Let's work backwards:
Before I left on my trip (see below), I dropped off my Brompton at the shop for an upgrade. Today I picked it up. It now has 3 gears and an internal hub whereas it formerly had two and a derailleur. I rode it home, so I don't have a ton of time experiencing the difference, but so far I seem to really like it and I think I'll both continue to like it and like it even more with the more time that I spend with it. Looking back, three years back, when I bought the Brompton, I think I should've done this initially and I'm glad to have rectified my poor choice eventually. The Brompton now has a dynamo hub and an IGH, so it's basically ready for the zombie apocalypse...
...which is maybe how you could have described the desolation of the past few days, when His Holy Papalness was in town. What made the streets emptier? Well, it was the lot fewer cars. And the fewer people, but mostly the fewer cars, which were noticeable. It was a cyclist's dream and all of the few of us out and about on bikes seemed to have a great time riding on mostly empty roads.
There were also empty roads in western Connecticut, a place a rode a week ago, having left from Brooklyn, having arrived there by bike after arriving in New York by bus after having left Rosslyn a few hours before. I grew up Connecticut (before coming to DC and then going a bunch of places and then eventually ending up back here) and it had long been my goal of riding my bicycle there from 'the city' and when some vacation time popped up, I prompted myself to finally do it. And so I did. It was a 90 something mile ride and most of it was spent on the South County/North County/Putnam Trail, which was a mixed path of 60 something miles from the Bronx to Brewster. Before that, I rode from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan to the Bronx and after the trail, I has the misfortune of choosing a hilly route on a hot day and nearly did myself in, thoroughly fatigued by my effort and the weight of the too much stuff that I had brought with me. The hills were rough, like really 'why am I doing this?' rough, but the roads were empty for the most part and it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable ride overall. Truth be told, I haven't done any really 'touring' or the facsimile of touring that this was and for a first go, I was glad to have gotten as far and as fast as I did. I'd like to do other longish rides like this (of the point-to-point variety) and in the future, I'll be sure to pick cooler days and bring less stuff. I didn't even bring that much. It was still too much.
When I was in town, I rode my bike. I've never really biked in my hometown before. It was a really edifying experience.
When I returned to New York a few days later (by train), I decided that I would spend some of my free time biking the sites and I wended through Brooklyn and into and around Prospect Park and then over a bridge and then back over another bridge and then around some more and altogether enjoyed a really nice time doing the same thing that I would do here, pointlessly meandering by bike through an urban environment, somewhere else.
I probably have a lot more thoughts on all of this and in much more detail and I might even want to share them some time in the future, but for now, I think I'm ok. There are pictures of various things on the Instagram if you're so inclined. Also, if you have particular questions about anything, you can contact me through semaphore or email or twitter or however.