04/18/17 12:33pm
Denise Mei and Cait McLaughlin team up at class 3 of the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive on March 29 at the Lutheran Church of St John the Evangelist in Brooklyn for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals. Photo: Kate Ryan

Denise Shu Mei and Cait McLaughlin team up at the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals. Photo: Kate Ryan

The early birds entered through the red door of Williamsburg’s Lutheran Church of St. John the Evangelist at 5:45pm. They descended a flight of stairs to a basement with tile floors, chairs stacked against the wall, the lingering smell of incense.

And a bike workshop.

“Take a sticker, and write your name and pronouns,” said Denise Shu Mei to newcomers.

One woman carefully printed “Erika” and “she/her” before sticking it to her shirt front.

 

This was the third and final class of Mechanical Gardens‘ inaugural W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive. The hands-on classes were open to women, trans persons, and non-binary individuals.

The waitlist for the series, which stands for Women/Trans/Femme, was long and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Instructor Sera Stavroula said it will not be the last.

“People were excited that it wasn’t a 101 thing,” said Stavroula, 29. “There are classes like that: “Women’s Intro to Bikes,” “Women’s Intro to Riding,” “Women’s Intro to Flat Fix.” She said she wanted to offer something more challenging.

Erika Jozwiak ponders her maintenance options at class 3 of the W/T/F Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Intensive on March 29 at the Lutheran Church of St John the Evangelist in Brooklyn for women/trans/non-binary identifying individuals.

Erika Jozwiak ponders her maintenance options. Photo: Kate Ryan

Each night Stavroula focused on a different system, how it functioned, potential issues that might arise, warning signs, ways to fix the problem, and how much the repair should cost at a bike shop. She said students got their hands dirty and sized chains, recabled shifters, and changed tires and brake pads. They learn to diagnose and fix problems, and if they need to take their bike into the shop, this class should demystify the process.

Stavroula, who has worked with bikes for six years, was the first female mechanic at a pro-shop in Richmond, VA. Today she works as the Bike to School coordinator and a mechanic at Recycle-a-Bicycle in Dumbo.

“You go into a bike shop and it’s a lot of guys,” said Stavroula. “It’s hard to access that space if you don’t have experience.” (more…)

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06/28/16 10:42am
Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

There are all ways to enjoy biking in the city, but this gear will help you look cooler while doing it. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Brooklyn’s bike lanes and greenways cover over 300 miles, which is more than any other borough. There are Citi Bike stands sprinkled about conveniently, ready to take your credit card. To purchase a bike, check out our guide to the friendliest bike stores in the borough. If you really want to be a bike boss, and have the time and inclination this summer, the free class series at 718 in Gowanus will start you off learning basic maintenance and eventually how to design and build your own bike. Did I mention these are FREE? And, if you’re feeling intimidated, check out our guide to getting on a bike if you’re new to cycling in the city.

If you’re ready to put the pedal to the pavement, here’s the bike gear, gadgets and go-to’s that will keep you riding in style all summer long. (more…)

01/26/16 12:55pm

 

Its not always like this. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Its not always like this. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

So, how many icy lagoons did you step in, on your way into work this morning? It might seem like a strange day to talk cycling in New York City, what with the record-setting snow mounds still looming on every corner, but really, at its core, the blizzard we just experienced is a story about transportation and our frequent lack of control over how and when we get from place to place. Right now is not a great time to ride a bike, what with the rivers of slush everywhere, but for most of the year cycling gives you more control over your commute, and the way you navigate the city, than any other form of transportation, save walking in your own neighborhood.

Even before the snow, transportation woes were very much in the news, considering the possibility that the L train may close for up to 18 months for repairs (this article has an in-depth analysis of what that would mean for affected neighborhoods), and the announcement that the MTA will renovate 30 stations, eight in Brooklyn, over the next few years, which will shut those stations down during repairs. There are more bike lanes than ever in New York City, so it’s a great time to start thinking about how to get yourself off that crowded train and onto a bike.

