50 Fun and Insightful Things I Learned While Running and Riding in New York City

By Christopher Cudworth

photo (1)#50. Citi Bikes are not fast, but they are fun.

#49. Renting a Citi Bike costs $9.00 for 24 hours, but you can buy a season pass for $70 and save a bunch of money.

#48. There are more Schwinn bikes per city acre in New York City than any other place I’ve ever seen the country. Or so it seems.

#47. Bike Fossils are common on the streets of New York, which says that some people give up, move out and leave their frames and bent wheels behind.

#46. The woman with the unidentified accent who happily shook her fists and said “Go, Go!” at the end of my run looked pleased that I smiled and called back, “Yeah baby!”

#45. The man sitting on a step on Delancey Street who spoke what sounded like Polish and pointed at me with a big smile on his face because I looked him the eye said something with an inflection that seemed like it meant, “I think you’re nuts, but if you’re happy so am I.”

#44. Wall Street actually has the type of stones that in Europe would be called pave and would be fun to cycle across if a race were held in that district. Instead what I saw were barriers all around the main buildings to keep people from driving car bombs into the front. What is wrong with this picture?

#43. Running and biking path up the East River is really great from the Williamsburg Bridge to the United Nations building until you take a wrong fork and wind up in a fenced-in cul de sac because it’s rather like you’ve just been put in prison for thinking about getting near the place.

#42. Walking is as good as running in New York, and you pretty much need to do a lot of it to seen anything.

#41. Seeing Jersey Boys was a good brain workout but the actors and actresses must be in pretty damn good shape for that production.

#40. Prayers go out to the actor (Daniel Curry) whose leg got crushed by an elevator during the production of Spider Man, because that snakebit play can’t seem to buy a break but that gives whole new meaning to the old saying “break a leg.”

#39. Women runners own New York City. Especially New York City Running Mama.

#38. Women runners now have fashions that fit their needs, but the cool part is that fashion seems heightened as a rule in NYC.

#37. Passing cyclists while running over New York City’s bridges did not make me feel special or better than anyone. Instead it made you appreciate that people have different goals, needs and brains, and that’s a good thing.

photo (5)#36. It may be true that only the strong survive in New York City, but that means there are more than 8 million strong people in the metropolis. Some of them survive more colorfully than others, that’s all.

#35. Bikes are neither an indication of wealth, a sign or poverty, a commentary on social position or fitness, nor a commodity or necessity in NYC. They just are.

#34. I admit it now. I never “got” what the New York City Marathon was about until I ran under the Brooklyn Bridge after a glimpse of the Verrazano Bridge moments before and went, “Aha. Now I see why it’s so special.” It actually GOES somewhere.

#33. Running in Central Park is not what I expected at all; flat and uninteresting. The pictures on TV never really capture its topography, which makes you realize they must have flattened the rest of Manhattan and it’s rocky terrain

#32. Runners in New York, as a general rule, do not seem to feel the need to  “show off” like they do in other cities by jogging on corners and making a spectacle of themselves.

#31. I literally almost got killed not paying attention on a running trail because it was early in the morning and I shifted left to get onto a path and a black SUV tearing through the parking lot almost ran me down. And that’s New York too.

#30. It’s a tie between the significance of graffiti and tattoos.

#29. A sunrise in New York is free, until you do the accounting of living there.

Dining at Walter's for brunch.

Dining at Walter’s for brunch.

$28. Prices for lunch and dinner were surprisingly reasonable, and the food was excellent everywhere we went. So you’ve got to work out to live and eat in NYC or you’ll get fat.

#27. Living on the 5th floor of a walkup apartment, as my son does, is a pretty damn good way to keep fit.

#26. The Empire State Building is still one of the coolest buildings in the world, and even thought I did not run far enough to actually touch it, it touched me.

#25. New York is a city of relationships, both personal and communal. People were great everywhere I went, and coming home on a Saturday night there were many couples with their heads on each other’s shoulders, buying time in each other’s hearts.

photo (10)#24. The New York City Subway may be the best tool for running diversity ever invented, because you can guiltlessly zip from borough to borough for new running routes and not drive a car around to get there. The air conditioning was working on every train I rode.

