Sometimes it's nice to meet the folks behind our "WCM team" signature. WCM board member, Rita Braun, took an amazing cycling adventure down the east coast during fall 2022. Here's a peek into her journey:
I once read that in order to survive a drive through Manhattan, one must be queen of her vehicle. So as my husband and I enter Queens en route to Manhattan on our vehicles of choice—bicycles—I anoint myself queen of my bike, then slip into my imaginary safety bubble. I tuck in behind my husband, inches away from his rear wheel, and commit to having a wild ride.
We road into Queens early morning on Indigenous Peoples Day. Surely many workers took the day off, but the streets bustled with vehicles of all kinds: not only motor cars, but an array of personal electric vehicles that included bicycles, skateboards, Segways, scooters, hoverboards, and unicycles.
Mostly driven by young people who likely never commuted by conventional bicycles, these e-travelers fled by with abandon and no bike etiquette. Not once did I hear the customary “Passing on your left!” But that is how New York e-travelers roll. I in my protective bubble remained steadfast in owning my space on the road while the Google Map lady dictated directions into my earbuds. It was the most alive I ever felt, and a highlight of our 2,400-mile bike tour down the east coast, from Brewer, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
Our imminent destination: Penn Station at Madison Square Garden (in Manhattan), to catch a train south to Long Branch, New Jersey, the birthplace of Bruce Springsteen. His birth there didn’t inspire this train ride, but the lack of a bicycle-friendly bridge across the Hudson Bay necessitated a ride on this train in order for us to get back on our bike tour south along the east coast.
So through Queens and Manhattan we flew. As we closed in on Penn Station, pedestrian and car traffic swelled, yet we arrived with just minutes to catch the next train to Long Branch. My husband dashed to the ticket counter. I took a breath of appreciation at the four national guard members keeping their eyes on the crowd of travelers.
Boarding the train required that we descend two escalators with our bikes, loaded with four fat panniers—escalators that seemed steeper and longer than memory served. My husband quickly descended the first escalator. I kind of shuffled toward it thinking, “I can’t do this” while my husband yelled “Let’s go!” from below. With much trepidation, I stepped onto the escalator and managed to keep both myself and my bike upright, likely with a look of terror, then grimaced and repeated all that for the second escalator down to the train platform.
Shortly after we got situated in a passenger compartment with our bikes—the train departed from the station, and we were off to Long Branch, the city that kicked off Bruce Springsteen’s glory days, and one of the places on this tour that we celebrated ours.