In the world of cycling, conventional wisdom states:
1) There's no mountain biking in New York City;
2) Brooks saddles
have no place on mountain bikes and only belong on twee touring cycles ridden by people who dress like they're heading out to hunt pheasant;
3) If velocity is defined as the rate of change of position with respect to time, i.e. v = dx/dt, where v is velocity and x is the displacement vector, then there is a 100% chance that the triathlete will crash.
While No. 3 is most certainly true, the first two are not. There are various places to ride mountain bikes in and around New York City, and indeed there are fine trails just a few short miles from my home. In fact, they are close enough that I can easily ride to them, and being able to do so while still living within the city limits feels positively decadent--especially on an artisanal custom-curated bicycle topped with the very finest in hand-chamfered leather ass pedestals:
The key to leading a fulfilling cycling life in New York City (by which I mean having ready access to pleasurable routes both paved and unpaved, these being essential to fulfillment) is not to live someplace stupid, like Brooklyn:
Yes, the bikey people love the Brooklyn, but if you look at the map it becomes obvious why the discerning cyclist should avoid it at all costs. If you're unfamiliar with New York City geography, the red is Brooklyn, and the yellow is the rest of the city. See how the other boroughs basically just sit on Brooklyn's head? (Not including Staten Island on the left, which is slinking off to New Jersey like Brooklyn just farted.) What this means you've got to ride through all that yellow
before you even get close to any decent riding.
I mean, sure, if this is your idea of having a good time with your bike then go right ahead and live in Brooklyn:
But the fact of the matter is that all the really good riding is to the north, so the clever move for the cyclist who insists on residing in New York City is to live as far uptown as possible, thus offering relatively handy access to hills and trails and affording you the sort of lifestyle that allows you to ride some singletrack before lunch without first having to load your bike onto a car.
This is not to say it's a bucolic existence up here, or that I don't have to contend with my share of sprawl when I venture north. For example, on the Sunday after (American) Thanksgiving I headed out for a mountain bike ride, and it just so happens that the quickest way to the trailhead involves cutting through an outdoor shopping mall:
There are few settings more eerily depressing than a mall in the early morning after it's been ravaged by Black Friday shoppers. Only hours before this place must have been brimming with life. Unfulfilled suburban men laden with shopping bags leered surreptitiously at the Victoria's Secret displays:
Meanwhile, their wives dreamed of exotic trips to Havana as they sat in Cuban-themed chain restaurants, sipping mojitos served to them by waiters who recite the specials from scripts sent over from the head office:
And their children delighted in a whimsical nativity scene featuring Joseph, Mary, and three baby Lizard-Jesuses:
Now they were all home alseep, and the mall was a wasteland, the air filled with a melancholy mélange of doleful Christmas crooning and utter despair:
If the Cheesecake Factory had been open there's a good chance I would have grief-eaten myself into a diabetic coma, but fortunately it was still closed, and somehow I found the strength to continue around to the back of the mall:
Where there is a gate:
That opens into a Narnian fantasyscape:
Or at least a county park.
And like a ferret let loose from a pet carrier, I scampered off into the trees:
By the way, here's the bike I was riding:
And here's a closer shot of that ass pedestal:
As I mentioned, many people don't associate Brooks saddles
with mountain bikes, but I find them particularly well-suited to that application, since I like to ride rigid bikes and the leather has a bit of a suspension effect you don't get from a plastic saddle:
I also apply plenty of Proofide
--not to the saddle, but to myself, as I find it makes a fantastic
Not to mention it also works as a chain lube, a lip balm, and even a last-minute mustache waxing solution when you're running late for the Tweed Ride
*[Disclaimer: guest blogger is not credible. Do not apply Brooks Proofide to your crotch or face.]
But this was no Tweed Ride.
Anyway, at the top of the big climb I stopped to take in the view and snack on some Proofide:
And after a healthy amount of woodland frolicking it was time to head back home. But instead of cutting through the mall again I headed west towards the Hudson River and took the unpaved trail that runs along the path of the old aqueduct that once supplied New York City with its water:
And along which, as you travel through Yonkers, you'll find the ruins of a gatehouse for an old estate:
It looks kind of satanic, but that's only because it is
In the midst of all this phobia, a series of strange occurrences involving Untermyer's long-derelict gardens caused the park to earn a disturbing new reputation. Overnight workers at neighboring St. John's Hospital regularly claimed to see torch flames moving deep within the woods. Strange chanting was also frequently heard, and the park's old abandoned pump house became referred to locally as Devil's Cave.
A 1976 police report documents the finding of carefully mutilated German Shepherd bodies in the aqueduct south of the park; just one of several instances involving significant numbers of skinned and disfigured Alsatian dogs occurring in the greater New York area over the next several years.
Perhaps you've heard of the "Son of Sam
Starting in July of 1976, the year-long murder spree of the Son of Sam serial killer and Yonkers resident David Berkowitz escalated satanic phobia into an outright frenzy, holding the city of New York hostage in fear until his arrest in August of 1977. While Berkowitz initially confessed to the series of shootings, in the years following his arrest he has consistently claimed that he acted as a part of something much greater: a large-scale satanic cult with headquarters based in Yonkers, a group which Berkowitz recounted as holding frequent gatherings in the heavily wooded grounds of Untermyer Park.
Yes, supposedly he got his start right here by sacrificing dogs. I had no idea about any of this until a blog reader pointed it out to me some time ago, and now that I do know I usually ride past it as quickly as I can--though this time I stopped to investigate because I was riding with a friend who could call for help if I encountered any Satanists:
So up the stairs I went:
Then I turned to make sure my friend was still there. He was. Furthermore, note that he's holding his smartphone, he's already dialed the "9" and the "1," and his finger is poised over the final "1" as per my instructions:
I climbed higher, my heart pounding as I approached the doorway:
And that's where I found something unspeakably horrible!
, it was only an empty room:
I don't know if any Satanists have been sacrificing animals in there, but I'd be willing to bet that some teenagers have been smoking weed and listening to Slayer:
I then admired the view of the Hudson River and The Palisades beyond:
At that very moment countless Lycra-clad roadies were surely stalking those very cliffs, but I was quite content to be on my side of the river:
Though I'm still not sure which is creepier: the Satanic altar of sacrifice, or the empty mall?
Yeah, I think I gotta go with the mall.