Thursday 24 June 2010

Building Bridges....

Having tried to throw off the ravages of jet lag, I gave up trying to fight the sleep demons and went for a walk early. It was steaming hot even at silly o’clock, so I headed to the East River on the Brooklyn side.

There is a tiny park nestling between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. It seems tiny because it is dwarfed on either side by these two gargantuan structures that seem to stand over this small patch of greenery in such a dominant way. The bridges seem even bigger than they are due to their height, no doubt built so the bridge decks would allow masted ships to pass beneath.

Brooklyn Bridge was opened in 1883 and is a truly impressive structure. I marvel at how the builders of the time managed to create this masterpiece in stone and metal. At the time it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. John Roebling who designed it and his son Washington who completed it has true vision and I take my hat off to them both. No wonder it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

The Manhattan Bridge was completed slightly later, in 1909. It carries 7 lanes of road and 4 railway tracks and like its neighbour, is truly magnificent.

One of the things I wanted to do in New York was to see these two bridges and photograph them. I went back later to the park as the sun was going down to take a shot or two of the bridges. As it was a hot day, the small park was crowded with people just sitting there, like me, watching and photographing the bridges as the sun changed how they both looked.

Yesterday was a busy day. As well as watching the football games and photographing bridges, I collected the bike from the airport. I had heard some horror stories about how long this might take, how difficult it could be to clear customs and that the bike might have been emptied of its life giving fuel, that I approached it with some trepidation. I needed have worried, as it was all very easy. Finding the right buildings in the cargo area was simple, the lady at Continental Airlines Cargo was very helpful, the Border Protection Customs Officers were really helpful (and had a genuine interest in my bike tour), the foreman at the cargo warehouse help me un-crate the bike and there was enough fuel in it to get me back into Brooklyn. No sweat! All very easy, so thanks to all involved.

I rode my first 14 miles on my bike in the USA!

I guess as I rode my bike, the 23rd June was the proper start of the tour.


682202 said...

Congratulations on the start of you journey. New York has got to be about as good a place to start as any, I think NY is America in much of the worlds eye, but you will soon find out that's not really the case. I look forward to reading updates as you travel around the country. I'm sure that as you progress you will see both the good and the bad, but hope but that it's mostly the good stuff.


biker baby said...

I love New York, we had the pleasure of staying in Manhattan with a customer of mine from my previous job. 3-4 days. I can't say I would want to live there, but I would love to go back.

I am very excited for you. Good weather be with you!

Learning to Golf said...

Great pictures Gary and in 10 days I get to see it for myself. Can hardly wait. Glad to hear Customs wasn't a nightmare and you are riding.

Unknown said...


Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns Grow. The first step of 14 miles is just the start of an epic journey that will take you across the country, and generate memories of a lifetime.

Do you have autopilot ? then you could grab a few winks of sleep . You are already one day ahead of schedule which you could save as a rain day

Wet Coast Scootin

mq01 said...


FLHX_Dave said...

Whooooooooo!!!!! I have never been to NY....pfffttt. Well, glad to see you have the bike on the asphalt. As I read this I kept thinking about the flick "The Fastest Indian".

Looking forward to more.

SonjaM said...

Gary, I wish you well on your epic tour. Ride safely and keep the shiny side up. Can't wait to read your tales from the road.
New York is an awesome city (if I say NY, I mean Manhattan...), I would not want to live there, but I like to visit every once in a while. Needless to say that I love your bridges.

Gary France said...

GAW – Many thanks. I like New York and yesterday I went for a ride around Manhattan – it was steaming hot and the traffic was very busy, so not great riding conditions! Maybe you are right that the world see’s NY as being “America”, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I look forward to seeing it all, both the good and the not-so-good.

BB – I agree with you, a great place to visit, but not to live. Thanks for your weather wish – as I sit here typing this I am on the 23rd floor of my hotel looking across the East River at mid-town Manhattan, with clear blue skies just willing me to get on my bike and ride, which I will be doing very shortly!

AHD – I hope you enjoy being here. Let’s see if we can meet up in 10 days time. I will give you some tips about cleaning oil off those poor creatures down south!

Bob – You are absolutely right. Those 14 miles riding from JFK Airport into central NYC were quite enlightening for a first ride in the US. I was quite happy for a short first ride – the oaks will follow. I have been taking it easy for a couple of days and the real riding starts today with 250 miles to Boston.

Mq01 – Indeed!!!!

Dave – I laughed out loud when I read what you said about the Fastest Indian. It was a little like that, as I walked into the customs building and saw many obviously experienced drivers collecting stuff, I said in my poshest English accent “I have never done this before, so go easy on me”. That really helped as the customs people then realised I needed their help which they were pleased to give. Burt Munro would have been proud!

Sonja – Thanks for your good wishes. NYC is awesome indeed, for there is nowhere quite like it in the world. I will be trying to post every day, but I seem to have failed today as I made a video of riding around Manhattan, but for some reason I cannot upload it. I will try again later.

iansolley said...

I would have commented sooner but i got so drunk Wednesday cheering England on that i have only just recovered. I am so glad to see you got there safe and the bike is all fine too. I will diarise a note in my Ical to check daily!

Oz said...

Glad all is starting off well for you. This is going to be great. Glad you are enjoying NYC. You will soon visit states with populations less than NYC. It will be an amazing contrast. Be careful.

Helena Königsbäck said...

Your NY video is interesting and the pictures are extremely fine. You will see very very different views of USA after New York. I will follow this blog with interest. Have a good and safe journey. Like the person above says; be careful.

Gary France said...

Ian – Watching both the USA and England games at the same time was, well, challenging. I had to go pick up my bike from the airport after the game(s) so drinking was not possible for me, but I was tempted. Tonight we are in Calais in Maine, right next to the border with Canada. We have just leant that there will be no bars open here in the morning, so we are going across the border into St. Stephens in Canada to watch England play Germany.

Oz – Since NYC we have now been in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. No doubt these have populations less than NYC as some parts are very quiet – in fact the trees make more noise than the people!

Helana – Thanks for looking at my blog. I am looking forward to seeing as many different views of the USA as possible. I did about 600 miles in the last two days, so I have seen a lot already. I will be careful – thanks.