Thursday, May 22, 2008

Riding Through Fleet Week

As May loomed on the horizon, so did the part of my job that I kind of love the most. (Actually it is a love-stress relationship.) When I realized that obligations would keep me at work until late on the day before the long weekend, I started thinking of ways to avoid getting caught in traffic. My school is right by two of the bridges off and gridlock makes crossing the first avenue in my commute (First Avenue, strangely enough) a nightmare. (I've been stranded on the east side of it for over 20 minutes at times.) Finally, after rejecting driving and kind of rejecting the subway, I decided on biking. I would, through force of will, make the weather be nice on this one day in May.

That decided, I managed to move the bike into my daily commute by letting the kids choose between being dropped off at school over an hour early (versus the 10 - 40 minutes early that they are usually dropped off) or, taking the subway by themselves. They opted for the subway and I got to ride my bike. Rah!

For the first two weeks of this testing period (Advanced Placement exams), I rode 2 days each week. This week I rode partway home on Monday, took the subway on Tuesday (Mike had the car, I had to be at a performance starring Little Squid and ... it was raining) and I rode Wednesday and Thursday. I am, through sheer force of will, going to make the weather nice enough to ride tomorrow. Right?

I've played with my uptown route and think I have settled on taking 8th avenue (containing a bike lane) to Central Park and doing much of my uptown ride in the park.

The time in the park is heavenly. One long hill and some smaller "slopes" and no traffic lights. At least none that I stop for.

Coming home, I am now making my way to the park -- entering where I left in the morning -- and riding down the west side of the loop to the south end. This gives me 3 or 4 (maybe 5?) significant hills, including the Great Hill. I am now making it up the Great Hill without huffing and puffing. My breathing is faster but I am no longer panting when I reach the top.

My only problem with my ride home is that, this week, the wind has been really nasty. The gusts are coming from all directions and, once, between the wind and the helicopters (on the Hudson River path) I almost got blown over. I was blown to the other side of the path. Eek! Otherwise, the very act of pushing away from the school sends my stress flying off with the wind.

Yesterday, however, I had a different kind of stress as I got caught in the rain and then, got caught in sailors. Yup. I got caught in a sailor traffic jam. *grin*

Coming down the Hudson River path, just as I was breathing a sigh of relief as I entered the shelter of the piers, I had to slow down and then stop as I, and others, waited for a shipload of sailors to cross the path. After about five minutes (maybe it was only 2) of being polite, I finally, gently and politely, started working my way through to the other side.

Pedaling downtown I had to edge around crowds of Sailors and Marines, always calling my route and saying thank you as I passed. None of my usual New York edge to the groups taking up both lanes of the path. Nope, just a quiet feeling of hoping they weren't insulted as I made my way around them and wishing I could thank them all for everything they do for us.

It was a sobering mile.

It's Fleet Week in New York City. If you see one of our service men or women, give them a wave and a smile. We may not all agree on the politics of it all, but I hope we can agree that these Soldiers, Sailors and Marines deserve our respect.

Enjoy your weekend!


Cookie said...

You could have shouted "Make a hole!" and got through the crush. ;^)

I'm glad you got through the week in one piece. How odd that's been windy all over this week.


Kristen said...

How lucky you are to be able to ride to work, especially as fuel is now so expensive. Theoretically I could ride the bike to work, if I wanted to leave the house at 5:30 a.m. (23 miles each way.) Theoretically.