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A Three Hour Tour

April 25, 2010
by

Beautiful Saturday in New York, so I figured I would get out and go for a little bike ride.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and despite the fact that they are attached (something it took a long time for me to absorb), I never knew much about Queens.  So in the interest of exploration, I headed over the 59th Street Bridge to Queens and tooled around Long Island City a bit.  Really not a bad neighborhood at all.  Something I came across I hadn’t thought about in decades.  Does anyone remember the Floating Hospital?  It was, and I guess still is, a, well, floating hospital (I didn’t actually pass the ship, but I passed their offices).  If I recall correctly it would sometimes dock at the South Street Seaport, and I’m pretty sure that my aunt once volunteered to work on it.  As you will later see, I ended up being lucky I didn’t end up needing the floating hospital.

Then I continued north in Queens until I dead-ended (is that a word?) into an enormous Con Ed facility and headed east on 20th Avenue through Astoria.  I rode right past the Live Chicken Meat Market.  I wish I had a live chicken meat market in my neighborhood.  We used to have a Chinese restaurant around the corner that had what they called “fresh killed chicken” that you could order on request, that was extra-good.  I also recall hearing stories as a kid of my great-grandmother buying live chickens and keeping them in her basement in Bensonhurst until she was ready for them (I’m not entirely sure those stories were true).

Next, I headed back north again and ran right into the Rikers Island bridge.  Discretion being the better part of valor, I turned tail and got the hell out of there.

From there it was all the way south, back to the East River, passing the Steinway & Sons piano factory and, of course, the Ferrari Driving School.  It always surprises me when I remember that Steinway is in Astoria.  The driving school was pretty funny because there was a roving crew on motorcycles wearing those MTA-like safety vests and cruising around like they were going to escort a motorcade somewhere.  (I was too scared to get a picture of them.)  I then realized that they were escorts/protection for the idiots taking motorcycle lessons at the Ferrari.

Then south along the river.

And here’s a nice view of the Blackwell/Roosevelt Island lighthouse from the Socrates Sculpture Park.  Now I like sculpture as much as the next guy, so long as the next guy isn’t some freaky sculpture fanatic, but I’m not sure I really understand this place.  It’s a scrubby scraggly piece of grass and dirt that has lovely views, and some strange sculptures.  I don’t get it.

From there I kept heading south, tooled around the warehouses by the Midtown Tunnel (Fresh Direct, etc.) and then headed to Brooklyn over the Pulaski Bridge.  Quick tour of the quickly-turning-hipster ‘hoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and then over the Williamsburg Bridge (which is full of aforementioned hipsters, and quite a few streimels, on Saturday afternoon).

When I got to the Lower East Side things got a little hairy.  I turned down 12th Street (I think) from Avenue B to Avenue C, cruising alongside cars that were stopping for a red light at the corner.  I went over a sewer grate on the side of the street, my back wheel got stuck, bringing me to an abrupt halt, and when I put my feet down to get my balance, the back tire (which was wedged into the grate) popped off, and I fell in front of a nice black SUV that was waiting at the red light.  I was fine but for a scraped knee and bruised pride, some nice older men from the neighborhood tried to help me put the bike back together, to little avail, but I did manage to get it rolling so I could walk it to a bike shop.  I found these helpful folks at the Continuum Bike Repair Shop on Avenue B who, even though they thought I was a complete moron for having shoved my back wheel into the derailleur, and having the wrench for my bike just hanging out of the front wheel, fixed the bike up and sent me on my way.

So to sum up, a beautiful ride on a nice day, a little adventure, and I didn’t die.  What more can you ask from your Saturday afternoon?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 1:54 pm

    Nice ride. Good route and I’m with you about Socrates. Far and away the best part of the place is the jagged and collapsing shore with it’s view of Manhattan. The sculpture, eh.

    Queens is a strange place to ride, I still don’t get it and end up lost quite a bit when I’m riding out there.

  2. jco permalink
    April 25, 2010 7:49 pm

    All in all, a productive ride (particularly avoidance of death) but if you are going to criticize the sculptures at Socrates, you could at least post a photo so that the rest of us can see for ourselves.

  3. Fat Al permalink*
    April 25, 2010 11:26 pm

    Apparently the Times was also interested in the Socrates Sculpture Garden today: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/nyregion/25stop-ready.html

    If you’re nice, maybe I’ll show you my other picture from the Socrates. Very nice.

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