Biking Manhattan On a Citi Bike

Picking out our Citi Bikes.

Biking Manhattan On a Citi Bike

For years, I have said that I would never bike around Manhattan. Basically growing up in the borough, I saw just how insane traffic in the city can be, and once I started driving in it myself, I proclaimed all bikers to be crazy.

Then Citi Bikes came to town, and suddenly the idea seemed to intrigue me more than ever before. However, I figured I could use the bikes and ride in the city parks, rather than risk it on the road.

That was until I spent the summer biking through Santiago and Montréal, and suddenly, I found myself with an opportunity to tour through Manhattan with friends. How could I turn it down? The answer was simple: I couldn’t.

Picking out our Citi Bikes.

Fast forward to a very early, very hungover morning: it was 7am and Mary Anne was raring to go. I, on the other hand, was still collecting memories of how we got to the hotel, realizing it was only three hours prior to this very moment. Still, how could I miss a day of biking and eating my way through the borough? I rested my eyes, gave myself a little pep talk and got ready for the day.

Once outside, I realized just how badly I needed coffee; luckily, our first stop was Abraço Coffee. Here, we met our unofficial guide, Waldo, and took his suggestion by ordering the olive oil cake. I also got myself an iced coffee. It was exactly what I needed for the day, though the hangover was seriously starting to kick in.

Iced coffee and olive oil cake from Abraço Coffee, NYC

Determined to kick the headache and upset stomach, I put it in the back of my mind as we headed to grab our bikes. Waldo had his own, so Mary Anne and I tested out the Citi Bikes. It was also at this moment that I realized I was without a helmet. For years, I had also proclaimed that anyone biking without a helmet was crazy; so, I was breaking two of my rules in one day.

We took our bikes out, adjusted our seats and hopped on, ready to take on the day ahead. I was nervous, of course, but it seemed to run relatively smoothly. Seeing the city by bike was different than I expected and much more calm than I anticipated.

All was going well, until we decided to hop up on the sidewalk to cross over the highway on our way to the park. I ran through a puddle, hit the curb on an angle, and tumbled to the ground. Mary Anne and Waldo came over to me immediately, along with a stranger who offered gauze and band aids for my scraped up knee. Waldo used his water bottle to clean up the cut, I put on my band aid, and hopped back up on my bike. The fall didn’t do much damage, but it certainly shook me up a bit, while also taking my hangover away.

The glamorous reenactment of my fall.

The glamorous reenactment of my fall.

After a bike ride on the East River, we exchanged bikes at another station, as they are supposed to be used at thirty-minute intervals, and headed to our first stop. Waldo’s idea was to collect food from a few of his favorite spots to create a picnic for us at the end of our bike ride.

First up was The Pickle Guys. Here, we feasted our eyes on barrels upon barrels of pickled items. We decided upon turnips and sweet gherkins, both of which I had never had, so continuing with the theme of trying new things whenever I happened to be with Mary Anne.

The Pickle Guys.

From there, we walked over to Essex Street Market, and I must say that I was glad to be walking for a bit. As much as I loved biking, my knee was grateful for the rest.

I immediately fell in love with the market. Even though I always make sure to visit markets during my travels, I had never been to this one right in my own backyard; I was thrilled that Waldo introduced us to it.

Essex Street Market.

We picked up some bread and had the intention of picking up cheese, but the shops were closed, as we arrived a bit early. However, this led us to head to another fantastic spot for cheese later on in the ride.

We spent a bit more time on foot, heading first to Katz Delicatessen for a pastrami and brisket on rye sandwich. While I had passed the deli about a million times, I had never actually been inside. I’m so glad we stopped in because not only was the sandwich delicious, but it took me right back to the scene that was filmed here from When Sally Met Harry.

Then, it was on to Russ & Daughters for smoked salmon. I’ll admit that it was hard to pick up all this food and not immediately eat it. Sure, we were saving it for our picnic, but the more we picked up, the more I was getting ready to eat.

