When my friend Christine first approached me about doing a bike tour in Manhattan last year, I pictured myself wobbling and weaving through crazy delivery men and aggressive cab drivers and almost said no.
I am so glad I ended up going, because it not only paved the way for my current Citibike membership which I love, but it also opened my eyes to parts of the city I would have never otherwise explored.
This year, the same biking group got together with a brand new bike company, Latitude Bike Tours, for a Queens bike ride, hopeful that the deteriorating forecast wouldn’t ruin our day. There were about 20 of us on the tour, which required 3 guides to make sure our group stayed together and safe.
We started in the UES and our initial descent across the 59th Street Bridge was quite the incline, and we were all sweating in our raincoats by the time we reached the top. Jesse, the owner of Latitude and our knowledgable guide for the day, assured us that this was the most challenging part of the day, and with that, we flew downhill.
After crossing, we meandered through the Queensbridge Housing Projects and learned some fun facts about former famous inhabitants like Nas and Metta World Peace and then biked through the industrial remains of Long Island City.
Favorites included a stop at a New York Taxicab auto body shop, which was decorated with massage chairs, gerbils, birds, and a plethora of greenery and wind chimes for the waiting drivers. I’ve never seen anything like it.
We were led through several quintessential Queens neighborhoods before arriving at Jackson Heights for a quick dumpling stop. I felt like we had biked into India with streets full of specialty markets and sari gown shots..it was definitely one of our more interesting stops.
From there, we headed to Astoria for an Austrian lunch at the Bohemian Beer Garden. The food was mediocre, but the expansive outdoor patio and beer menu was worth the trip. We were extremely lucky that it still wasn’t raining when we mounted our bikes after lunch, as we were all a bit buzzed.
To continue in the boozy part of our tour, we headed to Singlecut, an amazing brewery that one would expect to find in Brooklyn, not on the outskirts of Queens. We grabbed a huge table and hoarded a large amount of throwback games like Catch Phrase and Battleship.
While we were busy competing, it started pouring. Naturally, we were the furthest away from the city and the drunkest we’d been on the tour. Lucky for us, Jesse and team brought enough ponchos for everyone. We hustled back to Roosevelt Island, which was possibly the eeriest place I’ve been in NYC. At this point weather was really awful, so we took the sky tram home, which I (embarrassingly) didn’t even know existed.
Despite being completely soaked through our ponchos, we all had a blast. Jesse and guides knew everything about the neighborhoods we were visiting, from the history to what makes them special today. Biking the borough allowed us to cover more ground and get a bigger dose of history and fun, and I couldn’t believe the mileage we’d biked. I can’t say I’ll be returning to Roosevelt Island, but I’d certainly return to many of the other spots on our tour.
I highly recommend one of these bike tours for any Manhattanite looking to branch out, or for any tourist looking to see NYC in a really unique and special way. I’m already planning my next bike trip with friends!
Latitude utilizes the bike as a means to explore the wonders the world has to offer. We partner with restaurants, breweries, artists, farms, and other local establishments to create authentic, one-of-a-kind experiences & events. Whether it be a day trip in the city, or a multi-day getaway, Latitude‘s personalized trip planning provides participants with an immersive adventure perfectly suited to their needs. Experience the freedom & flexibility of Latitude!