Tuesday, May 25, 2010
#126 Hawtree Basin Bridge
Hawtree Basin Bridge, Hamilton Beach Queens, May 25, 2010
Rob Hickman, Viveca Gardiner, Keith Nelson
View on Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour Map at: unibridgetour.net
After a two week hiatus, the NYC Unicycle Bridge Tour headed to Howard Beach, Queens to cross two bridges over Hawtree Basin. The boys were joined by Viveca Gardiner, the first lady rider to join the Unicycle NYC Bridge tour. It should be noted that Gardiner's musical allegiance to Yes and ELP was checked before the ride. Owning every single album by these groups is a condition for participation.
As word of the tour spreads, interest amongst the braver fringes of media outlets is increasing. The three one-wheelers were accompanied by reporter Alex Halperin who covered the ride on 2 wheels. He had rented a bike for the day from Recycle a Bike.
Along with many of the other decisions for the day, the route was determined at the last minute. Rob has been campaigning for a ride over the Park Avenue Viaduct in Manhattan, a passage that advertises a pedestrian and cycle free drive through the city.
He has so far been unable to convince Keith to make the tour's first illegal crossing. Keith argued that it was neccesary to consider a safe route for first time riders Viveca and Alex. Keith also argued that a date with NY's Finest could put a damper on all schedules. Rob had noticed the Howard Beach crossings weeks ago by analyzing satellite imagery of the New York shoreline and it's many tidal basins. And so at 1 am, the morning of the ride, a decision was made.
Keith and Rob met for a pre-ride meeting on Rob's loading dock to discuss the upcoming Unicycle Festival on Governors Island. Rob joined Keith this week for the egg sandwich ritual. We learned from Viveca that world famous juggler Jason Garfield considers this the perfect energy food. It was sunny and was obviously going to be a hot day- a perfect day to head to the ocean. All three riders remembered their sun screen this time. Realizing that it would be a relatively short ride, Rob and Keith switched to smaller wheels at the last moment. This would facilitate the ride's second basin crossing, a steep pedestrian arch with low guard rails. Keith celebrated the last minute switch and grabbed his 20" Koxx. Fresh back from his first mountain unicycle outing, Keith was able to show off his burgeoning wheel hopping skills, jumping curbs, ramps, and delighting school children. Because Rob neglected to give his 24" a careful inspection beforehand, a loose crank would prove troublesome later in the ride. Always check your equipment.
Howard Beach sits on Jamaica Bay and is adjacent to Kennedy Airport. Hemmed in by the Belt Parkway, it is a quaint seaside fishing village. Although we were a stone's throw from JFK terminal 1 the ride was quite peaceful, and, like many of the communities we visit, hard to believe we were in New York. Every wood framed house proudly displays an American flag. Due to the number of banners and t-shirts spotted, it is safe to assume we were in Yankee territory. Its a good thing Kyle didn't join us this week.
Our first crossing was the Ramblersville-Hawtree Memorial Bridge which spans Hawtree Basin to the small island community of Hamilton Beach. In the center of the bridge is a plaque which recognizes those who served in World War II. As is custom, we took our pictures in front of the plaque. Down the ramp and onto the island we snapped a rock & roll picture in front of the 'Welcome to Hamilton Beach' sign. We were just across the bay from Rockaway peninsula. A pedestrian was amused by our antics and Rob asked if she'd like to give his uni a try. "No", she responded. "I want to live".
After a short cut across the island, passing many docks, fishing boats, and an egret or two, we spotted our next span. The Hawtree Basin Bridge pedestrian crossing is a beautiful blue steel arch that seemed straight out of Venice. As previously mentioned, because of the low guard rails and steep angle, this bridge would have been extremely difficult on 29" wheels. Had Richter joined us, he surely would have ridden the rails.
Having left the island, we decided to meander our way back to the car. It was here that Rob's crank began to loosen. He was forced to stop every few blocks to hand tighten the nut. Viveca gave Alex a quick uni lesson. It is doubtful Alex will be joining us on one wheel any time soon.
On the ride back home Rob was unable to convince the crew to veer a few blocks out of the way to swing by his wholesale oyster supplier.
It was a day of celebration marked by the first female participant and a current total of 127 bridges now crossed.
Started: May 25, 2010 11:16:13 AM
Ride Time: 1:03:09
Stopped Time: 20:54
Distance: 2.51 miles
Average: 2.38 miles/hr
Fastest Speed: 5.43 miles/hr
Climb: 308 feet