June-2001 report

Westside Greenway Path 

Ken Roberts reports:  

I brought my rollerskis into New York City on a sunny afternoon. I ended up skiing the whole length of Manhattan island, down its West side right next to Hudson river, and then I skied across the Brooklyn bridge.  

I saw lots of trees and grass, skied long flat stretches looking out across the Hudson river, interesting paths around buildings.  And lots of people . . . walking, lying, sitting, inline skating, running, bicycling.  Sometimes those people made unexpected moves, and then I was glad that I was on special rollerskis that have an active brake, the Jenex Nordix.

I started by taking the IRT number 1 subway up to 215th Street near the northern tip of Manhattan island.  The train was pretty empty, so carrying my rollerskis and poles was no problem.  Then I put my skis on, standing on the sidewalk on Broadway.

I started off north to see if I could make a quick visit to the Bronx.  And crossing the Broadway bridge over the Harlem River turned out to be easy.  I turned around, crossed back, and started my journey south down the length of Manhattan.  The sidewalks on Broadway and Nagle St were in good condition, and I immediately developed a whole new appreciation for those little
handicapped access ramps cut through the curb at most of the street crossings.  I was skiing classic diagonal stride ("kick and glide"), and using my poles a little for balance.  (I've modified my Jenex Nordix Classic rollerskis for skating, but I had done an hour and a half of skating the day before, so I wasn't doing any more today.)

Broadway climbed gradually, and I turned West on 181st St and climbed some more on the sidewalk to Fort Washington Ave -- the highest elevation of this tour.  Now 181st St continued down a steep hill toward the Hudson river.  I set the adjustable resistance on my rollerskis to the max, and with a little snowplow and a little active braking, I was able to get down it on skis.  Took a footbridge across the Henry Hudson parkway, but then the ramp on the other side was closed, so I had to sidestep down the stairway.  Some rough sidewalk, two or three more steep (but shorter) downhills, past some workers re-paving the path.

Now I was underneath the great George Washington Bridge and alongside the Hudson River, with almost no one in sight and lots of trees and grass.  So I started south on the flat path, and switched to double-poling.  After a couple of miles, the path ended at a building, but there was a sign to the left that said "Temporary Access" near an opening in a fence.  So I turned onto a street with no cars and kept going. This also ended, and again I found an alternate on the street to the left, then under the elevated highway, through a parking lot, and I was at the beginning of the next section of the path. But then a section on dirt, and I was glad for my big-diameter wheels. After that it was pavement all the way. I ended up double-poling for about an hour -- much longer than any previous DP session (and I've got the blisters to prove it).

Around SoHo I switched back to classic diagonal stride. And then happened what some might think could happen in New York City: A dark van stopped on the parallel street alongside and ahead of me.  A man got out and stepped into my path.  Of course I stopped.  Then the man spoke to me:  "It's great to see somebody else using the same kind of rollerskis as mine".  So we
chatted about our Jenex Nordix Classics, and exchanged E-mail addresses.

The lanes on the path in this southern section seemed like they'd be bit narrow for skating with rollerskis -- it worked well that I was on a classic stride day.  Next turned into the interesting esplanade through the World Financial Center plazas and gardens, and finally I reached the Staten Island Ferry terminal, at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Except that I couldn't resist exploring a little further. I continued East on some sidewalks, until I thought I was blocked by construction. I asked a guy if there was any more, and he said Yes, but I better be careful with fast-moving cars getting past the blockage.  (This was typical of the helpful directions and friendly comments I received from all the New Yorkers I encountered that afternoon).  So I waited for an opening and had some special motivation for some fast kick-double-pole work.  Then I was on a
nicely paved sidewalk that now was going back north up the East side of Manhattan.  

When I saw a sign for the Brooklyn bridge, I turned off.  I asked directions several times to get to the walkway for the bridge.  Soon I was skiing up the slope of the center of the Brooklyn Bridge, first on concrete, then on the old wood planks . . . bump-bump-bump.   And I was looking out high over the East River. I rolled down into the borough of Brooklyn, still in the center between the two traffic directions.  Then I found a way off to the side and asked for some directions to the subway.

In the afternoon shade next to a fountain, I took my rollerskis off for the first time that day.  Walked down the stairway into Borough Hall station, and headed home on the number 2. 

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| Description of Westside path | NYC Road Conditions

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