Every time I'm out on my bike, I wonder - why doesn't everyone do this? Biking makes you feel incredibly free. It's a reminder of childhood when nothing was more fun than riding bikes with your friends. And what could be more free than going 30 mph with your own two legs? (Ok, the only time I go 30 mph is on a steep downhill with the wind at my back, but you get the point)
But after wondering, I'm very quickly reminded why people don't bike, particularly in New York City. The city is a veritable obstacle course to a biker, even in designated recreation areas. Riding North on the Hudson River Park path I had to dodge roller bladers, baby strollers, joggers and other bikers, breathe in exhaust from the West Side Highway, avoid getting knocked down by the tornado-like winds coming off the helipad and try not to crash into huge crowds of tourists standing in the middle of the path near the ship terminal, oblivious to the fact that people actually bike and run on the path. But all of this is worth it to get to Central Park, the only decent place in Manhattan to bike in a relatively traffic-free and safe environment.
It took a bit of time to get to the park, but once there, my ride went very well. I was averaging 22.5 minutes per loop (6.02 miles) and felt strong on each. I'm not much of a hill climber, but I was able to keep up a faster pace than I could last season. Everything seemed just about perfect until my last loop, when Central Park served up the most troubling obstacle of the day - a confused squirrel attempting to cross the street. I saw him up ahead on a fast downhill so I slowed a bit. Just as I approached, he froze and then changed direction, running directly under my bike. I nearly crashed and let out an awful scream. Another biker said it was a close call and asked if I was ok. Sure, I was fine, but what about the squirrel? I stopped, rode back up the hill and I searched for him. I was delighted to not find him, which means he was ok and got off the road. What a relief. It was a lucky day for both of us.
Sport - Biking
Distance - 26 miles
Time - 1:46:06