Sunday, June 23, 2013

New York Citi

On the flight over to New York from Boston, I overheard a conversation the guy sitting next to me was having on his phone. He was describing his brother, who was in his sixties and cycling 40 miles a day, as someone who suffered from that "disease, you know, that thing that some kids get which make it hard for them to relate to other people - ah, what was it called again?". I actually got chatting to him and was very surprised that, as a University lecturer as he turned out to be, he couldn't remember the word "autism" and thought that it was a disease. The reason I mention this is because, the next morning I met up with a friend who had gone to the trouble of picking up my New York City 2012 Marathon "non-finisher's" medal and, by a strange coincidence, she was now working for a charity promoting awareness for autism.

One day this will be worth a fortune on ebay ;-)
While I was waiting for her, I had a Red Bull but I was surprised to find a new, completely calorie free version (the sugar free can has about 10 calories). The flavour was a little different and I actually preferred it, so I look forward to that coming to Europe. (Red Bull is a Austrian company based on an original Thai drink.)

As I would have to spend most of the day in the office and I was meeting friends for dinner in the evening, I squeezed in a brisk 40 minute run around Central Park before meeting up with Elizabeth. The combination of the drum 'n' bass music at 180 bpm and the game of overtaking other runners meant that I found myself running at a pace of 4:10 per kilometre, even though I had told myself to take it easy. I arrived back to the hotel drenched in sweat, in spite of it being relatively cool still at that time in the morning.

I decided to try out one of the new Citi bikes, New York's answer to London's bike scheme (which, in spite of being sponsored by Barclays, are commonly referred to as "Boris bikes" after the Mayor of London who is a keen cyclist). Perhaps Michael Bloomberg was secretly hoping that the New York equivalent would become known as "Bloomberg bikes" but that sounds equally corporate as Citi Bank. Anyway, after much faffing around with the slightly clunky bike checkout system with its pages of disclaimers and rules, I took a bike down 30 blocks to a shop which stocked Minecraft memorabilia as my kids are currently hooked on the video game craze.

I didn't get too far though, on my first attempt. Unbelievably, one of the pedals came off the bike and I had to walk it back to the nearest bike rack. Bear in mind that these bikes are very solid and brand new! A couple of workmen who I asked for directions to the bike rack stood there shaking their heads in disbelief.

By now it was dinnertime so I headed to Brooklyn in a cab. I had seen on a map that the bike scheme only covered the south part of Manhattan island but had I known that there were also bike stations in Brooklyn already, I would have made the journey by bike (and have got there much sooner and with 20 dollars more still in my pocket).

As usual, I woke up very early. It's partly due to jet lag but the sun rises much earlier - in fact, by that token the time difference is exaggerated. It's certainly the case that Madrid is out of line with Morocco and Portugal which are in the same time band (I have heard that this was a pact between Franco and Hitler) but the sun seems to rise very early in New York and people also eat dinner very early. I didn't feel too much like running after my night out but I dragged myself out of the hotel. This time I deliberately left my music behind so that I would run at a more leisurely pace (around 4:30-4:40) and, rather than running round and round Central Park again, I decided to head up to Spanish Harlem and back. In an hour I made up as high as 120th street before having to turn back. It always fascinates me how the houses, the shops, the people and their cars change as you go from one end of the avenues to the other.

I caught my flight later that afternoon and I am now writing this on Sunday morning, waiting for my family to wake up. The kids must have gone to bed quite late (there are signs that my wife had a party) because it is very unusual for them to still be sleeping at 9:30 on any day of the week. It looks like it will be a lovely if not a little too hot day. Perhaps I can convince the family to go out on a bike ride: I find exercise the best antidote to jet lag.

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