Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Perils of Forgoing that Early Morning Ride

Yesterday morning I put off taking my bike ride along the Hudson River until 11 AM, instead of heading out at about 7 or 7:30. Doing so is fraught with peril. Here's why.

First, you have to eat multiple breakfasts. If you wake up at, say, 6:30 and plan to ride at 7, it is good at least to eat a yogurt. But then, if you let too much time go by - more than an hour or two - you really should eat again in order to have enough energy stored for a ride of reasonable length. So you help yourself to a hearty bowl of cereal. But because the New York Times is so interesting still more time passes until it it close to 11 and you realize even more energy food is called for, so you down two handfuls of peanuts and raisins. During all this time, you're also drinking plenty of water and digesting that daily dose of morning prunes, which leads to even more delays and second thoughts. Finally, at about 11 AM, you head out.

Second, by 11 AM, getting to the bike path is complicated by increased traffic. True, the ride or walk to the path is quite short, but weaving among the cars and waiting impatiently for the two or three lights to change that must be adhered to, adds to stress and heightens the sense that the day is getting away from you.

Third, and most obvious of all, by 11 AM, everyone is already out there! Thousands, it seems are walking their dogs, fathers and sons are slowly dragging their baseball gear home, tennis players are rushing to their reserved courts, and multiple groups of thirty-somethings (the twenties are still asleep) enjoy strolling along the shore at a tortoise-like rate as they regale each other with their tales of drinking and carousing from the night before. Worst, are the other bikers. A few are going much too fast, seemingly jeopardizing everyone's well-being, especially mine. But most of the bikers are on rented vehicles and are so slow and lumbering in both directions on paths already clogged with dozens of unmindful pedestrians that you are driven to distraction waiting to find an opening that allows you to get into the clear. Then for a few moments you sit up high on the pedals, churning as fast as you can, until you run into another traffic jam that makes you go through this same infuriating process of waiting and breaking free all over again.

Not ideal conditions for riding, but, you have to admit, there is an underlying joy in the whole experience resulting from the realization that so many people are eager to take advantage of the outdoors and that New York City has shown such good sense in committing itself to creating, maintaining, and even expanding its many beautiful parks.

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