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

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