Body Conscious: How to Bike In Manhattan

August 12, 2011

Staying physically and mentally fit is the young person's holy grail, but there's simply no one right way to do it. In our Body Conscious series, we'll explore how some people protect their minds and bodies. Today, we map out a sweet big-city bike ride.

Last year, I bought a bike and everything changed. Feeling the wind blow through my hair and knowing I was getting an awesome workout while staying cool made me ditch my gym shoes for some sweet spandex and hit the open road. Good news: You can too.

A great long-ish haul ride to start with is a circuit around the bottom of Manhattan, beginning at East River Park and winding around west to catch the sunset. The East River Greenway is a bike path that runs down the east side of Manhattan. It bypasses ball fields, tennis courts and a running track before presenting bikers with an exceptional view of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. If your bike has seen some neglect, don’t be afraid to stop at Landmark Vintage Bikes on E. 3rd St. The shop, open seven days a week, offers everything from classic Brooks leather products to snow globe bike bells.

Once you've given your bike some TLC, hope back on the trail and take it all the way to its end at the South Street Seaport, close to the southeastern tip of New York.

At the end of the Greenway, cut inland toward Stone Street. Nestled in the heart of the Financial District, the historic cobblestone street is lined with restaurants and bars that offer seating right in the middle of the alley. Snack on fresh lobster or killer caprese salads at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar. It's an especially fun stop on the weekends, when the Wall Street clique migrates to the Hamptons.

After taking enough time off the saddle to avoid cramps setting in, hop back on your bike and head toward Battery Park. Take in the Statue of Liberty, sculptures and memorials. When the history lesson is complete, its decision making time. The Battery Park City Promenade leads you along the Hudson where you can take advantage of opportunities like sailing school, but the stretch is clogged with people and pretty slow going. For a nice unfettered spin, head up the West Side Greenway. You might miss the sunset, but seeing golden rays reflect off the newly constructed skyscrapers is just as nice and you'll avoid running over small children.

By this time its getting dark and your calves are burning, right? Do what any self-respecting cyclist would at the end of a long ride and grab a cold one. After pedaling north toward Spring St., hang a right and you’ll see the red glow of Ear bar. Officially called Ear Inn, the place is one of the oldest bars in Manhattan and if you keep it simple, one of the best. Grab a Guinness and leave your cell phone in your pocket. There’s outside seating and usually a friendly crowd that will want to hear all about you afternoon adventure.

Posted: August 12, 2011
Body Conscious: How to Bike In Manhattan