This past weekend, my best friend, my best friend’s mom and I biked a grand total of 43 miles in the NYC TD 5-Boro Bike Tour. Impressive, no? Especially considering we aren’t, ahem, the most physically fit bunch out there. But we all survived. The race organizers sent me my “photo package” today and let me tell you, if ever there was a motivation to get fit, this photo package (which I will NOT be purchasing) was it. Me pedaling up a bridge around mile 30 just isn’t a pretty sight. I decided not to take any pictures during the event because I didn’t want to worry about anything but finishing the ride and enjoying the process…finish I did, but enjoy? Kind of, I guess. The first 10 miles through Manhattan were amazing, mostly because Manhattan is amazing and Manhattan without traffic is even more amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that good, just this high-on-life, everything-is-great kind of feeling. I happily rode through downtown, midtown, Central Park, uptown and then Harlem before crossing over into the Bronx. I was feeling really good until about mile 15 when it suddenly dawned on me that I had 25 more mile to go. But we made it and I have to admit I felt pretty proud of myself at the end. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that kind of pride and sense of accomplishment.
When we weren’t biking, we spent most of our time walking around New York, mostly Brooklyn and lower Manhattan. Even though I don’t think I’d ever actually want to live in New York (really, I think I’d love it if it weren’t for all the people….) I thoroughly enjoy being a tourist there. It’s a great, dynamic, layered, vibrant, moving, changing, all-important kind of place and it’s hard not to feel energized when you’re there. I completely understand why so many people think it’s the center of the Universe. I haven’t visited too many cities with New York level density, culture and diversity, so to me, it’s an utterly unique and awe-inspiring place. It’s just got a certain quality that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.
Here are some of my New York observations from this past weekend:
1.) NYC might be the (arguably) the greatest place on earth, but it’s crazy expensive. What will a two-day weekend cost you? Over $600 for two nights at a modestly upscale hipster-inspired hotel with tiny rooms in a not-so-attractive Brooklyn neighborhood; $60 per night to park our rented truck in a shady-looking parking lot run by a short, white-haired wiry man named Vic, complete with stereotypical New York accent, $9 beers at mid-range tavern-type place and $20 for a four mile cab ride. D.C isn’t exactly cheap, but NYC brings it to a whole new level.
2.) Some parts of Bogotá look better than NYC. And I’m talking strato 3 Bogotá. Manhattan is beautiful and shiny and relatively well-maintained, but some parts of the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island looked downright bleak. Gray, treeless, broken down, dilapidated sidewalks and all…dismal, really. You kind of forget there’s a whole New York out there beyond Manhattan. I know there are some perfectly lovely Bronx/Queens/Brooklyn/Staten Island neighborhoods, but there are some that make you feel a little like you’re in a moderately depressing Latin American city.
3.) There are so many people in New York. The city holds the entire population of the state of Virginia in a 300 square foot area. That’s insane. It’s amazing that a city with that kind of density can function.
4.) Porter potties suck. I’m sure you all knew this. There were hundreds along the route and all I have to say is someone out there needs to find a way to update/modernize the porter potty. It just isn’t humane.
I didn’t take any pictures during the ride, but I did take a couple before the race and from the back of a few cabs we took