Bridge Gome

Here’s SupergomeAE’s account of the Manhattan Bridges Run last weekend:

(to aillustrate this story, check out Big Dave’s Manhattan Bridge Run Photos on
After arriving in NYC late Friday, I got up bright and early Saturday and dragged myself onto the train to meet Dave in Brooklyn. I quickly got my traditional once-per-trip subway screw-up out of the way, and we rendezvoused outside Dave and Tina’s apartment and hopped on the bus to Marty’s place.After getting a quick look at Marty’s oh-so-cool and almost-finished loft, we piled the bikes into the freight elevator and started kicking them on the sidewalk. Tina’s VBB started for me on the second kick despite not having been started since it left Denver two months ago. Meanwhile, Dave was kicking and kicking his Rally and getting no love. A look at the plug revealed that it was getting gas, so Dave put the cap back on and discovered that it had no spark.Things were looking somewhat grim at this point, as the ride was scheduled to leave from the lower east side of Manhattan in less than twenty minutes. However, in true scooterist style, Marty went back upstairs and returned in a couple of minutes with two plugs. The one he pulled out of his Chetak was the wrong thread, the wrong reach, and God knows what heat range, but he had also come up with a tired-looking B8ES. While Marty was getting the new plugs, I took a look at Dave’s old one. Apparently, it had spent some time under water, as the electrode was covered with about a quarter-inch of coral growth. Seriously, I’ve never seen a plug so dirty.The new plug, although dirtier than most of the ones I’ve discarded, cleared things up and Dave’s bike was soon ready to ride. After getting some quick directions from Marty, we set off across the Williamsburg Bridge, which, having been recently repaved (and still under construction), was the smoothest pavement we were to see for the next five and a half hours. After a quick and much needed dose of fresh gasoline for the bikes, we met up with the rest of the group (who had luckily, and graciously, waited for us) on the lower east side at 12:30. After some quick introductions, we set off west on Houston Street to the West Side Highway and headed north toward the George Washington Bridge. It was here where we first saw the beauty and necessity of lane splitting, as heavy traffic and construction slowed traffic down for much of the way.Traffic was also quite heavy on the George Washington, which was a good thing as it helped to keep the speeds down to a comfortable level. Here for the most part, splitting was not necessary, as traffic was moving at first and second gear speeds. We took the first exit off the GW to avoid getting spit off onto I95 and then had a short jaunt on Palisades Parkway before turning around and heading back across the GW. Unfortunately, a six dollar toll is in effect in the Manhattan bound direction.From the end of the GW, we exited onto the Henry Hudson Parkway and headed north. Traffic was flowing freely until after we paid the $1.75 toll for the Henry Hudson Bridge and crossed over into the Bronx. There the traffic was terribly backed up and barely moving, but luckily there was a painted shoulder just about one scooter wide, so we made great time despite the congestion. From the Henry Hudson, I think we eventually wound our way to Broadway and headed south to the Broadway Bridge back into Manhattan. I think we stopped for gas and drinks in the Bronx a little before the bridge, but I can’t be sure. Scoot madness was already taking hold, and I’m not at all familiar with that part of the city.From Broadway, we crossed the University Heights Bridge back into the Bronx. We had a scooter break a clutch cable somewhere along here in the shadow of the elevated train tracks, but I’m not sure exactly where. In any case, it was greatly welcomed by Dave and I, because there was a pizza joint across the street and we were both starving. A gang of scooterists had the clutch cable fixed and the bike ready to roll before I could finish my slice!This Bronx portion of the ride definitely featured the worst pavement of the day. In some sections it had a definite resemblance to the surface of the moon. Luckily, the speeds were mostly low and it wasn’t a huge problem to cope, even on an eight-inch bike. The VBB may also have sucked a piece of crud into the idle jet, as it developed a marked reluctance to idle, perhaps exacerbated by the dragging clutch.From the University Heights Bridge, we wound our way down to the Washington Bridge and crossed back into Manhattan. We then dispatched the Macomb’s Dam bridge to the Bronx and the 145th Street Bridge to Manhattan in short order, despite some truly terrible pavement and some frighteningly swervy and sharp grated surfaces.We took a quick stop for water and map consultation before tackling the Madison Avenue Bridge, the 3rd Avenue Bridge, and the Willis Avenue Bridge, ending up back in the Bronx. That all sounds pretty impressive, but went very quickly because the Harlem River is narrow and the bridges are all pretty close to one another. From the Bronx we headed south to the Triborough Bridge. We paid another $1.75 toll there, and got off in Manhattan. From there, we headed down the east side to the Queensboro Bridge, though I can’t remember exactly how we got there. I know we got on the FDR at some point here, but I’m not sure exactly when, as I was starting to get tired and heavy traffic meant I was paying more attention to keeping up on the VBB and getting where I was going than figuring out exactly where it was that I was going.Once in Queens, we crossed the Pulaksi Bridge into Brooklyn and meandered our way down to Bella Classica in Greenpoint. After a quick look at the small but chock-full shop and a much needed rest for my ass after four hours on a saddle seat, we mounted back up and set off, anxious to polish off the last three bridges.It didn’t take us long to get across the Williamsburg Bridge, or squeeze our way through Chinatown traffic to the Manhattan Bridge. With the ride nearing its completion, I felt like I could relax just a little and enjoy the amazing views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn. The sun was shining, the skies were clear, and I felt like I was seeing the city in a way I never had.Unfortunately, one bike conked out on the downslope of the Manhattan Bridge and did not restart on reserve. Luckily, there was a gas station very close to the end of the bridge, so a quick push, some gas, and a few kicks took care of that problem.A quick nip across the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge, with many surprised and admiring glances from the pedestrians walking down put us back in Chinatown, from when we joyously lanesplit our way to the finish line at Bar Veloce in the “East Village” and parked right up on the sidewalk. Pilsner is not my favorite beer, but that first big slug of Stella Artois was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.My third ride of the day across the Williamsburg Bridge was required to return the bikes to their temporary homes in Marty’s apartment. After helping the temporarily-gimpified Marty move some furnishings, Dave and I hopped on the busThe ride was perfect, and well worth coming up for. It was a pleasure to meet and ride with so many scooterists, and I really have to give massive propers to Joe Grant, who lead the ride (two up! crazy.) and never put us wrong. Also, thanks of course to Dave and Tina for the loan of her bike, and to Marty. Next time we’ll get liquored up, guys, I promise. Besides, at Mayhem, I won’t have a bike, so I won’t have anything else to do!All in all, I’m ready to do it again!–Chris “Supergome(c)” Schachte