Tag Archives: bikes

Our Newest . . . Bike (?) and a Cross-Country Hero

Bike and Roll NYC has a new partner . . . ElliptiGO.  These “bikes” (for lack of a better word) are elliptical machines on wheels.  Imagine yourself on a bike, but instead of pedals your feet are moving forward and backward on platforms as they do on an elliptical machine.  You’re standing up, so you’re much higher than you are on a bike, your hands are on handle bars with hand brakes, and you have gears so you can really get moving or up a hill.  Unlike an elliptical machine at a gym, you’re not staring at a wall, a screen, a book, or a magazine, you’re out and about.  It’s surprisingly easy!

Our friend, Emily Banks, on an ElliptiGO for the first time — in 4″ heels. It really is easy!

We had the privilege yesterday of meeting Rick Hermelin, an amazing 71-year-old former Marine  who is going to cross the country on an ElliptiGO to benefit the Semper Fi Fund.  Starting from the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina on March 23rd, Rick is planning to ride across the southern tier of the US in 100 days and arrive at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.  The Semper Fi Fund gives support to injured Marines and their families during recuperation.  We are still a nation at war with many injured service men and women returning home to the harsh challenge of rehabilitation.  Rick’s journey is an honorable effort put forth by an honorable man.

http://100daysforthecorps.wordpress.com/about/

Rick likes even numbers.  He’s been running for 35 years and has completed 100 marathons, 100 half-marathons, and 100 10K races.  He doesn’t look a day older than 60.  He’s a lifelong athlete who knows how to take care of his body.  He’s one of the most centered people imaginable — caring, easy, gentle.

ElliptiGO is a southern California company trying to get their product better known in the East Coast market.  As part of their efforts, they have asked us to add several ElliptiGOs to our fleet of bikes and make them available for demonstrations and rentals.

So when Rick was asked to appear on Fox & Friends at their New York studio onFriday morning (and by morning, I mean real morning — 6am) to promote his journey for the Semper Fi Fund, we were asked to provide the ElliptiGOs, a couple of people to get the Fox & Friends hosts on and off the bikes, helmets, and general support.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/1496932801001/71-year-old-rides-cross-country-for-wounded-marines

The beautiful weather this winter has meant that our season has started earlier than usual.  Sixty degrees in March isn’t unheard of, but a long stretch of 60-degree days gets everyone thinking about bikes and riding the city’s parks and bike paths.  Translation:  the ElliptiGOs were still in their boxes as we got our other fleet built, tuned, and distributed.  But we jumped to it and got four ElliptiGOs built and ready for Rick’s appearance.

Fox & Friends is incredibly organized.  I got a call at home at 5:30am to be sure that everything was going as planned.  I explained I was only a 10-minute cab ride away and would be there on time (I got there at 5:45).  Rick was already waiting.  Two Bike and Roll assistants were there by 5:50 and the ElliptiGOs were ready to be unloaded from the truck, too.  The plaza next to the studio where we unloaded them was too inviting not to take a test ride.  As the sun came up we were riding and laughing and getting every passersby’s attention.

Rick was called into make-up at about 7:15, then mic’ed up at 7:20.  At 7:25 he was asked to go out to the plaza for a “teaser.”  He was joined by Brian Kilmeade who hopped on an ElliptiGO and rode like a pro.

Brian Kilmeade on his first ride on an ElliptiGO.

Anchors being anchors, no helmet was used, but we always recommend the use of a helmet . . . on a bike, on an ElliptiGO.  It’s just a wise habit to have.

After the teaser came the actual interview.  Rick was fantastic.  He’s a natural on camera.  What was a bit unexpected, though, was that Steve Doocy immediately joined Rick and Brian on an ElliptiGO.  The producer got on one, too.  The newbies were all immediate experts.  And the plenty-big plaza wasn’t big enough — suddenly they were going around to the 6th Avenue side of the building, out on the sidewalk, anywhere they could get some speed going.  I was glad it was still early and pedestrians were few and far between.  There was one near-collision by the corner of the building where there was no visibility, but no crashes.

Rick Hermelin being interviewed by Kilmeade and Doocy for Fox & Friends

Okay, so the coverage of Bike and Roll didn’t happen, but it did make it clear to us that the interest in the ElliptiGO is huge.

We packed up the bikes and helmets and headed off to our next stop — a media event for Rick at our Bike and Roll location at Tavern on the Green.  It was still quite early and no media reps were expected before 10am, so we got to spend some time with Rick in a nearby cafe and hear about his life and his journey to this incredible trek across the country.

Born in Mexico City, Rick moved to the US with his family when he was 7.  He grew up in Texas, then served a four-year stint in the Marine Corps after Korea and before Viet Nam.  He served in Laos.  As an athlete he became interested in physiology, which led to a degree in massage therapy.

