Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

Bicycling in NYC.

Except for seeing family and friends one of the things I like most about visiting New York City is the biking.  I might be the only person who feels this way, but for me NYC is one of the world’s best bicycling destinations.One of the main reasons I feel this way is the Five Borough Bicycle Club. (5BBC) The club, sponsors free day rides for bikers of all levels most weekends and holidays, and very reasonably priced overnight trips several weekends a year.  Membership, which costs $20 for individuals and $25 for Dual membership (2 members in the same household), is required for the multiday rides, but not for the day rides.

Over the last few years Yolanda and I have done something over a dozen day rides with the 5BBC. The leaders have been uniformly excellent. They are all volunteers trained and certified by the club.  They obviously work very hard to scout out the routes and the points of interest.

This past weekend we joined an outstanding overnight trip very ably led by Ted Kushner and Fred Dieckamp.  On Saturday we biked through the wine country on the North Fork of Long Island, stopping at several vineyards for tastings.  On Sunday our small group joined some 800 other bikers on the Suffolk Bicycle Riders Association annual “Bike-Boat-Bike” ride, which includes the ferry ride to Shelter Island pictured below.

The green bracelet on Yolanda’s wrist is the entrée to the rest stations where approximately every 13 miles along the route volunteers fuel the riders with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies and iced water and sports drinks.

One of my favorite leaders is Ed Defrietas, who well as being a highly skilled and knowledgeable urban biker has an encyclopedic knowledge of New York history, architecture and design.  On our most memorable ride with Ed we took the ferry to Staten Island and rode all the way to the Southern tip of the Island to visit Conference House, the site, as Ed explained, of one of the most important unsung events in American history, which took place on September 11—but but not the September 11 we all know about.  On this September 11 in 1776 Lord Howe, commander in chief of British forces in America, met with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge to negotiate an end to the American Revolution.   As one the people on the trip pointed out, had the negotiation succeeded the United States might well be part of Canada.

For me the leaders exemplify one of the things I find most nourishing about travel—passionate hosts sharing their knowledge with visitors.   Whether we are hosts or visitors are amply rewarded when we reach out and strive for the human connections that make this sharing possible.

What is particularly interesting to me is that on the 5BBC rides most of the “visitors are also locals. The leaders at 5BBC show you places that even “visitors” from a few miles away don’t know about.

Here is a photo of Yolanda and me on a ride last fall. Guess where in the New York City Area it is and put it in a comment to this post.  I’ll give you the right answer and some more information for biking in NYC next week’s post.

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Comments and Replies

  • So glad you have enjoyed riding with our club, and Thank You for your very complimentary words. Your description of your experience is what our club is all about and why I became it’s President!

    • At June 17, 2010
      8:36:40 pm
      Jennifer Fletcher said:

      Re: the meeting between Lord Howe, Benjamin Franklin et al , I’d prefer to think that the US & Canada would be one country,( rather than the US would be part of Canada) As far as hockey is concerned, it’s true, anyway!The playoffs were very exciting.
      You’ve certainly met some very interesting people on your cycling trips,which sound tremendously varied.
      I’m sorry to say I’m rather wobbly on a bike – never had enough practice….yet.

      • At June 08, 2010
        9:58:52 am
        Ruth Marie Lyons said:

        So, Michael, is that Central Park in the fall? Your essay was very interesting as I’d never even consider riding a bike in NYC! So we learn something new every day! Hope all is well in CR! Can’t wait to be there Jan. 2011!

        Pura vida,
        Ruth Marie