New York City’s bike-share program, Citi Bike (main sponsor: Citibank, obvi) helps people who don’t have bicycles cruise the five boroughs. A few riders go farther — some scofflaws even more so.
But it’s unlikely any are clocking more non-New York City miles than one 35-year-old from Brooklyn who recently hopped a ferry to New Jersey and plans on pedaling cross-country in a project he’s calling Countri Bike.
Relatively new to bikes, Jeffrey Tanenhaus first got into cycling in the winter of 2012. It was a financial decision. After quitting his first corporate event-planning job, he bought a road bike as cost-saving measure; he figured that, with a bike, he could eliminate the expense of subway fares.
Urban riding was more than just a smart economic choice. “It was enjoyable, efficient and fun. It was always a challenge to get from point A to point B,” said a slightly out-of-breath Tanenhaus during a phone interview with GrindTV, which he participated in while pedaling the car-free bike path, the Ohio to Erie Trail.
In May 2013, when the New York City bike-share program came online, Tanenhaus signed up for a membership and was one of the first 5,000 people to do so. Citi Bike became his preferred tool for commuting to his new gig.
The ride? Awesome. The job? Not so much.
“As my second corporate event-planning job started to go off the tracks, the bike commute became the best part of my day. It was therapeutic for me because it was the one time that I felt empowered and had freedom and I was mentally engaged in my surrounding,” said Tanenhaus.
He looked for a new gig, but was unsuccessful at it, so he began to consider the bike as an escape tool from cubicle drudgery. But he didn’t commit to the ride until two weeks before he started to put tires to westward-bound pavement. His Citi Bike membership was slated to end on Aug. 7 and he considered that date his do-or-die deadline: to ride or not to ride would be answered then.
He did. But mum was the word.
“I wasn’t sure how far I would get, so I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it only for me to fail a day or two later,” explained Tanenhaus.
That was more than a month ago, and he’s visited Atlantic City, New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh; and Columbus, Ohio.
He rides about 35 or 40 miles a day, often starting at about 11 a.m. and finishing about six and a half hours later, give or take. But that’s not 100 percent saddle time: He typically stops for lunch and always makes time for a few selfies.
Chronicling his journey on his website, Countri Bike, as well as the big three social platforms is time-consuming. “The social-media management is more exhausting than the actual pedaling,” explained Tanenhaus.
He’s been surprised how smoothly the trip has gone so far. Folks he meets on the road are curious and supportive. He hasn’t had any awful interactions with dangerous drivers. And he recently learned that it’s possible to change a flat on his Citi Bike, something he was unsure of and doesn’t know how to do himself.
(Note to Tanenhaus: Sign up for Better World Club. They offer 24/7 roadside assistance.)
Many people Tanenhaus crosses paths with don’t even know what Citi Bike is. And although he reached out to the company, they haven’t responded. They have charged him with the maximum late fee of $1,200, though, which he may pay with his Citibank credit card.
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