Luckily, we wandered around a bit more on foot, which easily distracted me from my increasing hunger. There was lots to see in the neighborhood, and with a break from biking, I could enjoy the scenery without worrying about being run over.

A lion water fountain in NYC

Eventually, we made our way to Astor Wines because we absolutely could not have a picnic without some wine. Here we were provided with many options to choose from, but we decided on a rosé from New York to go along with the local theme.

We hopped back on our bikes and rode over to our last food stop. We still needed cheese, so we made our way to Murray’s Cheese Shop. Here, an adorable and entertaining man, provided each of us with cheese that he felt embodied who we were. I’m not sure exactly what that meant, but after a few samples, we finally decided on three cheeses to take with us.

Cheese at Murray's Cheese Shop, NYC

Then, we took our final, and most terrifying ride over to Battery Park. Having frequented the park in the past, I knew it was the perfect spot to enjoy the beautiful day. That being said, I screamed almost the entire time as we rode in between cars and across the West Side Highway to get there. To say I was excited to ride on the bike path overlooking the Hudson River for a bit is an understatement.

With my stomach rumbling and the hangover finally abating, I was ready to indulge in our picnic spread.

View of Battery Park from our picnic blanket

We found the perfect spot, spread out the blanket, opened up on the wine, and dug in while people watching and recounting our day’s experiences. We laughed about my spill and complimented Waldo on his recommendations. It was the perfect way to spend a late summer day, and easily doable for anyone.

Even though getting up that morning was rough, and I almost didn’t make it out the door, I am so glad I did. I may have taken a tumble, but for the experience I had, it was all worth it. Plus, the company was probably the best part of the day.

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Comments (14)

  1. Carol Schenk

    Your adventures are so wonderful but scare the heck out of me, lol I have never been adventurous, to say the least , but love living your experiences thru you. Your words make me feel as though I am there. You are a great writer and someday there has to be a book !

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Carol! So glad to have you follow along. 🙂 Don’t worry, a book is definitely in the works.

  2. Pola (@jettingaround)

    That is awesome (despite the fall – but lovely reenactment…)! Everyone says you must be suicidal to bike in NYC, but I see you’re still alive AND had some awesome stops along the way. I think I’d like to try that tour next time I’m in NYC. Maybe you could be my guide. 🙂

    1. The World Wanderer

      Ohhh, we should so go biking together! I thought it was suicidal too…but, if I made it, anyone can!! 😉

  3. lola dimarco

    oh how gracefully you fall! 😉 great way to spend a day!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Haha, thank goodness. That was a really bad hangover day….

  4. Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    The picture of a damsel in distress is well re-enacted! And again, said damsel in the jaws of a lion! I am just GLAD you were able to get your wine on after such a day 🙂 Sounds like a lot of fun was had!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Hahaha, awww, Raul! I’m blushing! LOVE being referred to as a damsel. 😉 It was great!

  5. Beth @ Besudesu Abroad

    Congrats for actually biking around NYC and coming out if it with only a fall!
    Bringing along a picnic seems like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

  6. Leah

    I’ve been really curious about the Citi Bikes. I’m like you, as I’d be a little nervous about riding on the NYC city streets. I think I’ll have to give this a shot the next time I’m in New York. Looks like y’all had fun!

  7. Traveling Ted

    I think this is the third time I have read about this fall. It is becoming legendary. Each time I read about it it gets funnier. I would love to read a post from Waldo’s point of view and the stranger with the bandaids. I love the dramatic recreation.

  8. the lazy travelers

    very proud of you for taking those citi bikes and making them your bitch! because i would def die. also, this made me seriosuly want treats from the pickle guys, katz’s, and murray’s cheese. three of my faves! xo, the romantic

  9. Five Travel Experiences to Have in 2015. | The World Wanderer

    […] visiting by bike. Many cities have bike shares, and two summers ago, I rode around New York City by CitiBike. I grew up spending significant time in New York, but seeing it by bike gave me a different […]

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