Jun 2, 2008
This past Saturday, dozens of intrepid cyclists set out from NYC's Central Park. They were biking to raise funds for the NYC section of United for Peace and Justice, a national coalition of organizations fighting to end the war on Iraq and other issues of foreign and domestic policy. This was the second annual Pedal for Peace bike ride.
The turnout was smaller than expected due to dire predictions of heavy rains. And we did get poured on but, fortunately, not till the end of the ride. Still, the spirit of the riders was high and the dedication to the cause of peace, indefatigable. In the end, we raised $4,000 for our favorite cause: peace. And we had a fun-filled and rewarding bike ride.
Stacey mounts her bike at our house in Brooklyn at 9:30. We're setting off for Prospect Perk, our local coffee shop where' we'll meet friends and board the subway to Manhattan.
It was a cloudy day as we awoke Saturday morning and got ready to leave for Manhattan. The overcast skies did not bode well for a bike ride. But at least it wasn't raining and we hoped that the showers would at least hold off until after we were finished. We met our friend Roque at Prospect Perk, our local coffee shop, and then hopped onto the Q train where we met up with another friend, Sam and his son, Noah. We took the train to 57th Street and rode the 3 miles or so up through the park to the starting point: 110th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard.
Arriving at the starting point we found other bikers with their distinctive yellow t-shirts and lots of volunteers to check us in and cheer us on.
Out friends, Noah and his dad, Sam. They're ready to ride.
The riders were chafing at the bit, wanting to get under way and beat the raindrops. But first, some pointers and tips from Leslie Kielson of NYC-UFPJ. She reported on upcoming actions to end the war that the group was planning. Next the head marshall for the ride gave us advice on how to ride safely and what to do in the event of a problem or accident.
Finally, we were off. Up we rode through Harlem, a stream of yellow-shirted bike riders. Chanting (or in my case, bellowing) peace slogans demanding an end to the war in Iraq, the swift return of the troops and the reversal of priorities away from war and to meet people's needs, we were met with enthusiastic greeting from people out shopping or hanging out on their stoops. Many flashed us the V sign. Others cheered or applauded. It was very exciting and exhilarating.
This was a family ride with lots of young bikers for global justice and peace.
Bikes had peace signs mounted on them - people on the streets greeted the bikers with enthusiastic support.
Here's a great sight -- An entire family pedaling for peace.
Leslie Kielson, of UFPJ-NYC, gives a last minute pep talk before we pedal on out of Central Park.
We're off! At 11 o'clock the riders left Central Park and headed up through Harlem.
The view in my rear view mirror.
"We're riding today against the war in Iraq - to bring the troops home and to bring the money home!" People responded with applause and v-signs.
Heading up the very steep Macombs Dam bridge ramp.
The route took us through Harlem and then El Barrio where some of the riders shouted out "¡Fin a la guerra!" (End the war!)Again, folks on the street shouted back their support. Now we knew first hand what the polls meant when they said 70% of the American people hate this war and want it over. From my vantage point, on top my bike, it seemed like it was over 90% but that's not a scientific poll, is it?
After a while of huffing and puffing and a long upgrade near the very pretty Macombs Dam bridge (that leads to Yankee Stadium) we reached our destination - High Bridge Park in upper Manhattan at 168th Street. The High Bridge is NYC's oldest standing bridge and was built in 1848 to carry fresh drinking water from upstate to New York. The view from the elevated park is awesome and you can see clear across the Harlem River below and out across The Bronx.
Our rest stop at High Bridge park in upper Manhattan. Awesome views across The Bronx and beyond.
Bikers at our rest stop with the High Bridge Tower in the background.
Looking out from High Bridge park across The Bronx.
After being served sandwiches, apples and health bars we were ready for a nap but the rain began. It was a few drops at first but then a bit heavier. But we had quite a few miles to get back to our starting point. So we mounted our trusty steeds and headed back south. The rain came down harder and harder. But, we figured, once you're wet, you're wet. We adjusted our speed downwards (for saftey's sake) and had lots of fun as we finally reached Central Park again. The rain had soaked us but it not dampened our enthusiasm for what was a wonderful bike ride with a lofty purpose. We're all looking forward to the third annual ride next year and hoping it will be a bit sunnier and, yes, drier.
We rode through a pouring rain on our way back - but the spirit remained high as we returned to our starting point in Central Park.
For a slide show of all my photos, click here.