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Margareta

Margareta

It was a cool, breezy late June day as I sat on a bench in Verdi Park, watching commuters bustling to and from the subway lines.  I hoped to find someone interesting to photograph and interview when a woman rode up on her bike and settled onto the bench beside me, visibly limping.

Noticing her discomfort, I asked how she managed to bike despite her difficulty walking.  She explained that biking was actually easier for her, having undergone two knee surgeries and facing the prospect of knee replacements and ankle surgery.  The bench provided a brief respite from her chronic pain.

Her well-worn bike bore testament to years of use and miles traveled.  Curious about her experiences biking in Manhattan, she recounted that starting in the 1960s when helmets and bike lanes were unheard of.

Despite the changes, she found biking in the city manageable if you knew what you were doing.

Meet Margareta, an adventurous 80-year-old who has biked across Europe, from Provence and Nice to Paris and various cities in Italy, and has even spent three years cycling through Indonesia.  Sometimes solo (with panniers), sometimes with friends, she thrived on exploration, bypassing support groups like VBT or Backroads.

Margareta moved to New York City with her partner many years ago because of his job.  

As an accountant, she found work and grew to love the city's diversity, finding solace in its vibrant multicultural tapestry compared to the homogeneity of Western Massachusetts, where she occasionally retreats to ride Rails to Trails.

Living in Manhattan during the tumultuous 1960s wasn't without challenges;  

She reminisced fondly yet acknowledged the roughness and lack of safety.  Acknowledging that the very park we were sitting in was once known as Needle Park, where, at night time, only drug addicts and prostitutes would dare venture.  Despite the hardships, Margareta cherished those years and embraced her identity as a proud New Yorker.

Now, in her later years, she has noted the shift in how she's perceived. Younger passersby in her Upper West Side neighborhood often dismiss her. Nevertheless, she remains unfazed, maintaining her positivity and smiling through it all.

Margareta lost her partner five years ago and still misses him deeply.  Her son lives in Manhattan, providing her with companionship and support.  

For Margareta, who embraces each day with youthful vigor despite her age, Manhattan is home, a vibrant stage for her ongoing adventures.

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