Cycling in the city can feel intimidating though, so we spoke to Rich Conroy, director of education at Bike New York, about how to ease into riding a bike safely. (more…)

08/08/14 9:49am
Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

We originally ran this story in August of 2014–it’s been updated with additional information. After a return trip we’re pleased to report that the North Fork is better than ever. 

You don’t need a car to get out of town for a few days. Greenport, on the tip of Long Island’s North Fork is an excellent spot to explore by bike. Between the surrounding vineyards, Shelter Island and the town itself, a fishing village that is re-emerging from some pretty depressed economic times, with tons of new restaurants and shops lining the small downtown, there’s plenty to do, see, explore and taste.

No bike? Rent one. Dan’s Bike Rental includes a basket, lock, helmet, light and map, and they will drop a bike off at your hotel, or meet you at the train or Jitney. Rates start at $25/day, and they will come replace your bike and rescue you if you break down. Do note, these are easy-going, upright stance, city bikes, not serious road bikes. The general area is very flat, but if you’re traveling with speedsters on road bikes you should prepare yourself for a slower ride than the rest of the pack.

IMG_9274

Enjoy your private beach at the Silver Sands Motel. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

How to get there: If you’re planning on renting a bike, take the Long Island Railroad. Considering summer traffic, the three-hour trip is generally faster than the bus, and more comfortable. It is possible to take a bike on the LIRR, but only on certain cars on certain trains–it’s a pretty lengthy list of rules and regulations, and if you’re part of a group with bikes (unless you have nifty folding bikes) forget it. Depending on when you leave, the fare runs from $20-28, each direction. The Jitney on the other hand, is a snap with a bike. Just show up with your bike and they’ll stow it in a luggage compartment and then charge you once you’re on board. The fare is $23 each way ($19 if you reserve online), plus an additional $15 for your bike, and you get complimentary bottled water and chips onboard, usually. There are a few departure points from Brooklyn, as well as many in Manhattan.  Check the schedule for departure times and options–it’s very easy to change reservations from your phone, should your plans shift. The downside? Traffic.  (more…)

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07/29/14 10:09am

Between the Bike Cult Show—Brooklyn Bike Jumble’s annual exhibition of hand-built bicycles—coming up in Queens a couple weeks from now and the Bicyclists’ Ball being put on by Transportation Alternatives on Aug. 14, we’re definitely in a two-wheeled state of mind. Even without these upcoming events, summer in general is a busy time for cycling, and by this time every year, our two-wheelers start looking a little road weary. Here are five gear upgrades to help our bikes (and ourselves) go the extra mile. (more…)

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05/07/14 9:15am
Sat May 17, 2014
The Bike the Branches ride on Saturday, May 17 offers 12 awesome bike rides through Brooklyn, all of which benefit Brooklyn Public Library. Photo: Brooklyn Public Library

The Bike the Branches ride on Saturday, May 17 offers 12 awesome bike rides through Brooklyn, all of which benefit Brooklyn Public Library. Photo: Brooklyn Public Library

Missed out on registering for the Brooklyn Half? Not even remotely in shape to run 13 miles but can bike around the borough no prob? There’s another Brooklyn-wide event on Saturday that will feel like a major accomplishment when you finish it. Brooklyn Public Library’s second annual Bike the Branches is a choose your own adventure-style ride, and these detailed maps will help you pick your perfect trip–there are a dozen that will please history buffs, baseball fans, true crime lovers,  beer nerds and culture junkies. On each route you’ll pedal past a number of Brooklyn’s 60 neighborhood libraries, and benefit them all just by registering for an awesome ride you’ll never forget. You can also register in teams of up to 10 and make the ride more of a sporting event–the top three adults and children who visit the most branches will receive prizes at the end of the day.

