I saw Manhattan in a whole new way today: from the seat of a bicycle.
Thanks to my gracious host, who sensibly talked me into wearing a helmet, I have now biked through Central Park (it took me 35 minutes to get around the main loop. I was lapped by a kid with training wheels once.), Harlem, Inwood and Washington Heights. It was awesome. And I even managed to keep from flying over my handlebars when some chica opened her car door six inches in front of my bike.
It was a great time, and except for the fact that I may never be able to sit down again properly, I had a blast.
I learned a few things during our five-hour ride... Open fire hydrants are a special blessing. There is a neighborhood in Harlem Heights that looks like Quebec City, complete with cobblestones and row houses. There are men on this planet who box, salsa dance and bike all in the same week. And this city has a lot of hills. The only way I could keep pedaling at some points was to imagine twinkies and cheetoes falling off my ass.. All those spoonfuls of Ben n Jerry's vanilla ice cream, plopping to the ground after I pushed through each uphill stride. I did walk one particularly tough hill behind the Cloisters... It was so steep that I thought I might need some rope to repel back down it. Of course, I might have been able to ride up the hill if we hadn't stopped for lunch at a Harlem restaurant called Soul Food. For our mid-ride lunch, I ate fried pork chops, mashed potatoes with gravy, the best damn corn muffins I've ever tasted and black eyed peas. Oh, and a jug of sweet lemonade. I can't imagine why they don't serve that exact meal to all the racers in the Tour de France. Oof...