The hills are alive…with the sound of my disc-brakes

The fleet! Looking south (with creepy tourist)

Yep, feast your eyes. My *commanding* fleet of cykler parked right out on 5th Avenue (that’s the Central Park Zoo in the background). I’m oh-so proud. I want this piece to relay both bike storage and commuting issues in NYC and CPH…my unnecessarily complicated month-long story is actually rather revealing. (…boredom alert…)

Why, you ask, did I have to acquire two new bicycles this past month? (the left-most bike isn’t mine…it’s been sitting there for a year according to the Central Park Zoo janitorial staff) After a few years of zipping around on my imposing-but-don’t-worry-I’m-really-not-a-professional-cyclist Trek racing bike, I recognized that it might have been a bit impractical for everyday use (though it did make me look SO cool). I suppose it took me long enough. Another important issue was that I had to bring it inside each day. As is part of the argument against helmets (notice I didn’t take a side just there), any extra, seemingly unnecessary task involved with cycling just discourages people from doing it…be that having to put on a helmet, affix a lock, ride on the street alongside a gynormous bus, et cetera. Some of these things are necessary, but bringing a bicycle inside heavy, wrought-iron doors should not be. The problem is, as would be in Copenhagen, storing a “fancy-looking” bicycle outside is just asking for it to get stolen. Especially given where I would be leaving it, I knew I had to purchase the ugliest-looking bike possible, and probably the least expensive.

Denmark has dba.dk (shady) … and the US has Craigslist (shadier). It actually took a while, but I found a probably 30-year old Royce Union cruiser bike in Forest Hills (Queens), so I hopped on the train with $80 (though, yes, I know no one even pays that for a bike in Denmark :) ) and picked it up. If the situation wasn’t shady enough, the bike certainly lived up to its circumstance. But, that was just the point. I took it back, fixed it up a little at my local bike shop, and parked it outside on the rack. The difference between CPH and NYC, though, is that as crappy as it was, I still needed TWO ridiculously strong locks to ensure that it wouldn’t get stolen…one humungous Kryptonite “New York Forgetaboutit” chain (lol) to affix the frame and front wheel to the rack, and a u-lock to lock the back wheel to the frame. Oh, and I didn’t mention that Pedal Pusher tethered my seat to the frame. Those get stolen all the time too. In Copenhagen, all I had to do to lock up my unassuming bike in front of my friend’s place was take a small Abus cable to the front wheel and wrap it around a pole. My, wasn’t that easy…of course bikes get stolen all the time in Copenhagen, to the tune of 60,000 per year, but let’s just say that the culture of “sharing” is a bit different there. Mine was never stolen from in front of the house, in any case.

I realize you’re all getting sleepy by now…so I’ll hurry up. I’d solved the storage situation, parking my super comfy Rolls Royce…er…Royce Union on the street, but did I mention it only had 3 gears? Riding around with a 21-gear racing bike makes one used to switching around all the time…and perhaps it jaded me and made me forget how surprisingly hilly is the island of Manhattan. New York is definitely not Copenhagen. On my first trip up to school on the new bike…I had…a bit of trouble. Not that anyone knows what these names mean…but biking over the knolls of Central Park, up Lenox Hill, Carnegie Hill, and Morningside Heights is quite the workout…with a bike that doesn’t ease up. I had done it many times very easily on the racing bike but this was unbearable…it even seemed like the trip back was uphill too! In any case…I knew that I had to expand my fleet at this point, once again. While in Copenhagen it seemed like the only hill I ever went up was on my way to dreaded Amager, my recently-daily commute was like 30 minutes over that bridge…

A hybrid bike was now what I sought and my friend Harold, king of the roads of Boston, recommended this one (in black). While, yes I’m a total Danish n00b for buying a new bike (doesn’t having 3 bikes make up for it?), this bike is absolutely perfect. It really completes the collection (haha), and riding up Central Park West in an ACTUAL BIKE LANE is a taste of Heaven. And, yes, it has disc-brakes.

PS – I totally mounted this on the KHS allllll by myself. If you knew me, you would be very, very, very proud :)

By Eric Blair-Joannou • February 24, 2013
Categories: , ,


11 Comments

10 Comments

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  2. Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:05 AM by Eric Blair-Joannou | Permalink

    Yes, it was a long story! Let me know if I can clarify anything.

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  8. Posted August 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM by Eric Blair-Joannou | Permalink

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    Many thanks!

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  1. [...] time that one of my bikes has been vandalized but it was the most notable. As you may recall from earlier posts, I have three bikes with two parked in a public rack on the street a few steps from my home. The [...]

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Bike NYC Like a Copenhagener

Eric Blair-Joannou

A wannabe-Copenhagener-real-New Yorker's perspective on cycling culture in New York City and what the Big Apple can learn from spending time riding rapt over the bridges of the Danish capital. Biking across the harbors of King Christian IV may be just what the City's citizenry should experience in order to see that simply riding a bicycle is all the American metropolis needs to do to upgrade its stagnant transit system. Follow Eric on Twitter too @clintonledyard .