05/04/14 10:00am
Sat May 10, 2014

Last week we picked Red Lantern as one of the friendliest bike shops in Brooklyn and this week they endeared themselves to us even more because, starting May 10, they’ll now be the gathering spot for a group bike ride–From Red Lantern to Red Hook–happening on Saturdays from 1-3pm, hosted by Albert and James. The two-hour tours cost $10 and will include stops in Vinegar Hill, Dumbo, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook, where you’ll get a chance to check out some of the neighborhood’s harbor views, pre-Civil War era warehouses and old trolley cars, as well as talk about its past involving both the Cthulhu Mythos and Al Capone, before returning to Fort Greene via the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Sounds like a wild ride.

04/29/14 9:09am

IMG_1339Yes, the too-cool-for-school bike shop where no one will talk to you unless you come in on a vintage Italian racing bike or a fixie you built out of bamboo and scraps from the metalworking studio you interned at is a cliche. But, judging from the number of people who say they hate bike shops when you ask for recommendations, it’s also a real thing. For anyone who has ever paid for the privilege of being thrown shade, here are seven bikes shops that are baditude-free, friendly and stoked to help you find a new ride or tune up your wheels.
 

Bike Slug: This small, subterranean shop is by far my favorite service spot in BK. Not only are its employees super friendly, they are also honest. Case in point: When my bike seat got stolen last summer, I went to Bike Slug to see about getting a replacement. I was looking for something consistent with my 1963 Philips Cruiser, which was proving to be a harder find than I first thought. Rather than trying to just sell me something they had in stock, the guys at Bike Slug gave me some website suggestions for where I could find affordable, classic saddles instead. They will even lend you a bag of bike tools for you to make mini fixes yourself instead of paying for service fees (though I recommend them for anything more than a minor adjustment). As a bonus, Bike Slug is right next door to the English pub Black Swan, so you can grab a pint or a bite while you wait for your bike repair. The shop also offers a pretty sweet delivery service when you buy a new bike on their website. They assemble it for you, mail you keys to a new lock and give you directions to a predetermined location where they’ve locked up your new wheels. Your bike comes ready to ride and the $39 delivery fee includes the lock. Bike Slug, 1050 Bedford Ave. (between Lafayette Ave. & Clifton Pl.), Bed-Stuy, 718-247-7347 –Jordan Galloway (more…)

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04/28/14 3:00pm
Sat May 3, 2014
Get Up and Ride has planned a bike tour around Williamsburg this Saturday with plenty of pit stops planned at some of the North Brooklyn neighborhood's best brunch spots. Photo: Get Up and Ride

Get Up and Ride has organized a bike tour around Williamsburg and Greenpoint this Saturday with plenty of pit stops planned at some of North Brooklyn’s best brunch spots. Photo: Get Up and Ride

Take a biking tour of Williamsburg and Greenpoint’s best brunch spots this Saturday while enjoying the views and eating and drinking the day away courtesy of Get Up and Ride. Put on your helmet, strap on your bike lock and meet up at 135 N 11th St. by 1pm ready to indulge in the best coffee, pastries, chocolate and breakfast burritos North Brooklyn has to offer. Tickets are $25.

04/21/14 3:00pm
Sat April 26, 2014

We got a glimpse of Brooklyn’s storied baseball past last week looking through the new digitized archive of the Brooklyn Eagle for a story on the city’s great weed harvest of 1951. If you really want to grasp just how big baseball was in Brooklyn, we suggest you sign up for Gotham SideWalks’ Bike Brooklyn Baseball tour this Saturday. The three-hour, 10-mile ride will cover 100 years of America’s favorite pastime with stops at some of baseball’s most historic local spots. Brooklyn’s baseball lineage goes a lot deeper than the 1950s Dodgers’ dynasty, Jackie Robinson, Ebbets Field or even Sandy Koufax (and that’s saying something). Saturday’s weather sounds like it’ll be perfect for an afternoon ride, so put some air in your tires, purchase a $40 ticket, and be at the Old Stone House in Park Slope by 11:30am.