31 May 2010

Ex Cathedra From The Queen of Corona

Here is one of my "dream trips":  I would go to Paris in August.  And there would be no tourists there.  

Barbara, Sue and I experienced something like that today.  None of the streets we cycled will be mistaken for le Boulevard St. Germain, but they were interesting in their own ways.

We rode by the Silvercup Studios in Long Island City.  It used to be the Silvercup Bakery, which used to supply bread to New York City schools as well as any number of tables in Queens and Brooklyn--including, sometimes, those of my immediate and extended family.  As I remember it, it was basic white bread.  But it was just fine for peanut butter and jelly, or other kinds of, sandwiches.

The streets around it were deserted even though they lead into Queens Plaza, which lies at the end of the Queensboro (a.k.a. 59th Street) Bridge.  One of them is even cobblestoned.  So Simon and Garfunkel actually knew what they were talking about in that song!

By the way, their "Queen of Corona" is fictional.  "Corona" means "crown" in Italian, Spanish and Latin, so she would be the "Queen of Crown."  However, there is a "King of Corona"--or, more precisely, a "Lemon Ice King of Corona."  They actually have a right to their self-proclaimed title.  I have tried the eponymous frozen confection, as well as many of the other flavors they offer.  The lemon and other fruit flavors actually have fruit in them.  Ditto vanilla and pistachios in the ices named for them.

But Barbara, Sue and I didn't go there today, as our ride didn't take us that way.  However, we have gone there any number of times before, and we did stop at Gino's Pizzeria on Cross Bay Boulevard, in Howard Beach.  One of the last remaining Italian neighborhoods in New York surrounds Gino's and supports yet another great pizzeria--New Park--a few blocks up and on the other side of the Boulevard.  In both eateries, one usually finds families or older single men.  It's not normal to see three forty- or fifty-ish women together, much less riding bicycles.  But either pizzeria--Gino's if you're on your way to the Rockaways or New Park if you're going the other way--is worth, if not a detour, at least a stop.

We rode to the Rockaways even though we knew the boardwalk would be crowded.  After all, today is Memorial Day and the temperature got up to 85 F (about 29.5 C).  At this time of year, there is even more difference in temperature between the beach and areas only a mile inland than there is in, say, the middle of August:  The water in the ocean is still only about 60F (15C), so the breezes from it can be rather brisk.

Instead of riding the boardwalk, we rode along a road that parallels it.  So we were still treated to the play of the warm sunlight flickering on cool waves and, as our ride progressed, turning into what I like to think of as "sea haze":  It can almost obscure the sun and the blueness of the sky, yet it has its own sort of steely translucence, like the ocean itself.

In all, we rode about thirty miles, as we took a route that meandered through Brooklyn (All right.  Maybe things don't "meander" through Brooklyn!) before returning to Queens in Lindenwood, a neighborhood a bit inland from Howard Beach.  I fiddled with my saddle with a couple of times in the first few miles.  Barbara and Sue were expecting that, as I am riding a new saddle on doctor's orders.  It'll be a while before I know whether it's a "keeper."  

It's a Terry Falcon X saddle.  As I was riding it, I knew it was reminding me of a saddle I rode back in the day, but I wasn't sure of which.  Actually, now that I think of it, I was recalling two saddles:  the Sella Italia Flite, circa 1992, and a French Ideale 2002 I rode about a decade earlier, during my first foray into racing.  I rode that 2002 on my racing bike and I rode the Ideale 90--an all-leather saddle very similar to a Brooks Professional--on my tourer.  Apparently, Ideale went out of business not long after I started riding their saddles. If you find an unused alloy-railed model, you can sell it to some Japanese collector on eBay and retire.

The 2002 was a nylon-based saddle with thin, dense padding and a very nice leather covering.  They were similar to a saddle Cinelli used to make, but were less expensive. And both the 2002 and the 90 seemed to flare more gradually from the tip of the nose to the rear than Brooks or Cinelli saddles. Brooks saddles--at least some models--seem almost T-shaped by comparison.  The Brooks may be somewhat better in quality, but I actually liked the shape of the Ideales somewhat better.  And it's echoed somewhat in my new saddle.  

And the Terry seems to have a flattish top which rises somewhat toward the rear.  That's what was reminding me of the Flite, which is one of the flattest saddles I ever rode.  Vetta used to make a similar model that was even flatter:  They were my favorite for a time, but Vetta had stopped making them by the time mine fell apart.

Of course, the Terry differs in one significant way from those, or any other I've ridden:  It has the "hole" in the middle that the doctor recommended.  I think it will take me a while to see how or whether I like them, or whether the hole is in the right part of the saddle for me.  Another thing that will take at least a few more rides to decide whether I like is the length of the saddle:  It, like most women's-specific saddles, is a bit shorter than most men's saddles.  

All right...Those of you who aren't cyclists are probably still wondering how someone can make such a fuss over a bike seat.  It doesn't make much difference if you ride only around the block.  But on longer rides, and more time spent  on the  saddle, you will notice whether it's right for you.  Plus, I don't want to undo all that nice work Marci did down there!


Velouria said...

Oh God. I've been to Paris in August and could not imagine cycling there at that time! But then I am generally over-sensitive to heat and humidity.

I am very curious now what riding through the parts of NYC that you describe would be like. And looking forward to your ultimate assessment of the Terry!

Justine Valinotti said...


I've spent a fair amount of time in Paris (and France) in August. I didn't find the heat or humidity particularly oppressive. Then again,those things can be pretty oppressive here in New York in the summer. And I've experienced summer weather in Washington, DC, along the Gulf Coast of Texas and in Florida--aljavascript:void(0)l of which are much worse than New York.