Monthly Archives: October 2008


Just over a week ago I took part in Bike MS NYC, a charity bike ride on behalf of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I was talked into it by my old friend Johnny Diamandis, who told me that it would be 60km. However, it turned out that he was a bit confused between kilometers and miles, and the ride ended up being 66 miles!

I didn’t do a lot of training for the ride, although I did use it as an excuse to buy a new bike (see blogs passim). However, thanks to the generosity of friends and colleagues, I was able to raise $1,210 in sponsorship.

The day of the ride started very badly — I had to get up at 5:30am while it was still cold and dark outside, and cycled through a torrential rain storm over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan to meet Johnny at Houston & Lafayette, and then Lee at something like 42nd and 2nd, before heading over to Pier 94 for the start of the ride. I also had a bit of a verbal altercation with an elderly motorist who was honking his horn at us repeatedly for several blocks.

The rain had eased off by the time we arrived and took our places in the starting chutes, but then it got heavier again just before the start at 7:30am.

We set off South down the West Side Highway, went under a tunnel and around the base of Manhattan, and then made our way up FDR Drive on the East Side. The rain was unfortunate, but thankfully the sky started to clear up a bit as we hit Harlem, and before too long we hit the first rest stop at Inwood Hill Park.

Although it had pretty much stopped raining, we were soaked through and cold, and were disappointed to discover that there were no hot drinks on offer — just water and power bars.

For the next leg us rejoined the West Side Highway again and headed South back towards Pier 94, where the ride ended for the 30 milers, but where the 66 and 100 milers were funneled off and allowed through the Lincoln Tunnel in groups. Going through the tunnel was a lot of fun!

By the time we emerged into New Jersey, the sun was trying to peek out from behind the clouds, and it wasn’t long before we reached the next rest stop at Lincoln Harbor for more energy drinks, power bars, fruit and water.

The third leg of the ride was quite tough — by this time we were riding on roads with regular vehicle traffic, and there was a steep climb up through New Jersey to the Palisades Interstate Park.

Riding in the Palisades was great once we got off the road and into the park, although there were a few more brutal hills to climb. Eventually we made it to the last rest stop for us 66 milers, Kiku Restaurant, around lunchtime.

Finally it was time for the homeward leg back down Route 9W South, over the George Washington Bridge and back down to Pier 94. I was pretty tired by this point — my knee, neck and shoulders were aching, and I didn’t have a lot of energy going up any hills.

However, I made it back to Pier 94 around 1:30pm, met up with Johnny and Lee who had got there a few minutes before me, and after getting a medal, immediately started gorging myself on hot beverages and barbecued food.

I was also entitled to go into the “MVP” area (I never did find out what that is an acronym for) because I’d raised over $1,000, and so had a couple of glasses of wine, dipped some banana pieces in the chocolate fountain, and had a much-needed 20-minute chair massage.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable event despite the inclement weather and fatigue because I had excellent company in the form of Johnny and Lee.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Last weekend I saw a band that I’ve been listening to in one form or another for almost 25 years — Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Gardens.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the 51-year old Cave, although unlike many of the bands from my teenage years, he’s put out a steady stream of quality work in multiple media for the best part of three decades (I also saw Echo & the Bunnymen earlier in the same week, and they only had a couple of songs more recent than the eighties).

I needn’t have worried — the band’s performance in the full-to-capacity venue was electric, and Cave ran around the stage with a manic yet darkly comedic energy.

My only complaint about the gig was that the sound was so loud when it peaked that it hurt and sometimes sounded distorted to my middle aged ears!

I’ve also been listening to Grinderman a lot recently, another Nick Cave project which Paul Facer tipped me off too. I highly recommend it.