I Want To Ride My Bike


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When I think back to my childhood, back to some of the very first moments I can remember there are a few things that stand out. Above all else one of the most powerful memories I have is the first time I rode my little red bike. Maybe I was 3, maybe I was 6, I’m sure my parents know, but it’s late as I write this and don’t think it’s something I need to call and ask about. And second, I feel the memory is best if I don’t tamper with it, the ambiguity of my early childhood memory time line is in part what makes it enjoyable to think about. I’m sure it’s not a unique thing, an american child getting their first bike is generally accepted fact of life, like losing your first tooth. And while I’m perfectly aware not all kids get bikes, and my previous sentence expressed a bit of an inherent bias in the outdoor community, this post isn’t about that. It’s about riding my bike, in NYC.

You’re crazy” or “That’s scary” or “Isn’t that really dangerous” are among the many first reactions I hear when I talk about riding my bike around NYC. Reactions which frankly I’m really just absolutely sick of hearing. NYC is among the top 5 most bike-friendly cities in the US according to bicycling.com and has one of the largest bike share programs in the world. So let’s dispel the notion right up front that NYC is not a city for bikes. It wasn’t always though and residents have fought tooth and nail to make positive change happen. I know because I was among those fighting to make NYC a more bike-friendly place, check out this article that nods to my emotional outtake at a community board meeting discussing the implementation of bike lanes in queens:

You’ll most often find me on my bike commuting to work, which I attempt as often as possible though chilly mornings, rainy days, and lethargic moods sometimes win over my conviction to travel by 2 wheels. I ride  around town to run errands, and go for a spin on days I’m not in the woods. There is a sense of freedom and exhilaration that I get from being on my bike. The ability to move faster than my feet can carry me but yet still only utilizing the energy my body can produce. The bike becomes and extension of me. I couldn’t live without that feeling, I’m hopelessly forever addicted to it, and I don’t ever want to quit the drug, I’ll let it kill me before I give it up. Plus, assuming there are no train problems (which there are every day) my hour-long commute becomes 35 minutes, and I get a workout in twice a day.

So you want to become a city cyclist, here’s my advice:

It does take time to get comfortable riding in the city, because of those reactions and that negativity that’s projected onto riding a bike in NYC, it sticks with you in the back of your mind. It influences how you perceive things whether or not you want it to. So before all else, you’ll need to get confident. Even if you’re not, fake it until you make it right? A 40,000lbs city bus is super intimidating, and yes it will likely kill you if it runs you over, but you need to remember that you have the same rights and privileges on the road as that bus, or any other car for that matter, so you need to act like it. If there is no bike lane take a car lane, the WHOLE car lane, it’s yours by law so ride like it and make sure the cars around you know it. Timid riding, hugging the right side of the road and parked cars is a good way to get yourself clipped by a passing car or doored. The vast majority of the accidents I have witnessed were because the rider was being timid or insecure and got pushed off the road or cut off for taking too long to make a decision and not making their presence and intentions known.

Be safe! I don’t care how much you paid for that haircut or how good you think you are. There is absolutely no excuse what-so-ever to not wear a bike helmet. NONE! I don’t even so much as put my foot on the pedal without a helmet on, even if I’m only riding around the corner. You want to know why? Because I’ve had 3 major crashes in the last 10 years (all my own fault), 2 of which were bad enough to destroy my bike and split my helmet. But you know what, I didn’t crack open my skull and spill my brain onto the street like a big brown egg, which surely would have happened had I not had a helmet on. And if it’s dark, use front and rear lights. It’s amazing how difficult it is to spot a cyclist among the other visual noise at night in NYC, the lights help.

The way you dress may end up becoming more of a lifestyle change than you anticipated. Look, it’s really annoying carrying around a change of cloths when I ride my bike to work, or anywhere else. It’s led me to make a significant change in my clothing shopping habits, and you know what, I’m happy I did. I started wearing almost exclusively synthetic wicking apparel every day. I can wear a button down shirt, sweat, and it will dry fast without stinking like BO. Same with my shorts. Things like Marmot’s Windsher LS shirt 
Make that possible. The best part is stuff like this doesn’t stain, shrink, and lasts WAY longer than cotton. It also doubles as my hiking clothing.
Learn about bikes, take a class from REI or Bike New York. Not just how to ride, but how to repair. Nothing saddens me more than riding up the 59th st. bridge in the morning and seeing some poor sap pushing their bike across with a dead tire wobbling around. All that’s needed to prevent that is a spare tube and a small repair kit. Take it from Bike New York’s fastest flat tire fixer in 2014 and 2015, it only takes a few minutes.

