When I was married, my then-wife refused to let me get a bike. She believed I would inevitably die from some clumsy, catastrophic traffic mishap, though I think she was more concerned that I wouldn’t die but instead become physically incapacitated and she’d have to take care of me for the rest of my life. Really makes you rethink your marriage vows, I suppose.
I’ve been divorced now for about a year and a half. I grieved for a long time, I self-medicated, I bought a bigger TV and a nicer bed than the one we had. And finally, I took the plunge and bought a bike.
If you’re my parents, I know what you’re thinking right now: That wasn’t a very responsible purchase. That’s okay. We can agree to disagree. We’ve been doing it for almost thirty-four years already. What’s a few more.
There are some things I’ve learned since biking around Brooklyn. Here they are:
- Brooklyn streets are uncomfortably bumpy. Sometimes I think they’ve actually put potholes and pavement filler obstacles in the way on purpose. Not for any reason. Just because New York likes to see how much punishment we’ll take before we finally realize maybe this isn’t the greatest city in the world.
- When you have testicular complications following a nephrectomy, those bumps redefine the meaning of discomfort.
- Everything in Brooklyn is somehow uphill.
- This city is fantastically larger than anyone can imagine. There are few places in this world where you can ride your bike for miles without coming to woods or water or open fields–something besides three-plus-story buildings that were made and neglected by the millions of people who’ve slipped in and out of here over the years.
- Crown Heights isn’t as far as it seems, but it’s still too far.
- There is a place in Ridgewood, Queens that must be one of the highest elevations in the city limits. From there, you can see the entirety of the Manhattan skyline against the backdrop of a sunset. There are roads in that neighborhood that have actual curves and even a few yards. And then, when it’s time to go home, it’s all downhill back to Brooklyn, the wind in your ears and the sting of the cooling night against your knuckles.
- Though I frequently say otherwise, this really is a beautiful city. I’d like to thank my bike for reminding me of that after all these years.