Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I made some adjustments to my Churchill tonight. I raised the seat a little - raised the handlebar stem a lot and turned the handlebars up higher. These adjustments were based on my visit to the podiatrist the other day. Allow me to explain.

Tuesday I woke up with a swollen and sore foot. I stayed home and spent the day searching through my insurance company's impossible and totally counter-intuitive web site trying to find a doctor or something. In the process, I ran across a really cool MD in the neighborhood who is launching a new (for the US) concept in medicine.

Eventually I found a Podiatrist who wasn't too far away and called his office. His secretary answered and told me to come on down and that he would see me. Although I couldn't really walk, I could certainly ride. I hadn't really realized before that if for some reason you can't step on the bottom of your foot that you can always still ride your bicycle.

I plotted a course on Ride the City and headed into South Williamsburg. If you don't already know, South Williamsburg is primarily a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. You can read more about the Hasidic sects of Judaism elsewhere, but in a nutshell it is a movement that originated in Eastern Europe and is distinctive because of their unique dress, culture and outward expressions of faith as opposed to a other more internal sects. Williamsburg Brooklyn is home to the largest Satmar Hasidic population in the world - tens of thousands of Satmar live just a few blocks south of the totally gentrified and hipsterized North Bedford Ave.

Personally, I love the community, the neighborhood and the people - every time I cross under the Williamsburg bridge, I feel like I've gone back in time to the 1940s - the women are all wearing hats, skirts and black shoes, there are children playing everywhere - and there is a great feeling of life on the streets as young men walk arm in arm, talking excitedly - an expression of friendship and camaraderie.

So, it turns out the podiatrist I found is right in the heart of the Hasidic neighborhood. I found his practice on the sub-ground floor of an apartment building on a residential street. There were several little boys playing out front. You have no idea how cute these kids are - in the summer the little boys all wear knickers and a button up short-sleeved shirt, they have a yarmulka on and adorable locks of curled hair in front of each ear (payot). These particular boys were very impressed with the Velorbis Churchill and gave me wide eyed smiles as I locked it up to the steel grate in front of the apartment. My favorite thing about the Hasidic kids is that they look at you like you're an alien - which I pretty much am from their perspective.

WILLIAMSBURG BROOKLYN, originally uploaded by lcrf.

Stepping down to the Doctors office, I found his sign - old, metal and hand painted in both English and Hebrew. Yes, this was definately going to be my podiatrist.

So it turns out I managed, somehow, to get a "massive infection" overnight in my foot. And my new Podiatrist said to me in his most dramatic and wonderful accent "If you hadn't come here today, my friend, you would have been in the Hospital tomorrow! The Hospital, I tell you."

He sent me to the corner pharmacy for my prescriptions (horse pill sized antibiotics and his "custom blend of creams, that I'm famous for - they call it Dr. Beinenfeld's special").

During this short ride which took me so far away, I realized my seat was a bit low and I wasn't sitting as upright as I would like to be - so I've corrected that - raised my seat, raised my handlebars even more - and I can't wait to test out the new position tomorrow. And my foot - it's much better.


Chickenside said...

you made pretty much the same adjustments I made. I also nudged the saddle an inch or so forward. I'm 6'1", so a low seat translates into no power and all the work on my quads. I'm very pleased that I can still stay in the saddle at stops with the ball of one foot on ground-- something I still can't do on my smaller road frame with it's slightly higher bottom-bracket. Being able to make small adjustments without having to replace a stem is huge.

Michael said...

I'm 6'2" and have a really long upper body - so i need to have lots of distance between seat and handlebar height - I'm really amazed at the ways I can adjust this bike. Much easier than I thought it would be.

I would have to lower my seat to get anything but my toes on the ground - but I think this is the height for me.

Perhaps I ought to move mine forward as well...

Krista said...

What a wonderful story! Those kids look adorable. I live not far from Lancaster, PA, where there are tons (TONS! I tell you) of Amish folks everywhere. It is adorable to see the kids out in their slacks and button-up shirts, playing volleyball, or riding horses... whatever Amish kids do for fun.

Hope your foot gets better soon!

Michael said...

Thanks Krista!
It's much better today - aside from a mildly upset stomach - I'm feeling ok.

I've usually refrained from taking photos of the Hasidic kids - but since I found so many good ones on flickr - perhaps I'll start. I just don't want to get all touristy on them. Maybe I can take some from my bicycle... drive by style...

Shlomy said...


Seems that for once we can agree on something, I disagree with everything you say about Bush and the war, but I agree that these Jewish kids are Adorable! :)
I am an Hasidic jew and live in Willi, oh btw he is a great doc.

Michael said...

shlomy - thanks! I'm glad we can agree on something! Oh yes - the kids are so sweet and adorable! It's one of the only places in the city where you can see so many young children playing freely. It reminds me of where I grew up in the country, where kids would play outdoors all the time...

Yes! Dr. Beinenfeld was great!

Shlomy said...

guess what I like the MAC too! have been a iMac Fanatic!
Hey you mad me a new fan of your blog!
never knew there is so much to write about biking in NYC