May 16, 2009
Like the old civil rights song goes, I woke up this morning with my mind set on, well, PEACE. And not just peace but biking for peace. The reason being: today was the third annual NYC-United For Peace and Justice Pedal For Peace bike ride. This was the third time I've ridden in this delightful, family-friendly fundraising bike ride. The ride has two goals: raise money for the important work that UFPJ organizes year round: the struggle to end the wars that are the legacy of the Bush administration and that are impediment to solving the dire problems confronting our country: a declining economy, increasing joblessness and loss of homes, lack of decent health care for millions of Americans ... and so on. The other reason: we just want to have some fun. And we did!
The day threatened to be a repeat of last year's ride which was a drencher. But though the clouds hung over us till the very end (when the sun suddenly appeared) the rain stayed away. That was not a bad thing - the somewhat cool day made biking a perspiration-free pleasure.
Here's my bike - bedecked for the Pedal For Peace bike ride.
The threat of rain, however, did frighten people - enough so that the ride this year was a bit smaller than usual. Never mind. It was small but still very spirited. We gathered at the north end of Central Park and prepared our bicycles with signs calling for peace and funding for our communities instead of warfare. People were in good spirits and itching to get on their bikes and pedal. Soon enough, Leslie Kielson , of NYC-UFPJ , gave us some last minute instructions. A marshal then gave us some tips to ensure a safe ride and off we went, out of the park and north through Harlem.
Coming or going, the message's the same: No more money for war!
This is really a lovely little ride as it take one through interesting parts of our city that you might not ever get to see: lovely streets in Harlem, then up into hilly Washington Heights where the old geology of our city is still very visible in the form of giant boulders of Manhattan schist looming on the side of steep streets. And then a stop for a snack, half way through the 15 miles, at historic High Bridge Park with fabulous views over the Harlem River far below us and out over the Bronx to the east. Historic because the High Bridge is the borough's oldest bridge connecting it to the mainland (yes, the Bronx is on the mainland!) It was not only a bridge but an incredible, early public works project of enormous magnitude as it is also an enormous aqueduct that brought fresh water from the pristine Catskill mountains to the faucets, sinks and tubs of the metropolis a hundred or so miles away.
Getting ready to leave the park and venture northward.
Out of Central Park and heading north through Harlem.
We reach our snack stop - historic High Bridge Park in Manhattan. High Bridge is visible way below on the right.
After some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and refreshing cold water, we got back on our steel steeds and headed back downtown. But the route now took us down the west side of Manhattan, along the Hudson on elegant Riverside Drive - beautiful! For a map of the route just CLICK HERE.
Cruising down Riverside Drive on our way back to the start point.
All along our ride, from beginning to end, we shouted out to passers-by the purpose of our ride. We were greeted with applause, shouts of approval and V-signs of peace. That was a particularly rewarding part of the ride, know that people who voted for Obama under the slogan "Yes we can!" were now saying to Congress and the President - "Yes we must!" Must end these wars that are robbing us of the ability to fix our economy and meet the urgent needs of our citizens.
I'm looking forward to next year's ride. I hope that you'll join us next time! It's fun and very worthwhile.
And here we all are - at High Bridge. A small group with a very large spirit! What a great sight!
To see all my photos just CLICK HERE.
A final comment: I'd like to share with you my feelings of deep gratitude. Therefore, this post is dedicated to all my friends and family who donated to my bike ride. I raised $1407.00 which goes to further the important work of NYC-United For Peace & Justice who are working so hard to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to bring our troops home - safe and alive, and to direct those funds to be used for rebuilding our country instead of for warfare and occupation. Thank you all so much!
And, by the way, if you haven't yet donated it's not too late! Just CLICK HERE to give right now. It's painless and easy and you'll be doing a good thing for our country and for our planet.