we now have one major bike lane where it was sorely needed: on Queens Boulevard, ranging from 50th Street all the way down to Yellowstone Boulevard. In the 50s, the bike lanes on Skillman Avenue (westbound) and 43rd Avenue (eastbound) that connect you to the bike lane in Queens Plaza and over Queensboro Bridge are only a short jump away. I use 55th Street when going towards the bridge, and 52nd Street when going away from the bridge. (By the way, the Skillman / 43rd Avenue bike lanes will soon be upgraded to protected lanes.) Considering the risk of hassle at the Triborough Bridge, it might be worthwhile for you, on your next foray into Queens, to take Second Avenue down to 60th Street and cross on the Queensboro Bridge.

One more thing. About the Triborough Bridge. (And good for you for using its real name! Be aware that the Queensboro Bridge also has a newfangled name that a real New Yorker must never utter.) I am glad that you got away with riding over the Triborough. But you should keep in mind that the rules state that you're supposed to walk the bike. Sometimes there are cops up there who will order you off the bike (if they're in a good mood) or else just give you a ticket. This is enough to dissuade me from using that bridge, because I don't want to risk either a ticket or having to make a half-hour walk between Randall's Island and Queens.

I see that you crossed to Randall's Island from Manhattan on the 102nd Street bridge. Note that even that crossing has a "walk your bike" rule; and I have seen it enforced. This is all a damn shame, because Randall's Island is a great place to ride; it's really a park paradise. But the only legal way to get there on a bike is over the new connection to the Bronx that sits just to the east of the Triborough spur from the Island to the Bronx; so I wind up going there much less often than I otherwise would.
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Old 07-25-18, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for the insight Ferdinand. Now that I know riding out to the marina is a legit option, I will certainly consider the roads you describe. But honestly, I've got no issue with riding with the big dogs. I think you know the deal; BITD we dodged cars for recreation.

the Queensboro Bridge also has a newfangled name that a real New Yorker must never utter.
If it's not '59th Street Bridge" then, fuggeddaboutit.
(j/k... Hizzoner has more right to a bridge name than any Bostonian scion.)
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Old 07-25-18, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
Great trip report! One of our frequent contributors on the Long Island thread loves his SuperX as well.


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Old 07-26-18, 08:22 AM
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@oldnslow2: Nice! I've looked back at your SuperX posts and I see we have a similar viewpoint on the bike. A little off-roading now and then, or mixed in as part of a longer ride, but mostly bullet-proof fun. I will also spring for some slick road tires and keep my 37mm WTB Riddlers for dedicated gravel work. I'm likely to stick with WTB, either 30 or 32mm Exposure.

(FWIW, I'm a former air-cooled VW junkie. If I hadn't sought treatment and rehab, I might have had some 2000cc or above motor--Type IV perhaps?--in my '73 Superbeetle. I'm about 20 years clean now.)

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Old 07-26-18, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by davlafont
@oldnslow2: Nice! I've looked back at your SuperX posts and I see we have a similar viewpoint on the bike. A little off-roading now and then, or mixed in as part of a longer ride, but mostly bullet-proof fun. I will also spring for some slick road tires........
I have a more prosaic Soma DoubleCross with 32mm Bonty tires; and I'll be dipped if I don't find myself reaching for that bike almost every time I'm not on a tandem or MTB. Like in about 10 minutes.

It's a pleasant, comfy fun and not at all sluggish ride. I'll take it on dirt roads but not single track, though.
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Old 07-26-18, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
I have a more prosaic Soma DoubleCross with 32mm Bonty tires; and I'll be dipped if I don't find myself reaching for that bike almost every time I'm not on a tandem or MTB. Like in about 10 minutes.

