Geared Diary: A Day In Gotham, A Night on the Slabbed Plain
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Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2833
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Wed Apr 07, 2021 10:08 pm quote
As I'd noted in my last long-winded Melody Chronicle, between a close-call COVID scare and Melody recovering from powertrain indigestion, a good deal of my freelance IT work had to be put on hold, which made me a rather unhappy camper. Fortunately, I was able to bounce back a bit last week with a full day's work, and today was even better, getting three gigs under my belt. Good thing, too, because tomorrow afternoon is when I get my second scheduled Moderna shot, and it's a 50-50 chance this shot might leave me crawling to bed and not getting out for the better part of a day (or two), if everything I've read up on this holds any credence. I had to get a relatively early start, which for me meant having to deal with the dregs of rush-hour traffic by the time I hit Staten Island

I did my usual preflight checkoff with Melody before taking off, including fuel supply: four bars full. Just enough to get me to Gig #1 in Park Slope, Brooklyn but I'd have to scurry for gas before heading off to Gig #2. I mentally measured my projected mileage, then suited up, fired the bike up and made my way.

Two problems arose relatively quickly:

- Rain: There was close to zero-percentage chance of precipitation when I checked the night before, but now I was staring at 80%-plus, just as I'd be switching off from the Garden State Parkway to Rte 440, which unfortunately includes some lane-swap bingo crossing the Driscoll Bridge (which I could almost swear had to be the inspiration for Mario Kart). Rain came in pretty much on-cue, but fortunately was neither intense nor long in duration. It did, unfortunately, leave both my helmet visor and Mel's legshield and Flyschreen a bit of a mess once dried.

- Traffic: Things were reasonably smooth and fast until coming off the Verrazano into Brooklyn: the BQE was at a worse-than-usual standstill for minutes at a time. However, I saw what appeared to be a miracle of timing: usually, I ride into town too late to take advantage of the inbound HOV lane, but this time it was still open. I took one look at the barely-crawling masses, saw my one opportunity to squeeze onto that lovely, barely-occupied express lane, and promptly muscled my way past a few trucks and vans to make my way to it. The sensation of flying past hundreds of cars, buses and trucks was simply heady. I thought Piaggio should steal an old slogan from Dial soap: Aren't you glad you ride a Vespa? Don't you wish everybody did?

This reverie didn't last long, because of one critical detail I forgot: this express lane is barrier-protected, and that barrier is solid, all the way to the Hugh Carey (a/k/a Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel. You're comin' to Manhattan, bro, like it or not. I had to make some quick calculations in my head, but apparently Los Googles was a few steps ahead of me in regard to corrective measures. Unfortunately, one of those measures involved a brief-but-somewhat-brutal encounter with the FDR Drive…Melody's first rodeo on that rotten road, if memory serves. I got through that as quickly as I could, then made my way across the Brooklyn Bridge. The funniest thing? I probably lost all of five minutes on account of that logistical screw-up.

Once finished with gig #1, I made my way to the Shell station on 3rd Avenue and Bergen Street, where Melody took on a full two gallons, about the most I've run the tank down in a while (no bars on the gauge, and the low-fuel light having glared at me since crossing the Verrazano). A bit more jousting with city traffic (Grand Army Plaza is always a great test of character and braking response), and I was parking near the Brooklyn Botanical Garden for gig #2. Once finished there, I hopped back on, rode North on Washington Avenue, meandered to Flatbush and gradually made my way toward the Manhattan Bridge. Perhaps "gradually" should be "grudgingly", since again, even for Flatbush in mid-day, traffic was extra-sludgy. But, in the middle of this, I had what I'll call Cool Biker Interaction #1, with one cool dude on a gorgeous 2018 Triumph Thruxton, fully café'd-out, gleaming in British Racing Green (the "proper" kind, which can look almost black depending on how the light is hitting it). We chatted about each other's rides, how nice the day was for riding in spite of bad traffic, then we fist-bumped and made our own way through the morass, eventually making it to the bridge.

And this was where I made my second tactical mistake of the day, albeit a more-honest one: I chose to take the upper level of the bridge, where I was shocked to find traffic at a literal standstill: as in nothing moving an inch. Turned out that there was a large work crew periodically occupying both lanes , but there was absolutely no signage warning of this at the bridge. The central, lower lane was moving freely, and I could see Triumph-dude speeding along that route with ease. I think it was at least a good fifteen minutes before I made it to the other side.

Once safely in Manhattan, I needed to make a quick stop at Bigelow Apothecary in the West Village to pick up a herbal remedy for Le Wife. Just before arriving, rolling along 6th Avenue, I heard what seemed to be a very aggressive two-stroke sound coming in hot behind me, then to my left: a slick-looking gloss-white two-banger Vespa, its quasi-hipsterish pilot popping the occasional wheelie in the center lane, then speeding off. To my surprise, when I arrived in front of Bigelow, Hot-Rod Two-Smoker (actually, there wasn't a hint of a blue puff from the thing) was standing at the corner, rider casually checking his phone, sunglassed beneath an open-face helmet painted in full Italian livery. We nodded to to each other - maintaining cool, of course - and he sped off, popping another wheelie ahead of oncoming traffic. I suppose this could be Cool Biker Interaction #2, but embodying a different formulation of "cool."

