04 September 2005

Battle of Brooklyn Bridge

One of the joys of life I have is bicycling. It's healthy, it doesn't pollute the environment, and it's a good way to hang out with my wife's nephews, H and C. Well, the last time we went biking, only C tagged along, as H had to hang out with his girlfriend.

So far this summer I've gone bicycling only once, with C along the Belt Parkway. Today, we cancelled the trip to the Hall of Science in Queens because of high gasoline price and H & C wanted to go bicycling. It would most likely be our last bike ride together this summer so I wanted to make it special. Instead of just another ride along the Belt Parkway, we went all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge AND crossed it. We got onto Shore Parkway South via 26th Avenue, went against traffic briefly then got onto the waterfront at Bay Parkway. At Owl's Head Pier we went by Owl's Head Park to Second Avenue. It was somewhat of a scary ride along Second Avenue on the weekend as the place was deserted. At 36th Street or thereabout we turned north to get to Third Avenue, as 28th Street and Second Avenue had been blocked off since 9/11. There is some jail at that junction and supposedly the government doesn't feel it's safe to keep the street open. At Prospect Avenue, we could have followed the Gowanus elevated highway but I felt it's safer to go along Third Avenue. A friend of mine, E, lived in the neighborhood so I decided to visit him. We turned south at Union Street, crossed some bridge over the Gowanus Canal, turned right at the first corner off the bridge, and turned left at Hackett. I didn't ring E's doorbell but he heard us talking and came out with his toddler daughter. Onward along Smith Street, we turned left at Livingston because I mistakenly thought at Hillary and Livingston we would see the majestic towers of the Brooklyn Bridge. Even at a few blocks away from the foot of the bridge, we only could see a tower of the Manhattan Bridge, nothing about the Brooklyn Bridge. So much for invoking feelings felt by immigrants of bygone years when they spotted the Statue of Liberty. At 3:45pm, some two hours and fifteen minutes from the time we started out in Bensonhurst, we were at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. We took some photos and then up the bridge we went. The ride up to the Brooklyn tower of the bridge was difficult and I ended up pushing the bike most of the way. H & C did a little better but still pushed their bikes near the end. I don't know how those people did it, but they were zooming up the bridge as if riding on an even road. We stopped at the Brooklyn tower to take pictures to commemorate the event. It took only fifteen minutes to cross the entire bridge. The trip down was somewhat scary as it was steeper than I thought. There were many pedestrians and some of them overstepped into the bike lane. There were many bicyclists going into Brooklyn, against our direction. Then there were those taunt cables holding the bridge up. It didn't help at all that my brakes weren't working properly - I had to use my feet to slow the descend.

Originally I thought about going back to Brooklyn immediately via the Brooklyn Bridge. By the time we crossed the bridge into Manhattan's City Hall area, we were too tired to even think of that. We skipped lunch and the trip had taken all of our energy. And the pain in the butt! Whoever invented bicycle had to have a small butt or was light enough not to feel pain while spending a long time on the bike. Feeling joyous but tired, we walked our bikes to Chinatown to use the toilet at the bookstore belonging to H's father, then bought a late lunch which we consumed voraciously in Eleanor Roosevelt Park. A friend of H, playing basketball in the park, came over to hang out with us and fetched soda for us. For the trip back, we rode the D train instead of our bikes.

Eighteen miles. Two and a half hours. We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on bicycles. What a great feeling.

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