Urban Glory – Blood, Sweat & Tears

Well, Ok… no blood and no tears, but there was a lot of sweat!

It was a hot summer day in NYC. Alternate side parking rules were in effect. [For those of you who don’t know what that is… the street sweeper machines clean the streets in NYC nearly every weekday, so for an hour and a half you can’t park your car on certain streets on certain days.]

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a spot the night before, so I had to move my car on this particular morning at 11:30am. It happened to be a blazing hot day.

I was lucky enough to find a spot within about 15 minutes (sometimes it can take an hour or more to find a spot… and when the parking gods are really frowning upon me, sometimes I don’t find a spot at all and have to pay to put my car in a lot (the joys of living in NYC)!

The spot I found happened to be right in front of a huge Pathmark that even has its own parking lot (very rare in NYC), about a mile and a half from my apartment. As it happened, I needed a few things, so I figured I’d stop in. I often ride my Coker with 3 - 4 bags in each hand, as long as the items in the bags aren’t too bulky or heavy. Out of pure laziness, I usually go to a closer grocery store that doesn’t have near the selection as this Pathmark, so I was looking forward to picking up a few things that I usually can’t get at the stores right nearby.

Well, let’s just say I got carried away. For some reason, I wasn’t too concerned about the size or weight of the items I was selecting, so I grabbed: a 2 quart container of orange juice, a gallon of milk, a six pack of Guinness, laundry detergent, a big container of mouth wash, a three-pack of paper towel, a whole bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables (since the produce selection at this place was far better than my local stores), a dozen eggs, and a bunch of other miscellaneous stuff. All in all, I spent $140 and I had a cart filled with 8 or 9 bags. It was at this point that I realized I may have bitten off more than I can chew, so to speak, in terms of getting home. That point became more worrisome when I got to my car, took my Coker out of the trunk, and tried to figure out how I was going to get on. Motivation was on my side and I didn’t want to look like a fool by having to repeatedly attempt to get on the thing with my grocery bags. Free mounting would be impossible, so I held on to a street sign post that was nearby on the sidewalk.

Miraculously, I managed to hold on to four bags and the sign post with one hand while I held the Coker in front of me with my legs, then bent down and picked up the other four bags with my left hand (I pre-arranged the handles so they were all close together and could be more or less grabbed at once), positioned the seat between my legs, pushed back on the pedal without holding the seat and got myself up and balanced while holding on to the sign. I adjusted my butt on the seat while the bags in my left hand banged against my leg (I was happy the eggs were in my other hand) and immediately realized that theses bags were really heavy to be riding with – heavier than anything I’ve ever carried while riding (for more than just a block or two). Heck, they were heavy to just carry without riding! At this point I thought to myself: I’m a complete moron, I don’t have cash on me, and although the taxis take credit cards… it would be nearly impossible to find a NYC cabby to accept a CC payment for a trip that’s just a mile and a half down the road. Plus I didn’t even want to deal with the hassles of finding a cab while my perishables were getting heated by the hot sun. So with a slight push off the sign, off I went…

This was a horrible idea! Not only are my veins popping out of my arms and my hands and arms are killing me (while the sweat streams down my face), but my legs are also really feeling it, too. Every imperfection in the road is magnified, the weight of the bags in each of my hands isn’t exactly equal, and balancing is far more difficult than it had ever been before. On top of that, all of my attention is focused on just riding and not falling, so it’s hard to pay attention to passing traffic… and nearly everyone who passed me either honked their horn or yelled something out the window.

I had ridden about 10 blocks and was approaching two charter buses that were parked on the side of the road. The driver of one of them, a woman in her late 40’s who was standing on the sidewalk saw me pass by, seemed pretty surprised, and said something complimentary as I rode by. By this time my arms and legs felt like they were going to fall off, so I had to dismount (which consisted of letting my Coker just fall down behind me as I landed on the ground with my packages in each hand (and hopefully most of my eggs still intact). She thought she had distracted and made me fall, but I had gone as far as I could at that point and I assured her (once I was able to breathe again) that she had nothing to do with my stopping there. I guess she felt sorry for me when she saw me nearly hyperventilating and sweating profusely, so she offered me a bottle of Poland Spring, which I gladly accepted. I was going to search for the tasty Valencia orange juice in one of my bags, but was happy not to have to bother.

After taking a break for about 10 minutes, I could feel my legs again, so I decided I better move on… I still had more than half the distance to go. Realizing that the cars are a nuisance and the road isn’t all that flat by the side near the curb where I was riding, I figured a better bet might be the nice bicycle path along the river directly on the other side of the street I was riding on. Getting to the bicycle path was going to have to be a multi-part task. I could walk across with all the bags or I could walk across with just a few bags and the unicycle (what good is that going to do?), but definitely, not both… unless I could figure out a way to push the unicycle with my chin! Not being all that adept at pushing things with my chin, I asked the nice bus driver lady if she would watch my unicycle while I hobbled across the road with my grocery bags to the bicycle path on the other side. She gladly obliged, I hobbled across the road, put my bags down next to a support column for the FDR highway (which I would use to help me get back on my ride) and then ran back to retrieve my ride before someone helped themselves to lunch on me.