A little under an hour later, I'm on the Upper West Side for gig #3, which I knew would be the longest in duration, as it often is for this client, since the work often involves not just computer gear, but audio and video gear as well, from CD duplicators and label printers to VHS-to-DVD dupicators, EQs, open-reel and cassette decks et cetera. By the time I was done with this one, it was pushing 9 PM. (Was hoping for no later than 8.) Thankfully, my previous fill-up left me with way more than enough go-juice to get home. My only problem was picking out a route: The fastest way outta town would involve the Henry Hudson Parkway downtown. I've known this highway since childhood, and I'll tell you this road has not aged well…at all. It's desperately in need of more than just a tacit facelift. My usual route involves going in the opposite direction along West End Avenue to West 96th Street, hanging a left, then getting on the Northbound side for an eighth of a mile until I peel off for an underpass that takes me to the Southbound lanes. This is dicey enough in broad daylight, bad pavement and all; at night, I might as well be landing an F-18 on a carrier. I decided to get on at the 79th Street Boat Basin, which was only slightly-less insane, because while you're not white-knuckling it getting on the road like West 96th Street, you must traverse a traffic circle that looks like it was last tended-to during the Reformation. I was weaving like a MotoGP racer warming up his tires, just to avoid the larger craters in what obviously use to be proper pavement. Then onto the Parkway, with everyone doing their constitutional 15-to-20-over-the-posted-limit rolling, the tarmac somewhat better than the just-getting-on process.

The other part of the "fun" here, was at least somewhat predictable: I'd be going through the Lincoln Tunnel, spitting me out onto 1-9, then the Turnpike for some 18 miles, and finally the Garden State Parkway. 1-9 is always 1-9: eye-watering by day, nerve-wracking by night. But it was quick this time, with no road crews in sight. This was not the case with the Turnpike: the cars-only express lane was open, but the local lanes were not, meaning my having to duke it out with the big rigs again. I decided to tuck in behind a FedEx tandem trailer that was moving nice and steady while assorted Beemers, Lexi and Hemi RAM folk scurried past and jockeyed for position, to which all I could do was shake my head.

The Parkway is almost always good: the sights at least semi-bucolic, the road surfaces at least decent, and the traffic fast but not video-game hyper, and I feel freer to let Melody rip for a bit. Home by 10:30, everybody (mostly) asleep, the cat being my sole welcoming party (he's always good for that). Kick off riding boots, pour a nice adult beverage, and now off to sleep. I've cleared my schedule through the weekend, and I'm going to be as slothful as I wanna: I've got my music playlist, books and new issue of Meta (No. 021) to paw through.

See y'all next week.

melodybigelow.jpg
Bigelow Pharmacy, West Village: Rather famous in these parts, and you find stuff here you won't easily find elsewhere.

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Meanwhile, North of Bigelow, there's this view: weather was indeed nice, minus the morning's rain.

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Riverside Park/Henry Hudson Parkway: By day only slightly treacherous; if you squint hard, you can almost make out the George Washington Bridge, way, way in the background.

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UWS, Heading Home: I walk out to Melody, and It Happens, Again. (Why is it always a Primavera?) ;-)



Last edited by amateriat on Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:06 pm; edited 16 times in total
Ossessionato
2009 GTV250 (Gone), 2003 Inder trailer, 2001 BMW R1100RT
Joined: 24 Jun 2009
Posts: 4738
Location: Santa Cruz California
Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:06 am quote
Thx for taking us on the ride. Miguel
Molto Verboso
2016 Sprint S 150 (his), 2016 Sprint 150 Blu Gaiola (hers), 2006 GTS 250 Excalibur Gray (hers), 2006 GTS 250 Black (his), 2012 GTS 300 Daring Plum (he
Joined: 21 Oct 2016
Posts: 1010
Location: Vermont
Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:14 am quote
Thanks for a great morning read while I sip my coffee!
Member
Vespa Elettrica
Joined: 20 Oct 2020
Posts: 25
Location: Austin, TX USA
Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:40 am quote
What a great morning coffee read!

I'm curious what you and others do to spot potholes at night, especially at speed. Maybe its my eyes, but even with high beams I have trouble picking them out on roads I'm not super familiar with.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2833
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:42 pm quote
shc wrote:
What a great morning coffee read!

I'm curious what you and others do to spot potholes at night, especially at speed. Maybe its my eyes, but even with high beams I have trouble picking them out on roads I'm not super familiar with.
Besides "doing the best I can" in spotting them, and memorizing particularly hazardous spots along more-frequently ridden routes, I leave as much daylight as possible between myself and any vehicle ahead of me: I've run over things like tractor-trailer tire carcasses and sidewalls and plastic shards from car bumpers and wheel wells (the Turnpike, of course, is good for this, which is why I avoid the truck-heavy local lanes like the plague).

