This trip was to be about the New York City suburbs. Don Draper lived in Ossining NY. He commuted every weekday on the train to the advertising office in Manhattan. Sometimes he drove the distance in his 1962 Cadillac. As fate would have it, due to Hurricane Sandy, I never made it to Ossining; I got no closer than White Plains, about fifteen miles away. But I still dedicate this trip to Don, who inspired me to do this. Before I biked away from Max’s soccer game in Prospect Park in Brooklyn on a Saturday morning, near Alex and Kristi’s apartment in Park Slope, Alex reminded me that Rob Petrie had lived in New Rochelle. And New Rochelle is closer, just north of the Bronx.
This trip would take me from Brooklyn, to Manhattan, to the Bronx, then through suburb after suburb all the way to Greenwich, on the Connecticut line. Then I would cycle across Westchester County to White Plains to spend the night.
I first cycled through to downtown Brooklyn, then over the Manhattan Bridge.
New York City has vastly improved its bicycle infrastructure, and bicycling through many parts of the city is actually quite safe. I think Manhattan cycling is the diciest, although the west side bikeway is a dream. You can safely zoom up the island without having to stop at any lights.
I eschewed the west side riverfront route, and went up the east side of Manhattan, along First Avenue. I crossed over to the East Side Esplanade bike path near fifty-seventh street, just north of the United Nations. I then went over a small bridge to Roosevelt Island, then over another bridge to the Bronx.
I had expected somewhat for the Bronx to look crime ridden and scary, but it was fine. It actually looked almost third world, in a good way. It seemed explosively multicultural and entrepreneurial. It is very urban, both in atmosphere and density.
From the northern part of the Bronx there is a nice bike path that runs down the center of Pelham Parkway. (The Taking of Pelham One Two Three!) From that, one crosses into some parklands, then across a couple of bridges. After cycling past the New York City owned Pelham Bay golf course, just north of the Bronx, it was a sudden shocking change to suburbia, like having been transported there by Star Trek transporter.
I continued further north past large houses for several hours. I came within a mile or two of the Connecticut state line, but turned around because it was getting dark, and the particular road there in Port Chester NY had hazardous traffic.
On the way to Port Chester, I had passed through miles and miles of prosperous suburbia. These “towns” each pretended to be some kind of quaint village, rather than continuous stream of rich neighborhoods that they really are.
The high school in Rye NY looked like a university campus.
I spent the night in downtown White Plains, which has a mix of “small town” suburbia and a giant upscale shopping mall called The Westchester. The crowd at the bar that night for dinner was well dressed, sort of like a cleaned up version of the cast of Jersey Shore.
Because of the approaching hurricane Sandy; I felt I had already pushed my luck far enough. I got up early Sunday morning, hit the road at first light, and was back thirty miles south in Pennsylvania Station by ten thirty a.m. There were some very nice bike paths twisting through the fall foliage.
I managed to get on an earlier Amtrak train leaving New York Penn Station at eleven, and was at my car in Richmond at about five, home by eight. Back in New York, in the next few hours, all hell broke loose with the hurricane.