The F train goes to Roosevelt, but Sunday is often the day for track work; had to go all the way to Steinway in Queens, then turn around and get the train back to get to the Roosevelt Island stop. I’ve been there on foot before. It’s an intensely boring experience, almost unbelievable how dull a view of Manhattan can be. And there is no there there when you arrive; but I thought it might be fun to bike. Alas, paving stones made the rides full of vibration, and the island itself is small, but I used the time to improve my technique. Here are my discoveries, many from today some over the last week:
1. When a biker is coming towards you, don’t look them in the eye and try to figure out where they’re going. Fix your gaze past them and focus on that. That will keep you steady, tell them where you’re going and you won’t collide.
2. When riding through narrow situations (not in traffic), look past them and don’t slow down. Downshift if necessary and power through. She who hesitates falls over.
3. Found out how to stand on my pedals when I need more power: the trick is to pull on the corresponding handle bar as the foot. It’s not ideal, but it works. Now, I need no longer fear Fiend’s Hill!
4. I have a shoulder problem and was beginning to fear it might hinder the biking life. But today I realized I don’t need to lean my shoulders in. Relaxing takes the pressure off. Good!!
5. Still not good at hairpin turns. Prefer to dismount(!).
There is a beautiful ruin which looks like it’s being restored(?). Built by the same architect who built St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But was never a church. This was a small pox hospital.
There’s also something new at Roosevelt Island which had not been there the last time I visited: the Memorial to FDR and The Four Freedoms Park. Alas, those freedoms do not include biking around the Memorial(!). Joggers, pedestrians and kite flyers only. But I parked Lucille with the Park Rangers and walked around.
1. Freedom of Speech
2. Freedom of Expression
3. Freedom of Religion
4. Freedom from Want
When the Ranger told me this last one, I felt deeply ashamed. Today, as I had been walking my bike to 6th Ave via 15th Street (found out the hard way the bike lane is too full of pot holes to use), I came upon a blocked sidewalk, with a path for pedestrians under a scaffold. Half way into it, I was met with a line to go through. I wondered if there was construction ahead – though on a Sunday that seemed unlikely, and I didn’t hear any heavy machinery. Why were we waiting? When I asked the handsome, but slightly shabby man in front of me what the hold up was, he told me: the line was for food. I was mortified to have asked, to have put him in a position to have to answer me.
This line – a double line really - went on for nearly a full block. I felt such shame and anger to be a citizen of a county that would humiliate its fellow citizens like this for the sake of corporate greed. Four Freedoms indeed. We need to bring the fourth one back.
But back to Roosevelt Island. After I had made a quick circuit, I decided to take the Tram back. The views from the Tram almost make up for the dullness of the views from the island itself
The bike map said there was a bridge to Randall’s Island at 103rd, but now I ask (and trust) other bikers first. They confirmed the map, and I found the bridge, which looks like it must function as a draw bridge when needed.
Wound up the day trekking back over the bridge, taking the route I had the day before: 91st west to Central Park, cut across the Park at about 102nd, back to 91st to Riverside Drive. This time I cheated and just rode down the RSD as I was going to my old building on 75th and West End to meet a friend for dinner. Took the subway home.
From hereon in, I’ll just be biking whenever I can. If there’s anything new or unusual, I’ll chime in...