Friday, January 31, 2014

Cycling and Hartford Conclusion

Cycling and Hartford: Coda

So where do we go from here? I don't know, because the big picture looks (note "looks" in italics, i.e. not "is") bleak. If I try to put a positive face on it, I could rationalize that pragmatism has also a positive flip-side and, that is, it's important to solve small problems first. Politics is often very adept at that, too, especially when it originates with grass roots movements. One hopes then that the chain of interlinking solutions to local problems then creates a new kind of attitude and practice (let's call it an ethos) that leads to even more significant changes. In this sense the Flower St. closing (in Hartford) is symptomatic of the larger problem of a more sustainable Hartford. The city and the state have built the busway in part because it will help relieve traffic congestion in the city. This is very good, of course, and it's also apparently in line with increased sustainability. At the same time, however, closing Flower St. to cyclists, pedestrians, and, in fact, local inhabitants essentially ignores the quality of life of these groups, who don't need the busway and who have the most invested in the city (because they live there). This is not sustainability. Some will argue that the street closing is a necessary tradeoff that serves a greater, public good. In pure numbers, perhaps this is true. Even if the busway were to serve many more people than expected and even if, then, these commuters were to frequent local businesses, etc… couldn't the city and the state have found a better solution than closing off the street? (The pedestrian and cycling detour is not just an inconvenience it's an added blight, also.) After all, isn't the best longterm investment and resource of a city the people that populate it? The Flower St. closing has been on my mind, not because I personally feel aggrieved by it, but because it is symptomatic of the things we need to do better.

The Italian philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, wrote that we must be intellectually pessimistic, but we must also have an optimistic will. With Hartford's rich cycling legacy, you would think that we would have a lot to build on for a sustainable future, beginning with the bicycle.

A short list of sources:

Russell Arben Fox, "Bicycling and the Simple Life." Cycling: Philosophy for Everyone: A Philosophical Tour de Force. Eds, Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza & Michael W. Austin. Sussex, UK: Wiley, 2010:94-105.

Todd Balf, Major: A Black Athlete, a White Era, and the Fight To Be the World's Fastest Human Being. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008.

Wiebe E. Bijker, "King of the Road: The Social Construction of the Safey Bicycle." Of Bicycles, Bakelites, and Bulbs. Toward a Theory of Sociotechnical Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995:19-100.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities. Transl. William Weaver. New York: Harcourt, 1974.

Connecticut History Online.

Stephen B. Goddard, Colonel Albert Pope and His American Dream Machines. The Life and Times of a Bicycle Tycoon Turned Automotive Pioneer. Jefferson, NC & London: McFarland & Co., 2000.

David Herlihy, Bicycle, The History. New Haven: Yale U Press, 2004.
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cycling and Hartford Part IV

Cadenza/coda to come tomorrow.

Cycling and Hartford: Pt. IV: Build it and they will come?

