Bike rides don’t always have to be hard and fast

Will I actually go this time? It’s always the same question. I say I’m interested in the ride on Facebook. I even fill out the waivers online just so I don’t have to worry about it later on. But when it comes to it, I never actually go on the rides.

Ferry. 8-6-16 #webikenyc #bikenyc #governorsisland #photoaday #moonfilter
On the ferry to Governor’s Island.

This year was supposed to be the year that I get out of my protective bubble. Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, my goal was to focus on self development and improvement. To stop outside of my comfort zone and really engage with what the city has to offer. Out with the old me, the idea was.

Eh.

Old ways really die hard.

I could say the graduation and job hunting were the reasons I didn’t participate in the many activities that interested me. But that’s just making excuses.

The truth is, I created the illusion of being busy. I created the illusion that time spent enjoying leisurely activities and making friends and being social was time lost focused on “more important” things. That’s not to say graduating and finding a job isn’t important, but the illusion worked well. It allowed me to easily excuse myself from activities with friends and would-be friends.

My partner noticed this and lamented at my lack of “friends” and social activities. This has weighed heavily on my mind recently.

What is my life?

fortjay-govisland (2)
Fort Jay, Governor’s Island

Hopping into the shallow end of the pool

The great thing about WE Bike NYC [1] is they send a list of upcoming events in their monthly newsletter. They’re also very good about updating their Facebook page with events. If you follow them, you’re guaranteed to not miss anything they’re involved in.

But the challenge, if you’re like me, is to actually go on the rides.

I almost didn’t. But encouragement from my partner combined with the fact that I’ve never been to Governor’s Island pushed me over to actually going. And I’m glad I did.

It was not a very intense ride. It was a “beginner friendly” ride, and the distance itself wasn’t all that great. Within my own mileage book, the distance from Bushwick to the Stonewall Inn—where we met—, to the ferry and around the island was about the same as my commuting distance between Bushwick and Union Square. The pace was also more leisurely. Meditative.

We met at the Stonewall Inn around 9 a.m. (it’s a designated National Park now, too!). Around 9:25-ish, our small group made its way town the cycle track and caught the first ferry of the day to the island. It is a very quick ferry ride.

I noticed a lot of people on the ferry with backpacks full of GoPros and remote control helicopter-like gadgets. There was an event on the island last weekend—the National Drone Racing Competition. The crazy thing is, once you’re on the island, all those people sort of disappear.

Governor's Island.

When we were at Fort Jay, we could hear the speaker system blaring out instructions and music, but aside from that, no humans. Well, we did see other people but they were in small groups of about 10-30. It’s not like trying to walk through Time Square.

I left the group early to catch the 11:30 a.m. ferry back to Manhattan. I was meeting M in Foley Square around noon to sprint up Park Avenue for the first day of Summer Streets. (That’s for another post.)

Feelings

I had a fun time riding with the WE Bike women who showed up. Thinking about the ride some more, I have a slight apprehension. I don’t know where it’s coming from, though it’s probably a mix of social anxiety and being comfortable with the group. The ride leaders worked hard to make sure everyone—not just the regulars—were included in conversations.

I felt a little awkward but thinking about it some more, it was good practice to engage in small talk and learn about the other women in the group. I didn’t initiate much of the conversations, but did listen and offered my thoughts when asked.

This is definitely something that I’ll have to do more than once to get to know the group better. For me, the ride isn’t so much about being comfortable about riding in the city. It’s more about being comfortable with other people and making friends.


[1] Their rides are typically only open to women, female-identifying and gender nonconforming individuals. While some may be put off by such exclusiveness, it’s actually pretty smart. Considering that women in the U.S. do not bike as much as men (see here, here, and here for starters), WE Bike provides a comfortable forum for women who want a safe and enjoyable experience.

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