Admittedly, NYC feels a little unfamiliar on bike.
Being lazy, I've always been a big fan of the swelteringly hot, muggy subway, whose stations always smell like a public restroom that's been attempted to be cleaned - unsuccessfully - with some industrial strength bleach. On previous visits, I learned how to appreciate that blast of sticky air that clutches you in its uncomfortably warm embrace as you slide your Metrocard through the ticket gate. The NYC subway might not smell like roses, but it was convenient. Especially compared to Boston.
But on bike, I'm almost longing for Boston. NYC looks almost unrecognizable above the underground subway. And clutching onto my brakes, trying to stay constantly alert for a door, a pedestrian, a taxi intent on cutting me off, I'm desperately trying not to get lost. Armed only with a cellphone and pieces of paper with scribbled street names [my sister doesn't have a printer], I started to understand the disadvantages of always flying solo.
Sucking down liquid courage in the form of one of NYC's best lattes from Jack's Stir Brewed Coffee, I made my way uptown after a morning of intense fabric shopping to perfect a skill I've been honing for the past year or so, but in a new city. And in a new shop.
NYC Velo to be exact. I'd heard it was an awesome shop, from both my sister [who bought her bike here], and a few other reliable sources. I had to check it out. Besides, this was the perfect opportunity to sharpen my "hanging out at bike shops for unnecessarily long periods of time and refusing to leave" skills.
For the record, I wasn't expecting to achieve IBC levels of loitering. This is an unfamiliar shop, in a kind-of unfamiliar city. I didn't even have a wingman to aid in eating up the shop's minutes, much less one to hold my hand and guide me through the city. NYC might be a grid, but the people definitely make this city unpredictable.
Adrenaline still pumping from the ride there, I was sweaty and frazzled when I walked into the shop. But once I did, I finally managed to exhale. And inhale. Bicycles. Ahhhhh.
Not just bicycles, but bike parts, shoes, and most impressively, lots and lots of bike clothes. There were baskets of gloves, hangers full of kits, and shelves of t-shirts. It's like a concept store but with legitimate substance behind it; it's not a fixster shop where it's only about what everything looks like. NYC Velo's the serious yet stylish cyclist; one who knows bicycles and likes to shower regularly. But one that's far from pretentious.
I went into the shop fairly confident that this shop was going to live up to its reputation. And it did. I didn't expect to leave, though, feeling comfortable. And in a way, not so lost.
On the way home, scrolling through my recent call history on my phone, IBC showed up on my screen [yeah, I almost have that shop on speed dial]. If I lived here, though, I'm pretty sure that NYC Velo will definitely have that special place in my phonebook.