There are days when having to hop on a bike for work is an incomparable perk. I got to do it yesterday and I get to do it again today.
Let’s back up a little. It’s mid-October, the midst of Autumn, we’re in the Northeast, and there have been years when searching for gloves before leaving the house is part of this time of the season.
But I’m looking out at a clear blue sky with temperatures nudging 70. Yes, I am worried about climate change, but today I’m focusing on a ride through Central Park and upper Manhattan as the leaves start to change.
There’s something about exploring the city on a bike. We’re looking for something special to offer our customers this fall — something that will let them take advantage of the weather, the smaller number of tourists, and all the bike paths and bike lanes at our disposal.
First Central Park . . . The big loop in Central Park takes you all the way north past the Conservatory Gardens and the Haarlem Meer, then up the big hill past the North Woods (where a search for screech owls at dusk can end with threatening growls from raccoons). I stop at the Conservatory Gardens (still lovely despite the fact that their spring and summer blooms are gone) and walk my bike past the Haarlem Meer where a flock of Canada geese are resting on their migration south.
Then on to St. John the Divine. I lock my bike up and go inside. The soaring space never fails to amaze me. I could be in any of the great cathedrals of Europe, but instead I’m here in New York.
It’s just a short hop to Columbia where I wander into the quad, find a bench, and watch the students hurrying to and fro as I perform a quick electronic check of emails, texts, and messages. It’s a beautiful scene of very formal architecture with lots of columns set against so many young people dressed in casual clothes and enjoying casual conversation.
The bike lanes take me over to Riverside Park and Grant’s Tomb, another imposing edifice with columns and a dome. It’s open to the public most days and I go inside. Although this native New Yorker has actually been to the Empire State Building (when visiting friends insist) and the Statue of Liberty (via a field trip), I’ve never been inside Grant’s Tomb. The mosaics are beautiful and there’s a sense of timelessness appropriate to the memory of a war hero and president. A park ranger is giving a talk and I listen in for a while.
Familiarity with the soccer fields in the area (I am an American with kids, after all) means I know how easy it is to get to the Greenway bike path. The sky is still blue, the water is still warm, and the slight headwind is refreshing rather than forcing me to shift down.
There are sailboats with their shrouds clanging against their metal masts, one of my favorite sounds in the world. I’m in the middle of New York City, but I can hear it. Ships are heading up the Hudson; a barge is heading down. Most of the bike traffic seems to be heading in the opposite direction from me and the riders are aware and polite.
Oops. Got to run. I’m off to meet a co-worker in Central Park. Another ride awaits.