Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Prolonged Forced Dismounts

I'm pissed off.

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:


And riding:


And riding:


"Wow, this is fantastic!," I thought as I mentally high-fived the new bike-friendly New York City.

And then:


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.)

You're Welcome,



--Wildcat Rock Machine


114 comments:

Anonymous said...

suck it babs!

ken e. said...

what?! stay upright everyone!

ben said...

podio a go go

le Correcteur said...

Top ten; podium near miss.

14 2499484

Anonymous said...

je suis dans le premier dix

Serial Retrogrouch said...

alto diez!

Yeah Cleveland! said...

Typical commute in Cleveland. That's all I'm saying

3G said...

TOP TEN! In THE SNoW!

le Correcteur said...

"How a simple commute became a Rapha-esque epic ride" by WRM.

Still top 10? 20?

diesngn and

JB said...

Number 9

grog said...

A Bullet In the Head.

Kenny said...

Beto be pissed off than to be pissed on!

3G said...

Harlem River Driiiiiiiiiiiiiive

Regular guy said...

Boo hoo, the bike path is unplowed. Here in the land of Dylan, we say:

Let them eat cake

Anonymous said...

Greenways blow. That's why Broadway has only been there since the last ice age. Maybe longer!

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...and this has been a public announcement from yours truly.

::successfully rebroae: I would never call a re-doing of anything successful, robo.

JB said...

A fat Big Dummy is what you need. Call your framebuilder, post haste.

Vernal Magina said...

That was entertaining (to read).

McFly said...

Snow-related sports are meant to be watched through the magicness of television.

Plus you need a cool name like Bode or Sage.

Not Eben. That's your problem.

Buffalo Bill said...

I'm sorry, I laughed at your torment with great gusto just now, but only because I've felt that same anger and embarrassment myself.

In my case, I'm even more complicit - there was a sign that I didn't read.

babble on said...

Really? Thanks, anonyhater, and big sloppy wet podium kisses for you. XX

I love that you devote so much of your time and energy toward me. You know what they say... any press is good press.

And besides, I do so love to suck. The worst thing about riding lone wolf style is not having a wheel to suck, but today I have you. Lucky me. :)

Anonymous said...

Big dummy dragging big dummy along the big skanky?

Roille Figners said...

I snoozed, I losed.

Regular guy said...

Sorry,
Eat THIS cake, please.

DB said...

Snob:
When you passed the Morris-Jumel Mansion you could have hollered for the 75 year old volunteer to help you lift the Big Dummy over the Greenway.
Glad you made it out alive. We've all had rides like that.

DB said...

And McFly is in the running for CoD.

ubercurmudgeon said...

Serves you right for not buying a fat bike, you fatuous douche-wallah. (What you came here for an argument? Sorry, this is abuse.)

Comment deleted said...

Winter in New York...
It makes the Bronx seem just like Mayfair.
Winter in New York...
It's like glass shards shoved up your 'rethra.

(Sing it, Billie)

Anonymous said...

In a city where half the people don't even have a f-ing car, they clean and polish the roads but can't be bothered to clear the pedestrian or bike paths. Oh yeah, use those paths for dumping the snow on, and its HILARIOUS when a truck slams a pedestrian with snow. Only in the pages of the WSJ is this the domain of the all powerful bike lobby.

Comment deleted said...

Regular Guy, it's a lie.

Anonymous said...

http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140209/LIFE/402090302

JLRB said...

I am disappointed. You should have attempted to ride through the crusty rutted snow ice pack and repeatedly fallen over, violently hurling your body and big dummy to the tundra. That's how I did it and decided to not ride in snow anymore.

2wheeler said...

Glad to see NYC is just like Cowtown after a few snowstorms. Nothing worse than riding over iced up bootprints.

dancesonpedals said...

If that had been an arctic expedition, the big dummy would have been used for protein long before 155th street.

mikeweb said...

In life I'm come to the inarguable conclusion that the generic un-named 'they' and 'them's of the world are lazy, stupid, incompetent assholes.

Regular guy said...

That first map of the greenway sure looks like a cross sectional diagram of coitus.

Anonymous said...

Sloppy? Wet? Babble are you still talkin about nipple tweaking?

Abs said...

what a fredly thing to do, ride(walk) a bike on an unplowed path. didnt Ima tell you that's dangerous?

Anonymous said...

When I saw the words "jagged, forbidding, and totally unridable" at the bottom of my screen, I was just sure the next text I'd see after scrolling up would be "like Dorothy Rabinowitz".

Anonymous said...

