Throughout my life I’ve been lucky to work with talented people who explore their own interests and passions while being able to bring to light mine. My old roommates, DiDi Lin and Emily Chang, put an awesome idea together to make a short film about what motivates me to get up in the morning to ride. We went out with a professional photographer, Jocelyn Chuang, and a stunt car driver, Asmir Malevic, and drove up and down the streets of NYC in the early dawn, replicating a typical ride I would do before work, a ride that most NYC cyclists are familiar with, GW Bridge to River Road up to the filling station and back. The concept and final product helped me realize how much I really do love the early morning. The way the sun is rising, and not quite strong and scorching yet, as if it needs a cup of coffee as well. The morning breeze and crisp air. And interestingly enough, other morning people: the runners, dog walkers, people setting up newspaper and breakfast stands, the yogis…it’s almost one of the only times of the day where the sounds and sights haven’t yet been overrun by the “standards” of the modern city like heavy traffic, machinery, pedestrian traffic, etc.
In Miami Beach, a city known for its party craze, I was able to get a little bit of this relief at 7 am on the beautiful coast. As I rode through Miami, southbound towards the suburbs, I hit an awesome pedestrian lane off the side of Old Cutler Road (which eventually lead to the one of the calmest trails on the entire coast, one alongside the canal in Biscayne Park on SW 97th) that provided shade from the sun, because that morning sun was not so kind anymore and was beaming down with plenty of uv rays to burn your skin. I thought about Michael Sorkin’s Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, a story in which the author describes a twenty minute walk in Manhattan throughout the course of hundreds of pages. One chapter describes the placement of trees in the city, and how they guide you in the summer as you tend to seek shade from the heat, and in the winter you might cross the street to the sunny side under the trees that lost their leaves to get some sun.
Waking up early is something I love, almost as much as riding my bike, and almost as much as analyzing the city I’m visiting and seeing these connections that the planning can offer for pedestrian use, something as simple as shady sidewalks.
This is why I also love the Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, and his theory that travel begins not in a destination but in your mind, as a mentality of looking at things in a different light; the sidewalk isn’t just a sidewalk, Miami Beach isn’t always what your hear about in movies.