Monday, August 18, 2008

Big Apple Roll 2008 NY - Empire Skate

So, I had the opportunity to go to New York City to skate in the Big Apple Roll hosted by the Empire Skate Club. The Big Apple Roll is an annual skate event where people from all over meet to skate the streets of NY (yes, in traffic...with the taxis', pot holes, and all). The event was scheduled from Friday, Aug. 15 - Sunday, Aug 17th, but the two Friday skates (afternoon and the night skate) were canceled due to rain. There were 3 of us from Denver, Kim, Eric, and I (the farthest from the event[1][2] -- the 2 from San Juan, Puerto Rico missed out by under 30 miles).

I arrived at the hotel a little after 3:00am ET after missing the last train from Newark Airport due to a delayed flight. There being no other method of getting to the hotel at that hour, I was forced to take a taxi (that cost me $75 out of the gate). When people said that I better have a lot of money when I went to NY, they weren't kidding.

Friday morning Eric and I head out to the streets of NY on foot (with skates in tow) to check out the city and get some breakfast. After researching some places to eat the morning before, Eric was in the mood for a classy breakfast, so we headed out to Nroma's (in Le Parker Meridien) where I had a $20 Belgian Waffle topped with strawberry's, blueberry's, blackberry's, raspberry's, and Devonshire Cream along with a tall glass of orange juice squeezed that morning. The waffle was really good and the Devonshire Cream really made the dish. This was the first time I have ever been to a restaurant where the orange juice included free refills. The wait staff would just come by and fill it up like it was ice water... very cool (at $8, I wonder what kind of mileage per glass I got out of it).

After breakfast, Eric and I hit the roads on our skates to tour some of the city before the all event skates that evening. One of the places we went was to Central Park. The full loop around the park is in the neighborhood of 6.2 miles of fantastic pavement with some great hills. After our skate, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon group skate. Just as we were finishing getting ready, it began to rain...hard. So, we left for the Skyline Hotel (the starting location for all events for the weekend) to see what the new plan was going to be. While we waited around to see if the weather was going to turn, we schmoozed with the locals and other out of towner's' there for the skate. Among them were Brooklyn Steve and Mihai the Romanian (both locals - who provided plenty of beer throughout the weekend keeping a few of us dehydrated each evening). The weather never did turn, so we all ended up at the Chelsea Brewery where the evening skate was scheduled to end.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the Skyline Hotel to meet up for the first skate. On the way we stopped for a quick bagel and donut before inevitably burning it all off and then some in the first hour of the skate. While waiting for everyone to group up and get ready, there was more schmoozing in anticipation of the event. The morning skate took us to Park Ave where the roads were blocked from the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan to the East 72nd Street entrance of Central Park for some bike event that I have been unable to figure out exactly what it was.
(Edit: I have gotten word from Brooklyn Steve that the street closure was an experiment called "Summer Streets" that ran for 3 weekends, the weekend of the BAR was the last.)

Saturday afternoon..... we gathered again. There were some new faces this time. More people were coming out of the wood work (mostly locals that weren't exactly morning people). We skated through Broadway (which had some fantastic new pavement), to the Hudson River, through Harlem and City College and Fifth Ave. At some point we stopped and watched a "street performer" - the Hula Hoop Guy, play the bongos and sing while explaining how one hula hoops. So I got the bug, what do you want. I stepped up and showed my stuff on skates and all. I was surprised to be interrupted by money being stuffed in my back pocket...woo-hoo.

Saturday after the official skates of the day were...well, officially over, Kim and I had made sure there was going to be a night skate. Saturday night was originally scheduled for dinner at The Frying Pan. It was announced earlier that the Denver Crew was going night skating. We had no plan, but were determined to host the skate since the official Friday night skate was rained out. Brooklyn Steve volunteered to lead for us and show us a good time. Thirteen people showed up for the impromptu event (which actually made things feel more like home). Because of the small turnout (everyone else was out drinking -- we, the ones from Denver, figured we were already professional drinkers and can drink just fine at home and came all this way to skate... so we did); the pace was faster than the usual Denver skates and we covered a lot of ground. This was great, but remember we had already skated in excess of 35 miles that day. We zipped through Time Square (stopping to take a few photos and stare into the lights), headed out to the Hudson River and skate down the paths this time, and unfortunately only skirted Ground Zero. From there we went to get some food and decided on a typical New York diner. After dinner, the plan was to go to the Frying Pan to meet up with the others who didn't partake..but that never happened our skate ended after midnight and another 10+ miles.

Sunday morning we met once again at the Skyline Hotel for the morning skate that would take us through Harlem and then to Central Park for the event ending picnic (this skate was actually split up into to skates - one longer one then back to the hotel so people could check out, then another to the park). At the part, after a few slices of pizza, it was off to loop do the loop once again. I then said good by and left to my hotel to head to the airport for my trip back to Denver.

While I was in NY, I saw in action no less than 4 jackhammers at street corners (and this doesn't even count the big yellow Cat machines). I am not one for stereotypes, but I felt this was kinda funny. Looked to me like the city was in a constant state of construction - here's a picture for your viewing pleasure.

I was also reminded of Boulder, CO when I swear I (along with a few others) could smell the strong odor of "wacky tabaccy" multiple times during our Saturday skate through the various parts of the city (I don't think anyone in our group would of had enough time nor energy to pull this off in mid stride).

Through my original tour of Central Park with Eric on Friday morning, I noticed the site of a scene of "The Brave One". Not that this is anything special, hundreds of movies are filmed in Central Park, but I found this to be cool just having seen the movie.

The Big Apple Roll was a fantastic event where I met a bunch of great people. I hope to be able to participate again.


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