This morning, after eating my Froot Loops, I fired up the Big Dummy and zipped my child over to his little preschool where he and his classmates assemble Apple products, for which we pay a tuition of US$5,000 per month. Then, since I had "business" downtown, and I was all warmed up, and the Big Dummy felt all sprightly with only one person on it (me), I figured that instead of doing the old "park and ride" and using mass transit I'd just keep going on the bike.
Now, ordinarily when there's this much snow I don't even consider the so-called "Greenways," since they can be a mess, but coming from where I live they make the ride about a million times more pleasant, so I figured I'd swing by the entrance and see how things looked. Here's the one I'm talking about, which runs along the Harlem River:
When I got to the entrance, I was pleased to see it was clear as could be, so I kept riding:
"Wow, this is fantastic!," I thought as I mentally high-fived the new bike-friendly New York City.
At this point I was roughly in the middle of the Greenway, and if you look closely at the map you'll notice there's a little parenthetical warning next to it:
("No entry points along Harlem River Drive.")
As you can see, the Greenway lies between the Harlem River Drive and the Harlem River itself, meaning once you're on it you're on it and there's no escape--you can either get on or off at Dyckman Street, or you can get on or off at 155th Street. That's it, nothing in between. I'm all too aware of this, which is why I never go this way at night: you should always have multiple escape routes when riding. Anyway, this meant that, like an Arctic explorer, now I had two choices: abort the mission and backtrack all the way to Dyckman, or else press on and hope things improved.
I chose the latter.
Things didn't improve. In fact, they got worse. The path was all frozen snow--jagged, forbidding, and totally unridable:
By now though I'd come much too far to turn around, and with the highway on one side of me and the icy river on the other, I had no choice but to continue. And so I walked:
Oh, did I mention I was dragging a fucking Big Dummy with me? Because I was:
By the way, do you see the tire tracks on the right? Those are not mine, and clearly at least one other cyclist made the same mistake. In fact, I expected to stumble upon his frozen corpse at any moment. As for the Big Dummy, the pedal kept nailing me in the shin, and I came this close [indicates tiny distance with fingers] to throwing the goddamn thing into the Harlem River.
If this had been an Arctic expedition and the Big Dummy were a member of my party, frostbitten and unable to walk, I'd have put a bullet into his head faster than you can say "yellow snow."
Finally, I got to the ramp that takes you from the Greenway over the highway and back onto the surface roads, and was it any better? It was not:
By now I was extremely close to the breaking point, and I began blaming myself. After all, who rides a Greenway after three blizzards and counting? On the other, who clears half a fucking Greenway? And if you're going to clear half the thing and quit because it's too narrow for the plows or whatever, how about a fucking sign? And it's not like I'm the only person using this thing. Look at all the footprints! Even without having to drag a bike with you it's rough going:
Finally, I got to the end of the ramp, and I was about to kneel down and kiss the asphalt when I noticed they hadn't cleared the shoulder leading up to the continuation of the bike path (because the Greenway dumps you onto a highway entrance ramp, I mean what do you expect?):
Nor had they cleared the access to the sidewalk or indeed the sidewalk itself:
This meant either carrying the cumbersome and hated Big Dummy over the snow ridge and along the uncleared sidewalk, or else risking death by car service and salmoning up the highway entrance ramp:
I chose death by car service, and I don't have to tell you that as soon as I rolled out into traffic and attempted to pedal to safety I didn't go anywhere, because the chain had long ago fallen off the chainrings due to all that bouncing around on the ice:
So there I am in the middle of the entrance ramp to the Harlem River Drive, sitting on a Big Dummy and spinning in place like a Fred doing a trainer session.
Finally, with one of those lime green Boro Taxis bearing down on me, I got myself sorted out and made it to the actual bike path, which looked like it wasn't too bad:
Until I actually started riding and discovered it was solid ice.
So I guess what I'm saying is avoid the Harlem River Greenway. (Or "Harlem River Speedway" as it is technically called, having once in fact been a speedway, though today it was anything but.)
--Wildcat Rock Machine