But they don't have to, of course. We might be a nation that is ostensibly obsessed with gun "rights" when, instead, we should be more concerned with air and water quality, food security, and other pressing problems but these are the contradictions of "modernity" some might say. And we are definitely addicted to oil and gas but not necessarily because of natural causes but for historical reasons as we have mentioned before. As cities, like Hartford adapt and reinvent themselves does the bicycle fit into the changing urban landscape? Local associations and organizations like BikeWalk do their best to motivate cycle commuting, and we've even seen Pope-era kinds of developments in the second-half of the 20th C and in the first decade of this century in terms of cycling infrastructure. When I came to Hartford in 1966 (we lived on Webster St., near New Britain Ave.) the only cyclists I ever saw were "bicyclists", that is, children on "play bikes" and tricycles. The bicycle was basically viewed as a toy. No one. And I mean, no adult, rode a bike (at least in my very defective memory). As a teenager I bought my first ten speed (a French bike by the ominous name of "Unic Sport") and these were my wheels even after I got my driver's license. Sound familiar (except for maybe the "Unic Sport" part)? Fast forward (from the OPEC oil crisis of the early '70's when "economy" cars became popular in the U.S. and when commuting cycling became more prevalent) to our own time, we see more riders on the road. The infrastructure is much better, too, with the rails-to-trails movement, the Greenway, and consideration paid in many towns and cities to multi-use paths. In Hartford, marked bike lanes are intended to slow down car traffic and make cyclists more visible in some of the heavier trafficked intersections. All of this is thanks to advocacy groups working with local administrations. Urban cycling activists will often point to Portland and to several European cities and to the importance of bike share programs, etc… as instances of innovative urban planning, although in Portland it was more an epiphenomenon of the pre-existing cycling culture which won over city-hall. Ignoring our cold, wet winters, Hartford is uniquely suited for increased urban cycling because of its network of parks and its history with the bicycle. Yet, for all these opportunities cycling is not considered a means of urban revitalization in Hartford except by a small group of people. Implementing simple measures to improve conditions for cyclists would likely yield a more positive cost-benefit ratio in the long term than many other costly and ambitious public projects. More so, if we consider not only the effects for commuting cyclists, but for citizens in general (less noise and pollution). Moreover, even mass transit projects like the busway in Hartford is intended to serve people who do not necessarily live in the city, but suburbanites who make their living there. But is the difference between promoting less-costly innovative cycling projects and exorbitant expensive mass transit ones is that the former don't involve enough pork to make leaders and interested parties (who stand to gain from them) turn their heads. Unless cycling can quantitatively demonstrate that it can improve people's lives, enhance the real estate market, and create jobs (or at least be an important effect of it, as in Pope's day), it will be viewed by most as a marginal activity practiced by a "virtuous" (or foolish, depending on your perspective) minority of citizens (unless and until there is some critical threshold of cyclists).

Environmental and economic sustainability typically involves making tradeoffs, sacrificing something important and lucrative now for a longer term cost-saving objective. Shifting from gas to alternative energies is an expensive proposition, except in the longer term, as we know. And even if it were "impossibly" expensive, we might still have to do it. We often complain about the prices of things, but to sustain a quality of life for consumers and producers alike, we need to pay more for these goods and services. There are just too many negative hidden costs to our current lifestyle. But there are many sustainable choices that are actually far more fiscally smart and feasible in the short term, such as enhancing the cycling infrastructure, that would certainly be worth the price. It's an easy fix in other words. So, where is American pragmatism when you need it? Born in part from a frugal, hardworking, and dogged frontier mentality (also from the Protestant work ethic) American pragmatism conceptually works against sustainability because, by definition, "pragmatism" is primarily about the concrete and the present, not so much about the possible and the future. Think short term, not the long term. Consumer consumption, (since Thorstein Veblen theorized anyway) relies on an extreme version of pragmatism, now applies to a broad swath of the middle class and not just to wealthy elites . Think of the effects of it, the use and abuse of disposable goods filling up landfills. The most conspicuous of conspicuous consumptions is the mindless practice of accumulating unnecessary goods and disposing them irresponsibly as soon as they are no longer desired. Conspicuous consumption (which is the backbone of mass culture) is unsustainable.
So where do we go from here? Read more!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cycling and Hartford Part III

More from Dario:

For the love of the bicycle

But before I explain what I mean by "And it gets worse", let's double back to an important love of our life: cycling? Cycling was born in England as an athletic, agonistic, class conscious, and elitist activity, not as an everyman, humble means of transportation. Only the wealthy, once upon a time, recreated. So, it makes sense that mastering an Ordinary (a high wheeler, a "Penny-farthing") would require the extensive leisure to do so. This was initially the case in the U.S., too. Mark Twain famously tried, unsuccessfully, to tame the tall beast, but he could afford the time and expense to learn how to ride (if he had only really tried). Cycling up until about the mid-1880's was the stuff of mainly well-to-do men and a few iconoclastic women. When eventually prices dropped for these expensive contraptions, people of lower social classes could afford them. A middle or even working class man on a high wheeled Ordinary riding alongside an aristocrat on a horse would literally see eye to eye. Metaphorically, the playing field had been leveled (and never underestimate the power of metaphors). When Pope began producing his version of the "Safety" bicycle, that is, the classic diamond shape design with two wheels of equal diameter, everything changed. Although expensive at first, prices dropped as competition from other producers, a more efficient production process, and the sheer volume of bicycles made and sold in the U.S. increased. Pope's genius was also in having promoted the production of the step-through version of the Safety bicycle for women (in the background of the image of the male Safety), thereby, opening up a huge market and also contributing, as Susan B. Anthony proclaimed, an important instrument to the promotion of women's liberation. Histories of the bicycle are filled with references to the democratizing effect of the bicycle.
Cycling in the 1890's was all the rage in the U.S. and elsewhere, especially competitive cycling. Major Taylor was perhaps the first, truly international American superstar athlete. And he was black. The League of American Wheelmen had been created in 1880, the mother of all affiliate clubs throughout the country. There were velodromes in many cities and major competitive races, track and road, including a velodrome in East Hartford. Pope promoted good roads and cycling parks to enhance the market for bicycles. Seemingly inhuman speed and endurance races captivated the American and European imagination from about the 1890's into the beginning of the 20th C. Then the bottom fell out, as they say. Cycling declined in popularity with respect to the initial craze. Certainly a less costly automobile (Ford's car for everyman as opposed to Pope's car for the wealthy) began to dominate the landscape. But this doesn't explain why we jumped into cars spending a lot more money and not using bicycles, for example, for commuting short distances, as happens everyday in many cities around the world. Marketing, irrationalism, desire to be better, faster than your neighbor, or even inertia are all logical and possibly good reasons. Time is money.

