August 4th marked the beginning of New York City’s summer streets. Every Saturday during August, the city closes the streets between Foley Square by the Brooklyn Bridge and Park Ave. and 72nd St., which runs right into Central Park.
Last year was my first time taking part in the ride, just shortly after purchasing my Dahon Eco 3 folding bike. I woke up early rode from the World Trade Center and stopped along the way to pick up a free bike helmet to replace the old one I got from my brother. By the time I arrived at Central Park, my brother and his friends were just leaving Jersey City, which gave me plenty of time to ride a loop around the park. When they finally arrived at the park, I had been waiting in the shade for a while, and they convinced me to take another loop around the park before heading back downtown. In all, I rode about 22 miles.
This year I didn’t ride quite as much. I didn’t wake up nearly as early as last year (it’s a little difficult waking up early when I work nights), and I encountered a few other problems. I met a coworker downtown in the heat and humidity (I swear it wasn’t nearly as humid last year) and we took a leisurely ride up to Central Park.
One of the coolest parts of the ride is the point at which Park Ave. goes around Grand Central Station. When the street is open to traffic, it’s not really possible to get these photos without getting screamed at by angry drivers.
As we began our ride around the park, I got a call from my coworker. I thought he was just riding slow; turns out his chain came off as he tried changing gears. I turned around to try to fix his rented bike. Unfortunately, the chain was wedged behind the wheel guard and we couldn’t fix it on our own. There was a bike rental stand in the park across the street, but even they couldn’t help us, which meant we had to take the bike back to 55th St.
Unfortunately, because the chain was wedged behind the wheel guard, the rear wheel wouldn’t move, which made it difficult to move along the street. I figured out a way to use my rear bike rack to tow the broken bike.
After returning the bike to the rental shop, I headed back downtown to the World Trade Center. Unfortunately, after 1 pm the city reopens Park Ave. to traffic, which makes it much more dangerous to ride along. To avoid that hazard, I took a roundabout route mostly down 5th Ave. There was plenty of traffic blocking my way, and I managed to move between the stopped cars to make it back to the PATH station much faster than if I had driven.
Weather permitting, I will try to take the ride again this month. I’ll do my best to return to the PATH station before 1 p.m.