Luggage Tours, Trails & Group Rides

Picnic on the Greenway

When Basil came into New York City for his repair, the job was done in the flash of an eye.  In the meantime, my schedule changed, and we were able to stay over one more night. We made good use of the time, especially since the weather was so cooperative.

We headed north a bit and passed the entrance to the George Washington Bridge — and ran into our first bike lane impediment of the day.

For the entire time it took us to ride three blocks (and wait at one stoplight) two women stood behind their SUV chatting.

Needless to say, they (and the SUV) were still there when Basil and I arrived — at which point I noticed that there had been a driver in the SUV all the time.  That made squeezing between the SUV and traffic all the more problematic, since the bike-lane-hogging driver was, obviously, not going to watch for cyclists if he decided to open his door, or, finally, to pull away.

I’m a motorist, too, and I just don’t think it’s all that hard to share. Really.

On this excursion, Basil was outfitted with my homemade S bag flap.  Weirdly, Basil’s bag flap got got more attention on this visit than did Basil.  We’re not used to that! (One person wanted to know if those were real merit badges; I had to confess that they were actually Demerit Badges!)

I  love the view through this tunnel, especially in early summer:

It’s the gateway to my favorite bridge.

I saw more Brompton bicycles on this trip than ever before — I lost count at around fourteen — which was so much fun!

This cyclist was just getting used to her brand new B. She’s an experienced rider who keeps a bike in another state — something serious. (I don’t remember what, but the “serious” part stuck with me — maybe it’s carbon fiber?)  She wanted something she could easily keep in the city, given the natural constraints of apartment living.

When in NYC, I often consider the merits, or lack thereof, of the cycling chic-vs-spandex-cycle-apparel-arguments.  I couldn’t help admiring how brilliantly this woman — whether intentionally or not — managed to look, well, chic, while wearing actual cycling threads.  And her shirt is about as close to high vis as one can get without going all the way.  There’s no recreational/commuter/road racer clothing kit argument here; there’s no fight to pick!

At the Fairway Market right off the East Side Greenway (at 130th Street) I automatically put Basil and his S bag into a cart before I realized that we’d arrived so early on a weekday morning that the store was deserted (by NYC standards).  I quickly sprung my Brompton, put him into shopping trolley mode, and we continued on our way.

Ahhh . . . Fairway, how I love thee!  (About thirty minutes later, this aisle, and all the rest, were not nearly so clear.)

Just above the front of Basil’s bag is one of the most wonderful things Fairway sells:  grilled artichoke hearts.  I planned to picnic next to the Hudson River, so I thought “why not?” and packed up just enough for lunch.

Across the aisle is the olive oil and vinegar bar, with tasting stations.  I don’t know much about olive oil (or vinegar, for that matter), but I do consume both.  On a whim, I tried the Italian Saba vinegar . . . and was transported in an entirely different way than when on two wheels. The flavor is that of a rich, deep Balsamic reduction.

It also costs like wine. I didn’t care.  I bought two bottles: One to take home, and one for The Manhattanites, with whom I stay when in NYC.  Basil’s S bag has two huge pockets on the back side, just made for Saba vinegar.  See the gold caps?  The bottles are sealed like wine; I assume that’s no accident!

With a fresh baguette fitted securely beneath the S bag’s flap, Basil and I set off to find a picnic site.

OK, the view of New Jersey isn’t exquisite here, but the river is lovely, and the shade most welcome — and the sky just got better and better as we sat.

What a tasty impromptu sandwich: a fat, flavorful artichoke heart mashed into a bit of perfect crusty bread!  I wanted to open one of the Sabas to add a splash, but figured that cycling with one open bottle might push my luck even further than cycling with two closed ones.

(Saba, as I learned later, is an amazing dip for strawberries. Fairway also recommends  it over ice cream, which could be just incredible.)

I had some company while I dined (along with Basil, of course):

She was pretty shy, but her mate, though apparently far bolder, was also quite courteous, and, once it was clear I wasn’t sharing, left me to my meal. (Love that little teal flash on her wing!)

This is the thing about New York City: sights like these (ducks and boats and sky) are never far away.

Also, there’s always something going on.  That’s a large dog, below, in a flotation vest, being escorted from a sailboat — the Ishtar —  to a nearby harbour.

I’m guessing he’s got a pretty good life, not only because he’s clearly enjoying the ride, but because of the unusual markings on the ship from which he came.

The figures on the side may be something else (lions or their kind?), but they look suspiciously like a stylized canine and feline to me.

Everywhere I looked, the view was serene.

I was feeling pretty serene myself by the time Basil and I set off again.   Along the way, we met this smiling couple, who were visiting from France.  They aren’t on CitiBikes, but rented from another company.  CitiBike is not designed for tourists (or even occasional use, though that’s possible); its lending schemes are really only attractive to subscribers.

The requirement that they be docked every so often (45 or 30 minutes) make the blue bikes unsuited to recreational cycling.  I was surprised, then, to see a fair number on the West Side Greenway — especially since there are no docking stations on the Greenway itself.

The Department of Sanitation’s Potemkin façade is particularly hilarious when backed with a surreal blue sky and such dream-like clouds.

We ventured off the Greenway onto city streets not long after the noon lunch hour; by that time, it was clear that CitiBikes were getting a lot of use.

It’s really too bad that nothing of this sort can be managed without a corporate logo; wouldn’t it be far nicer if these roving ambassadors advertised New York City?  Nonetheless, the bikes are indisputably a good thing, and great addition to city life.

Basil and I admired the big blue bike, and went on our way; there’s more, but this is quite enough for one post.