To answer this, perhaps we need to look at our own era. First, Greg Lemond, and then Lance Armstrong (however steep his fall from grace has been) helped make road racing enormously popular in the U.S. While they certainly contributed to the production and sales of higher end racing machines, did they actually contribute to cycling, meaning, recreational and commuter cycling? Did the people who went out and bought an expensive racing machine, ride outside of this specific conspicuous consumer activity (racing, fast club riding)? There is an uncanny parallel between the cycling paradigm in Major Taylor's era and in our own. Has this predilection for agonistic cycling been an impediment to the development of the bicycle as a means of transportation in the U.S.? And if this is true for us, why isn't it true for some countries in Europe, where there are many commuting cyclists?

At the end of the last post, the reflective interlude, I intimated that "And it gets worse", which I reprise in the introduction of this entry. If sustainability is about making conscious choices and mainstream American society and culture actively avoids sustainability, then this impulse to avoid is not only because of economic opportunism, but avoidance has also become an ingrained habit and even a cultural norm with ideological underpinnings. Indeed, things get worse. Read more!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cycling and Hartford Part II

Dario continues:

Cycling and Hartford: Pt. II: Col. Pope and the Paradox of Progress

Hartford. 1895. Albert Augustus Pope, a Civil War veteran and Boston entrepreneur intuits that the cycling craze is at its height. Besides being a brilliant and savvy businessman, Pope, from a distinguished line of Boston entrepreneurs (mostly, lumber) has a sixth sense about these things. The commercial apex of the bicycle in the U.S., with literally hundreds of Columbia bicycles churned out on a daily basis at the Pope Manufacturing Co. on Capitol Ave. in Hartford is the sign that the apex is also the zenith. Pope puts his hopes and business acumen into the electric car. He even buys out George Selden's patent for the gasoline engine to head the competition off at the pass. But Pope's electric car doesn't catch on because the electric companies can't really see a profit in installing stations for charging the engine batteries. Plus, batteries don't hold a charge for long. Instead, there is plenty of gas in the earth and fewer technical issues with those filthy, greasy, smoking engines. Pope eventually sells a part of his claim on the patent to a cartel of fledgling car companies, perhaps with the idea that he can still maintain some profits and royalties. Henry Ford, as we all know, will eventually win the day, of course, stealing Selden's gas engine and thumbing his nose at the competition, and finally crushing his adversaries, including Col. Pope, in court. 

For a moment though, a brief moment, Hartford was not only the bicycle capital of the U.S., but also the automotive capital. (We could have been driving electric cars in 1900 and Lord knows what the technology would be like today!). Pope's legacy, beside Columbia bicycles and Pope cars, is that he created the Great Roads Movement. To sell more bicycles, Pope understood that we would have to improve the rutted, rocky dirt lanes that were just good enough for horse carts. Thus, the "roadification" of the U.S. was Pope's dream for the bicycle. And even after he formally retired from making bicycles and cars, he continued to promote and to lobby for paved roads throughout the U.S.. 