“I’ve never felt pain,” he told us.  “It was only after I started to study massage therapy that I understood what other athletes felt.  The ElliptiGO has no pressure points, so it’s great for everyone.  If you can walk, you can ride one.”

Rick Hermelin at Tavern on the Green with the ElliptiGO bikes.

After we set up at Tavern on the Green, several people came over to try out an ElliptiGO.  One gentleman said, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but there’s just something really sexy about them.”

Once at Tavern on the Green, media reps from MSNBC and Fox News interviewed Rick.  It was fun to see them courteously stay out of each other’s shots.  When it comes to bikes, there is no politics.

http://maddowblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/10/10626237-sort-of-a-really-long-one-man-parade-for-injured-troops

After the interviews (where Rick was charming and informative — a natural), a man on an ElliptiGo road up.  Richard, also 71, and Rick struck up an immediate friendship and talked for about an hour.  Richard was looking for some advice on hills and Rick had it for him.  As they were chatting, another man on an ElliptiGO road past on the park drive.  I’ve seen an ElliptiGO twice in the past year, so seeing several independently seemed to imply some sort of harmonic ElliptiGO convergence.

The ElliptiGOs got so much attention that we left all four at Bike and Roll at Tavern on the Green.  If you want to try one, take one for a ride, or rent one for the day, come to our Tavern on the Green location, open every day from 9am to 5pm.  The weather is supposed to be in the 60s and even hit 70 next week, perfect for riding any bike:  Comfort, Performance, Race, tandem, or ElliptiGO!

Discover the North Fork

When I woke up on Sunday the sky was iron.  Clouds were everywhere, waves of gray and white, not a speck of blue to be seen.

“Oh no,” I thought to myself.  I was accompanying our North Fork tour, a 23-mile ride designed to introduce bicyclists to the scenic North Fork of Long Island.  One of the riders had sent me an email earlier in the week asking if the ride was rain or shine.  “It’s supposed to be a beautiful day,” I wrote back.  Confident in the predictions made by NY1 and weather.com, I refused to admit the possibility of rain and continued prepping for the ride.

Although I had ridden the route three times before (twice engineering the ride and once with a group), I was looking forward to this last tour of the season.  It was going to be a big group and everyone had been incredibly accepting of LIRR’s cancellation of its Mattituck train and were flexible about having to take the jitney or drive out.  A nice ride with a nice group . . . what could be nicer?

We were all on bikes and ready to go by 12:15 on Sunday.  One of our guests told me that her iPhone predicted sun by 1pm.

Making our way out of Mattituck, across 48 and onto Oregon Rd. was much easier than I had expected with a group this size.  Everyone was about the same skill level and all were attentive and cooperative.  We didn’t have any spandex jackrabbits who were more interested in clocking mileage than seeing the sites we’d selected.

We stopped at Sherwood House Winery first, handed out our locavore picnics, and settled at the tables scattered around the fire pit.  The merlot grapes hadn’t been harvested yet, so the vines still looked full and robust.  I’ll admit I’m a little bit of a wine snob.  I lived in northern California where the quality of wines one finds in the supermarket is better than the what one usually finds on the North Fork.  But I had tried Sherwood House’s cabernet franc, liked it, and given the delightful atmosphere of the French-style outdoor tasting room, it earned a place on our tour.

Leaving Sherwood House Winery after lunch on the North Fork tour.

The guests tried a steel-aged chardonnay and a merlot.  A few bought wine, which was carefully tucked into the bed of our sag truck.  Now that everyone had eaten, drank a little, and enjoyed the view over the vines, it was time to move on.  Plus, the sun was starting to peek out.  The iPhone weather app was on the money.

The next part of our route led past bucolic farms, potato fields, even a vast expanse of sunflowers.  Hurricane Irene had taken her toll on the sunflowers.  All their giant heads were bowed, but their faded beauty was still recognizable.  We crossed 48 again (at that point a divided highway) and rode along the wide shoulder at a healthy clip everyone could manage.

Catapano’s Goat Farm was our second stop.  I remember when Catapano’s was a tiny place with just a few goats.  I watched it grow until it outgrew it’s first location and relocated to where it is now.

There is a small shop with a large selection of goat milk products and a vast array of flavored (and plain) goat cheeses.  My favorite is the lemon-pepper (which gets consistent raves from our guests) and I never leave there without a chunk or two of the goat fudge, the taste of which falls somewhere between chocolate and dulce de leche.  Yum.    

We bought a couple of different cheeses as a snack for later, let everyone who wanted to say “hi” to the goats, got back on our bikes, and moved on.

The North Fork of Long Island, unlike the South Fork, was carved out by a glacier during the last ice age.  The North Fork is undulating and rocky, with lots of inlets and covers.  The South Fork, in contrast, is sandy and flat.

