governors island: biking paradise

Today was one of those summer days that feels just right for being outdoors all day. Not too hot, not too humid, and with enough passing cloud cover that the sun doesn’t feel brutal. So I cajoled Stuart into a trip to Governors Island; I would bike to the ferry point from our place (about five miles) and he would take public transit and rent a cruiser on the island. Hopefully soon he’ll have his own two-wheeled wonder, and then we can both ride to the ferry!

Along the way, I stopped at Baked in Brooklyn and picked up some picnic supplies. When I mentioned my purpose, the nice lady even sliced up my demi-baguette so we wouldn’t be tearing hunks of bread apart to apply cheese. Thanks, lady.

Stuart met me at the ferry point (okay, he beat me there but in my defense I left 20 minutes after he did so it’s still faster by bike!) and we waited in line to get across the water. It’s a 3-minute crossing and a 20-minute wait to get onboard, but that’s the very last bit of unpleasantness you’re going to experience for the next few hours. Once we got there, Stuart rented his cruiser and we cruised down to Picnic Point, at the southern tip of the island.

smile! sunny sunday best

Stuart’s rented cruiser isn’t quite the style he has in mind for his soon-to-be-purchased bike, but he did alright tooling around the island on this Elektra Townie. Too bad the rented bikes are so, ahem, frequently used and loved, that the seat post didn’t quite stay put and the handlebar grip was half worn away.

We got to Picnic Point and, miracle!, found a picnic table in the shade between two trees, so we leaned our bikes against them, spread out our cheese and jam and bread, and went to town on lunch. Then because we couldn’t resist the siren song of ice cream on a hot day, we had some of that, too, from the Blue Marble Ice Cream mobile truck (powered by bike!) that parked nearby.

cinnamon ice cream

Here I am enjoying my delightful cinnamon ice cream with my bike in the background. By the way, I’ve named her Isabella Stewart Gardner, after my favorite lady maverick. I just call her Izzy. Well, no, okay, I mostly just call her “my bike”, but all the beloved vehicles in my life get names, and my bike is no different.

We kept going after our ice cream fest, and the sounds of music drew us inward to Colonel’s Row and the Punk Island music festival going on that day. It was delightfully dissonant to be looking at the butterfly bushes outside the Harbour School and hearing the strains of thrashy punk music.

butterfly garden

Perhaps my favorite thing about Governors Island, among many, is that there seems to be something new to see every time I go, no matter how many times I thought I’ve seen every corner that’s open to the public. Today, we rolled into the center of Fort Jay and found that the heavy doors to the weapons storage under the moat were now open. We wandered down there in the cool dark of the brick tunnels, looking at the stenciled lettering on the walls indicating which artillery went where. So cool. Then we emerged back into the sunshine, and took up with some rocking chairs on the patios of the barracks that formed the quad at the center of the Fort. Where else does the city just leave you some rocking chairs in the shady loveliness of a porch? Governors Island is magic.

We returned Stuart’s bike at 4:30 and headed back to mainland Brooklyn, and then, because we’re SO clever, we combined our outing with a grocery shop at Trader Joe’s. I chained up outside, we ran through our lunches and dinners for the week, and emerged with two full bags, which for once I didn’t have to find a place for on my bike – Stuart took them back to our apartment in a cab and I rode home, stopping for wine and good brioche buns for the evening’s burger dinner (on the grill! Summer perfection!).

I was pretty tired when I got home, but in the very best way. Sun and exercise, ice cream and burgers? I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday in Brooklyn.

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Categories: new york, photos, style, weekend rides | Leave a comment

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