When a winter storm covered the northeast with snow and ice this month, most outdoor coaches moved their training inside. But Stephen Arthur, a 53-year-old computer professional near Brooklyn’s North Park Slope, was 28 miles away from cycling 10,000 miles by 2020. Determined to reach his goal before the end of the year, he rode his mountain bike on bumpy, snowy tires and bundled them together. Mr. Arthur had no goal in mind at the beginning of 2020, but when the pandemic started, cycling kept a cool head.
He rode his bike 3 km back and forth to work. It was an easy way to turn my journey into an exercise, he said. When he started working at home in March, during the lockdown, there were days when he didn’t leave his 650 square meter apartment or talk to anyone other than Zoom. Riding my bike was the highlight of my day, he said. I was always waiting for the governor or the mayor to tell me that you can’t ride a bike, but instead they encouraged people to get out and practice.
Before the arrival of the pandemic, Mr. Arthur will use his holiday to make multi-day solo bike tours to different countries. Because he can’t travel, he now uses the weekends to explore Brooklyn by bike. I thought I knew the town, says Mr. Arthur, who grew up in Bergen County, N.J. – I got to know it on a whole new level.
When her mother died in May, the bicycle became an outlet for her grief. Weekend excursions get longer and longer and take you along the Hudson River, to Coney Island or Rockaway Beach in Queens. I’ve probably cycled for at least four centuries in September, he said, which means there are laps of 100 miles or more.
Mr. Arthur takes a break at Bush Terminal Pierce Park in Brooklyn.
Mr. Arthur said he never liked the exercises on the fitness applications. But when he realized he could do 10,000 miles in a year, he was motivated to follow his miles on Strava. When you see that you are so close to a goal that seems unreachable, you want to catch it, he said. It’s getting darker and colder, but whatever the weather, I want to finish this journey. The 20th. In December, he traveled 10,000 miles. He’s never driven so much before. According to Strava’s data, he thinks he cycled 60-70% more thanks to Covid.
Mr. Arthur has a habit of getting up at 6:30 in the morning to practice. Life is very busy, even during a pandemic, so I like to practice first, he said. He uses 3.5 kg dumbbells to perform top pressure, front lifts, side lifts and bicep curls until he gets tired. He’ll do four pull-ups. Before the pandemic, Arthur stopped enrolling in his yoga studio because of the cost and need to travel, but he developed a home routine that focused on stretching the back. After yoga he attaches five kilos of weights to his ankles and does leg lifts, squats and push-ups until he is tired, then he does four more pull-ups.
Around noon, he makes the 3.35 mile loop at Prospect Park in Brooklyn. My goal is to go as fast as I can to get my heart rate up at noon, he said. He rides with a mask that he can put on when he sees other cyclists or pedestrians. On the rare occasions when he cannot go outside during the day, he puts on reflective clothing and drives at night. I don’t think it’s natural to stay inside all day, he said. It is just as important for my mental health as it is for my physical condition.
On weekends, he explores the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. He plans many of his routes around pickup and grocery shopping. To avoid groceries, he rides his bike to the outdoor markets and picks up his groceries in his backpacks. He loves ethnic food and has discovered Jamaican, Trinidadian and Senegalese restaurants all over Brooklyn on his bicycle. His favorite takeaway place is the Iri Caribbean Cuisine and Bakery on Utica Avenue.
Mr. Arthur cycles down Fifth Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He says the bike helped him rediscover the city and find new favorite places for ethnic cuisine.
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Reformed Vegan: Just because a muffin is vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for you, Mr. Arthur. In 2018 he will give up his vegetarian diet and concentrate on eating wholemeal food and lean meat. He lost almost 25 pounds.
Breakfast salad: He starts the day with a bowl of kale, spinach, beans, radishes, peppers and carrots mixed with herbs, spices and tahini.
Dinner: Salmon caught in the wild on tacos with chopped onions, tomatoes and coriander.
Consideration: Mr. Arthur doesn’t believe in paying someone to deliver food. I’ll eat or go, but I’ll never pay anyone to bring me food, he said.
Piece of shit: If I want to eat red meat, I go to 16th Avenue. Smooth, the Brooklyn version of Delhi Katzie, on a pastrami sandwich, he said.
Road bike: 1999 Bianchi Brava bought new for $650. It’s served me well, he says. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven over 50,000 miles.
Mountain bike: The giant Sedona was bought for 500 dollars new in 1993. This bike is a steamer, perfect for a short trip, he says. Now I use it mainly for large purchases.
Folding bike: The Xooter Swift was purchased for $350 in 2010. He put a trunk in the back so I could carry supplies, he said. This bike took me from Casablanca to Istanbul and through Belgium, the Netherlands, Florida, Thailand, Israel and Southern California, to name but a few.
Kit: I usually wear black from head to toe, except for the helmet, mainly because I don’t want to change my wardrobe every few months, he says.
Safety first: Mr. Arthur doesn’t get on his bike until he has put on a giant helmet (20 dollars).
Mr. Arthur said that cycling during the pandemic was crucial to his mental and physical health.
Winter cycling clothing
The winter weather does not necessarily mean that the indoor cycling season has arrived. With the right equipment and precautions, winter biking can be a fun pastime, says Zach Ellison, co-owner of Bike Sports, a racing team, bike repair shop and touring company in Fort Collins, Colo. A very good set of gloves and boots is the most important garment for winter cycling, he says. When it freezes, the thin lining of the glove, the outer glove, more protected from the wind, keeps the hands warm.
He said the shoes don’t have to be as thick when you get down. A pair of woolen socks, then a piece of plastic or aluminum foil on your toes, then shoes, then a set of boots, and you’re ready for temperatures well below zero, Ellison said. And you can insulate your shoes by covering the vents with tape, wax or hot glue to make them even warmer.
If it’s really cold, you can bring your warmest comforter, but you’ll sweat through it, and wet is almost always cold, Ellison said. Thinner base layers and windproofness are the solution, while the material remains thicker on the limbs, legs and arms, he said. Whether you ride a road bike, mountain bike or gravel bike, with good fenders or mudguards winter will be a life-changing experience.
For safety reasons, he recommends wearing light and reflective clothing and installing daytime running lights on your bike. Ice is probably the biggest danger in winter, he said. Reduce your tyre pressure and watch out for ice or obstacles on the road to protect you from possible collisions. And if it’s damp and cold outside, he recommends staying inside to avoid hypothermia.
Email Jen Murphy at [email protected]
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