Monday, November 10, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 7: That coffee shop right next to NYC Velo, Gotham West...or is it?

Ride 7: November 8 / Darling Coffee / 17.1 miles / Coffee Black & Chorizo Frittata

It all comes down to this.  The epic 7th ride.  When completed, I can throw my hands in the air, scream at the sky, and declare my domination over NYC because I rode my bike to get coffee seven different times.  No cabs, or terrible weather, or crazy skyscraper wind, or SUVs that don't know how to use mirrors, or salmon in the bike lanes, or marathons, or poor route selections...nothing could stop me.  HAHAHAHA.  Wait...did I just jinx myself?

It was about 11am when I woke up.  I am not what you would call an "early riser."  I also know that the coffeeneuring rules dictate a ride distance of two miles.  I am not ashamed to say that I had saved some pretty low-hanging fruit for my last ride.  There is a bike shop called NYC Velo, and they rock.  They have two locations, one very close to Standings (which my two readers will appreciate), and one that is on my side of town, next to the USS Intrepid (CV-11).  Click here for everything you need to know about the Fighting "I."  I love a good trip to the Intrepid, and the bike shop has a coffee shop right next door.  This is also about 2 miles away from home.  Win-Win.

It was also 42 degrees outside.  Did I mention how I was really excited for a short ride? 
Yeah! Short Ride!
I don't know what happened.  I didn't even get a mile away from home.  I just hopped on the bike, was enjoying the sunny day, the legs felt good, and I needed a longer ride.  So, I did something I've never done before.  I went North.  (That's not exactly true, I've ridden North before, and I've been farther north before.  Lots of my family is from Minnesota. I just don't have a reason to go farther north on Manhattan from my place...ever.)
What I actually did.  Complete with turnaround.
9.0 miles
I was headed to Darling Coffee.  I had heard good things about it.  And it's just about as far north on Manhattan as you can go.  There really isn't a reason to go there unless you live up there.  Also, I had never ridden past the GW Bridge, so I was curious about what the bike path does up there.

More motivated bike riders than myself actually ride over to New Jersey (the left side) and go ride there.
Some of them ride far enough North to ride BACK into NY.  Wrap your brain around that.
It's a car-free path all the way along the river.  There are some spots where the bikes have their own lanes, some where bikes and peds share the path, but it's a very easy ride, and beautiful scenery next to the river.

Crossed under the GW bridge, and there is a very steep hill.  I made it up the first part no problem, but the 2nd part is even steeper, and my bike only has one gear.  52/17 for all the gear nerds out there.  And the 52 is a Biopace chainring.  There was no way I was making it up, so I walked.  Sorry, folks.  I felt even worse when a couple guys in spandex team kits and carbon bikes passed me while walking.  Sure, they were in their granny gear, but it still hurt.

At the top of the steep hill, it keeps going up for a while, and encounters a nice little patio with columns.

Romans love upper Manhattan.
Unfortunately, this picture doesn't do justice to how beautiful the leaves looked on the Palisades.

I kept going and hit a dead end.  Apparently that bridge isn't finished for bike use. But that's ok, it was time to head back onto city streets.


Down a staircase and back onto the streets. 

A very important intersection.
If you don't get it, ask a friend.
A turn here, a turn there, and I was at Darling Coffee.

Outside Darling Coffee

Great shop, bike parking everywhere, right on Broadway.  Not sure if that's a good thing, but lots of foot traffic, so I'm sure it's great for the shop.

Inside is very spacious and open, bright decor, kind of my idea of what would happen if an iPod and a Coffee shop had a business baby.  They also don't allow computers on the weekends during their busy hours, so there was no problem finding seating.  That was pretty awesome.  I didn't really feel like any fancy drink, so I went with a coffee black...and the chorizo frittata.  What can I say? I turned a 4 mile ride into a 17 mile ride. I was hungry.

Just what you need when it's in the 40s outside.

Both delicious.  Really really good.  I then looked at my watch and realized it was 345pm (that's 1545 hours if you were serving on the Fighting "I".)  It also was a bad sign, since it gets dark here at 430pm (1630) these days. 

Back home!  I took the same route home.  I realize I said before how I think that's lame, but the alternate route home this time involved a lot of streets instead of a ride along the river, so I opted for the scenic route, redundant as it was.
The ride home.  8.1 miles.
Going down that steep hill was AWESOME!  The headwind riding back downriver was not.

I rode pretty fast going home trying to beat the dark.  Close to home, the city just added new bike lane markings on the 79th st roundabout; they make getting on the Hudson River Greenway downright easy compared to riding through Riverside Park.  I really do like that addition.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.  Later that night I would go on to watch a CU Buffs game and sing karaoke at a BYOB karaoke bar in K-town.  "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen may or may not have been belted at the top of my lungs.
Karaoke in K-town.
My bocce friends are either extremely excited about the song, extremely mad about something I said...
or both.
Ride 7: check.  Thanks to Mary at ChasingMailboxes for the awesome challenge. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Coffeeneuring Ride 6: Sweetleaf Coffee & Espresso Bar

Ride 6: November 2 / Sweetleaf Coffee & Espresso Bar / 16.6 miles / Coffee Black x2 & Blueberry Bran Muffin

I had big hopes of getting two rides in this weekend...but Friday was Halloween and Saturday was cold, windy, and rainy.  My two readers will recognize by now that it was not a favorable riding combination.

