Most of you are probably enjoying the resounding silence echoing through the blog this week, and here’s the reason. The Doras are off exploring, and this time it’s New York that’s the victim of choice.
The Doras are a highly inept, haphazard bunch currently consisting of my sister (Dinner Ladies, and Parenting fame) and Ify (who has yet to feature anywhere by the comments section, mainly because she’s bigger than me and has a death stare that could stop a charging rhino at 40 paces). The sole qualification for inclusion into this elite group is the ability to create chaos wherever you go, eat unhealthy food from street vendors without a food hygiene certificate and be able to sustain at least a modicum of good humor on one of my sister’s inevitable bicycle endurance tests.
And you need stamina, because jet lag is ruthlessly ignored. I inadvertently started this tradition when Sarah stumbled off an 11 hour transatlantic flight to be whisked off to Panda Express for takeaway. She may have been in transit for 18 hours, dragged 50 kilos of chocolate across London’s formidable public transport system and then endured close questioning from a surly immigration officer, but it was dinnertime in LA and she was getting Chinese takeaway.
She had her revenge. Six hours on a red eye to New York, an hour and a half on the subway system and no sleep for thirty six hours meant nothing. It was 8 am New York time and a new day was beginning. A tour of Washington Heights, a quick look at the river, deli lunch from Frankies supermarket and then off to walk Brooklyn Bridge. It was only the knowledge of twenty packets of Cadbury’s Giant Chocolate Buttons back at the apartment that kept me from throwing myself off.
Cycling around Golden Gate park was always going to be Ify’s favorite. Not. Last time we were on a bicycle, it was the torturous 30 mile trip from San Francisco to Tiburon, through some of the hilliest terrain that San Francisco has to offer. We learned some new words that day, and it was only Sarah’s superior turn of speed on two wheels that kept her from being throttled, especially given her habit of shouting loud and cheery encouragement at Ify’s mutinous form.
Yesterday’s bicycle outing was stunning in it’s lack of planning. Alighting from the subway on 5th Ave, we found ourselves swept into the middle of the massive Puerto Rico day parade, complete with thumping salsa music, hoards of scantily dressed women and general chaos that followed us for the entire day. Instead of the leisurely leafy freewheeling seen in all the movies, we spent the entire time pushing our bicycles around throngs of celebrating parties, all of whom seemed intent on poking our eyes out with the national flag.
But we had a great New York day, despite the crowds. The architecture of the buildings overlooking the park was beautiful, the lakes were glistening in the sun, and the mounted police waved cheerily from atop their horses as we labored by. But the cherry on top of the cake came at the very end, as we halted our bicycles ready to push them back up 6th Ave to the hire shop.
Apparently, racing cyclists feel they don’t need to obey red lights, regardless of whether or not there are stroller pushing pedestrians waiting to cross. We amateurs, however, are a far more courteous breed, and so braked gently to a halt, three abreast. It was too much for the speed racer behind us, who failed to slow in time to avoid us. He screeched painfully into the back wheel of Ify’s bicycle, only to find his feet still firmly attached to the pedals. I watched bemused as he toppled gently in slow motion into me, before reaching a fully horizontal position, still in racing crouch.
I don’t think we are intimidating, but the poor man looked terrified by the three women peering down at him. As he struggled to free his feet and extricate himself, he stuttered endless apologies and inquiries as to our welfare – ironic when when were the ones still standing. He wobbled off into the throng of people, disheveled and dusty, and only the little the worse for wear.
It’s incredible to see the full destructive force of the Doras in action. Still, it’s good to see Ify enjoying herself.