In the following image looking toward the state capitol, Pope Manufacturing, Capitol Avenue, we see the Pope factory on Capitol Ave (on the left) and the housing Pope built for his skilled workers (on the right). In this link, I-84 viaduct, you can see the area in the foreground where the Pope Manufacturing Co. once was. You can also see quite obviously the I-84 viaduct that bisects the city and gargantuan Aetna which rises beyond. Could Pope have foreseen this development, a day when there would be as many roads as, if not more than, people? How many occupants are in each of those cars? How much space is required for each of the vehicles? Was this Pope's and Ford's view of progress? From the perspective of aesthetics, the environment, and sustainability, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Plus, we ain't allowed to ride our bikes on the interstate.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

Rising from Ashes - Movie on February 4th

Heya bike folks.  I know you are jonesing for your bike that was put away months ago or is perhaps suffering with you through the winter on your stationary trainer.  Since Hartford loves you and we know that S.A.D. for cyclists is particularly harsh, there is a cycling movie at the Wadsworth on Tuesday, February 4th.

Here's the blurb.  Hope to see a bunch of folks out there.  Discount for Bike Walk Connecticut members.


Don't miss the inspiring film "Rising from Ashes" on Tuesday, Feb. 4th at 7 p.m. at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. “Rising fromAshes” is a feature length documentary about two worlds colliding when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda, Africa to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national team. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.

Informal happy hour meetup at the nearby Arch Street Tavern at 5PM, a short walk from the museum. In addition to popcorn, candy, and soda the theater has beer and wine available at their concession if you can't make it in time for happy hour.

Previous cycling films at have SOLD OUT so your best bet is to secure a ticket online ahead of time. For tickets, go to Discounted $10 admission for Bike Walk Connecticut and museum members, otherwise $12.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cycling and Hartford Part I

In a departure from the junk I usually write about cold feet, some slight by a faceless driver or comparisons of eggs and pedals we will feature some guest posts by Dario about cycling and the history of Hartford. One may not think about Hartford's rich cycling past when riding around these days because it's been obscured and generally erased by years of pro-car planning choices and neglect. So, read what Dario has written and either get depressed about once was or hopeful that our city can rejoin its past and have roads dominated by people and not machines.

Cycling and Hartford: Introduction

As everyone knows, Hartford was once renowned for its manufacturing and not only for its insurance companies. I've dipped into a few books about cycling and about Hartford during the late 19th and early 20th C and they got me thinking. Cycling was all the craze because human-powered locomotion was exciting, and man had never gone so fast. Cyclists were even beating horses in races. The craze fizzled quickly however, lasting only about 15-20 years (ca. 1880-1900), with the development of gas engine vehicles, the car in the early 20th C, and then, of course, with the Wright Bros. flying invention. Cycling enjoyed its heyday, like Hartford (although the city's fortunes began long before and lasted long after). And then it was over! It's fascinating and also a little sad. We have come to accept the excuse that cities everywhere have their great moments and then they decline, whether it's the small northeastern manufacturing town or the sprawling industrial cities of the Midwest. Cities are places where people make lots of money.

Take Albert Pope, for example. The bicycle and then auto entrepreneur-magnate did much to help Hartford. He was in it for profit, too, of course. But he also had a sense of people and of the place. When the capitalist winds shift (that is, industries come and go), cities' fortunes often shift with them, and the same occurred in Hartford to a great degree. In the next several "posts", I want to briefly reflect on why cities change. And I also want to reflect on cycling, too. But I also want to reflect on memory and time in terms of cycling, the city of Hartford, and the prospects of sustainability. That's a lot. And it will be confused. But, hopefully, it will also be a little interesting.

Cycling and Hartford: Pt. I: "Why cities change?"

Cities change because they are living organisms. When we first think of cities, we think of buildings, roads, commerce, finance, entertainment. Cities are places of exchange and intense interactions between and among people. But unlike their inhabitants, cities typically have a longer, much longer, life cycle. But they, too, eventually exhibit similar life patterns, without necessarily dying off completely. It would be far too easy, therefore, to apply biological necessity to cities in order to explain why they change and decay, something along the line of, "cities must also die in order to be reborn and to thrive again." (This is true in the animal kingdom in order to perpetuate the species, but not of the places and structures created by animals. Animals and humans tend to exploit their environment and then move on. Cities do have economic ups and downs.) But there is no guarantee that once fallen they will rise again. When it comes to cities, we human beings have adopted a scorched earth policy throughout history. When cities die, they do so not because they die a necessary, natural death, but because people kill them off with the choices they make. Why do some cities, great cities continue to thrive, whereas others suffer virtual, if not real, deaths, like what seems to be taking place in Detroit? 

