2013 RR: Newtown Creek

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Intro Lesson:
The Newtown Creek forms the western portion of the border between Queens and Brooklyn. Since the early days of European settlement it’s been host to industrial sites along its banks. No surprise, then, that it’s also a superfund site, thanks largely to the country’s largest oil spill: up to 17 million estimated tons leaking into the soil beneath Greenpoint. The contamination announced itself in 1950 with a BOOM near the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Huron Street where windows were shattered, manhole covers flew three stories in the air and a crater opened up when petroleum fumes ignited in the sewer system!

Word of the Day: Pollution
From Latin: polluere “to soil, defile, contaminate”

Newtown Creek:

WOW! What a day! The weather could not have been more perfect!

We got off to a bit of a late start today as the Dental Van from NYU was busy working on some of the Ruff Ryder’s teeth but eventually we were able to get the lesson going. Today, the Ruff Ryder’s consisted of Steven Henriquez, Estuardo Bustamante, Ethan Cuevas, Michael Romero, Ontus Bangura, Sebastian Betancourt, and the only female rough rider, Alexis Reynolds. Unfortunately, Tuesday was Jenne’s last day so after some goodbyes, she had to head off. Regardless, the Ruff Ryders were ready for their ride! In our fifth ride of the season with this Ruff and Tough group we conquered our 4th borough, Brooklyn as we trekked over to Newtown Creek.

After the lesson, we walked our bikes to the East River at the 96th street entrance. We began pedaling south for a couple miles. The kids now easily handled obstacles in the past along the way, such as those steep steps around 70th street and that daunting incline near the dog park. All having been on at least one ride before, the kids handled the route like experts and a few even learned how to walk their bikes by the seat like Justin!

After a leisurely trek down the East River Palisade we reached the Queensboro! But have no fear, the Ruff Ryders where not going to be stopped today. The hold team made it over the whole bridge with minimal walking and no breaks. Great job guys but where only in Queens!

Following a quick stop at the Queensbridge Park to hand out the cameras, we took to the streets to head to Brooklyn. Luckily the traffic was light today and we quickly made it to Pulaski Bridge, which connects the two boroughs. Many years ago, it became known that several of the oil refineries in the area were leaking large amounts of oil into Creek leading to lots of pollution (our word of the day). We stopped across the Pulaski Bridge to observe the creek and we all took some pictures while the kids noted the darkness of the water… And that would be due to the “black mayonnaise” lurking at the bottom. We learned from Cappy that while the Newtown Creek is 40 ft. deep, 20 ft. of that is composed of all this sludge deemed “black mayonnaise.” It’s made up of various contaminants, largely due to the oil leakages and sewage. On Tuesday’s rainy ride with the Speed Dusters the oily rainbows were was visible on the surface because the streets runoff right into the creek. Today we saw lots of other waste floating around (the garbage of NYC)—it sure did not look like any place we’d want to swim, but we did see a crab desperately clinging to an old sour cream container.

But journey did not stop there! The good news is that the community (word of the day, week 3) and the federal government are working together to improve the health and usability of the area. As a superfund site, the creek is being remediated, and the Newtown Creek Nature Walk is an attempt to improve access to the water as a recreation site with some welcome greenery. In the Nature Walk we examined the etched granite surface that showed the historical footprint of the creek. While the original estuary was a network of channels that drained rainwater through the creek and into the East River, the creek is now a boxed-in channel lined by bulkheads that effectively turns it into a stagnant pool. We stopped at this diamond in the rough to enjoy some snacks. Today we had carrot sticks, nectarines, plums, and banana chips!

With some snacks in our stomachs, we began the ride home. We had a minor spill as Sebastian slid out around the tight turn at the end of the Queensboro but that wasn’t going to stop him! We continued on until we made it to the dog park, where we stopped to award our newest 25 milers, Alexis and Ontus! Great job guys! Riding along the crowded East River Promenade at the height of the afternoon brought a challenge for our riders. Ontus had some trouble and went down once, scraping his knee but he was quickly up and riding again. For his perseverance, he was awarded the spirit badge!