#23. I saw at least 50 pretty superb looking cyclists in full racing kits but wondered what routes they ride to get consistent, high-paced mileage without stopping at lights all the time. Remains to be learned. Meanwhile, there were plenty of stylish people riding normal bikes who seemed to be having just as much fun.

#22. Hipsters on single speed bikes were not rare, but not as common as I thought they’d be.

#21. The cyclist I saw delivering Dominos Pizza in a big carrying bag really looked uncomfortable. Riding through vehicle traffic with a big pizza box on your lap is a formula for disaster of one kind or another. A pepperoni slick was not out of the question.

photo (3)#20. Owning a bike in New York apparently does come with the risk of it being stolen. So crappy bikes are popular. Sturdy ones too.

#19. There weren’t as many potholes as I thought there would be. But when I tried to buy a Yankees cap, the smallest size in all the stores was 7 3/4. Do New Yorkers have naturally big heads or something?

#18. Walking down 5th Avenue brought back all kinds of memories of the first 5th Avenue mile when Sidney Maree ran a 3:47 and beat all those world class milers back in 1981, or whatever.

#17. I want to get in shape again and run the 5th Avenue Mile.

#16. The 9/11 Memorial is profoundly, exceptionally conceived and a must-see when you visit New York. Give some money and walk through the lines, it’s worth it. You’ll never photo (2)run off at the mouth about that event in history again.

#15. Someday I’d like to bike a reported loop of 60 miles around the perimeter of New York City. That would feel like you’ve really done something special.

#14. I saw no New York Road Runner’s Club shirts on anyone. Anywhere. Why is that?

#13. It must be pretty freaky to come straight from Kenya and run or win a race in New York City. To quote Stevie Wonder: ”Just like I pictured it. Skyscrapers, and everything…”

#12. Flying in over the south side of the city where the estuaries were at low tide, the birder and nature lover in me had to admit, “This city does not belong here. Nature wants it back.” Which makes you wonder what will happen when global warming hits for real. Sandy proved the point. The subways were flooded.

#11. I could never race up the Empire State Building or any other “race” up all those steps. After a few stories it would remind me too much of being a janitor during college. Then I’d quit, find a mop and lie down with my head on it.

#10. If David Letterman or any other famous person goes for a run around NYC, do people leave them the hell alone?

2010-09-30-JOHNLENNONNYC#9. John Lennon once lived in New York City and reportedly loved it, because people knew enough to give him space for the most part. But the idiot who killed Lennon should never know peace. He doesn’t deserve it. I want to someday run past the place where Lennon lived and Imagine him walking the streets.

#8. My son picked out clothes for me at a store called TOPMAN where I selected shoes that were designed strictly for appearance, not for running. And that’s the point sometimes, in New York City. Fashion statements.

#7. I would like to be a peregrine falcon in New York City, because there’s plenty of meaty pigeons to be eaten. And flying between the buildings would feel pretty cool.

#6. One can’t help wonder who you’d meet if you lived in New York City, and sat in a Starbucks or local coffee house writing your heart out when in walks a person you might photo (13)want to meet. Or it could happen on the street. On the run. On a bike. But something similar happened to me recently in a different way. So I don’t need to imagine, entirely. But I do wish it for you. Or anyone you know. May that silhouette coming in the door turn into something real for you. Or a friend. Love in New York City and beyond.

#5. I love that Sonny Rollins the saxophonist taught himself how to play while rehearsing on the Williamsburg bridge. Happened to read that in Men’s Journal while I was in New York.

#4. Ideally, I think you’d have about 4 bikes to ride around New York. A road bike for speed. A mountain bike for trails. A beater bike for dining and drinking. A single speed for hipster cred, preferably with orange wheels and a green frame.

#3. If there’s anything I’ve forgotten about running or riding in New York City, I apologize. But I reason that I actually don’t know much about the city in 3 days. Of course! And you really do forget more than you recall on such trips. Which is why I often get down to street level to make contact with the world…

photo (7)#2. I love the street level view of any city in the world, but street level photos in New York City seem to mean a little more. Which is why I get down low and try to run across the right view.

#1. All my expectations of New York City were debunked, and all my expectations of New York City were fulfilled. That’s why you go to New York City. To have your expectations shifted. On the run and on the ride. And all points in between.

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About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @gofast and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and at 3CCreativemarketing.com. Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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