This is the Fat Bike's time to shine, so how come we don't see smug arseholes rolling along the icy paths with ease?

It couldn't possibly be that Fat Bikes are just the latest cynical marketing campaign, could it?

I don't like having these heretical thoughts swirling around in my head, but if the Fat Bike's legitimacy is questionable then maybe so too is the Gravel Bike's!

Bama Phred said...

What he didn't tell us was how big of a sweat he worked up and how soaked his clothes were by the time he got back to the manse.

commie said...

You need a Big Dummy with fat tires, a merge between the Surly Big dummy and the Surly Pugsley...a big fat dummy.

That's right, the Surly ROFO™.

JLRB said...

Fuck it - I am going skiing

Anonymous said...

Epic ride Mr. Snobberdoodle (I'm just jealous!).

I think I'll still take the train, which is overcrowded right now with bisikle psychlists.

Positive thoughts your way Ms. Babble!!
Drone strikes to the bad guy...

vsk
Screw the bot !

balls™ said...

Here in the tobacco belt, we've got about one snowflake per cubic yard coming down. Naturally, they;re closing the schools.

I am not exaggerating.

I wish these idiots would take a road trip to NYC to see that life can go on with snow on the ground.

Suck. It.

DB said...

I wonder if Mayor Mike would have had that path cleared?

Anonymous said...

What kind of rube takes the greenway after several big snow storms and on a day when it's like 15 degrees? This morning you paid a stupidity tax. But it sounds like you at least learned your lesson. I had a pleasant ride to work today mostly through central park, where the roads were completely snow free. It was quite lovely with snow everywhere and the Lake and Harlem Meer completely frozen over. A truly great way to start the day.

Anonymous said...

There's a moral to this story somewhere. On yeah, TAKE THE BUS!

cycle

Nelson Muntz said...

Ha ha!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:30pm,

Good for you.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Well at least you had that pretty blue sky to admire when you looked up from your toil.

dnk said...

BSNYC,

Thanks for the field reporting!

flyover bc said...

Does the bike still have the decal that says

BIG DUMMY ?

DB said...

Crosspalms:
40 degrees next week.
I'm going to look for my bike this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Somebody go put a sign up to warn other cyclists. How about a snowman that looks like Phillip Seymour Hoffman?

Piskian said...

So what ?!Stop yer fucking squawking..

Stu Rasmussen said...

well that sucked; tho not as bad as cyclocross....

Anonymous said...

hey, look at the bright side! 20 years ago you would have had your throat slit and forced to donate the big dummy (i mean assuming the greenway and big dummies existed then),

Anonymous said...

On the plus side, you could've eaten the other biker's corpse to survive.

Dooth said...

DB, Not one to tolerate a half-assed job, Mayor Mike would've had the path cleared...while our current mayor is off somewhere making flowery speeches about a tale of two cities.

McFly said...

I figured all the warm urine from the homeless would pretty much have all the bike paths and sidewalks cleared up by now.

PISS PLOW

Janice D. said...

until we get those specialized surface scrubbing, salt spreading mini tractors like they have in the Netherlands and Denmark, I'm not going to feel inadequate for not using my pedal power.

Mike Sinyard said...

Tsk Tsk Tsk Janice.....

You'll be hearing form my lawyer(s).

Regular guy said...

Specialized Surface Scrubber, wow, they're even making a go at the Swiffer and Brillo pad markets.

Test Tickle said...

To coin a term from your own vernacular:

WUSSY

Spokey said...

I'm not about to go out in this weather but I'm still glad that mom & dad opted for the freedom of the new world and brought their young and growing family from brooklyn to merica in jersey back in the 50s.

Doomberg kept the big island cleared and neglected the other boros. So now karma has arrived. mayor blase is clearing everything but manhattan.


babs;

good to see keeping the up attitude. never let the butt biters get to you






my robot says and haddhou to you too. if I only knew what that meant

dancesonpedals said...

i'm just embarrassed that a comment about a star annoyed people, wasn't funny & turned into a day long slog. I'm used to being annoying & not-funny, but it's still embarrassing.


emnlaig james

JB said...

Regular Guy @ 1:02pm:
With a red arrow pointing to the spot of the G.

Fredder said...

Same experience further downtown, around 14th street. A shorter stretch but white knuckle time nonetheless. I felt like a putz with my metal studs up to that point but suddenly they and I were redeemed.

Flyover BC said...

The paved trails around here don't get enough foot traffic after a storm to be a problem for bikes, not counting the ice patches that may last for months.

Getting to the paved trails on the city streets is where the real dangers lay. Ditto the ice sheets problem.

