Jeffrey and I biked a 57 mile NYC loop yesterday. We’ve now done 202 miles on our substitute Ride.
Before we recount the day, we’re pleased to tell you that Michael Rozen, co-chair of the Board of Human Rights First, was moved by the generous response to his matching offer. He has increased his matching commitment from $25,000 to $50,000, and he has extended the deadline to match contributions through Friday, May 8. Click here to hear his message. Donate, mention the Ride, and you’ll get a Joey-Jeffrey autographed Beatles postcard!
Many important causes need your help. You follow our Rides, so this cause is important to you. If you are moved to help refugees and want our government to obey the laws that require our country, even during these hard times, to give people seeking asylum the right to be heard, your gift today will be doubled.
Our route yesterday:
Due to social distancing, we had only brief friendly conversations with people who called out to us from their cars. And one longer conversation. We’ll get to that.
We took a tumble halfway through. Our wheels came out from under us when we hit soft sand on a concrete promenade at the red-circled “C”, in Jacob Riis Park. Jeffrey had a few cuts and bruises. Nothing serious. He pedaled us home. I was unscathed.
If we had biked this far on our western Ride, we’d be in Bacon, Washington.
A pause in residential southwest Brooklyn.
About to go under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Wonder Wheel and Cyclone at Coney Island. Deserted.
Floyd Bennett Field.
Marine Parkway Bridge, and views from the southern span.
The sand that upended us blew from this empty beach.
We left the city for a few miles between Far Rockaway and Rosedale, both in Queens.
At Inwood, we waited for a passenger train to pass.
The driver of a car in line at the crossing asked about the Ride. After Jeffrey (through his mask) explained the asylum system, the young man asked whether we like the president. Jeffrey said, I don’t know the president; I don’t like what he does. The gate opened, and the driver drove off.
The driver turned into a parking lot where there were lots of cars and young men, all unmasked. Some tossed a Frisbee. All wore a parochial high school uniform. As we passed the lot, we heard a voice—through a bullhorn—insulting us and our mission.
I am a stuffed puppet. Sticks and stones can’t break the bones I don’t have. Words never hurt me. But Jeffrey could not let it pass. He turned around and pedaled me and his bruised bloodied self into the parking lot.
Jeffrey approached the men—not too close!—and pleasantly repeated what he’d heard. The men denied saying anything. The driver from the RR crossing didn’t meet Jeffrey’s gaze. Jeffrey took note of their uniforms and told them nicely that the non-partisan Rides are our way of doing what the Bible commands: to show respect for everyone, to love our neighbor. One man said, “We love you too.” Another said, “You’re being a voice.” Yes, Jeffrey said, from Proverbs: Be a voice for those who have no voice. Another man asked what we think of the president. Jeffrey said again, I don’t know him personally, I don’t like what he does. The man said he liked that answer, then disparaged the president’s political opponents. Jeffrey replied that when people of any political inclination understand the asylum system, they’re sympathetic to refugees. People all over this country want to be fair. They don’t want to hurt anyone.
The men were fascinated by our recumbent bike. They were amazed that our Rides have taken us to California, to Florida, to the Great Lakes. One asked whether we’d reached Michigan. “Yes. Upper and Lower Peninsulas.” “Then coming from Manhattan must be nothing for you,” another said.
We don’t know whether we changed any minds in that encounter. But there were no more insults. The men wished us well. We headed home.
Being in and around the City felt like being in America.
As it should.
Because it is.