Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rebuild Staten Island

The Tri state area was hit hard by Sandy. I didnt see much evidence in downtown Brooklyn, but half of Manhattan lost power for a week. Even worse, areas near coast in south Brooklyn (sheepshead bay, the rockaways), Long Island and Staten Island were devastated.

Yesterday, me and two of my friends wanted to go down to the south beach area of Staten Island to see if we can help in any way. Its a quick trip on our bikes, over the Brooklyn bridge, down to the southern tip of Manhattan to catch the 9am ferry, and then a 6 mile ride to the affected area.

Kudos to Brian Heal who is organising one of the many grass roots efforts in Staten Island. His facebook page is helping to coalesce locals in the area. When we got there at 10am we could already see up to 30 people organising clothes, food and cleaning supplies.

We were initially sent off on our bikes to see if an area a mile away required any help. For the most part they had been affected but a local church group and the red cross were already present and nothing seemed critical. We went back to Brian to be re-deployed.

He sent us to Liberty Street were a lot of demo (demolition) work was going on. We helped out with a family whose house had been lifted off its foundations and their work garage needed emptying/salvaging.

The garage was stacked full of tools, building materials and two motorcycles. All of which is likely to be damaged beyond repair by the corroding salt waters. The water level here was almost at the ceiling - at least 8 foot high. These buildings were at least 400 foot from the sea shore.

The houses in this area remain without power and hot water due to the extent of the damage. There is likely to be a lot of demolition and rebuilding, but we saw that a lot of residents wanted to sell up and move away.

Piles of garbage removed from the shed and house.

A bike parking area on the beach buried by the storm surge

Monday, October 29, 2012

No cycling today please

Hurricane Sandy is currently bashing the Tri State area (and beyond) so it was a work from home day today, whoop.

No cycling - just lots of eating and watching Elemental on CBS (which shows a surprisingly high number of NRA anti Obama adverts).

Here is a quick picture from out of the window... very light traffic and some rain. I have seen a couple of brave cyclists out there (delivery guys!) but not for me.

Maybe back to biking towards the end of the week. (Before I put on 10 lbs)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gear Whore

So what else have I been doing in the last 4 or 5 weeks. Going nuts on amazon, bananas in REI and spazzy in bicycle habitat thats what... so far I have purchased the following:

From Amazon:
1 x Pace twill riding cap (seems a little small for my big head but good under the helmet)
1 x Skull cap (for when its chilly)
1 x Ten way spanner hand tool (to fit my mud guards - see below)
1 x 'Adventure cycle touring handbook' for light reading on the subway when it snows
1 x pair of Tenn lightweight waterproof trousers ($30! what a bargain)
1 x pair of Gore Mens overshoes (part two of my lower half waterproof outfit)
(approx $142 for this lot, gulp)

From REI:
1 x 24 oz Polar insulated water bottle
1 x set of front and rear 'planet bike' hardcore fenders (to keep my butt clean and dry in the rain)
(approx $50)

From Bicycle Habitat:
1 x set of two blue Ortlieb panniers 
1 x Bontrager pannier cargo netting
(approx $165 for panniers, $15 for netting, $40 to Port Jervis on the metro north)

I actually got the panniers back in July and they have been awesome every time I've used them. Totally waterproof and so easy to hook onto the rack. I bought these when I went on a cycle/camping trip with the boys to Port Jervis in NJ. 

The Bontrager rack netting thing works like a set of bungies and was very useful for holding down my tent and sleeping bag... heres some quick pics from that trip as I didnt write a post for that (I was in lazy mode):

Alleycats in NYC

So... I've only just become aware of alleycat races. POW - its eye opening - these guys are bonkers! Check out these vids on vimeo and youtube... (picture below taken as a still from this race vid!)

Takes real skill and nerve to be able to ride around a city like NYC, especially on a fixie and at that speed.

Apparently there is going to be a short race next Wednesday in the LES, if I get time I will try to go over and take some photos (no racing for me).

For more updates on when NYC messenger races happen keep a look out on this blog:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The ride is more than 6 months away but increasingly I am putting in some hours scanning other peoples past blogs on the trans am. The great thing is that so many people have done it over the past 20 years or so and detailed their trips. Makes my homework task pretty easy!

So far here are some of my top sites that I've been browsing this week and that I will be referencing in the coming months...
A fantastic site about a Canadian couple that travelled the world. Really solid tips on packing and equipment.
Another great blog - same trip as me but by a guy called Andy a couple of years ago. Good read and decent tips (can't read too much as I dont want to spoil any surprises!)
A decent site with some good testimonials. Some of the videos are a little on the long side but the advice is earnest and the tips helpful.
Another good blog by an Englishman on the TransAm.
A treasure trove of information. Very heavy to read in one go (think text book) but amazing that this guy Ken has put in over 40 years of experience into this site.

Definitely gets the mind going. I think the next thing is to start looking into putting some decent training  runs in.

p.s. Cool graphic total lifted from this site :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Filming along the Palisades Interstate Parkway

For Independence day me and my mate Spencer went on a quick 40 miler, up from Fort Greene, over BKYN bridge and up the West Side Highway, across the GWB and up the Palisades. A beautiful ride that is a lot of fun with a great tree filled environment once you're on the other side of the Hudson. 

A little shaky as I was using my pocket samsung camera in my hand whilst riding, maybe I will invest in a gopro cam before the cross country trip next year to get some more professional footage. For now its worth gambling on their 'everything we make' daily competition! Check in here to try your luck:

Still catching up...

