Noah rode his bike through NYC
by Noah Kotlarek
‘Twas 10 PM on a Sunday night in Loyola Hall when the announcement was made. Classes were to be cancelled the following day, Monday, March 4th –snow day. With my homework complete, I would be afforded an extra twenty-four hours to live my life exactly as I pleased. Adventure, not sleep, was what I desired. I pulled up Google Maps on my laptop, scanning for “near-by” towns to visit, and my eyes landed on Montréal. Previously, I had spontaneously ventured to Coney Island and New Haven on school nights with my friend Ben. Québec could not be that much further. Besides, my cousin goes to McGill, perhaps there would be enough room in her apartment for an overnight guest. On the Grey Hound website, I found a bus leaving from Penn Station in an hour. I could make it. But alas, my Canadian adventure was cancelled. Unfortunately, my passport was in Houston.
Despite this terrible inconvenience, my hunger for adventure would not go unquenched. I left the lounge, went up to my room, and began preparation for tomorrow’s snow day expedition, a 7 AM to 10 PM seventy-mile cross-borough and trans-Long Island bicycling bonanza. Once the jackets, gloves, helmet, and speedometer were collected, I went to bed.
The next day I arose at 6 AM. Descending the icy stairs of my humble abode, Hotel Loyola, I worried about the slippery sidewalks I was soon to cycle. With no particular path in mind, I unlocked my mountain bike and set forth upon my indirect route to Hicksville, Long Island. What a fool I am.
Spinning, sliding, and slipping are all verbs I familiarized myself with as I bicycled southbound down Grand Concourse. It was truly a new experience in my cycling career. Pedaling on ice and snow is a constant fight to keep the front wheel straight and a test in forearm strength. But once you’ve gotten the hang of it, it becomes quite exciting. It requires only just enough concentration that you can easily forget how slick the road really is and are quickly reminded by a brief vasoconstricting bronchiole-dilating wheel-sliding scare.
Once I reached the Bronx-Manhattan border, I crossed into Harlem via the Madison Ave. Bridge. Down 5th Avenue southbound I continued as my wet-from-slush toes entered hypothermia. Nonetheless, there was a smile on my face, expectant of the uncharted New York boroughs and Long Island villages I would tour that day.
Though Fordham was closed, the city was not asleep. At 8 AM, through the slush and snow couriers, delivery bicyclists, and recreationalists joined me at my flanks in the 2nd Avenue bicycle lane. Together, we endured the cold splashes of icy water erupting from beneath the wheels of metro buses and the blaring honks of anxious taxi cab drivers.
On 1st Street, I took a left crossing the Williamsburg Bridge out of Manhattan and into the unknown: Brooklyn. Brooklyn was nice; from there I headed vaguely northeast towards Nassau County after warming my toes in a Starbucks. I pedaled through Queens towards Flushing Meadows-Corona Park where I crossed Grand Central Parkway on a snow-covered pedestrian bridge, admired the lake and Soviet-like New York State Pavilion and indulged myself to some puddalage. Few experiences provide the same childlike joy as bicycling through puddles at full speed. It’s a complete experience: the speed of the bike, the reeling sound of the sprocket, the splashing muddy water, and the carefreeness of it all and it exemplifies the freedom of the bicycle. In the puddles, there is no concern nor rules. The clothes can be washed later.
But the bliss soon turned into concentration, analysis, and tactical decision-making and I searched for ways to cross Meadow Lake into Long Island. There appeared only be highways for automobiles to traverse this lake. After pointlessly pedaling up hills and regrettably riding up highway ramps my denial of passage ended when I found Meridian Road, left NYC and entered Long Island.
As I road along the snowy sidewalks of the Long Island Expressway’s feeder roads at 10 AM the sun came out and my toes thawed out. Soon I was in the Garden City, then a less populated area with a lack of civilization and restrooms…
At this point in the journey, my life was at most risk. My bladder demanded relief and with no restrooms, I had to take extreme measures. I found a seemingly deserted park and a tree. During the relief a car roared by, its horn blaring. I finished and began walking towards my bike which I had left closer to the road. When I was half way to my bike I noticed my glove forgotten by the tree and a car quickly reversing towards me. To reach the glove I would have to pass by the reversing car, afraid it was the honking driver my body began to quiver. As I passed the car, the window rolled down. I turned to it expecting a sawed-off shot gun pointed at me. Instead, a calm librarian-looking lady: “You dropped your glove.”
By 3 PM, I was in Hicksville. I charged my dead phone at the gas station and ate $8 Manicotti in the parking lot. Finally, it was time to return to Fordham. I headed northwest from Hicksville as I planned to enter the Bronx via Throggs Neck. I rode through Westbury, Roslyn, and Manhasset. But once I hit Great Neck at 6PM, my situation quickly decayed. The sky turned black and my phone died. After failing to follow the directions of three gas station attendants I abandoned by Throggs Neck approach and headed towards the illuminated Manhattan riding along the waters of Flushing Bay. I passed by LGA and Astoria, unable to find a crossable bridge to Manhattan. After many dead ends and much stress, a sign for Roosevelt Island appeared. I hopped on the tram, landed in Manhattan, rode to LC, and drained all the cash in my wallet and enjoyed an 11PM Monday-night feast in an empty Italian restaurant. A huge grin was plastered on my face.