Anonymous said...

Anybody already posted this "how to be a roadie"?

http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Video-How-To-Be-a-Road-Biker-2014.html

David said...

I've got nothing on the half-plowed bikeway; that's just classic New York. But I have a non-sarcastic "should've" you apparently didn't even consider for after you got off the bridge over the Harlem River Dr.:

You should've forgotten about the sidewalk and painted bike lane you were in search of, and instead just biked on the roadway *down* the hill, around the hairpin turn, onto 8th Ave/Frederick Douglass Blvd., and ridden that downtown.

I usually do that anyway since if I'm taking the Harlem River rather than the Hudson River bikeway, I'm generally headed to the East Side or Central Park, and Frederick Douglass Blvd. is more direct, and fine to ride down even (gasp) without a bike lane.

JLRB said...

I got your gravel bike right here

Anonymous said...

Where I live they don't plow most of the streets, but they always plow the bike paths. The hardest part is leaving your own driveway.

dancesonpedals said...

The narrow path on the ramp up to 155 is a bear to negotiate. As a lazy commuter, I travel downtown on the west side, with the big descent under the gwb. Returning north, I take St Nicholas up to 155 and then the long ramp down to the greenway. (once took edgecomb & wound up under the bridge & had to carry bike up the stairs)

None of that til march...today on the train saw an osprey circling over spuyton duyvil.

astques florence

Anonymous said...

hahaha!!!!..that rules and the big dumbfuck aspect makes the suck that much bigger.....nothing better than shared misery.....

the whole westside highway bikepath is ass pounded, which i found out one night last week...i wasnt quite as trapped but i was so tired and pissed i paddled and slid and fell from about 42nd to 110th..........

the only thing i hate more than this winter is people who complain about things....errr

RoadQueen said...

36 days until Spring!

Dawn said...

Dear Bike Snob,

I am a 54 year old long time commuter living in Boston and have been reading your posts for a while. It's terrible that bike paths and lanes are not properly maintained; you could have really hurt yourself. Another example of our car centric culture.

Today, I almost got doored on my way to work. The bike lanes are unsalted and dangerous. Riding on a main street, a guy in a huge SUV, honking at me constantly, tried to squeeze me into a parked car, prioritizing his desire to speed over my need to be safe. I know you don't consider yourself much of an activist, but we need a massive cycle movement in order for our needs ( cycle infrastructure) to be met.

Glad you are safe!

kind regards from super cold Boston!

dawn

Tal F said...

Even on the much more heavily trafficked Hudson River Greenway there are a few dismount zones starting in about the 70s, and forget about the ramps to the street. I did the commute all the way down the Hudson greenway from Riverdale for all of last winter, except maybe 2 weeks, but this winter has been brutal. I'm glad I live on the UWS now, where transit is MUCH better and plowing the bike paths seems to be a higher priority here than in Riverdale. At least for your local streets you can complain to the Fieldston Property Owners Association.

Rum to the Rescue said...

Snob, Trudging ahead into the frozen tundra of Harlem you could have ended up as a member of the Donner Party. But then again maybe a Saint Bernard accompanied by Lara Gut of Switzerland would come to your rescue, rumor has it that in addition to skiing she also knows massage. And if she has the same qualifications in the oral resuscitation department as Babs does.......

JLRB said...

In the 1880's Freds raced their carriages on the snow covered raceway, and they liked it

Anonymous said...

Oh noes! Frozen water!

Anonymous said...

There's a short story in there somewhere.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Well, I am glad to see that your liberal arts education is once again paying dividends.

I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed your contemporary retelling of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" with the Big Dummy in the role of old Sam.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174348

MisterSoftie said...

If I rode outside right now, I would absolutely be more likely to die than make it back. There's no one to blame for the horrible conditions, that's just how it is. Sometimes you just gotta take the bus.

crosspalms said...

DB,
High 20s here tomorrow, 30 or so Thursday. I think I'll go for it. Seems like every week this year has been 1 day to ride, 3 days to shovel and 3 days to shiver.

Snob, I'm glad the only times I've hit similar forced dismounts here the distances have been short. For the most part the park district in Chicago does a good job on the paths, but there's a stretch along the river and another by the aquarium where they just seem to give up. You can see the tire tracks of the trucks, just no sign they used a plow. Weird, frustrating and completely unmarked. Of course once we have concealed carry here we can just shoot our way through.

Anonymous said...

meanwhile, in Portland OR, the tough get going.

http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/Bicyclists-have-tough-commute-post-storm-244893851.html

full disclosure, I laid the Fargo down the other night in 2-inches of slush where it had been conveniently placed out of the roadway for automobilists.