It's a pleasant, comfy fun and not at all sluggish ride. I'll take it on dirt roads but not single track, though.
Yeah, but admit it, you lust after one of these

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...-disc/p/23228/
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Old 07-26-18, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Yeah, but admit it, you lust after one of these

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...-disc/p/23228/
That's a lot of bike for the price, but the Emonda SL6 is only $2800 which is $2000 less. You just have to give up the carbon wheels and go to mechanical shifting.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2
That's a lot of bike for the price, but the Emonda SL6 is only $2800 which is $2000 less. You just have to give up the carbon wheels and go to mechanical shifting.
As thread drift, there is no chance Iíd ever buy another road bike without Di2. And carbon wheels just look cool, plus Iím sold on the idea of disc brakes being a better choice with carbon wheels. So now your out $5,000.......
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Old 07-26-18, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Lightingguy


As thread drift, there is no chance Iíd ever buy another road bike without Di2. And carbon wheels just look cool, plus Iím sold on the idea of disc brakes being a better choice with carbon wheels. So now your out $5,000.......
There's no long descents on Long Island so i'm quite happy with rim brakes and carbon wheels. Now on my witnter - foul weather bike, disc are a safe choice.
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Old 07-26-18, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2
There's no long descents on Long Island so i'm quite happy with rim brakes and carbon wheels. Now on my witnter - foul weather bike, disc are a safe choice.
Agree, but if you want big tire ability, disc is the way to go. I like what theyíve done with a lot of gravel bikes, lots of practicality with these bikes.

Only complaint I see about the Domane is it weighs just over 18 lbs. The Emoda Di2 disc is just about 17 with Bontrager carbon wheels. Thatís a nice bike as well, but no need for disc on that. If it were one bike as choice, a Domane, but just donít see myself spending as much for a bike as my first car.
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Old 07-26-18, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Lightingguy
but just donít see myself spending as much for a bike as my first car.
My first car was a new 1974 VW Beetle that I paid $2150 for. It's in my garage next to my Emonda SLR
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Old 07-26-18, 08:12 PM
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We’ll continuing some thread drift, mine as a ‘75 Gremlin. $2800 as I now recall. I still haven’t spent that on a bike. YET.
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Old 07-26-18, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Yeah, but admit it, you lust after one of these
Eh, not really. I'm pretty much a Luddite when it comes to outdoors stuff. To add a bit more thread drift, I still use my Svea stove, and hunt deer with a rifle Abe Lincoln would have considered a bit quaint. Although I do admit to hearing angels singing the first time I used an internal frame pack.

Back to the storyline, Davlafont did a very cool ride.
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Old 07-27-18, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
Back to the storyline, Davlafont did a very cool ride.
Thanks.

I've taken @ferdinand's comments into consideration and plotted a new route between the same two points.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28173065

Some salient features are: a half-tour through Central Park; crossing the 59th Street Bridge; use of Queens Blvd. bike lanes; a half-tour of Flushing Meadows Park; and a ride along the L.I.E. service road out to Roslyn. I've been told by my brother that the service road is a cycling throughway (his observation from crawling along westbound in his car). If anyone here can confirm or deny that I'd be grateful.

I don't have a good reason for not using the service road between miles 22 and 26 other than to mix it up a little and see more of Queens as Ferdinand recommends. Perhaps I'm missing out between miles 19 and 22 by not going through Kissena Park? Should I throw in a lap of the velodrome there, just to say I've done it? I also don't want this to morph into a century ride. Right now it measures out close to 40 miles which is more than I usually do for recreation (i.e. unsupported).

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Old 07-27-18, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by davlafont
...ride along the L.I.E. service road out to Roslyn. I've been told by my brother that the service road is a cycling throughway (his observation from crawling along westbound in his car). If anyone here can confirm or deny that I'd be grateful.

I don't have a good reason for not using the service road between miles 22 and 26 other than to mix it up a little and see more of Queens as Ferdinand recommends....
This report is definitely confirmed. The service roads both east and west-bound. at least in Nassau and Suffolk, are much used and actually surprisingly pleasant, in most spots, to ride. That said, I've never ventured west of Little Neck, so Queens comprises uncharted waters for me; I'm definitely NOT a fan of urban cycling.

I'm going to check out the route you posted. Enjoy your rides & stay safe
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Old 07-27-18, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
This report is definitely confirmed. The service roads both east and west-bound. at least in Nassau and Suffolk, are much used and actually surprisingly pleasant, in most spots, to ride. That said, I've never ventured west of Little Neck, so Queens comprises uncharted waters for me; I'm definitely NOT a fan of urban cycling.