So, Sunday it is!  Guess what also happened Sunday?  The NYC Marathon.

For those of you who don't know, NYC hosts a marathon every fall that hits all 5 boroughs of New York City.  There is a map below.  It also SHUTS DOWN every road it touches and causes traffic chaos through many parts of the city.  And it isn't one of those "Oh, I can cross if I need to!" kind of Closings.  It's a "Woah, that officer is going to tackle me. Bummer." kind of road closings.  It's a human flood of people stumbling 26 miles.  It really puts my 16 mile bike ride in perspective. 
NYC Marathon Route
So, this was obviously going to be a challenge to figure out where I could go that would not be affected by the marathon.  I was torn, however, since I do have a couple of friends (aquaintances? enemies?) running in the marathon, and I wanted to watch and shake a cowbell at them.  So, one of my bocce friends recommended a coffee shop in Queens that is right along the route:  Sweetleaf Coffee and Espresso Bar.

Sweetleaf is right at the base of the Pulaski Bridge, and you may remember from my previous rides that I have traveled over the Pulaski Bridge a number of times, so I know how to get there.  
Marathon Route, Sweetleaf is the star.  Consider the RED line as Lava - no crossing.
I knew the Marathon runs over the Queensboro Bridge, but I figured that they'd have at least one of the pedestrian paths open for people who wanted to walk back and forth from Manhattan to Queens, so I was planning on taking that over, and then winding my way through West Queens around the marathon route. 

Great plan.  It was in the low 40s, and windy, so I dressed up in much warmer layers than every other weekend.  I hopped on the trusty Surly and started riding to Sweetleaf.  Every other street on Columbus was closed heading towards the park, so I had to weave around trash trucks parked in the bike lane every block.  I headed across to the Queensboro Bridge and started to head across.


Wrong.  So so wrong.  It was still open to cars, but both pedestrian lanes were taken up by the race.  Bummer.  So, backup plan?  Go to the ferry and ride across.  A ferry?  That's right.  It was either that, or the subway, and bringing a bike on the subway is like asking to get mugged...only you don't get anything stolen, you just get beaten up.  No thanks.
Route to Sweetleaf. Includes Queensboro Bridge denial and Ferry Ride. 5.8 miles.
 So, I rode down to the E 35th St Ferry Landing, and got there just in time to watch the ferry steam away.  (Maybe not's not a ship...but whatever.)  I checked a schedule and it was another hour before it would return. 

Bummer again.  At this point I realized that I would miss my one friend, to protect her name we'll call her Margarita, running past Sweetleaf.  I could have headed back up to the Upper East Side to watch...but I live on the Upper West Side, and we don't ever go to the Upper East Side.  It's not a turf-war thing, it's just so far away with that park in the middle.

Anyhow, since the sun was out and I really like sitting by the water, I just had a seat in the sun and enjoyed the time.
I just want to be on THAT side of the river.
I could see the mass of people streaming over the Pulaski Bridge from where I was sitting, so that was cool.

Anyhow, the ferry returned, I hopped on, and less than 5 minutes later, I was over in Queens. 

In Queens.  Apparently, it's a tropical paradise.
 Less than 5 min after that I was at Sweetleaf. 

There were spectators, but they weren't 8 deep like they were in Manhattan, and just about everyone had a cowbell.  Awesome.  I arrived just in time to see my other friend, Mimosa (code-name) run on by. 
Athletic supporters.

The shop itself is a really cool space.  Nice wide open windows and really comfortable couches and easy chairs in the front seating area.  I could have sat there and read a book for hours.  I had a coffee black and a blueberry bran muffin.  Both were delicious, so I had another coffee.
I was prepared to cheer on other people chugging coffee.

Now, the dilemma of how to get back to Manhattan.  I didn't want to wait for and ride the ferry again, so I figured I would try to get to the Williamsburg Bridge.  Only problem was the entrance to the bridge is on the opposite side of the marathon route.  Now, there is a subway stop in Brooklyn at Bedford Ave and 7th, and I figured I could ride the L train back into Manhattan if I couldn't cross, or use the station itself to go under the street and come back up on the Bridge Side of things.

I was, again, wrong on both accounts.  Sure, one end of the subway station is at Bedford Ave, but on the wrong side of the marathon route.  So, I'm stuck.  Or am I?  Just then, the end of the Police Escort was driving by and re-opening the road.  Score.

Five min later I'm riding across the Williamsburg Bridge and heading to Standings. 

1pm NFL games at Standings, and then uptown to Keats for the Broncos/Pats game.  I don't want to talk about it.

At halftime decided to ride home, now very much in the dark because of the end of Daylight Savings Time.  That's what headlamps and tail-lights are for.

Ride home with stops at Standings and Keats. 10.8 Miles.

To those who ran the NYC Marathon, congrats, you are way tougher than me.

Ride 6: check