Esteemed Humvee Driver DaddonOne said...

you guys are still riding in this shit?
I just hop inthe SUV, crank the heat and drive witha reckless abandon. This morning I just laughed as I played chicken with some woman with "Dawn" painted on the back of her helment.

LOVE DRIVING THE SUV,

Dianne Gilleece said...

That is how every bike path in Buffalo has looked for 2 months, only worse. This is because, 1. the City of Buffalo couldn't give a shit, and 2. Every snow removal company in Buffalo has had the "genius" idea of dumping all of its plowed snow onto the bike paths. Bleh!

jay said...

and why do you think it's called "big dummy"?


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1OCT9UAnihA/Ua7O21QhPqI/AAAAAAAACno/hkz6cQlqt1k/s1600/fredsanfordyoubigdummy2.jpg

The Fallen said...

The night's light rain moistened the streets of Vancouver town, in the wee hours as the mercury dropped those same said streets turned to sheets of black ice. Woe be it to any cyclist brave enough to venture forth that morning for their commute to work. "Man down! Man down!" came the cries of the astonished onlookers. A dark day indeed.

Mark said...

I love you snobby.

Bogusboy said...

And Yahweh spake unto the Snob, and Yahweh said, It's time to get the fuck out of NYC.

Anonymous said...

He indicated a small distance with his thumb and forefinger as he struggled to indicate how he was feeling as the Dragoons assembled about his crumpled body, cut practically to pieces by the hard, ironic ice, with the obvious intention of carting everything they could away into the distance after ascertaining his inability to resist, and that's exactly what they did, joking amongst themselves as they hobbled off with the goods, "Big Dummy, Big Dummy, Big Dummy."

Lipoidal Cycling Bicycle said...

commie,
Big Dumb Pug from 2009.

RoadQueen said...

We've covered the topic of how some guys are in denial about needing a recumbent with all the attempts at developing a more comfortable saddle.....

Me thinks Snob is in denial about needing to move to Florida.

Just a theory.

JLRB said...

97

JLRB said...

98

JLRB said...

99

Warm and Smug said...

We were riding in shorts and sandals in 80 capitalist degree weather here today. We were so glad thinking of all the frozen people's heartache and angst up there in all those foolish places where you. so called "Live"...

Anonymous said...

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhcqYpJ43C7eI11Zw7
Cop lays out alleged bike thief

Yeah Cleveland! said...

Snow and ice? Bring em on. Minus degrees merican? I drove the car I own.

McFly said...

Where the hell did you have to go so bad that it involved such degrees of travel adversity? I hope it was to get some nookie 'cause anything else would be unacceptable.

Thats gonna be my headstone inscription.

I DID IT ALL FOR THE NOOKIE.

Anonymous said...

So senior dickhead.... Did YOU go back and post a sign to warn other cyclists? Of course not...you're a New Yorker... Posting on your crappy blog doesn't count cause nobody reads it.

Oh, and Dyckman street... He he he...

babble on said...

The Fallen was oh so right. Figured I'd escaped the dreaded black ice by leaving later than usual, but the nasty stuff caught up with me in the conservation forest. Ouch.

Dancesonpedals - don't feel bad, it wasn't you. That girl has been nurturing a hate-on for ages.

babble on said...

anon@8:26 guess that makes you a nobody.

McFly said...

Dang Babble you crash enough in ideal riding conditions. I don't think the black ice is for you.

I know it's hard and slick...which appeals to you....but go easy.

babble on said...

I missed my calling as a crash test dummy.

JB said...

The Big Dummy has a long chain-stay length. It's all about short chain stays now, snobby. You can't ride that anymore.

semi serious cyclist said...

Epic!

dancesonpedals said...

ok, so bike mechanics and all those folks who keep things working make 20-25K. The median household income in the US is about 45-50 K. Think of a married couple, each with a crappy job, about 20-25 k per year and a few kids..holy sh*t, that's roseanne & dan connor & their 3 kids...that show was aspirational for half of the country

(50% of income goes to top 10%, 10% of income goes to bottom 50%..really bottom 47%, but 50 is more symmetrical)

When I was a teenager in the seventies, 50% of all US income went to the top 30%. It's been quite a slide.

John Leatherman said...

I had a similar experience in Minneapolis last weekend a rail trail that I haven't used in a couple months that usually is cleared in winter was not but I too had gone past the point on no return. When I came out the other side of the woods the plows had plowed the snow from the street onto the path.

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