We made it back to the Stanley Issacs Center and the riders quickly uploaded their pictures and left their comments and we headed back up to the Beacon School. Another great ride in the books with only one week left. Get ready for Staten Island Ruff Ryders!!!

After this week, the Ruff Ryders have 10, 603 Points! WOW! GREAT WORK!

This trip was on August 15, 2013
Programming time: 6 hours
Ride time: 3.75 hours
Ride Distance: 14.1 miles
Walk Distance: 0.55 miles
Calories Burned: About 755 Calories


Ontus Bangura
Michael Romero
Steven Henriquez
Ethan Cuevas
Sebastian Betancourt
Estuardo Bustamante
Alexis Reynolds

Leaders: Torin Barnes, Cappy Collins, Justin Downs, Dan Piening

View 2013.08.15 RR Newtown Creek in a larger map

Comments ( 8 )

  • Steven henriquez

    Phew! Newtown Creek was one of the most painful but still fun ride ever! Today Ontus fell and scrabed his skin for a minute he looked knocked out. I felt bad for him D: but i know how he feels one day i was playing tag with my friend and there was a big white bulldog and when i ran pasted the dog and he jumped to me and i scraped my right knee and right elbow. The most hardest part was when we had to go up MANY bridges and steep hills. My favorite picture was the big “City” Bank.

  • Michael romero

    I took this picture because it like you take a nap in a nice cool day on your bike and it feel good. one part that was hard was when we went up the hill but some fell of there bike when we i was go up but i don’t stop.

  • Alexis reynolds

    [As transcribed by Cappy] I like this picture because it’s awesome because spiders are cool. They could eat stuff like flies and butterflies. And they lay their eggs on the web. First they spin the web to make sure it’s right so they can eat. And then spiders are awesome because there are lots of them in some parks. And they’re in sewers also.

    What’s challenging is going up the hill. And down the hill because it was going so fast. I wish the hills were slower. I think more challenging was that we had to walk toward the woods and the bumps were hard.

  • Ontus Bangura

    why i took that picture is because thay are the people that came with us to the trip. thay give us a lot of spirit to all of us. the challenge part was when we were going up hills that was so challenge part of the day.

  • Sebastian Betancourt

    When I saw that Jenne had to leave It was kinda of sad and then kinda happy because I realized that Jenne might come back and join us next year. But I realized that’s not going to stop me. Today we went on the most exhausting Bridge of all The Queens Boro Bridge when we made it to the park it was a nice scenery.
    When we made it to have a quick lunch break what was scary was that we did not have any oranges !
    Why I chose this picture is because these are the guys that come to the Ruff Ryders and Speed Dusters meetings including (Emma and Jenne)
    The best part of the day was that we didn’t have to ride in the rain although we could have won a badge but it was still the best .
    The most challenging part of the day was that we couldn’t experience it without Emma and Jenne.

  • Estuardo.bustamante

    today we went to see black mayonnaise and I saw a little crab on top of a cup and the reason that cup was on the water is because there were big boats with trash. what pollution means to me is when trash is not put were it is supposed to be. the most challenging part of the day was when we were going across the bridge and going up the hills because we were tired and there were to many of them.

  • Ethan cuevas

    When we started in the morning one of our member named Jenne she left the Ruff Ryders because she had to go to school in her Hometown in Westchester and shes probably gonna come back next year. The reason i took this picture is because this is the picture that we went up and it was so exhausting riding up the hill and there was the Roosevelt Island Tram it takes so long to go up the hill in my picture. It was so much better when we went downhill. However, we had so much more uphills and it kept on getting better when we went downhill. We might get EXTRA points because Michael and Ontus had to go to the Dentist in the morning. When we ate lunch we ate plums and nectureens and the good lunch was when we ate the Banana Chips it was really, really good.The most challenging part is when we went up the first bridge up the hill i was so tiring and i did not drink water that much in the trip but it was the most fun trip ever ☻.

  • Jenne

    I wish I could have been there with all of you guys! But from the looks of it, you all had a great trip! You guys have over 10,000 POINTS! That’s only because of your hard work and determination, so I applaud you! Congrats!

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