Getting back on was a bit more challenging then the first time, but I pulled it off without too much frustration. I was off once again, this time on the bike path. I passed several people who seemed quite amused… and almost as many who didn’t even seem to even notice. I made it a decent amount further than I had on the first segment, then once again felt like my arms and legs were going to fall off and had to stop. The Coker took another fall, the grocery bags banged against my legs, and I once again wondered how many good eggs I had left.

I once again rested and got my breath back, waited to feel my legs again, blah, blah, blah.

When I finally arrived at my door step, I felt like I had conquered Mt. Everest! After I carried all the bags and my Coker into the entrance way of my apartment and then up two flights of stairs, I unloaded all the bags. Two broken eggs… not too bad :slight_smile:

Anyway, I’m not really sure why I wrote this post other than the fact that I was really amazed that in my current somewhat out-of-shape condition I managed to be victorious in conquering the road and completing my journey and thought perhaps maybe someone out there would enjoy hearing the story. I hope some of you (or at least one of you) enjoys reading this post. If not, well at least I have an historical account of one of my more challenging rides! I’d enjoy hearing other people’s stories about pushing themselves to try things on their uni that they didn’t think they could do, or at least weren’t sure if they could do…

Hey, That was a fun read.

The big question is, since the Guinness made the journey in tact with narry a scratch. One asks, did you celebrate with a… Guinness?


And here I thought the big question was "Did you find any steep ramps along the route and pull some quick verticle 180s whilst hauling all those groceries? :smiley:

Nice to see such a great and long-overdue write-up from the hardest core of coker riders. Hope you’re back now with some frequency…

Thanks for the write-up of an impressive feat.

Welcome back to the forum Andrew! Fun write up.

Yah, it was nice to hear from you. Aside from not buying so many groceries in the first place, why not put the non-perishables in your car and make two trips? Yeah yeah, next time. :slight_smile:

I had a fun one last week on my 29er; I’d bought a couple six-packs of beer for the football tailgating party, and I was riding with the beer in plastic bags. As I was approaching a downhill, one of the bags ripped, dumping the beer on the ground and totally throwing off my balance. I came off the uni at a forward run, faster than I’d been riding, but I managed to avoid falling.

The truly good news was that none of the beer bottles broke.

I’m glad you guys enjoyed the story… makes my accomplishment even more fulfilling.

Thanks for the warm welcome back and your kind words, Tom… coming from one of the forum’s top contributors and someone with SARS, it’s especially nice to hear from you! I’m going to try and post more often now that I’m riding regularly again.

Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately), I didn’t find any steep ramps on the way back… if I did I may have opted to sacrifice the perishables in order to have some fun on the way home. For the sake of a cool picture, I would probably attempt pulling a 180 at the top of a ramp with perhaps 1 or two light bags in each hand. The thought of attempting it with as many bags as I was carrying does sound like it would make for some pretty entertaining footage for some kind of wacky bloopers show, though… I’m kind of picturing food and spilled beverages all over the ramp and me upside down!

Regarding the Guinness… I didn’t drink any right when I got home because I wanted to save them for that night and to me the Holy Nectar is similar to Nestle Quick and potato chips in that - I can’t drink it slow (Nestle Quick) and I can’t have just one (potato chips), so I didn’t want to risk not having any for later on… or having to ride back and forth to that store for another 6-pack (the local stores only sell the stuff that’s brewed in Canada which I don’t consider to be authentic Guinness. True Holy Nectar is only produced in the Holy Land - Ireland :wink: . Plus, the Canadian stuff doesn’t have the mechanism inside… but even if it did it wouldn’t be the same!

Thanks John, Steve, and pdc.

To answer your question, John, the reason I didn’t put the non-perishable groceries in the car and make two trips is three-fold:

  1. The logical section of my brain was in the “off position”, thus the reason I purchased so much stuff in the first place.

  2. Pure laziness of going twice. Even though going twice may be less effort and perhaps equally as time consuming as my journey, when one’s logical brain is in the off position, one-trip seems more efficient (just get home and be done with it). Not having to sift through the bags to pull things out was another factor that reinforced my original plan.

  3. Last, and perhaps most importantly, for some reason my brain was in unicycling triathlete (I can do anything) mode for some reason, despite my body being not nearly ready for the task as a result of my very limited amount of conditioning up until that point… but my brain won, so it was a painful but rewarding experience!

Glad to hear you didn’t break the beer, tholub… it’s amazing that UPD’s often don’t wind up nearly as bad as they could!