Sitting in a Jewish deli on the Upper West side of Manhattan, chomping away on a pastrami on rye, I asked myself- Well how did I get here?
Our original plan was to cycle the entire Pacific West Coast from Vancouver to Tijuana however we also wanted to be in Europe to cycle along the Euro Velo trails in time to meet up with family and friends in Switzerland in a few weeks. I should be so lucky to have such a problem.
After much discussion we decided to spend a few days in San Francisco, walking what was left of our our legs off, then fly to New York.
After seeing as much as I could of San Francisco, I got busy getting organised. Flying with two touring bikes is a logistical nightmare! Luckily we found a bicycle shop not too far from where we were staying that could box up the bikes (for a hefty fee). The problem was when I went to pick them up there were in 4 boxes not 2. “Those are big bikes those Aussie Vivente’s. We had to put the wheels in two separate boxes.” This was not what we were expecting as we carried (dragged) them two blocks back to our hotel.
A quick trip to a Goodwill store saw us pick up a couple of second or maybe third hand luggage rollers. We packed as much in them as we could and we each plan to carry a full pannier and rack top bag onto the plane. We had too much gear, even after we gave away stuff that we knew we could do without. No wonder riding some of those hills was so hard!
I don’t know how but we managed to fit the 4 bike boxes, our cases, panniers and each other in a small mini van that came to pick us up at 5am. This was after the original cab company we had ordered, failed to turn up. I was in a slight panic not wanting to miss our 7am flight! We bid The Pacific Coast a fond farewell.
At the San Fransisco Airport terminal, passengers were berated and ordered about like sheep by the petty and officious national security staff. I was frisked, probed and x-rayed. When our names were called out over the intercom, I flinched involuntarily expecting the intrusive rubber glove. Thankfully they only wanted to confirm our seating, whew! We flew Virgin America because I hoped they would be bike friendly and I was right. I had heard horror stories of other airlines fleecing cyclists to carry their bikes. My hunch was right.
We landed at JFK in brilliant sunshine and had to wait for a cab big enough to fit all our gear in it. I managed to once again cram all our gear into the oversized taxi. We then survived the manic and crazy tooting cab driver’s suicidal antics all the way to our hotel.
Out walking the streets of New York tonight, I feel the city alive, pulsating with a raw human energy, it’s exciting and somehow familiar.