Wednesday, May 5, 2010
#123 Lafayette Avenue Overpass over the Metro-North RR
Lafayette Avenue Overpass over the Metro-North RR - Bronx
May 5, 2010
Rob Hickman, Keith Nelson, Michael Richter
View on Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour Map at: unibridgetour.net
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo we headed to the Bronx with our unicycles to cross some bridges along the Bronx river. More or less recovered from Sunday's 42 mile ride on the Five Boro Cycle Tour, Keith and Rob took this week's unicyle bridge tour to the borough that was nearly overlooked in the 5 Boro Tour. Only 9 blocks of the 42 miles were in the Bronx.
Taking a day off from Ringling Brothers, Hey Ya Brothers, and Richterscale, Michael Richter joined the ride. Sitting upon his 20" Mike made note of his wheel envy. Rob and Keith were both riding 29". Having learned many hard lessons from the long distance ride on Sunday, we slapped on the sunscreen. Soon after we saddled up, we passed a public school. From four stories up and young boy yelled "I hope you fall." We did not respond with a poetic "I hope you fail."
The main targets of the ride were the Bronx River's Park Road Bridge and the Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff Boulevard Bridge.
The first two crossings Southern Boulevard Overpass and the Crotona Avenue Overpass over East Fordham Road spilled us onto the outlying edges of the New York Botanical Garden. The sentries guarding the garden all pointed us north along a dangerous blind curved road with virtually no sidewalk or shoulder to get to the nearest bridge they knew of.
Next to one of the entrances to the Garden, we came across a sixtyish year old man wanting to give the unicycle a try. He jumped on Mike's 20" and started idling and rolling about. And not to our surprise, he was an ex-King Charles Troupe member.
The desire for a sunny day roll along greenways and the river, took us over the Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff Boulevard Bridge and onto a river path that alternated between paved, graveled, and mud. Early into the ride Rob realized that his water bottle had leaked out during a bit of upside down transporting.
The path was a gold mine of bridge crossings. Well built bridges spanned what fields of mud and brush. Thanks to a park information sign, we realized we were on the flood planes of the Bronx River. In moister periods these marshlands provide water under the bridges. The mud, wood bridges, luscious trees, and flowing river (really a creek in some of the rider's opinions), allowed for a delightful break from the city.
Michael noticed the narrow Duncomb Ave Bridge wall was rideable. With circus concentration, he rode along the edge of a 30 foot drop into rocks, mud, and water.
Following cycle paths we came across a span hidden in the woods that led to a gate house. After documenting the span, we were able to find out that we had come to the rear entrance of the Botanical Garden. The guards kindly informed us that bicycles were not allowed into the Garden. We informed him that we did not have bicycles. And we would be unable to lock them to a bicycle rack for two reasons, one that we had no lock and two, that a uni can't fit on a bike rack. We were also informed that baby carriages were allowed and. most important, that the grounds are free on Wednesdays. We said we would push them like carriages and after many attempts, we had finally entered the Garden. Continuing to push the cycles, we came to the Park River Bridge. For this instance, we documented before riding. And in the distance we spotted another bridge being used as a parking lot. And off we rode. As soon as we arrived at this bridge a security SUV appeared from behind the trees and paid close attention to our documenting of the bridge. This well built bridge and historic looking pavement, formerlly the Bronx River Parkway Bridge over Bronx River, had been downgraded and was now used for the simple pleasures of parking.
With a security detail tailing our tour, we continued to push the unicycles through the Garden. At the top of a hill we came upon some non-Garden type structures: Windowless buildings, offices, etc. Keith, half joking, said that this must be the Biological Warfare Research area in the park. We soon found out that it was a Pfizer research facility. While pushing through the research area three more security details came into sight and in quick succession made some comment on how we got there with contraband vehicles in the Garden. And the security detail continued to tail us at 2 mph. We stopped to look at a weeping willow and with two more spans added to the tour, we made our way out of the Garden.
The realization that NYC's 2078 bridge count is filled with spans crossing rails and roads has forced us to increase the degree of documentation. We will be riding through neighborhoods a second time to capture the overpasses we had let slip.
In certain parts of New York, three to four spans can be crossed within a two block ride, making for some record setting rides this summer.
We finished up the Bronx River area and headed to Hunt's Point so Keith could make it to work. He is a Cirque du Monde instructor at the Point.
Getting to the Point with fifteen minutes to spare, we headed out to get three more rail road spans.