In past years, I had a ring-side seat to the fireworks on the West Side of Manhattan via the balcony of a generous friend. Her Fourth of July parties became a storied tradition for years. But this year, DeBlasio decided the fireworks should be moved to the East Side.
As annoying as this is for us West Siders, in terms of the City budget – I got this from a cop - it actually makes sense: far fewer people to hire for traffic and security detail, because so many New Yorkers can actually watch the fireworks in place: from Queens, from Brooklyn – and of course from Manhattan. Why, after all, should we be hiring all this security for bridge and tunnel crowds, to entertain the residents of Weehawken? (Staten Island and The Bronx sadly never rated anyway).
For me, this July Fourth was definitely an opportunity to celebrate my new-found independence courtesy of Lucille, so I observed it with my second Moonlight Ride in Central Park. The timing was perfect. The crowds were largely on the East River, and except for an elderly couple who had let their two old doggies off leash (I regret now that we didn’t all just stop for them, even though we rode carefully through), and who shook their fists at us cyclists for using pedestrian paths, we had Central Park all to ourselves. The air was crisp, a little on the chilly side - perfect for cycling. There were only about 25 of us, as opposed to 90 the last time. The ride was quiet and magical, muddy in spots from recent rain.
The route was actually similar to the first I’d taken. We stopped at the same place to take photos.
Does anyone remember The Liars Club? No, not the movie. The online humor group. I used to log on for awhile in the 90s (before Facebook became the distraction du jour) when I needed a laugh to break up the work day. They would put forth a slogan or a new statistic, and then vie for the wittiest remark about it (I tried to vie, but did badly). When the world’s population reached 6 billion, the remark I remember best was, “Original thought no longer possible.”
So here’s what the Belevedere looks like at night. I did't need to take this photo; someone else got there first.
Well, maybe not all the way up. I’m pretty sure the visit to The Block House circumvented at least half of the exertion of that hill; if I’m in that kind of shape, I should be riding in The Tour de France (set to start July 5).
But even if I’m not, every ride I learn something. For example, standard in group riding, we used the Point, Drop Sweep protocol and I learned that as the Drop, to stand across from the path you’re pointing to, not next to it. Otherwise you’re just another obstruction, in danger of getting run over.
As Americans, we love our independence, and there’s nothing better than exploring new terrain with Lucille, discovering parts of the City I never knew, in some cases, never even knew about. But there are some places, it’s just better to be in a group (Central Park at night for instance).
And let’s face it. As independent as we want to be, who really wants to celebrate The Fourth of July alone?
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