Emma Silversides: cycling in New York

Emma Silversides is a professional cyclist for the Lotto Belisol team and is based in Belgium. Here she shares her insight into the continental women’s scene.

I enjoyed a week in Cheltenham with a combination of visiting friends, running, swimming and some riding with my old club, Cheltenham and County. The weather disappointed on the last day there and I was forced to wash the bike for the first time in a long while.

I did this reluctantly and a little voice at the back of my mind was doing a good job to dissuade me from packing the bike in the bike bag ready for my trip across the Atlantic; is New York really the place to be taking a push bike?

I was leaning towards the negative answer on this one; I’d seen the films and TV series depicting the manic city with its one-way criss-cross avenues and streets. With my luck this year did I really want to tempt fate like this?

I chose to take the bike just simply so that I could not regret not taking it I guess. The questioning of my decision did not cease, however; as I went through baggage in Heathrow, customs in JFK and finally took a ‘cab’ to my friend’s apartment block on the upper east side in Manhattan no one was making an effort to hide their surprise or to share my forced optimism about the concept of a ‘holiday in New York, with a bit of recreational cycling!’

At 7pm we arrived at one the many entrances to Central Park and instantaneously entered another world. Honestly. In the five minutes it had taken to ride there I had weaved in and out of traffic, dodged opening doors and been through six sets of lights, but here was a car-free haven filled with walkers, joggers, runners (yes, there was a definite difference), rollerbladers, skaters and cyclists.

The next day we packed in 100km on New Jersey’s roads. I guess that I had been rather stupid to think that I would be riding on quiet lanes similar to those that I love so much in Yorkshire and indeed in the Cotswolds; this is America! Their lanes are comparable to our A-roads and it is certainly not frowned upon when you ride along the dual-carriage way to reach these ‘lanes’.

We took in some great climbs, never really long, but enough to offer some great views of the mountains beyond the vast autumnal multi-coloured woods. The colours were breathtaking. 

I am writing this from the comfort of the apartment as it pours with rain outside; a trend sadly predicted to continue for the remainder of my stay here. If this is true I will not get to ride again here which disappoints me somewhat. I find it really inspiring to see so many people enjoying the sport despite living in an environment which where jumping on a spinning bike or other static cardio machine would be much easier.