Happy July 4th!

The months have been moving along without much riding time. This COVID shit has been a real bitch. In NYC we were hit hard. We did what we had to to keep this virus at bay. It seems to have worked. It’s been a weird lonely time. I am a man who appreciates solitude, but this has been a bit much. When NYC was getting slammed, I didn’t ride. If something bad did happen, I didn’t want to burden a hospital because I wanted to ride.

At 7:00 pm each evening we celebrated our health care workers. Every day I would hear the fire trucks from my windows as they roared their sirens in solidarity down by the hospital. The rest of us would applaud and scream. I played my bongos out the window.

One evening I masked up to have a look. I felt I didn’t belong there, but it was amazing!

This delivery guy was waiting anxiously for a good 10 minutes before the FDNY let him pass.

Throughout the epidemic, I had a friend who posted stuff like this. And he is right!

Once the hospitals cleared out, I took some rides. At first, it was crazy out there. People in NYC had forgotten about traffic. You would have to look ahead as you do when you’re scanning the horizon for deer. People would dart out into the road completely unaware of traffic. It was understandable. NYC had come to a standstill. Times Square was a ghost town.

A lot has gone on in the city which I’ll get to later. But first…

I knew I had a 4 day weekend between the regular school year and summer school, so I booked a campsite deep in the northern mountains of Pennsylvania. I got my bike inspected and was on my way.

There is a problem with inspection stickers on the new Bonnevilles. The forks have a porous surface. The inspection stickers are made for a smooth surface. So I noticed on the way that my sticker was gone! Oh well. Same thing happened last year. I am going to have to attach the next one with a bit of Gorilla tape.

It felt great to be on the road despite the fact that I knew there were storms ahead. I did have to change my desired route. The storms were heavy up north where I wanted to be. So I made my way east then headed north when the rain passed. I was prepared. In fact, I was overprepared. I packed as if I were going cross country. I wanted to test out some new equipment.

I bought a new SW-Motech bag. It’s just like the old one. The only difference is, as I read the installation instructions I realized I always had my lower compartments on backward. This bag is discontinued. But after 100,000 miles with the old one, I knew it was a great bag. So I went searching and found one on eBay in Germany. Nabbed it! I have a waterproof duffle loaded atop the bag. Like I said, I am trying out some new gear.

I stopped for gas at this place on Route 6 that had this old weathered totem pole out back. While there, I thought I saw a shortcut on what looked like a good twisty road. I made a left and followed two Halliburton trucks. After whipping around these beasts hauling strange looking generators, the road was what I expected (as far as twists and hills). It was fun. But it wasn’t the shortcut I saw on the map. It was a completely different road. I waisted over an hour going in the wrong direction, but I was able to test the extra weight on my bike as I pushed the limits.

As is often the case, I got to the campsite later than I would have liked. It wasn’t dark yet, but I had a lot to unpack. My neighbors to the left really spread out. Their car and chairs and table were way over on their side by their firepit. But their tent was parked right next to my firepit. WTF.

This happened once when I was in the Smoky Mountains with my brother. We went off to ride the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway. When we returned someone had put their tent right next to our fire. They were already inside the tent. Me and bro had a good ol’ time telling sick stories well into the AM about some of the more unsavory characters and experiences of our lives. Our neighbors were packed up and gone at sunrise. And fortunately the same would be true of my new neighbors. The next day, I had 2 sites to myself.

My neighbors across the road were a nice couple with a cute 5-month-old pup named Maggie. They had a Ram Promaster that I was interested in. You may have seen in a previous post that I have all the specs and diagrams to see how my bike would fit nicely in one of these vans.

The one I am eyeballing for myself would be a bit shorter. The one you see above has the extended rear. They make 3 sizes. The one I want would end just behind the rear wheel.

To be outside without a mask on was liberating. The city is so packed with people, you don’t think twice about putting a mask on like you do pants. Out here it’s easy to forget. (Not your pants, but the mask). I went down to take a shower and forgot my mask until I saw a reminder on the bathroom door. Later in the day, I hopped off my bike and walked into a store and the cashier asked, “Can you please wear a mask?” Of course, I just forgot. COVID is not just a NYC thing. In fact, it is now worse in most other states. Up here in the remote mountain area, it’s easy to forget.

