Social Cycling NYC: The isalnds and some jaw-breaking flautas

The burn. Feel the burn!

After months of lurking on Social Cycling NYC’s Facebook group page, I finally went on a group ride Thursday. Finally

And it was well worth the steep ascents on bridges, waiting around for flat tires to be fixed, jaw-breaking flautas, and not getting home until close to 3 a.m. I’m an adult. I can do whatever I want, right?

Nice there’s a bike lane here, but you’d never really know it was for bikes with all the people walking in it and the cars blocking it at intersections.
The meeting spot

I had about 3½ hours to kill between work and the ride, so after meandering around Union Square Park for a bit I made my way towards Columbus Circle (southwest corner of Central Park) via the 8th avenue bike lane.

That’s a mistake I don’t plan on making again.

When I Google Map’d the route from Union Square to Columbus Circle, the trip was estimated to take 18 minutes. Thanks Google. In a perfect world, that may be so, but with a bajillion traffic lights and a bajillion people that s-l-o-w y-o-u way the fuck down, dream on~ 🎶 Good thing I started making my way to the meeting spot with more than enough time left over.

With 1½ hours to burn, I sat at the fountain steps of the USS Maine statue and people-watched. Watched the pedicab and horse carriage folks hustle so hard with tourists. Watched tourists’ bleary-eyed stares as they made their way into grand ol’ Central Park. Watched children splash their hands in the fountain, testing the limits of their parents’ disapproval. Watched tourists stand, no joke, right in front of me while they got their photos taken in front of the statue. (All those butts in my face… very awkward.)

Roosevelt Island

After waiting on a few people to get to the meeting spot, and multiple photo attempts and ops, wheels finally went down around 19:30.

We cut across east and made our way onto the Queensboro Bridge, crossing into Queens for a bit, only to go back over another bridge onto Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
Renwick Smallpox Hospital – got any scary stories, anyone?
The island is long, but on a bike it’s not difficult to do a nice loop around it. Cutting through some residential areas, we made our first stop at the Renwick Smallpox Hospital, now abandoned and a historical landmark. It’s fenced off for safety reasons I suspect, but for one who likes ruins, this surely would’ve made a nice photography adventure.

At this point the rain started to come down so we took refuge under a bridge, where we took even more photos.

Luckily, the rain stopped and we made our way to the other end of the island where there’s a lighthouse. We hung out here for a bit before continuing our group ride.

Originally, the route was supposed to take us from Columbus Circle to the island to a taco place in Queens, but the group leader switched it up a bit—which is why we were out so late. 😉

Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
Lighthouse break on Roosevelt Island
Randalls and Wards Islands

From Roosevelt Island, we rode back into Queens near Astoria Park. We made a quick stop at this little corner shop and lo’ and behold a film crew! What were they filming you ask? Scene(s) from Orange is the New Black.

Crazy. I know.

Quick break done, we made our way across the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge onto Randalls Island. Did a loop and then some here too. We also took a much longer break while we waited for some flats to get fixed. Cue all the bugs that are waiting to feast on my ankles at this point. (New concept to the “sock line” on your leg.)

Flats fixed, bodies rested, onward we continued.

Back over this little steep bridge into Manhattan, we made our way upward towards 116th Street where we made our “official” food stop at Taco Mix. Where I had the hardest flautas ever. Holy Cow. Fried, yes. But also that weird in-between texture of being somewhat chewy so you couldn’t just bite into the tortilla-wrapped chicken morsels. There were four of them, and I ate all four of them to my jaw’s dismay. Like chewing an entire packet of gum.

But whatever. It satiated me enough to fuel my ride back to Central Park where the last remaining members of the ride took a break at a “secret spot” and told scary stories. It was close to 1 a.m., which is when the park closes. Central Park gets closed! Who knew…

From here, we made our various ways back home. I made my way down to 57th Street where two other ladies and I from the group caught the Q train towards Brooklyn.

Finally home

Street. Building. Apartment door. Home. Bed. Holy balls, 3 a.m. 💤

Although the night’s ride was longer than the average weekly SCNYC group ride, it was well worth it. It’s great to see a group of varying personalities and characters from all over the five boroughs. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly. They helped marshal the ride when needed, keeping the very large group together at red lights and other intersections. We had mass-up points, and basically no one was left behind. For everyone that got a flat tire during the ride, efforts were made to fix it before giving up and sending them home (no one went home).

It was a lot of fun and I want to thank everyone from the group for making it a fun ride. I look forward to future rides—when I’m not making excuses for skipping out.

Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
The meeting spot at the USS Maine statue – Central Park
Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
Taking cover under the bridge while it rained. Looking towards Manhattan
Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
Group break under the bridge while it rained a bit – Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt/Randall's Islands Ride
Smallpox Hosptial lean. Also, it was someone’s birthday—hence the birthday cap – Roosevelt Island
🚲
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