Friday, April 20, 2012

Riding in The City

I have lived outside of New York City for most of my life.  We call it: The City.  Although we visited the theaters, museums and restaurants of The City as I was growing up, I have mostly felt like a tourist.  You take things for granted when they're so close.   I sometimes drive down to The City to visit my son who lives there now.  Last weekend, I learned how to drive my bike in The City.

Zoe of Bike New York and Jennifer
I attended an intense seminar at Bike New York which led to a cycling instructor certification (LCI) from the League of American Bicyclists.  Jennifer Laurita was our coach, and while she ran a very tight ship, she did it with humor and compassion.  We were a hand picked group of diverse folk. The one thing we all had in common was a love of the bike and the desire to share that with others.  While the training was mostly learning League curriculum and how to teach it, we also had to show that we knew how to ride.  I know how to ride, and have done some city riding in Boston and Philly.  The League promotes the idea that,  "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."  I have never been afraid to drive my car in The City, but I was very unsure about driving my bike there.

Dottie, Cecelia, Jesse, me, Michael, Coriel, Hope, Nick, Robert, Charles

The weekend turned out to be glorious, warm and fragrant with spring blooms.  I had spent many days preparing for the seminar, and had given up racing Battenkill, one of my favorites, as well as our first club party ride of the season.  I was faced with a weekend stuck in a tiny, hot room for hours on end. Yet, getting this certification has been a goal for some time.  Like most of the folks there, my experience teaching about cycling has been tremendously rewarding.  LCI certification can open doors for more.

So, I sat with my back to the windows as we took turns presenting and critiquing for hours and hours.
The best part was the riding.  Jesse offered to meet me the first morning and ride to the lot where we would be doing our drills.  I gratefully took him up on it.

Lance poured coffee and took all the pics

That night, we did our practice ride in the dark. It was a wild ride: 13 people of varying skill and comfort levels, trying to obey all the rules while staying together for a six mile ride on the upper west side.  I thought it was a great adventure.  I'm not sure, but I think it took about two and a half hours.

The next day we broke into groups for our final ride.  We took turns leading as we were being graded.  My section was the multi-use trail.  The Greenway is marked with a pedestrian lane, but overall it's very narrow.  There were tons of people on it that morning.  I didn't have my computer, but I tried to keep a steady 13mph pace. I also had to keep checking back to make sure my little ducks were all in a row.  It was like riding in a peleton.  When you ride in the city, there is so much going on, and you have to be hyper aware of everything while not focusing on any one-thing, so you can  react in a split second. It's exhilarating and somehow relaxing at the same time. 

Seeing what cyclists have to deal with in The City, I have a new respect for the need to be goodwill ambassadors for our sport.  For many, riding in The City is about getting to work, getting around and enjoying the outdoors while caring for our planet.  Riders in The City are faced with huge risks, but riders everywhere are vulnerable if they don't have proper skills and knowledge. We all need to know how to safely share the road. I am re-committed to helping others discover the life changing power and simple joys of driving a bike.  I plan on working and volunteering for Bike New York,  Westchester Cycle Club and beyond. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lovely reflection on an intense and inspiring weekend!