I'm going to check out the route you posted. Enjoy your rides & stay safe
Only caveat to this is west of Glen Cove Rd. (and east of Little Neck Parkway eastbound) should be avoided for riding on weekday mornings, generally. Too much commuting car and truck traffic and there's no shoulder for a chunk of this. Weekends are great. If you time it correctly at around 8:30 you can hang on the "Triangle" ride that leaves from 245th st. at the LIE, big racing group, 30-50 or so, they'll pull you along at +25mph !.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Only caveat to this is west of Glen Cove Rd. (and east of Little Neck Parkway eastbound) should be avoided for riding on weekday mornings, generally. Too much commuting car and truck traffic and there's no shoulder for a chunk of this. Weekends are great....
Good advice, that's definitely the least bike-friendly stretch. I don't think I've ever been there during morning rush. Luckily it's a fairly short segment.
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Old 07-27-18, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Only caveat to this is west of Glen Cove Rd. (and east of Little Neck Parkway eastbound) should be avoided for riding on weekday mornings, generally. Too much commuting car and truck traffic and there's no shoulder for a chunk of this. Weekends are great. If you time it correctly at around 8:30 you can hang on the "Triangle" ride that leaves from 245th st. at the LIE, big racing group, 30-50 or so, they'll pull you along at +25mph !.
I'm strictly talking weekends. I'll be sure to time it right so that I'm nowhere near the 25mph group ride, a situation I would find to be more hazardous that any truck traffic on city streets!
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Old 07-27-18, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by davlafont
I'm strictly talking weekends. I'll be sure to time it right so that I'm nowhere near the 25mph group ride, a situation I would find to be more hazardous that any truck traffic on city streets!
There was a time when Kaos and I could hang with the Little Neck ride. Me - not for years now, Joe maybe.

I well recall a quote from a buddy Dominic in his high pitched voice "Yeah, I hung with the Little Neck ride for a while, then they started doing 33 and I could only do 32 and that was that !". Note Dom was in his 60's or so at the time.
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Old 07-27-18, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
There was a time when Kaos and I could hang with the Little Neck ride. Me - not for years now, Joe maybe.
I well recall a quote from a buddy Dominic in his high pitched voice "Yeah, I hung with the Little Neck ride for a while, then they started doing 33 and I could only do 32 and that was that !". Note Dom was in his 60's or so at the time.
Ha, I have not tried the Triangle ride in probably 15 years. Maybe one of these days if it ever cools off.

Are you talking about Dominic (the speed skater) from Mineola? I haven't seen him in some time but I've not been on his Service Rd. stomping grounds much at all this year. Evert time I see him and ask how he's doing, he says "I'm still above ground."
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Old 07-27-18, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe
Ha, I have not tried the Triangle ride in probably 15 years. Maybe one of these days if it ever cools off.

Are you talking about Dominic (the speed skater) from Mineola? I haven't seen him in some time but I've not been on his Service Rd. stomping grounds much at all this year. Evert time I see him and ask how he's doing, he says "I'm still above ground."
Likely the same Dom. He was an LIBC rider when I first met him (as was I early on), then he started in with the MPBC AA rides as well. He was retired 20 years ago and was riding every day. Likely he's no spring chicken now, though I ran into him on the LIE maybe 2-3 years ago doing a solo. Funny guy.
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Old 08-06-18, 10:08 AM
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Ooops I did it again

https://ridewithgps.com/trips/26327331

Opportunity knocked yesterday for me to repeat my ride out to Glen Cove, this time using my new route. I stretched it to 40 miles incorporating the feedback from this thread and including a spin around the Velodrome. Great fun since the weather was beautiful. I made much better time getting through Manhattan by combining Riverside Drive and Central park; much fewer traffic light stops (fewer stops, not fewer lights...)

Queens Blvd bike lane was interesting and clearly much safer than Astoria Blvd. For anyone opposed to riding in traffic, it's a good way to go. I stopped by the World's Fair remnants at Flushing Meadow for old time's sake.

All-in-all, a good ride. And there was good beer waiting for me on the boat!
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