Thursday, June 16, 2011

Central Park Cycling Topped Off By Top of the Rock

Our New York Marathon
Day 15
Monday, June 13, 2011
We have saved our shortest bike ride for last—today we will circumnavigate Central Park. A distance of just six miles, we figure it will take us a couple hours, leaving time to stop for pictures. We end up riding, and walking our bicycles, around the park for over four hours.

It takes way longer than we expect for two reasons. First, and most important, the park is far more interesting, scenic, and beautiful than we anticipated. Second, we cannot ride our bicycles anywhere but on the road—counterclockwise. Therefore, every time we want to see something that is off the road along a paved path, or if we realize we have just ridden past something we want to see, we have to dismount from our bikes and walk them to whatever has caught our attention.

Also, before we even get to the park, we are distracted by the magnificent sky scapes around Columbus Circle, where Donald Trump has built his hulking black glass tower as a monument to himself, and across the street the Time Warner Center mirrors the sky as it soars above a shiny sculpture of the earth.

But, let’s get to the main attraction—Central Park, which is bustling today with horse-drawn carriages, pedi-cabs, dog walkers, strollers, and lots of bike riders, but no motorized traffic, except in a couple small sections of the perimeter road.

We stop for lunch beside a large pond where we watch radio–controlled model sailboats maneuvering around a marked course.

We linger long at the highly ornamented Bethesda Terrace, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead to be the centerpiece of the park. A fashion shoot is taking place on the plaza there, an artist is painting the fountain, a musician is strumming his guitar and singing in the echoing cavern beneath the stairs down from street level to the plaza, lots of rowboats are out on the lake, and the people-watching is grand.

When we get to the Shakespeare Garden it is time for frozen fruit pops, before we climb up the garden-covered hill to Belvedere Castle for a panoramic view of the park below. Everywhere we turn, there are beautiful vistas, artful statuary, interesting people, and many other reasons to stop and look around.

By the time we are done with our ride, we have walked about four miles, cycled over six miles, and taken around 300 pictures.

After we return our bicycles, we head to Rockefeller Center, where the Art Deco architecture and statuary are worth another hundred pictures, at least.

We take the elevator to the Top of the Rock for daytime views of the city to complement the night time views we had from the Empire State Building last week.

And, once again--this turned out to be a busier day than we anticipated, so we were glad to get back to the apartment, feed Willis, and then just walk out the door and have an endless number of dining options within a few blocks of our front steps.

After dinner we went to the extremely popular 16 Handles for dessert. It is a yogurt shop with 16 flavors of non-fat (some of them non-sugar, too) yogurt that you serve yourself, and purchase by the ounce. They have a nifty concept—draw people in to get a low-calorie dessert, then tempt them to try multiple flavors in the bowl, so they end up serving themselves more yogurt than they would normally eat, and have a huge bar of rich toppings and candy/cookie mix-ins and syrups between the yogurt machines and the cash register. I didn’t see anyone in the long line ahead of us that ended up at weigh-in with what looked like a low-cal dessert. Between the two of us, we ended up with $14 worth of yogurt/mix-ins/toppings at the weigh station, and I can assure you that the calories in our desserts far exceeded the calories we had consumed from all the rest of our meals and snacks today put together.

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