Wednesday, April 21, 2010

#98 21st Street Overpass over the LIRR

21st Street Overpass over the LIRR
April 21, 2010, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman

View on Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour Map at:

With Keith successfully convincing customs officials to let him back over the border from our friendly neighbor up the north, Rob & Keith decided to celebrate by going for a unicycle ride. Once again the departure was delayed by an enlightening conversation with one of the construction workers on the block. The discussion brought to light some interesting twisted dealings of NYC's landlords. Following gaining knowledge of an alleged building inspector bribing scheme which had occured yesterday, we decided to do our own inpection by checking the the Borden Avenue bridge progress, which was closed on our last trip to the Newton creek.

With no prior planning, the pair left South 11th Street and headed for the Borden Avenue Bridge via the Greenpoint Bridge..

Keith was quite tired and slightly delirious from less than an hour of sleep and thousands of miles of travel. Celebrating World Circus Day (April 17) Keith had gone to New Brunswick Canada with the Bindletiff Family Cirkus to perform for an audience of 4000. Ketih had started this morning in Shediac, New Brunswick, Canada, landed in Newark and trained it to Brooklyn. by 10 am. Rob was sore from late night ladder yoga in preparation for a sheet rocking festival in his home.

As temperatures were climbing from the mid fifites. Keith enjoyed the warmth compared to the lower 40's of Novia Scotia. Rob felt a chill compared to the Central Park rides. Both riders wore two layers on top and exposed legs on the bottom.

Because of the cool weather Rob intentionally headed off without a water bottle, which he soon regreted He also forgot tools and a patch kit. Keith had a cyclemeter running and the rubber chicken dangling below the seat, otherwise, he was not prepared to go some distance, but the ride was going to be under 10 miles. Keith continues to forget to look into hydration systems for the upcoming ride. With less than ten days until the 5 borough cycle tour, starting passes in hand and, sponsor filled green vests, it is time to always pedal the rigs packed for the forty miles. As we thought about how our desire to cross the Verazano Bridge lead to the sixty dollars paid to then become a rolling bill board, the need to promote our causes became apparent. We need to use the 5 borough to get the word out about the Bridge Tour and the coming Unicycle Festival. [sponsors, feel free to contact Keith or Rob to discuss sponsorship and ad placement possibilities].

Bad road conditions and major road construction were a significant factor during the journey through northwestern Brooklyn. As Williamsburgh gets its gentrified face lift and the push to build up, the streets and sidewalks are being opened up to rewire and plumb the neighborhood for the new demands. And so the ride included lots of constriction work. Rode conditions in north Brooklyn were as bad as Richmond Terrace in Staten island.

Although pedaling this region included lots of zigs and zags routes that forced us into truck lanes, we were greeted by almost giddy street workers. We experience a number of workers giving us hoots and hollers on Berry. The steam roller operator apparently was a closeted member of the one wheeled fraternity. From his seat towering over us he asked if he had a 20 incher. As the rides continue to show, the people love the one wheel. And so many have ridden.

Aproaching Greenpoint Avenue Bridge the pair went for the much more rugged sidewalk. Last time they were on 26" wheels. This time 29". Once over the bridge, the tour took a left and headed towards Borden Ave.

When we got there there was less bridge that the last visit. Much less bridge in fact. Rob mistakenly thought the bridge was due to be completed April 2010. Certainly Rob got the completion year wrong. It's probably more Like 2016. Disappointed, the pair departed in search of other crossings.

With nearly 5% of the Bridges of NYC now crossed on one wheel, and the realization in Central Park that many of these bridges do not cross water, it has dawned on the riders that the 2078 spans of New York is a wider scope than previously understood. The count includes overpasses! With this in mind, looking back there have been many undocumented crossing that will need to be recrossed and photographed.

And with the new knowledge we excitedly came upon an unexpected sight, the Skillman Avenue LIRR Overpass, spanning the Long Island Railroad Hunter's Point Station. And with little fanfare, we crossed the 98th documented bridge of the tour. Within a few blocks we came upon another span. And excitedly we pedaled over 99.

On the other side of the 21st Street LIRR Overpass we met a friendly guy who had a history on one wheel in the Bronx. He reminisced of his past one wheel accomplishments: jump roping and riding a giraffe. He had gone from unicycles to being a cycle messenger (we assume on two wheels). He had ridden in the 5 borough cycle tour in years past, though years had passed since he had last relied on the power of the pedal. Continuing a life of rolling and delivering, he had gone to a life on 4 wheels and now drove and delivered for UPS. He was the first person to not be surprised by the fact that there are over 2000 bridges in NYC.

It was time to head back to Williamsburgh so Keith could prepare to go work for Cirque du Monde in the Bronx. And so routing sent them from Queens back to Brooklyn over the Pulaski Bridge. Mid span Keith was recognized as a Bindlestiff Family Cirkus person by a passing bicyclist.

Back in Brooklyn, the wheels were aimed for the protected cycle path down Kent Ave. With the exception of a prejudicial two wheel cyclist stating that the path was only for BIcyclists, the Kent Ave ride was a delightful and smooth ride. And to imagine, less than 10 years ago Kent was filled with pot holes, two way traffic, rumbling trucks, burnt out cars and hookers. It was now a construction zone promising to block the view sheds of thousands and provide a safe and secure environment for the wealthy.

Started: Apr 21, 2010 11:09:57 AM
Ride Time: 1:23:40
Stopped Time: 4:40
Distance: 7.13 miles
Average: 5.11 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 12.37 miles/hr
Climb: 305 feet

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