Urbanists and economists can explain the mechanics of a city's decline. The anthropological explanation of why major cities continue to do well, change, adapt, is because the different generations of inhabitants, whatever their own values and cultures, are personally invested in the city. They make it work. Cities die as the result of lost income (again, bankrupt Detroit) apparently, but because those with money (and not only the very wealthy) don't really care, despite the rhetoric. Otherwise, why would important corporations, for example, that are essential to the life of a given city up and leave. A city's sustainability requires a population that is invested in it. One reason why Hartford, despite its woes, is still "on the map" is because the city's longstanding institutions are still heavily invested in it, meaning, that they can't just get up and move out, like companies that move production elsewhere. It's a relatively small city with a rich legacy of cultural and educational institutions and important industries. Yet being a relatively small city with a dwindling tax base, Hartford faces significant challenges. The possibility of moving to a regional tax base to support Hartford's infrastructure is highly unlikely, although it would be the "right thing" to do economically and morally (because many people work in Hartford, but live in the wealthier neighboring suburbs). It would make the city more sustainable in transportation planning, too, for example. 

Only in recent decades do we care about the concept of sustainability and how it relates to urban areas. When resources were considered infinite (perhaps up through the 19th C and before the energy crises of the 20th C drove the point home about the limited fossil fuels), we could view cities as if they were like consumer goods, destined to be obsolete. But not anymore. Hartford, for example, has changed dramatically, from one of the great manufacturing centers to an impoverished city (albeit with lots of resources still). Hartford had and has everything going for it in terms of geography, access to important technologies and education, and an extensive infrastructure that serves not only its inhabitants, but also the many people that come in from the suburbs to work there. So, what is its problem?
Stay tuned for Part II
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chris Brown takes on the system

Chris Brown's argument on the motion to dismiss in Brown v. Redeker and the hearing on the mandamus was today. As you can imagine, I am riddled with biases in this case, so I leave it to the apt hands of the Connecticut Mirror and CT News Junkie for stories on today's events.

I'm sure that at some point, we'll see something from Chris. Read more!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bicycle rights!

As you know, in violation of a hearing officer's order, the DOT decided to close Flower Street in Hartford to all users of the street. This severed the only safe bicycle & pedestrian route between Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow. Not one to take this lying down, Chris Brown filed a writ of mandamus against the Commission of the DOT to order compliance with the hearing officer's order to keep the road open and in the road's stead, construct a bridge. The hearing is tomorrow and is open to the public if you are interested. See a press release below:


Side Street takes center stage: Commissioner Redeker and ConnDOT personnel to testify in Flower Street Hearing this Tuesday, Jan 21, 2014 CT Superior Court 95 Washington Street, Hartford, CT 10:00 AM

Christopher Brown v. James Redeker


Frog Hollow resident and cycling advocate Christopher Brown will be in Connecticut Superior Court this Tuesday, January 21 asking that the Connecticut Department of Transportation be ordered to reopen Hartford's Flower Street and begin construction of a bridge as per an administrative law judge's orders from 2013. Brown and his attorney Ken Krayeske announced their filing of a mandamus lawsuit on behalf of the neighborhood street in November 2013.* Brown will be taking the witness stand, as will DOT Commissioner James Redeker, and additional DOT personnel.

Since August 2012, Hartford residents have been arguing with ConnDOT regarding the unnecessary closure of Flower Street to accommodate their controversial CTfastrak project. This quiet side street provided pedestrians and bicyclists safe, direct passage between the Asylum Hill and Frog Hollow neighborhoods. Flower Street was an economic lifeline for area businesses and a safe haven for bicyclists from life-threatening conditions on nearby Broad Street. When ConnDOT closed Flower Street to vehicular traffic, businesses along Capitol Avenue suffered and/or closed and bicyclists were forced to choose between dangerous intersections and perilous interstate access ramps or extended detours of a mile or more.