That said, I'm upgrading my front headlight to ScooterWest's simple (and relatively inexpensive) LED system before long. I may have a rep for being a daredevil, but I'm not that crazy.
Hooked
2020 GTS 300 HPE
Joined: 27 Sep 2019
Posts: 390
Location: San Francisco
Thu Apr 08, 2021 1:13 pm quote
This post is a good example for why I can't imagine moving somewhere that doesn't tolerate lane splitting.

I think I bought a bottle of Proraso moustache wax once at Bigelow. (Unfortunately, that stuff was terrible.) Good moustache wax is surprisingly hard to find.

Imagine my surprise when I was taking a shower at Philippe Starck's hotel in Singapore, and the little shampoo bottle read "CO BIGELOW - NEW YORK."
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2833
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:37 pm quote
mayorofnow wrote:
This post is a good example for why I can't imagine moving somewhere that doesn't tolerate lane splitting.
Roger that. Thinking about getting a petition or the like going to that end, since people seem to be going on about more "efficient" travel options and such right now.
Quote:
I think I bought a bottle of Proraso moustache wax once at Bigelow. (Unfortunately, that stuff was terrible.) Good moustache wax is surprisingly hard to find.

Imagine my surprise when I was taking a shower at Philippe Starck's hotel in Singapore, and the little shampoo bottle read "CO BIGELOW - NEW YORK."
[Warning: Intersectional Subject Matter Ahead]

I haven't had a 'stache since my early thirties, but I have been a serious "old-school" wetshaver for the last 25 years or so, and while I did first discover what would become one of my favorite shave creams at Bigelow (D.R. Harris Arlington), virtually everything else I want/need that I don't order online comes from Pasteur Pharmacy (either the one on East 34th Street or the one on Lexington Avenue and East 62nd Street, almost within spitting distance of Bloomingdale's). They also have an astounding selection of grooming goods for those who choose to keep that hair on the face, as well.
Hooked
2020 GTS 300 HPE
Joined: 27 Sep 2019
Posts: 390
Location: San Francisco
Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:04 pm quote
I'm sure there are people in NJ/NY working on that, if you want to contribute. budman over on BARF seems to be in-the-lane-splitting-know.
Molto Verboso
Bashan 150, CF Moto Fashion 250
Joined: 07 Dec 2008
Posts: 1095
Location: Hyde Park, New York
Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:47 am quote
I lived Boerum Hill for several years and I see traffic has gotten incrementally worse. I moved to Delaware County further upstate and reveled in the lack of traffic, even in Binghamton, after that. We rode bicycles in the City too and the chaos was astounding. My Late wife received an $80 ticket on her bicycle for having the audacity to cross the stop line while waiting for a stoplight.

I don't miss it.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2833
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:57 pm quote
kz1000ST wrote:
I lived Boerum Hill for several years and I see traffic has gotten incrementally worse. I moved to Delaware County further upstate and reveled in the lack of traffic, even in Binghamton, after that. We rode bicycles in the City too and the chaos was astounding. My Late wife received an $80 ticket on her bicycle for having the audacity to cross the stop line while waiting for a stoplight.

I don't miss it.
Sigh: She got a ticket for that, too? (I got one sometime in the 1980s for the same thing. Perfect formula to encourage people to choose alternatives to driving in the city.) I will say that now, five years later (and lots of road-repair action after the last gas-tax hike), I'm finally loving getting around in Joisey and am reminded of just how good I've got it now whenever I cross that Bridge into Gotham: that anybody could tolerate driving under those conditions on a regular basis is almost beyond me.
Enthusiast
’20 GTS 300 hpe
Joined: 28 Sep 2019
Posts: 91
Location: NYC
Sat Apr 10, 2021 9:39 pm quote
mayorofnow wrote:
This post is a good example for why I can't imagine moving somewhere that doesn't tolerate lane splitting.
As someone who rides in New York City most days, I can tell you, that while lane filtering or sharing is technically against the law, there isn't a lot of enforcement and many do it.

It's similar to the cannabis legalization here last week. It's not like you could have walked previously in any neighborhood without seeing people openly consuming marijuana.
Ossessionato
2015 GTS 300 Super (Melody)
Joined: 22 Apr 2015
Posts: 2833
Location: Asbury Park, NJ
Tue Apr 13, 2021 9:45 am quote
giallo wrote:
mayorofnow wrote:
This post is a good example for why I can't imagine moving somewhere that doesn't tolerate lane splitting.
As someone who rides in New York City most days, I can tell you, that while lane filtering or sharing is technically against the law, there isn't a lot of enforcement and many do it.

It's similar to the cannabis legalization here last week. It's not like you could have walked previously in any neighborhood without seeing people openly consuming marijuana.
As I've written elsewhere, this is hardly the only thing not enforced on the streets of my former Fair City: if I had a dollar for every motorcycle or scooter running around (and running red lights) sans plates, with helmetless riders, I wouldn't have to pay for gas for several years. As far as lane-splitting (on either side of the Hudson), I do it, but with a healthy dose of discretion.

melodysunnys.jpg
Today: Red Hook, Brooklyn, doing tech work for a neighborhood icon.

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