Tag Archive | "bike"

Formerly Missing Bikes Now Ready For Pickup

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by Claire Walla

As many in the biking community are well aware, BikeHampton, Sag Harbor’s only bike shop, is no more.

And some know this better than others.

When the shop’s owner, Dave Krum, moved to Florida and the store closed its doors in December 2011, it also effectively closed off access to dozens of bicycles, leaving many bike owners who had brought their bikes to the shop to be sold or repaired in limbo. The two-wheelers sat unclaimed off-site for months until finally being recovered by Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeff Proctor.

Since news of the hidden bike cache broke in March, Proctor said four former BikeHampton patrons have come to him, hoping to be reunited their bikes. Though Proctor said one of the bikes has yet to be located, the other three were successfully recovered and promptly returned to their owners.

However, that barely makes a dent in the stash.

As of this week, there are approximately 40 bicycles still unclaimed. All of the bikes were taken to BikeHampton either for repairs or for consignment, Proctor said.

“Krum had an eBay business,” he explained. Bike owners would bring their racers, commuters or beach cruisers down to the shop, Krum would put them online with a price tag, and — once sold — he’d give the bike owner a portion of the profits.

Though Proctor said he was reluctant to mention the exact location of the unclaimed bicycles, he said they’re currently being stored by someone who had previously been affiliated with the business.

“When he found out that [Krum] was closing the doors, he pulled the bikes,” Proctor explained.

The detective added he has a full list of the makes and models of all the bikes being stored. So, anyone who describes a missing two-wheel ride that accurately matches up with what Proctor’s got on his list will be able to collect his or her bike.

“They need to be descriptive,” Proctor said of bike owners, adding that he wants to make sure the bikes go to their proper owners. But, he assured, “the bikes aren’t going away.”

Anyone still missing a bike from BikeHampton is encouraged to call Det. Procotr at 725-0247.

