Central Park by bike

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Whenever I am in New York, I like to do something different. One of the new things this time was a bike ride tour through Central Park. Obviously, as this was my fifth (I think) visit, I have been to Central Park before, but never been on a bike to do it. I went with these folk and I really wanted to do the Harlem tour, but it was the wrong time of year sadly. So Central Park it was. We were issued with fabulously awful green helmets and reliable Trek bikes and given instructions about the current hostility to bike riding held by police (there is apparently a big war around bike lanes going on in New York) and headed the couple of blocks up to the park.

First stop was the Trump Wollman Rink. The guide/bike leader was very good and gave us all the history and background. It is funny to think that Central Park during the 190s and 1980s was very much a no-go area for sensible citizens, especially at night, when murders and rapes were not unommon as the city could not afford to look after the Park. I actually recall all the police procedurals and dodgy movies with murder in the Park as their setting. Of course, all is restored now.

We learnt about the creation of the Park and its history and the story of the Wollman Rinkā€¦and Donald Trump’s not-so-philanthropic gesture to save it. No one was skating at the time – I contemplated skating both here and the Rockefeller Centre but figured that as it had been so long since I’d skated, I risked spraining an ankle, which wouldn’t be fun for the rest of the trip.

It was then off to the Mall where people would promenade after being dropped off by their carriage to the other end where they got picked up. Which was here…

..and here you also get to see me in my very attractive green helmet. This is the only statue that was originally commissioned when the Park was built. All the others came later and, apparently, would have horrified Fredrick Olmsted, one of the original designers of the Park. It is also right next to the dead centre of Manhattan.

From there is was on the the (not uniquely named) Cleopatra’s Needle, whihc is just the other side of the Met.

We then had the “riding” portion of the ride – a 20 minute ride up past the Reservoir and around its far end before stopping to have a look. It must be said that Central Park is one of the few places in Manhattan where riding actually involves hills. While the island was originally quite hilly, it was blasted flat when taken over. The Park had hills put back into it as part of its design.

 

The Reservoir is now named after Jackie Onassis as it was her favourite part of the Park and she used to go jogging around it every day. You have to love the jogging path which mandates that you can only go in one direction. It was also here we saw the group of 2-3 year old who were tied together for their walk in the Park – seemed a little extreme to me.

It was then back to the Dakota Building and Strawberry Fields for our last stop. We had just been told how it was a quiet place when another tour guide turned up and yelled out information to her group. Good work, not.

And then it was back to the start. It was a nice ride for a couple of hours and a beautiful, if cold day. I was quite impressed with our guide who knew her stuff and was interesting. I am definitely keen to do Harlem next time.