And so even more happened over the summer...

Vancouver was a quick vacation destination in early June. One of the highlights was a quick weekend spent in Whistler whilst we were there. This is a fantastic mountain side resort which in the summer has a really vibrant downhill mountain biking community. Lots of equipment shops will rent out a range of bikes and kit for reasonable amounts for the day and lift passes are likewise affordable.

Extreme downhill and full face helmets aren't for everyone though (including Sonia) and so there are miles and miles of green routes too. These are great trails that take in a couple of large lakes and paths through the pinewood forest. Great for a few hours. We didn't see any bears on our ride though!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So theres been a bit of a gap, but now I am back!

Quite a gap since May 29th on my blogging. I chalk it down to exuberance and excitement at first putting the blog together and then an immediate crash once the realisation sank in that it is seriously hard work creating good copy! Even so, lets have a quick catch up and see where I am 4 months down the line from my first blog post...

Previously I was just about to attend the Tour de Brooklyn with a few friends. It was a perfect day with blue skies and warm temperatures. There were over 2000 people participating and the route took us down some main routes through Brooklyn.

I must say that for someone who lives in Brooklyn the route was not the prettiest. Most likely due to the numbers of cyclists that we couldnt take in the really beautiful cycle lanes along the Hudson. However we were allowed to go through Hamilton military base which is usually off limits.

Overall though I would say that the ride had too many stops (due to having to stop traffic) and was heavily congested. If you are from another borough and want to cycle around Brooklyn this could be a good ride for you (as long as you dont expect a fast ride or a deep workout). Still, the people make a good ride and I loved spending the day with my friends.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island Memorial ride

The best thing about memorial day is that its a public holiday in the US and it marks the start of the summer. For 2012 me and some mates took a quick jaunt down to Coney Island to take in the cycle lanes that go past the Verrazano Bridge (read Staten Island bridge) in the blazing summer sun.

Its an easy route, through Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook before we get onto the cycle lanes which takes us down into Coney. Check the google route here:

Only a few hours but the sun was strong so I now sport some touchy sunburn on my nose, arms and knees! Need to watch for that when I am on the TransAm.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tour de Brooklyn in 10 days

This will be my first time on the Tour de Brooklyn. This looks like a calm and relaxing way to see the borough of Kings. I can't imagine that it will be strenuous but it will be an interesting 21.5 miles. Bring it on! And at on $10 for non Transport Alternative members - a bargain.

Sign up now, it starts at 9.30am on Sunday June 3rd.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Trek 520 in my hands baby!

Whoop, just picked up my Trek 520 touring bike. A swift lap of Prospect Park for a test ride and then back to pay on plastic. Done and done. (With a quick picture opportunity in Gowanus)

So far it wasn't much of a ride, but in the 5 miles so far it feels responsive, solid and fast. Extremely happy and a concrete step towards the transam next year.


Back in NYC after a quick weekend visit to my brother in Fort Collins, Colorado. Such a beautiful state and I can't wait to return next year on the Trans Am.

I didn't get to ride this time but I was impressed by the cycling culture in all three towns I visited. Denver and Boulder both have established bike & ride schemes and cycle culture is really part and parcel of Fort Collins daily life.

Most impressive however was the New Belgium Brewery. Free tours and craft beer tasting mixed with history of their founders first beer-Fat Tire, conceived whilst on a European bike tour in Belgium on an early mountain bike!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New York City Bike to Work Day

Hey ladies and gentlemen - a heads up - its National Cycle to Work day tomorrow. If you are heading into Manhattan there will be fantastic 'Transportation Alternative' volunteers handing out free snacks on the bridges!

This is a good way to re-kick start my cycling to work habit. Its a good 9 mile warm up from Downtown Brooklyn to Midtown but I've been rather lazy of late. 

Check out the transport alternatives link for bike to work day here and also if you want to meet other commuters at Gorilla Coffee in Park Slope check out this link with more details.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

You want to do what...?

The TransAmerica bicycle trail is a 4,241.5 mile route through the heart of America. For me it will start in historic York Town, Virgina and end months later in Astoria, Oregon. I am promised from the adventure cycling association that I will ride through "ocean coastline, lush forests, high desert, mountain passes, snow-capped peaks, sweeping vistas, expansive plains, fertile farmlands, rolling hills, and wide rivers". An adventure of the truest sense. A reimagining of exploring the frontier, albeit on two wheels rather than a horse. For someone locked at his desk for the next 12 months saving money and day dreaming, an adventure to savour.

This is my blog site. I have just come back from my favorite bike shop in New York city after placing my deposit on a sleek Trek 520 touring bike. Pam at Bicycle Habitat in Park Slope swiftly helped me reserve a 57cm frame, to be built and purchased in full next week. As I have now made my $1,349 commitment I thought it would be good fun to chart my training progress and trip via this blog.

I am a novice cyclist at best, mainly riding around New York on an imported Chris Boardman SC single speed road bike. My single longest ride last year was the 140 mile ride to Montauk from Penn Station which was punishing on the SC. I have not riden such a distance close before or since so I know the next 12 months of training will be crucial. I am approaching 30 this year and am not overly fit or athletic. This ride will test my endurance, courage and will power to breaking point. Just what I need to break 8 years of office (read software development) routine.

So, here we are, the very first step in a long journey. Next week promises a new bike and the start of some serious training!