Sunday, October 25, 2015

Citi Bike: Cobblestones and Sweat

In my last post I wrote about trying Citi Bike. This past Thursday night, I downloaded the app and familiarized myself with bike docks near my usual destinations. On Friday morning, I was ready to try it. At 53 degrees and sunny with no wind, conditions were perfect.

Upon my arrival at Penn Station, I checked the app and saw that there were six bikes at the dock on 8th Avenue. Fantastic! This is going to work out well.

I walked out of Penn Station and approached the dock. Two of the six bikes had been taken, leaving four. No problem, right? I walked up to the kiosk armed with my phone to perform the transaction using Apple Pay. I entered my information, and the transaction was denied. 

In the meantime, two more bikes were taken. Drat. Two left.

I re-entered my information, and the transaction was denied again. It occurred to me that Citi Bike may not accept American Express. I pulled out a Visa card, got my bike code ticket, and was ready to go.

Now there was only one bike left.

I made my way to that last bike, but two other people had their eyes on it as well. I didn't stand a chance. A woman secured her bag, adjusted the seat, and was gone before I even got halfway there. She must have had one of those membership keys. 

I didn't have a bike, but I wasn't beaten. The app showed a dock two blocks away with seven bikes. Good. I went there, re-entered my credit card, and got on a bike. I didn't want to waste another minute putting my bag under the strap and decided to just go with it on my back.

Big mistake.

My destination was the World Trade Center area, so I hit the 9th Avenue bike lane and took it as far as I could, around Gansevoort Street. The lane ended and I knew I needed to get to the wide bike lane alongside the Hudson River. I found myself in a cobblestone street area. Those bikes don't handle well on rough terrain, so I rode like an amateur down the smooth sidewalks until I got to the west side and rode down the path the rest of the way.

Was it getting warmer?

I felt sweat bead on my forehead, and then realized that my back was drenched from the backpack insulating my body heat. Yuck.

I reached my destination, found an open dock, and with the help of an attractive, friendly young woman, I redocked the bike and made my way to the office. 

The back of my shirt was soaked. Yuck again. If I do this again, I'll carry a fresh shirt in my bag.

Will I become a Citi Bike member? I'm not sure, I need to downshift into low gear and think about it. I'm the one in the saddle, so my decision better have air in it. I will ruminate long and hard so I won't need to backpedal. 

Happy and safe commuting, and may you encounter uncommon sense.
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