I rolled through Wellsboro toward my first destination of the day.

I was headed toward a site that I long wanted to see. The Kinzua Bridge.

This bridge stood strong for over a hundred years.

In 2004 a tornado plowed through, tearing down a sizable length of the bridge leaving twisted steel strewn on the ground between the existing spans.

It was an engineering marvel when it was built.

It’s still a magnificent structure.

When I arrived at the bridge there were only about 5 bikes including mine in the parking lot.

I was hoping to ride all the way to Route 666 today. It’s a twisty little road in the Allegheny’s. But I have to admit, I got lost on the way to Kinzua too. In the town of Port Allegheny, Route 6 hangs to the left. I happily rolled along forward on Route 155 almost to the New York state border before realizing I was going the wrong way. I was hoping to nab a Route 666 t-shirt, but not on this trip. I could have made it. But it would have been dark by the time I got back to camp, so I skipped it. I actually started heading west but turned around by this old automotive scrapyard.

There was another site I was curious about back in Coudersport, PA. Nearby Coudersport is Cherry Hills, State Park. This place is considered the darkest place in Pennsylvania. Folks go there specifically for stargazing. It turns out that Coudersport also holds claim as the coldest part of Pennsylvania. And it is here where you find the Ice Mine.

There is a pit that was dug here by miners looking for silver. For some unknown reason, ice forms in this pit.

No one knows why? Not only that, the ice generally forms in the summer months but not in the winter. I was told that if I had arrived last week, I wouldn’t have seen any ice at all. But here it was. Very strange.

Even the Discovery Channel has come here to investigate, but no one can tell why this phenomenon happens.

They had a Bigfoot too.

I headed back to Mansfield. I was craving Chinese food. I also went to Sheetz to fill up the tank and get some beverages. The kid behind the register carded me. He actually wanted me to hand him my ID. I did. He grabbed it and touched every surface of that card. He was scrutinizing it like something he had never seen before. He called his manager over. I was getting pissed at his manhandling of my ID. I don’t know this punk. And now he is going to hand it back to me. It turns out that the confusion was about my license being expired. Shit. I didn’t even realize it had expired back in April. How does one renew their license in the time of COVID? I don’t know! But with no license. No inspection sticker. This is as close to an outlaw biker as I have ever been.

After getting the grub and drinks I headed back to camp. The Chinese food wasn’t very good. Well, at least one of the dishes wasn’t. The beef in the orange beef was chewier than bubble gum. Fortunately, I had a chicken dish too. It was OK. As a result, I woke up hungry, but I was in luck. My neighbors invited me over for breakfast. I brought my own silverware that I have had since I was 9 years old. It’s a handy Boy Scout 3 piece set. This was the first time I had sat at a table with company since March. It was strange to be talking to someone face to face but it was nice. Thank you Lars and Beth.

After breakfast, it was time to make all my gear fit back on the bike. My neighbors were curious about how that was going to work. It took me a lot longer than them so they never got to see that it was possible. I am definitely making some adjustments before my next journey to scale things down a bit. Everything was strapped down and ready to go. I reached for my key. No key. Earlier in the morning, I hooked up a USB extension under the seat. You need a key to take the seat off. I was wearing my shorts at the time. My shorts were packed deep in my bag. I wasn’t leaving just yet. UGH!

It was a long journey back to NYC. I stayed on Route 6 all the way to the New York border. I got a little wet on the way but rode through it. I thought about camping out another night in Harriman State Park near Bear Mountain. Then I got an alert on my phone that said severe storms were headed toward NYC. I checked my radar. Whoa! They weren’t kidding. I was on the edge of this monster when I got wet earlier. I wasn’t getting wet anymore. I headed south to make my way around the storm. It took a while, but I stayed dry. As I continued east I saw a rainbow in the direction of the city.

That rainbow turned out to be smack dab in the middle of the city as my friend Steve’s photo will attest.

And then, when I finally got to the city there was more celebration. It was a fun little journey and great to get away.

