I rode the Bike New York 5 Boro Bike Tour this morning. It was my second year in the ride, which starts in Manhattan and follows a route through all five city boroughs along highways like the FDR and BQE, plus the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, before finishing on Staten Island. More info at the official web site. Last year I rode down to the start near the World Trade Center, where I got stuck behind most of the other 30000 riders, missed most of Queens, and finished the ride over seven hours after it started. While I had fun, the many choke points along the route that forced me and my fellow riders to walk our bikes went beyond annoying. So this year, rather than ride to the start line, I waited at home until the riders started passing my apartment (I live about a mile from the start line on Sixth Avenue) and jumped in. It worked better than I had hoped. I made it to the Astoria Park rest stop by 9:45, before they had even opened the route beyond the park. After a 20-minute wait, I passed two more rest stops and rode almost twenty miles without stopping. I was able to keep the pace that I wanted, instead of having to slow down to match the rest of the pack. I crossed the VNB around 11:30 AM (three hours earlier than last year) and was at the finish line festival before noon. I still had a long wait for the ferry ride back to Manhattan, so I didn't get home until 2 PM, but that was OK since I'd completed the ride proper in less than four hours, which is excellent time for me for 40 miles. After this athletic accomplishment, I'm going to have to push myself harder on my regular weekend rides. I can't wait until my friend (and erstwhile riding buddy) James moves up here next month.
I bought some new books today. Two more William Gibson novels (Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive), Rogue Planet by Greg Bear (a Star Wars novel), and an impulse buy, Mario Puzo's The Godfather. I love the movie, even though I've only seen it a few times (and what a crime, since I own the DVD), so I figured the book has to be excellent. I enjoyed Nick Hornby's High Fidelity even more than the movie, so we'll see how it goes with this one. I really want to read Dune: House Corrino and Alan Dean Foster's new Star Wars prequel novel, The Approaching Storm, but they're both still in hardback and way out of my budget. I can't stand to be without a book for more than a few days, so I was going crazy without any new reading material. It kills me to pay full-price for all these books, but there aren't any decent used book stores in New York that sell the books I read. I miss Second Story in DC. It was like a lending library where you don't have to return the books on a set date, and when you do return them, they give you money back. What a system. I checked out the Strand bookstore on Broadway, but they didn't have any of the sci-fi authors I read. I ended up buying Arthur C. Clarke's 3001: Final Odyssey, which was a great book, but I couldn't believe it was the only thing I could find there. It's all for the best, I suppose. The authors don't benefit from used book sales, so at least I have the moral high ground now (not that I ever felt any guilt for my previous book buying habits).