Taking It To The Streets—By Bike

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Bike Cop

By Claire Walla

They travel by horse, helicopter, motorcycle or car — even roller blades and Segways (my personal favorite) are fair game. Police officers have many ways of patrolling the streets. But here in Sag Harbor, when village police aren’t confined to a car, they prefer bikes.
With the addition of Officer Dave Driscoll who joined the village police squad last summer, Sag Harbor Village now has four certified bike cops. The 24-speed two-wheelers they ride give policemen a relatively hassle-free way to travel through the village.
I met Officer Driscoll at the station at 6:30 p.m. one recent Saturday night. Truth be told, half of me was eager to witness in person what I usually see written-out each week when I compile the police blotter. But, the other half was apprehensive of what an arrest would be like for someone on a bike. If you’ve ever read blotter, you know Sag Harbor is not necessarily immune to uncooperative arrestees. Maintaining law and order with a high-speed, patrol car on your side is one thing; getting into harm’s way with little more than a bicycle to get you out — that’s a little different.
Fortunately, Driscoll has top-of-the-line equipment. His mountain bike was donated by a shop in East Hampton, which outfitted the vehicle with bright LCD lights in front, a flashing red light in back, and the ability to flip colored panels to achieve that well-known red-and-blue blinking light effect. This custom bike even came equipped with its own siren, a deafening wail that — when standing only inches away — seemed even louder than the high-pitched whine standard for your average police vehicle.
Driscoll explained that each certified bike cop has to complete a weeklong training course. His took place at Suffolk Police Academy in Westhampton. There, police men and women take part in a real life bike boot camp: learning how to mount and dismount their bike efficiently, how to descend and even climb up a flight of stairs, how to “track stand” (or, maintain a standing position with both feet on the pedals for an extended period of time, like while stopped at a red light).
“We had a range day where we did some pursuit riding and learned how to dismount off the bike and shoot at targets,” Driscoll said. “On the last day we did a 30- to 40-mile night ride.”
While a little more assured of what I was getting into, I immediately came to grasp the benefits of traveling light as soon as we set out. After leaving the station and heading north on Route 114, we swiftly slid down the right-hand shoulder, past a line of cars all waiting to turn left onto Bay Street. Mimicking their route, we hung a left and flew past all the vehicles essentially parked at this Bay Street bottleneck I’ve grown so accustomed to, myself, as a driver.
While sailing along, I noticed Driscoll was being carefully observant. We were inches away from each vehicle, so he could actually peer in through the passenger side window and check to make sure seat-belt laws weren’t being violated and even see whether passenger seats were free of, well, incriminating materials.
“The best thing about being on a bike is that no one knows you’re coming,” he said.
I figured this was a less probable, now that Driscoll was traveling with a reporter in pigtails and a cameraman weighted down by several satchels of gear while pedaling furiously on a bright-yellow bike two sizes too small — but I can see how this would be the case ordinarily. We paused by Bay Street Theatre to examine a run-down hatchback that appeared to have one too many bodies crammed into the backseat. But, as it turned out, it was just cramped (such is the nature of a hatch-back.)
We continued our loop through the village by heading toward the back parking lots to the west of Main Street, and I asked Driscoll about the dangers of navigating high-traffic roads.
“There are a lot of crazy drivers everywhere, so you have to be aware of your surroundings — you almost have to have eyes in the back of your head,” he said, explaining that his uniform is equipped with reflectors. “There aren’t a lot of shoulders, there aren’t a lot of streetlights here, and in the summer it seems everyone’s always in a rush to go somewhere.”
And then — as if on cue — Driscoll pardoned himself and sped off for the parking lot.
“It’s not our fault, it’s his!” the passenger of the vehicle shrieked as Driscoll rolled to the parked car trying to back out of a spot in the midst two others attempting to take it.
We had stumbled upon our first incident of the evening: a parking feud. An S.U.V. and a luxury sedan were facing one other in what seemed like a sudden death scenario, competing for a soon-to-be-vacated space. Driscoll cleared the way for the car to leave and quickly extricated himself from the conflict. The S.U.V. bitterly drove off. Totally impartial, Driscoll picked the conversation where we left off. I got the sense he does this a lot.
Next, we meandered over to the corner of Main and Spring Streets, where we perched ourselves next to the curb to watch the flow of traffic. While riding around with a cop, it had become clear to me that the notion of being “on duty” brings with it a certain view of the world. You’re not riding defensively — even though you are certainly hoping to avert erratic drivers — you’re proactively looking for violations and errors.
Once again, mid-sentence, Driscoll spotted something my eyes have not been trained to see — and he was off.
A man in a Jeep who turned left onto Spring was not wearing a seatbelt. After signaling for him to pull over, Driscoll questioned the man and learned that the driver had just come back from a day at the beach and was less than two minutes from home. Noticing that the man had no prior record and that he was indeed in the right vicinity, Driscoll let him off with a warning.
This was not the case for a driver on Long Wharf whom Driscoll approached for parking in an undesignated parking space. After learning she was also driving without a license, Driscoll issued her several violations before telling her to call someone to pick her up and move the car.
In the course of the evening, we made several loops around Main Street and stopped by Haven’s Beach. Twice. (As far as we could tell, it was empty.) The fastest we sped was north on Route 114 in pursuit of a car that had run a stop sign. The driver ended up getting away. And the most deftly maneuvered traffic stop came later in the evening when Driscoll caught up with a pick-up truck with a broken taillight blasting loud music which attempted to turn left onto Main Street. For a moment it seemed as if the truck would try to out-run the bike cop, but the young driver complied and pulled over on the side of Long Island Avenue. He got off with a warning.
Before we knew it, it was 11 p.m. and Driscoll’s shift was over. There had only been one DWI arrest (by another officer), which I assumed to be low-key for a Sag Harbor summer night, and Main Street establishments were just beginning to empty.
I asked Officer Driscoll if he was perhaps a bit disappointed by the fact that the evening was so slow. He had made no arrests. But, he responded the way you’d expect any seasoned cop to answer.
“If nothing happens,” he began, “then it’s a good night.”

On The Trail With a Head Light and Blind Faith

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Heller_Nighttime Biking_8075

By Claire Walla

Just about this time of year, when it gets to be 5 p.m. and utter darkness has settled into place, most of us begin to fantasize about the post-work transition through the cold, night air and into the warm confines of our home. There, central heating and fleece blankets will provide added insulation as we spend the remainder of the evening in a relatively motionless state of rest and relaxation.

So it pretty much defied the norm on Monday, December 13 when I found myself at 5 p.m. driving through the inky black shadows along Route 114 in the opposite direction of my house with a mountain bike in my backseat, and my internal GPS set for the Northwest Path in East Hampton, where I was to meet Sinead Fitzgibbons for an evening ride through the woods.

Crazy? Perhaps. But not entirely abnormal. Fitzgibbons, along with a handful of other cycle enthusiasts, invade these wooded hills every Wednesday evening, zipping along the dusty paths, rolling effortlessly over piles of stray leaves and the jagged tree roots which protrude like varicose veins along these tree-lined trails.

Fitzgibbons said she took up cycling when she moved to the East End 12 years ago. Back then, these evening rides pulled a regular crowd of late-night, bike-loving locals. The tradition was started by Sherry Hymes and her partner Mary Scheerer when they opened BikeHampton on Main Street in Sag Harbor about 13 years ago. The rides had a hefty following for a solid eight years before ultimately tapering off when Hymes and Scheerer sold the store five years ago.