Back in NYC, there has been a lot of change in the last few months.

COVID 19 blew up here. I was teaching. I work with students with special needs. It’s a very hands-on job. My kids love a high five in the morning. Behaviors were the first thing to change. I was washing my hands all the time. But still, a great deal was unknown. The mayor eventually closed down the schools, but not before a great many were exposed. In that last week, I was interacting with teachers who had it. The number of people getting sick was through the roof. Everyone was scared. Then the city shut down.

As much as I wanted to go out there and document this historical event with my camera, it just felt wrong. The images of NYC empty! It’s like a science fiction movie! But I stayed put. Most everybody did. And we brought the numbers down.

My first time out with the camera was for the 7:00 celebration of caregivers.

Then it was time to ride again. I posted once in April. I took a short ride, but people were off. They got used to not worrying about traffic. It was dangerous! I nearly hit a kid on a bicycle.

The masses had been in isolation for months. People had adapted to life at home. Many spend the day consumed with television. For some, like myself, the TV has been their only companion. Then on May 25, that television companion shared with us a nightmare in broad daylight. Millions witnessed the murder of man. The murder of yet another black man at the hand of a white man. The murder of yet another black man at the hand of a white police officer. It was graphic. This man had his life choked out of him with callous indifference to his suffering and pleas for help. It was horrible. His name was George Floyd. The masses around the country broke free of their COVID hibernation and fear to say, enough is enough. The authorities were not prepared. Leadership for the most part has vanquished to the shadows. You can’t be indecisive in a crisis. People hit the streets. Most in peaceful protest. Some with raging fury. And others took advantage and robbed local businesses.

Then the city boarded up. Here is the Empire State Building.

Here is Macy’s. There are usually hundreds of people here constantly hurrying about. Now one homeless lady rests under Macy’s massive awning, the roof of her newfound home.

Across the street, this guy looks for a room with a better view.

Soho, where much of the looting took place transformed. The boarded-up businesses became canvases for local artists.

You may remember Jillian from previous posts. She made this WEAR A MASK sign.

I rode around the city to see some other street art. Below is a tribute to George Floyd by Fumero.

Over in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, most murals have remained the same.

Usually, the murals change in early June but the festivities for this year were canceled.

The only new addition was this giant tapestry.

In Queens, there were some new additions at Welling Court. CRASH and DAZE returned to their wall. DAZE collaborated with BG183.

CRASH collaborated with Joe Iurato.

I rode past this monument of Teddy Roosevelt that the Museum of Natural History has chosen to take down.

And now as NYC tries to slowly re-open it is not without its sense of humor.

NEW YORK TOUGH

Yesterday, I rode over to Brooklyn to get a new inspection sticker. This time the guy just handed it to me so I can put it on properly myself. Afterward, I went downtown where there were two events taking place.

Outside of the courthouse on Centre Street, a Black Lives Matter mural was being painted. It looks great!

Down the street next to City Hall is an occupy movement.

Below is Tweed Hall. Headquarters for the Department of Education.

This area is not as attractive as the mural, but equally visual.

It’s a mess.

Some are here for a good cause.

But it’s also infiltrated with junkies and lost souls.

There are some who go around yelling at people taking photos. These folks have quickly replaced one repressive regime with another.

And lastly, before heading home I rode up on the sidewalk for one last shot on St.Mark’s Place.

 

6 Responses to “Happy July 4th!”

  1. Great post! Thanks for keeping me in the loop of NYC. I’m stuck in California for the time being, but I can think of worse places to be stranded during a pandemic. My heart has been breaking for my home city, so your photos here give me hope. Thanks again.

  2. Great memorialization of your time ‘emerging’ from the horrors that New Yorkers have gone through during Spring 2020. Chicago was likewise under heavy lockdown which helped keep fatalities down. We still have the lakefront closed but there have been some folk unheeding health protocols. I fear we’re going to see a rise in numbers.

    • Sorry for the delayed response. Thanks. I can’t wait until this thing gets under control. I really appreciate your blog. Probably the best source for Triumph visuals anywhere.

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