Why We Ride - Bronx Edition
While Staten Island is referred to as “The Forgotten Borough”, The Bronx may as well be known as the “Misunderstood Borough.” While gentrification has indeed been slow to come, The Bronx has come a long way since Howard Cosell announced “The Bronx is Burning.” I led a ride there recently, and the comment that I heard the most was “I never knew this existed.” For many riders, The Bronx is a mysterious blank slate. That should change, as The Boogiedown Bronx is so worth exploring.
How to Get There:
There are a variety of minor bridges that head to The Bronx, but here are my three most taken routes. My favorite is via The Connector on Randall's Island. Randall's is accessible from Brooklyn and Queens via the RFK [Triboro] Bridge. But, this bridge does have stairs, an really should not be taken after dark for variety of reasons. A more pleasant way of getting to Randall's Island is via the 102nd Street Footbridge from Manhattan. From there, you make a left along the wonderful Riverside Trail and then ride under the arches to The Connector. Pro Tip – feeling lazy, you can take the Q train to the last stop and Randall's Island is a five minute ride away.
Want a more direct route, or don't feel like climbing the 102 Footbridge, head right up the First Avenue Bike Trail. This connects you to the Willis Avenue Bridge. From there, I often make a right on 138 and head to St. Anne's Ave to go north. Heading to the West Bronx, the Broadway Bridge is the way to go. It is not scenic, but gets the job done. From the Broadway Bridge, you are minutes away from Van Cortlandt Park.
What to See There:
Yes, I know that there are some crappy roads. The double parked cars on The Grand Concourse, the rut filled Pelham Parkway, and the Hobo Bike Trail on Park Avenue come to mind. Yet Da Bx has some amazingly great stretches of road. A personal favorite is riding through Concrete Plant Park, and then through Soundview Park, Clausen Point and Pugsley Creek Park. Concrete Plant Park is a great re-use of an old factory, right along the Bronx River. Soundview is a leafy pathway along the waterfront. Pugsley Creek traces the creek – and there are parts of the ride that you would never guess that you are in NYC.
Wanna hang out with those Dayton bike makers Orville and Wilbur Wright? Need to get inspiration from some great minds? The Hall of Fame for Great Americans is the place to go. The beautiful campus of BCC was formerly the NYU Uptown Campus, and was designed by the great Stanford White.
Too far to bike to a small New England fishing village? You can take the wonderful Hutchinson River Bike Trail right to City Island. Johnny's Reef Restaurant and Lickety Split Ice Cream are club favorites. Go a little further and explore the Pell Mansion. Go even further and the scenic Shore Trail takes you right into Westchester.
These are just three examples of the splendor of The Bronx, but there are so many more. Visit the tiny cottage that was the home of Edgar Allen Poe. Get nautical at Fort Schuyler. Head through Vanny to the Old Put Trail. Hoist a Void of Light at the Gun Hill Brewery. Ride the annual Tour de Bronx. Seek a miracle cure at Lourdes of the Bronx. And of course, every Christmas visit the X-mas house on Pelham Parkway – so gaudy Liberace would blush.
And of Course – The Food:
There are some amazing places to grab a bite in The Bronx. Here are some personal favorites in no particular order. All are worthy.
The Feeding Tree – Spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken on Gerard Ave near Yankee Stadium.
Taqueria Tlaxcala – Overstuffed tortas and horchata in Parkchester.
Landin Mac n Cheese – So many varieties. So tasty. Do not order the large. Melrose Section.
Paddy's on the Bay – Delicious bar food with water views on Pennyfield Road.
Com Tam Ninh Kiew – Hot Pho on a cold day near the Poe Cottage.
The Hungry Bird – Not for a group ride as no bathroom – but wonderful Indian food.
Johnny's Reef Restaurant – Because sometimes only fried clams will do. City Island.
Arthur Avenue – Just pick a place.
And in the End:
The Bronx sometimes feels like a world unto itself – where you never know what adventure awaits. Latin music throbs through car windows and Dominican chicken smells provide pleasant aromas. I have been blessed by a Shaman priestess. I have seen them pull a body out of Baretto Bay. But my favorite experience was on a group ride. A passerby asked if the ride was some form of event. I explained that it was only a social club ride. She responded, “A social ride in The Bronx – you must be f**king crazy.” Embrace the crazy – Boogiedown in The Bronx.