A bike is a bike is a bike. You don’t need to go out and spend a thousand dollars on something fancy, just pick something you feel comfortable on and as long as you keep it in good working order with an occasional tune up. It will serve you well for years. Check out the Recycle-A-Bicycle facebook page for some deals on sweet used rides. You can get your hands on something road worthy as well as support an awesome organization.

Lastly, have fun, give a nod to your fellow cyclist, lend a helping hand when you can. Every time someone becomes a member of this community it’s made stronger and better.

I‘ll leave you with this:

The Outdoors are Everywhere

I’m going to admit something from the start, New York City is not the rocky mountains. We don’t have massive summits, world class skiing, paddling, and climbing 15 minutes from our front door. Heck, most of us live in apartments, we don’t really even have a front door in the normal sense of the word.



But those images we see on our Facebook and Instagram feeds, those unbelievable backdrops that every outdoor brand  never fails to use in every image they post. It’s not real. I mean it IS real, but It’s not for the vast majority of the population something that is readily accessible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful and I would spend every day there if I could. But the reality is that I live in NYC, have a job that’s mostly in an office, and I don’t have any kind of usable skill that would allow me to make a living in any of those places. So what these images really do is perpetuate a narrative that the great outdoors only exists in places like that, and adventure is hundreds of miles and thousands of dollars away. 


And yes, THOSE places are. But adventure is everywhere and the outdoors is whatever we want it to be, it’s a mindset and not a place. The outdoors is absolutely anywhere you want it to be that’s not confined by 4 walls. It starts by simply appreciating the fact that you are outside and realizing that outside is where you want to be and it’s what makes you happy. Stopping to look at a sidewalk planter, noticing the the buds and leaves on trees, taking the long way just to pass by a park. It may not seem like much, but these small seemingly insignificant daily doses are what it takes to alter your mindset and begin appreciating the time you spend outside. Then you start having your lunch in a park, riding a bike to work, spending your Saturday afternoon sitting on the grass a city park with a book, rather than on your couch. Bring your laptop, connect to some free wifi, and catch up on Game of Thrones, at least you’ll be outside.


I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of work. There are so many days I don’t want to get on my bike, I don’t want to walk to the park. But most of the time my motivation to get some time outside wins, and I appreciate every time it does.



I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the balance between being outdoorsy and being a New Yorker all starts with your mindset. Change the definition of what the outdoors are, change what it means to yourself and to the community. Consider where you are as part of the outdoors and don’t let the images they show you make you think that because you’re not there you’re not part of this community.



So here it goes…

I’ve been sitting on this for months. I’ve tweaked and edited, trashed, rebuilt, and nearly drove myself mad with anxiety. It’s taken me until now to realize that this project will never truly be finished, I’ll never reach “perfection”, and I’ll just keep finding new excuses why I shouldn’t launch this thing. So I’m doing it now, unprepared, nervous, and having not a clue in the world what I’m doing. And that’s OK.

I’m putting this together out of a desire to help people, create a community, and hopefully make a positive change in someone’s life. So building this plane while in the air flying is fitting, you need to see my vulnerabilities and imperfections. Know that with this, most things, all things, at some point I had absolutely know clue what I was doing or stepping in to. Just like some of you may be standing on a subway platform right now scrolling though your Instagram feed and seeing pictures of people on a mountain top wondering how did they get there, where do I take those first steps? We all need a starting point in our journey. You all get to see mine with this.

My mission in this blog and community is to cultivate knowledge, advice, and stories to share with anyone who is trying to find balance with their life in the metropolis and love or curiosity for the outdoors. I hope that I can provide some commentary along the way, share with you my opinions of this outdoor culture and encourage you to share yours. I’ll be adding pieces and building this thing as best as I can, so hang tight!