No monoliths in Manhattan.
This ride displays the contrasts of the Upper East Side, with the high-tone apartments on one end seemingly like a different world than the new developments and housing projects on the other. This loop will serve up opportunities that only New York can. Pleasant riverside stops, a gourmet feast or quick New York bite, and some historical architecture just to round off a perfect day on the bike.
Gearing up for the ride.
We’re looking forward to the day when we can circumnavigate the island entirely on bike paths. The west side is just about done; the east side has a long way to go.
This is a very simple ride. It would be perfect for virgin bike riders, if it weren’t for stretch along First Avenue, which calls for the usual attention needed for navigating city streets, even with a bike lane to ride in. Spoiler alert–enough drivers and walkers don’t think the bike lane is real.
This loop starts on the East River taking you on the East River Esplanade, down as far as you can go. Most of the river section is typically empty, and the benches facing the river and the piers, of which you pass two, invite stopping. It’s only when you get to Gracie Mansion that you’re likely to encounter more than a few people hanging out.
Carl Schurz Park, home of Gracie Mansion, is a pleasant little diversion. The park and the site of the mansion itself, was, thanks to its position on the river, a strategically important.
Watching the East river south of Hell Gate and north of the 59th Street Bridge is fascinating, as you can see the strong currents that dominate this tidal strait. Even big boats seem to have difficulty fighting the current. The current goes both ways, so it depends on the time of day.
First is last.
First Avenue displays many phases of urban planning and how city planners saw the city or didn’t. You start with luxury high rises, but then pass old tenement buildings, in what had once been a heavily Hungarian and German neighborhood, modern mixed income housing, and classic city housing projects. Which ever way your taste leans, enjoy exploring the contrast and diversity of this area on two wheels.
Food and Drink.
There are no shortage of coffee shops, bagel joints, restaurants, and delicatessens along First Avenue. The culinary star along this avenue is probably Patsy’s Pizzeria. You’ll probably have to lock your bike outside.
Gracie Mansion, located in Carl Schurz Park. The official residence of the city’s mayor since 1942, it is also a historic home, built in the federal style in 1799 at a spot on the shore of the East River overlooking Hell Gate. There are tours on Wednesdays. Call ahead for a reservation; dial 311.
Bill of Particulars (Upper East Side Bike Ride)
To the start: You can take the 4, 5, and 6 trains to 125th Street and Lexington Avenue and ride down to 120th on Lex. You can also take Metro-North to the 125th Street-Harlem stop, though you’ll need a bike pass for them. Metro-North is on Park. Just ride down to 120th on it.
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 358 Feet
Terrain: Open roads and bike paths
Ride Rating: @
Notes: Lots of rides can grow from here.