We rode for a few miles on these gently undulating hills until we reach Horton’s Lighthouse.  The lighthouse sits back from a cliff facing Long Island Sound and the southern shore of Connecticut.  The views are beautiful.  There’s a long staircase that goes down to a lovely beach full of pebbles and giant boulders that I’ve been climbing since I was a kid.  Several guests went down the long wooden staircase, enjoyed the view, collected some rocks, and headed back up when they were ready.

Horton's Lighthouse overlooking Long Island Sound

A few wandered over to the lighthouse, closed for the season, but beautiful in the way all lighthouses are beautiful.  A beacon shows one where to go (or not to go) and therefore offers reassurance.  Maybe that’s what makes them all beautiful; maybe it’s their proximity to water.  In any event, this lighthouse, too, is beautiful.

Mounted up again, we started going south, crossing the fork.  It was autumn, after all, so we stopped at Krupski’s farmstand, which was so loaded with pumpkins it looked like an orange wonderland.  It was the perfect photo op and we took lots of pictures of guests with pumpkins, gourds, and squashes.

A little further down the road we stopped at Pugliese Vineyards.  We pulled out the goat cheese and the extra baguettes from our picnic supplier.  Everyone was ready for a snack and the goat cheese was so delicious that it disappeared remarkably quickly.  Those guests who wanted to tasted a few more wines and purchased a few more bottles.  We sat at tables next to a pond occupied by giant koi with a great blue heron posing at its edge.

I liked that this particular tour group was interested in the history behind the Cutchogue Historic Buildings, our next stop.  The fact that Parker Wickham, the first large landowner in the area in the 17th century and whose house stands to this day in the common, still has descendants in the area fascinates me.  The North Fork feels more like New England than New York.  Peter Wickham’s house would fit in perfectly in Salem, Mass.

An autumn Sunday at Kimogener Point.

The next part of our ride took us to Peconic Bay, the south side of the North Fork.  We stopped at a spot overlooking Robin’s Island, with beaches in front of us, salt marsh behind us.  It was the golden hour and everything was bathed in beautiful light.  Everyone just sort of stood, chatting, enjoying the view, the weather, the fact that this was the perfect way to spend an autumn Sunday.

On our way again, we continued along Peconic Bay, passing one field filled with more Canada geese than I’d ever seen before.  We made our way to the Mattituck train station, and suggested to our guests that they take a stroll along quaint Love Lane before biking the last mile or so to where the jitney would pick up those who were riding it and where the others had left their cars.  It would be a few hours until they got back to the city.  Having a snack in hand seemed like a good idea.

Everyone said they’d had a wonderful time.  Several wanted to try our tours in New York City.  As always, our tour of Central Park seemed to have the greatest appeal, but many were intrigued by the idea of riding across the Brooklyn Bridge and exploring Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.

As far as the North Fork tour goes, we may be done for this season, but we’ve got April and May dates already loaded for next spring and even have a few bookings for them.  Spring will be a different experience, but it will be just as wonderful.

Autumn in New York

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.

 

Cyclist Culture: Pedaling Attitude

“Bicycle culture” with BikeSnobNYC, a Portland biking maven, and Bicycling Magazine.

Here’s the link.  Listen to the discussion aired yesterday on On Point from WBUR in Boston.

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2010/05/06/cyclist-culture

The comments following the article are interesting reading in themselves.  Then click the links to the guests’ sites for some apres-interview reactions.

America is car country, but bicycles and bicyclists are making their play for the roads.

There’s been a big surge in bicycle commuting. Maybe it’s you or your workmate rolling freshly-exercised into the office.

And then there’s the weekend distance rider and the off-to-the-market rider.

All the tribes: the roadie, the mountain biker, the messenger. And all the attitudes: the righteous cyclist, the lone wolf, the captains of contraption.

We’re talking this hour with New York’s famous “Bike Snob” blogger and a biking maven from Portland, Oregon.

Guests:

Loren Mooney is editor-in-chief of Bicycling Magazine. Their May issue ranks America’s Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.

Eben Weiss blogs at BikeSnobNYC.blogspot.com. He’s a racer, daily commuter, and former bike messenger. His new book is “Bike Snob: Systematically & Mercilessly Realigning the World of Cycling.”

Heidi Swift is a freelance writer. She writes the “Everyday Cyclist” column for The Oregonian. She blogs atGritandGlimmer.com.

 

 

New Yorkers are learning to love bike lanes . . .

Support for bike lanes is up a few pedal strokes as 59 percent of New York City voters say bike lanes are good because they are greener and healthier while 35 percent say they are bad because they increase traffic.

That compares to 56 – 39 percent support in a May 12 Quinnipiac University poll.

Support for bike lanes is over 60 percent in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx and    55 – 39 percent in Queens.  Staten Islanders say 53 – 38 percent bike lanes are bad.

“Warmer weather brings out more cyclists and more support for bike lanes – except on Staten Island,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

From July 19 – 25, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,234 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.