All Night Bike Ride

27 Sep 2011 #Biking #Columbia #history #NYC

Last Thursday Night/Friday morning I participated in an all night NYC bike ride for one of my classes. For more official background, the WSJ wrote it up. It was an optional activity as part of the History of the City of New York class I’m taking with Kenneth Jackson at Columbia University. He, the class, and the bike ride are all institutions at the university, and I lucked into one of the ~400 spots in the class.

I’ve attempted to [create a map of the route][1] we took here, but it’s based on my recollection and certainly inaccurate on the details of exactly which streets we took. If anyone knows corrections, let me  know. If I was thinking properly I would have taken my Garmin GPS!

It was really fun :)  I chugged a can of Illy espresso at 10:30, which helped a lot. Only getting ~3 hours of sleep the night before really didn’t help. Stupid University Writing draft.

The whole class starting out at once on bikes was intense. Many of us were on rented and borrowed bikes and irregular bikers, so many weren’t very comfortable/confident. It’s really hard to bike slowly in general, especially in a crowd where you can’t turn much. The result was lots of weaving, dodging, and near misses. Plenty of minor bumps, but only a few people really fell down, and nobody needed serious assistance.

We pretty much just went and kept going, rarely did anyone, even the first people, stop for red lights. One of the Columbia Ambulances was bringing up the rear, flashing its lights the whole time. That came in really helpful in giving us some legitimacy, especially in midtown.

Around 1:30ish (I think…) we stopped at Washington Square Park (location of NYU, our wanna be rivals downtown). I went off in search of some food, and ended up having tacos from a cart, and then beer with several grad students, including the TA for my discussion section. A part of the group (1/3rd?) turned back at this point, hopping on the subway or taking cabs back uptown.

From there we went south, around Battery Park City and Battery Park. We were within a few blocks of the WTC site, and could see the incredibly over illuminated new Tower 1 going up. Another bunch (1/4 or the original group?) turned back around here, where the last subway stop for the 1 train (which Columbia is on) is.

Broad St & Wall St were pretty locked down (due to the OccupyWallStreet protests nearby), but we walked up and in front of the NYSE and Federal Hall.

From there we went along to the Brooklyn bridge, went through brooklyn, and I ended up taking the Subway most of the way back (biking from 96th St -> 116th St because the transfer would have taken a long time).

The experience was really cool. Especially the contrast between Central Park, time square, and the side streets. You’d go just 3 blocks and it would have a very different feel at 3AM. It was fun causing a little mayhem for taxis, especially since it was just minor. We regularly got honked at, and over a dozen volunteers would stand in front of the cross traffic, preventing them from even trying to go.

There was some school pride, which was fun (and not hugely common at CU). Seemingly nobody remembers the words to our fight song (because it’s stupid), although everyone knows “Roar, Lion, Roar.” A few people chanted it out, and the rest of us mumbled along.

Roar, Lion, RoarAnd wake the echoes of the Hudson Valley!Fight on to victory evermore,While the sons of Knickerbocker rally roundColumbia! Columbia!</p>

Shouting her name forever!

Roar, Lion, Roar

For Alma Mater on the Hudson Shore! </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

From the Brooklyn Bridge on was a bit rough. We crossed around 4AM and were walking, rather than riding, a fair amount at that point. It also turns out it’s really hard to find a bathroom at ~5 in the morning, even in downtown Brooklyn.