Citibikes docked at their rack. This is how I bike around the City, day or night.

The most important part of the bike ride, of course, is the music. For the fall and winter pandemic months of 2020, when I first started going back to the office without using the subway, this was generally George Michael’s Freedom ’90. On repeat. My seasonal obsession with that song sprang from the lick I discovered when trying to learn the keyboard part by ear. The third bar is not a transposed copy of the first and second; it is something fresh and wonderful. (Sheet music here.) Of all the cover versions on YouTube, and even live performances with the performer himself, this is the rare exception I found where the keyboard player picked up the nuance.

After a long dose of Freedom came a period of Galileo. Not the 16th century astronomer, but the Indigo Girls confessional. The hook in this song is the unusual drumming, a challenge my officemates will attest with exasperation I was able to master on the desk drums. Nothing like a hollow, raised floor (for cabling access) to give resonance to an office bass drum.

Galileo gave way to Rush’s Limelight, a perennial favourite.

The journey home begins at the corner of Madison and 41st, and specifically in the left hand lane, because just two blocks north, we turn left on 43rd. The ride west is pretty pleasant. The street is newly paved, and with the re-introduction of the white paint marking the bike lane, motor vehicles mostly leave a gap for you to get to near the “head of the line.” Approaching Times Square in bumper-to-bumper traffic, though, watch out for pedestrians crossing between cars! One apparent tourist was once looking the other way and walked into the single vehicle traffic.

I was the vehicle. “Look out!”

I put out my arm to soften the collision and ended up ditching to the pavement to avoid hitting them. Again, traffic was stopped, and it must have been a good bit of entertainment for the waiting drivers. A slight butt-bruise was my only apparent injury, and it turns out the pedestrian remained standing, hardly touched.

I picked up the bike, they apologized for walking without looking, and I continued my way across Broadway.

Then I felt it. There was liquid on the backside of my jeans.

I felt only minor pain from the fall, but was I bleeding? There had been no liquid on the ground where I landed; I was sure of that, having observed the pavement from close up. Was it blood? Had I been cut so badly that I didn’t yet feel the pain?

In the left back pocket of my jeans, I always stuff a 2 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer. It turns out this bottle helped break my fall. And I ended up breaking the plastic bottle, mostly flattening it and forcing out the liquid contents. At the end of my ride, it was to be the most sanitized bicycle seat in New York City. At least that night.

The ride north on 8th Avenue enjoys a separated bike lane with full green paint. This makes for a pretty safe ride all the way to Columbus Circle, as long as you watch out for left turners from outside the City who don’t know they have traffic on their left, not just pedestrians, to watch out for. An out-of-state license plate is a surefire caution sign.

After Columbus Circle, it’s smooth sailing on another separated lane with Central Park on your right.

I finally do go left. Sometimes at the American Museum of Natural History. Sometimes before, if I’ve pre-ordered a pizza at Freddie & Pepper’s, where they know me by name and are known to bring out the pizza to me if they see me waiting outside. Waiting outside? Yeah, its still the pandemic.