Brown, a League of American Bicyclists' certified bike instructor, has been advocating for Flower Street area stakeholders since ConnDOT announced the proposed closing to neighborhood residents in the summer of 2012. “Flower Street was a vital route for bicyclists and pedestrians. Its loss puts our streets' most vulnerable users directly in harm's way.” Brown said.

*On Veteran's Day November 11, 2013, the Connecticut Department of Transportation permanently closed Flower Street to pedestrians and cyclists, violating legal decisions ruling the road must remain open unless a bridge is constructed at the crossing. ConnDOT's unlawful action left no option other than litigation, Brown said.

Ed. note: I bet this is the first bicycle-related mandamus ever filed. 2nd Ed. Note: I am wrong, there's 341 N.J.Super. 77 & 659 N.Y.S.2d 388. 
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Why is it Bash Bish?

I went for a hike yesterday with Johanna and Marko in the vicinity of Bash Bish Falls upon the Taconic Trail. For someone reason, everyone I know, myself included, always wants to call "Bash Bish" "Bish Bash". My theory is that "bish bash" rhymes with "splish splash" which is sort of a waterfall sound. Upon googling Bash Bish, the legend behind the name involves capital punishment for trumped-up adultery charges, witch accusations and suicide. It's quite depressing.

I have some limited experience hiking on the Taconic Trail sort of near here on Brace Mountain. Johanna and I actually rode our bikes up it once on our most epic mountain bike adventure ever. We rode on the multi-use trail. It seemed that it was seldom a multi-used trail, because hikers were pretty surprised to see people on bikes, not in a "go away" sense, more in a confused sense.

Anyway, this rambling mess I'm writing here is vaguely premised as a way to post some nice pictures of the hike we went on yesterday.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bike Wedding

Some people have those weddings with themes. Those people where people ride up on horses, or skis, or or dolphins or, well, bikes. I guess these are ok, but I don't like the idea that Johanna and I have to be united by an activity or that there's some sport that's so important that we've got to put it front and center at our wedding. So, anyway, I'm not going to ride up to the altar on a bike. There's also probably not going to be an altar.

All that aside, it's very important to get married in a place with canoes & water and bikes and bike riding places. Thus, Vermont seems like a very good wedding venue.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trip to the skatepark

I was waiting for some emails today and I got tired of waiting for them, so I went for a bike ride. As you may recall, it was cold. Here is me yesterday:

Here was me today:

No matter the weather, I look like a dork.

Also, studs may be good on ice, but they are terrible on concrete in skateparks. Read more!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Visiting the big City

For New Year's Eve and the few days before it, Johanna and I went to New York to visit her friend. Since Johanna is nice and all and I cleaned my bike since the very muddy Newtown race, I was allowed to bring my bike. We were staying in the Upper West Side, so this would give me an opportunity to go ride New York's first legal mountain bike trails at Highbridge Park. They've been open for awhile now and there are places to ride that are bigger in Queens and Staten Island, too. There was a big deal when these first opened, but I hadn't really heard about them ever since. There was even a race there that Doug et al. won. I found some reviews that weren't particularly favorable.

I'd never been to Highbridge Park before. It's this long skinny park up in Inwood. It's quite big and is home to the oldest bridge still standing in the city. The bridge is being redone as this sort of Highline 2 thing. I was hoping I could cross it, but it's shut. They're building a really awesome skatepark in the park underneath I-95.

I wasn't totally sure where these trails were, so I started in the southern part of the park and found some vague trails, but not something that people would make a website out of. Lots of elevation change, though. Eventually, I kept going north and found the dirt jumps and the real trails. They were surprisingly technical, especially so on a 'cross bike. Aside from the dirt jumps, though, they were also pretty forgot about: trees down, lots & lots of broken glass and sort of generally unused feeling, which is of course is really weird for trails in the biggest city in the country. You'd think the place would be packed or at least not empty- save some dog walkers, a dude who had just woken up and two friendly kids smoking a blunt. It was sort of cold and it was New Year's Eve, but still. 0% of the Manhattan population wanted to go mountain biking that day? People were riding in Connecticut. It was just especially odd, because I felt like I was riding secret trails around here, but it was a legit place with a map in Manhattan. I'll never understand the big City.

Then I rode to New Jersey.

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