Since then, late-night bikers were pretty much left, well, in the dark … until now. Through an organization Fitzgibbons founded called Spokespeople, which encourages biking on the East End, she is trying to bring the night life back to biking.

By 5 p.m. it was already so dark I nearly missed the turnoff (a makeshift parking lot between Swamp Road and Stephen Hands Path). And it was so cold I came fully prepared to brace the elements, burrowed beneath two cotton t-shirts, a Patagonia pullover, a thick cotton hoodie and a black puffy jacket, which I wore in addition to a pair of running pants, denim jeans, a hat, mittens and two pairs of thick ski socks. If I was going to try to navigate the perilous trails of the East Hampton outback, I didn’t want to have to fend off frostbite in the process. (Fact: I was sweating like a pig by the time our ride was over.)

If it isn’t already clear, I was a mountain-biking novice. At this point, the bulk of my cycling experience had been limited to the $90 “commuter bike” (read: functional scrap metal) I bought last year from a Craigslist ad in Brooklyn, and I had only been accustomed to using this two-wheel clunker for cruising around the paved roads and sidewalks that connected my house to main commercial drags. Fortunately for me, Dave and the guys at Bike Hampton were able to lend me a road bike which they outfitted with monstrous mountain-bike tires, suitable for the kind of journey I was told to expect from Sinead.

After parking, I grabbed my custom hybrid and circled the parking lot to get my bearings while Fitzgibbons — dressed more appropriately in a sleek, black biking ensemble and wearing a pair of nifty bike shoes which clipped nicely into the pedals of her new $2,200 two-wheeler — assembled her Specialized “Stump Jumper” for our hour-long ride. After a couple loops around the lot, I figured I was as ready as I’d ever be.

“Go ahead and lead the way,” Fitzgibbons said.

I wasn’t so sure she understood the scope of my biking abilities.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she answered without missing a beat, and off we went.

I turned the front wheel of my bike toward the trailhead as the harsh, white orb of the LED clip-on strapped to the front of my bike illuminated everything within a 10-foot radius of my front wheel. All I could see was a swatch of path and the washed-out brown, gold and violet hues that surrounded it. With nothing else to orient myself, I pedaled on with no choice, really, but to have faith in my ability to navigate whatever lie ahead.
Fitzgibbons traces her predisposition for nighttime activity all the way back to her childhood.

“I’ve never been afraid of movement and exploring my own physical self and what I’m able to do through sport,” she said.

Having grown up in Ireland, where she said it’s often dark and cold, Fitzgibbons adds that she learned to make the most out of dark and dreary circumstances.

When you forget the idea that unfavorable conditions limit what you’re actually capable of, she continued, “all of a sudden the night becomes available.”

This idea was evident after my tires’ first few revolutions on the trail. The fact that it was dark and cold quickly faded as all my concentration narrowed in on the road. Intuitively, I shifted my weight to hug the turns and I listened to Fitzgibbons as she coached me through the terrain.

“Shift your weight forward, but not so much that your back wheel spins out,” she said as I proceeded to down-shift for an easier incline, and “keep your feet at 3 and 9 o’clock and lift your butt slightly back behind the seat of the bike” she reminded me when I started my descent back down.
I could feel the power of the bike’s 29-inch wheels, which were nearly impervious to the freckled ground beneath the tread. I had grown so accustomed to overlooking the imperfections of my “commuter bike” — which screamed in agony every time I encounter so much as a pebble — that this machine, by comparison, seemed to steamroll right through everything in its path: pebbles, roots, branches, pot-holes. It was empowering to pass so effortlessly through this muddled terrain with a somewhat blind confidence in where I was going.

“It’s nice to narrow your world down to a little illumination,” Fitzgibbons later said, adding that the small dose of reality made possible by LED also heightens the senses, making bikers more aware of sounds and smells they might otherwise overlook during the day.

“When your world is much smaller, you also feel more a part of your bike,” Fitzgibbons added.

In the end, we logged a total of about seven miles on a lollipop loop that brought us across Two Holes of Water and out to Bull Path and back. In the grand scheme of things, it was a quick tour. And yet, I still came to understand why people actually choose to ride their bikes in the dark, in the middle of winter.

“If you look at a rock as you’re going around a corner, unintentionally you’re going to hit it,” Fitzgibbons said during the ride. “But if you look beyond it, if you look at where you want to be, you’ll get to where you want to go more easily.”

She thought about this for a second, then added, “It’s a good metaphor for life, really.”