Frequently Asked Questions and Miscellaneous Items of Interest
How far do you ride?
I typically ride 40-45 miles each day, all year round. Usually 11-15 miles in the morning, and 25-31 miles in the afternoon – a mix of on-street commuting miles and car-free loops around Prospect park. I alter the number of loops I do in the park depending on when I leave for work, when I leave from work, if I am in a particular rush to get somewhere, or if the weather is unusually terrible. On weekends, I usually ride between 25-50 miles, almost always on Sunday because Saturday is my designated recovery day.
Do you race?
I have raced (with some success) as a Cat 5 then Cat 4 in Prospect Park, Branchbrook Park, and at Floyd Bennett Field. These high-speed criteriums were incredibly thrilling, but for me, a bit too dangerous. After being involved in two chain-reaction crashes caused by inattentive riders, causing injury to me and damage to my bike, I decided to stick to recreational riding. For the most part, I ride on my own.
How fast do you go?
This question usually comes from non-cyclists. Speeds of course vary greatly depending on road and traffic conditions and weather, especially wind and cold. My average commuting speed is about 17 mph (including stops for traffic lights and traffic). I routinely average 19.5 mph on my commute home when the weather is warmer if I do 5 or more fast laps in Prospect Park. The fastest I have ever ridden was 53 mph. On a long-distance bike tour with a loaded bike, I typically average about 15 mph.
What do you think about when you ride?
Sometimes complex problems, sometimes nothing at all. Cycling is a great activity in that it can be challenging enough to allow you to focus on simply pedaling quickly and efficiently, but it can also allow you to accomplish those things while your mind is completely elsewhere. With two little children at home, cycling time for me is precious alone time.
Don’t you get cold?
During the coldest months of the winter, most people hurry between taxis, subways, work, and home, trying to minimize time spent in freezing, howling winter winds. From commuting by bike through the winter, I have come to appreciate and even look forward to being outside in freezing conditions. It’s amazing to spend an hour in the park in 20F temperatures and be completely comfortable. The trick is simple – wear the right clothing. This may seem obvious but it’s not that easy. Sweating excessively during very cold-weather cycling will instantly make you feel freezing. If you want to commute long-distance through the winter, I highly recommend Assos winter cycling clothing for their superb breathability and temperature regulation.
Are you some kind of cycling superman?
A tourist asked me this question while we waited to cross onto the Brooklyn Bridge entrance. It was 15F, I was wearing a balaclava. The answer is no.
I couldn’t ride on city streets. It definitely takes some time to get used to riding on busy city streets, especially in New York City. To ride safely in the street, you should be fully comfortable riding your bike in all conditions. Most importantly, it is imperative to remain focused 100% on the traffic around you and anticipate cars doing the exact opposite of what might be expected, i.e. a left turn from the right side of the road.
Favorite cycling pages? I like Reddit’s cycling forums, including NYC Bike. The UK-based The Cyclist and Cycling Tips websites are very good for equipment and new tech reviews, and coverage of professional cycling. Velominati is entertaining and home to the famous Rules. Crazyguyonabike is an excellent website on bike touring. My favorite shopping sites are Wiggle, Ribble, Bike-Discount, BikeTiresDirect, Competitive Cyclist, Assos Outlet, and R&A Cycles.
Best books on cycling? Thunder & Sunshine and Moods Of Future Joys by Alastair Humphreys are two of the very best books on long-distance cycling adventures. The Man Who Cycled the World by Mark Beaumont is also an excellent, interesting read on long-distance cycling. It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels is a good book on all of the parts of a bike. The story about the Italian cycling legend Gino Bartali, Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation, is a fascinating read.
Things to try? I would like to ride a perfected waterbike, like the Schiller S1-C. I have never filmed any of my rides, but may one day try a GoPro hero. I would like to ride the Crossing of Lac-Saint-Jean, a winter fatbike race across a frozen Canadian lake. I would like to ride the Grosse Scheidegg and the Stelvio Pass. Living in pretty flat New York City, I have never been mountain biking, and would like to try that too someday.
Advocacy? I am a member of Transportation Alternatives’ Harbor Ring Committee. The Harbor Ring advocates for a 50-mile recreational route around the New York Harbor that unites Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in New York with Hoboken, Jersey City, and Bayonne in New Jersey, including a bicycle and pedestrian pathway over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.