So I took the plunge!
This afternoon I managed to wrangle myself out of work by 6:15, and my first thought was, “Yay! Time to get a bike!” I think I told every person I saw on the way down the elevator. When I emerged from the building, I was greeted by a beautiful day still awash in sunshine. Luckily for me, there’s a bike shop right around the corner from my office, Al’s Cycle Solutions. The little shop is not quite a year old, but it’s already a hub of neighborhood activity. The owner, Al, bustled around, juggling three customers at a time. While he rang up one guy who bought some accessories, he discussed my requirements for a bike with me, teased his fat black lab, and periodically yelled to the back to ask one of the mechanics to get up there and help. (They pretty much ignored him.)
I looked at a bike called the Amsterdam (too kitschy, even if I did love the bike scene in Denmark) an adorable fat-tired cruiser (too bulky and difficult to ride), and a basic commuter (too boring!). Finally a mechanic showed me the Bianchi Milano, a light-weight, baby blue, 3-speed city bike, and I fell in love. Compact enough to take on the subway without annoying everyone around me, light enough to carry up the stairs in the my apartment building lobby, and adorable enough to make me feel like a cute hipster.
I ended up buying not only the Milano, but a wire basket that turns into a shopping basket when you unhook it, a lock, lights for the front and the back (for when I get out of work late, or just want to avoid being doored) a helmet, and a sweet bell to tell joggers to get out of my way. I got a 5% discount for being an Ogilvy employee too!
I’m really lucky, because not only is my office one block away from the West Side bike path, it also has bike storage in the garage, a gym, showers, and lockers for rent. So even when it’s sweltering outside, I can bike down Riverside Park to work, lift some weights, hop in the shower, and be ready for work! It’s a good thing too, because I haven’t been using my gym membership at all.
So a new, proud owner of this beautiful bike, I shoved my purse in the basket and wheeled it outside of the shop. You know that phrase, “Like riding a bike”? Well, it wasn’t easy as all that. The last time I rode a bike, I was flying down a long bike path in Cape Cod last summer with only other cyclists in my way. Now I was wobbling a bit, trying to avoid the potholes, and cringing as I negotiated the one block of traffic to the bike path. What a difference between the city and the beach!
Once I crossed the West Side Highway at 49th Street (almost losing a shoe in the process) I relaxed, and lazily started my route north. It was the perfect temperate for an evening bike ride, so I let my trench flap open in the wind and took in the scenery. Across the Hudson to my left, the last wash of oranged crowned the New Jersey office buildings. All the boats were out from winter hibernation, resting at their slips. I passed after-work joggers, basketball and soccer pickup games, kids playing on the playground, and lovers whispering on the park benches. Other cyclists whizzed by me, but I just cruised. A huge grin spread across my face. “This,” I thought, “is the way to commute. No wonder Denmark is the happiest place on earth!” (If you don’t know, they have a love affair with the bicycle. Not a coincidence, in my opinion.)
The four miles from my office to my apartment whizzed quickly by. I wouldn’t even call it a workout, really. But I would call it far superior to waiting in the grimy underbelly of the city for a crowded train to arrive. I have a bag packed with my work clothes, and yoga pants and a tee laid out, ready for me to bike to work tomorrow morning. You can’t even imagine how happy I am!