How to bike in New York

I’ve recently fallen in love…with the road bike my roommate is letting me borrow. It’s built for speed, doesn’t make me curse when riding uphill, and is easy to carry up and down stairs. I will always have a special place in my heart for my Free Spirit three-speed cruiser and the time we shared, but its gears and brakes no longer suit my needs. My new love for the road bike has brought me to my favorite time of year: riding a bike as my main transportation. Admittedly, New York is not the easiest city to ride in, but it’s easy if you follow four main guidelines:

1. Wear a helmet
Looking like Toad from Super Mario Brothers isn’t cool, but it’s way cooler than cracking your skull open or getting a spine injury.

2. Ride with traffic
If cars and pedestrians know where you’re coming from, they are less likely to hit you. If there’s a bike lane, use it. And make sure you ride with traffic in the bike lane, too.

3. Assume everyone else is going to screw up
This goes for drivers, cabbies, pedestrians, puppies, other bikers…swerve to avoid hitting them, because they won’t. Oh, and watch out for car doors.

4. Watch out for potholes
There are some big enough to swallow a small child. They will send you flying into the sidewalk or mess up your tires/wheels.

Advertisements

I’m way better at bike riding now


Aside from two blocks on a yellow commie bike in Copenhagen, I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least two years when I found one in my rental house. (I also found cans of Diet Rite Root Beer and a fine collection of spices from the 1980s in that house). While biking around Ithaca, I immediately developed a new trick while frantically pedaling to catch the bus when I was late for class: slipping, smashing my heels into the metal pedals and tearing the skin on my heels. The key to the trick was repeating it as soon as the wounds were healing.

One rainy night, I thought riding my bike the opposite way down a one-way street seemed like the best possible route, or at least fastest, to go home quickly before I had to work at the bar. I was paying attention to the cars in the actual street, and failed to notice a minivan that was parking until it was too late. I screamed, let go of the handle bars, allowing my bike to drop but still caused me to crash into the hood of the van. A little kid standing on the sidewalk asked if I was ok. The driver asked if I was ok. I muttered “yeah.” The little kid started pointing at me and laughing. I decided walking my bike home would be a good idea. Later that night, I was digging through my bag and panicked when I saw that my glasses case was completely smashed. My glasses were fine, and whatever impact they suffered made them slip down my nose less.

A few top ten lists

I’m restarting my old blog, Alpha Wolverine, as k.wolverine. So to start, I’m reposting the only two entries from my previous blog…

Maiden Voyage:

Top Ten things people have yelled at me while riding my bike in Brooklyn:

Since moving to Brooklyn, biking has become my main mode of transportation. I live in and commute to work through neighborhoods where the fellas just love to yell things at girls. Honorable mentions: Some orthodox jewish kids throwing rocks at my roommate and I as we rode to a party/ hey rider/ I like your bike.

10. “Hey mommy/beautiful/cutie!”

I know nothing screams sex appeal quite like my work pants that are two sizes too big and my super cool helmet, but it’s really great to get reassurance before 9am.

9. “Hey, wait, sexy!”

Sorry delivery truck driver, I had to get to Target and buy muffin pans.

8. “Watch it, Bike-O!”

I responded, “You watch it, walkie!”

7. “Hey I’ll take a ride.”

I’m not sure what he was gesturing at, but something tells me I’ve never been drunk enough to even consider taking it around the block.”

6. “Nice titties!”

No explanation needed, just a note that I either need to move or wear a trash bag when I go out.

5. “Heeeeey…you got something on your neck…you got somethin on your neck…I’m just joking…c’mon…”

I was waiting to cross the street and there was one other guy there. He was close enough to see the mole on my neck and remembered that girls really like it when strangers compliments on

4. “Move Bitch, get the f*** out the way!”

I did, even though their beater was in my lane.

3.”Awwww, take me witchoo!”

Oh yes, stranger of the daylight, hop into my basket and let’s ride off together along the JMZ tracks and get splashed with mysterious subway water, which will later cause us to have matching skin legions.

2. “You can do it, hipster!”

You’re right, I can stand on my pedals to travel up hills. Thank you for noticing. I’ve also gotten, “Pump those legs, girl!”

1. “You don’t like yourself very much, do you?”

I was riding toward traffic and as I passed a parked delivery truck and the driver quietly asked me about my self esteem from the window. I’ve also gotten “Are you f***ing retarded?” while riding toward traffic.

Reason #407 why my homestate rules:

I grew up in Oregon. While living there, I never developed any sort of loyalty or hardcore fandom to a college sports team. But I think this video converted me to being a Ducks fan.