Where I am enjoying a light lunch and sipping a coffee that is bigger than your head:
(See how it dwarfs the Orangina?)
As I hinted this morning, I undertook an exploratory mission of the sort only the most intrepid cyclists would dare attempt. Four score and seven years ago, in 1492, Henry Hudson and his comic sidekick Ferdinand Magellan set out from Scotland to discover the Northwest Passage, and in the Process they discovered Canada. Or something.
My own mission was no less daunting, and the implications just as far-reaching. My quest? To pioneer a short cut to the mountain bike trails through the mall.
Now that spring has sprung, so has my metaphorical "boner" for bike riding, and a foray this past weekend proved that which I had begun to suspect: the mountain bike trails are finally dry. I am fortunate to live in a part of New York City that allows me to access mountain bike trails by bicycle in under an hour. Ordinarily, I ride to these trails using one of two (2) routes:
1) The route that is approximately 75% dirt and 85% motorized traffic-free;
2) The slightly faster route that is approximately 10% dirt and 90% motorized traffic-free.
Both of these routes involve riding north and then east to the northernmost portion of the park, where there's a parking lot and a trailhead.
However, I have long suspected that by cutting through the giant mall that sits like a boil of commerce on the park's southwestern end, I could cut out a few miles and begin my baronial all-terrain bicycling adventures that much sooner, thus facilitating increased numbers of mid-week "hookie" rides that might otherwise be spent astride the Fredcycle.
Brimming with optimism and Froot Loops, I selected a suitable expedition bicycle, and off I went:
(When you're sneaking off for a mid-week ride, you don't have time to do stupid stuff like match your water bottles.)
The mall in question is an outdoor one that's supposed to look like an actual town, and it sits on a high ridge between two major highways. It was built not too long ago by the developer who also did the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and it was in the press quite a bit because it owes its existence to the worst sort of bribery and corruption. It will not surprise you to learn it's also 150% car-centric, and that it's a temple to the most vapid sort of American and imported consumerism, containing as it does an Apple Store, a Lego Land, a Uniqlo, lots of fake-fancy restaurants with waiters that recite their dialogue from scripts, and even a Whole Foods.
We shop there all the time.
The question at hand now though was whether I'd make it through alive on a bicycle, and leaving the bike path early I climbed the giant, shoulder-less road to the top of Mt. Commerce:
Despite the token bike racks here and there I can assure you one feels highly out of place on a bicycle here:
By the way, that green thing is a Bose speaker piping in popular music. (I think it was playing 21st century U2 at that moment.) It plays throughout the complex to silence your thoughts, mute your soul, and remind you you're living a completely ersatz existence.
As I turned onto the "main street," I noticed police activity and EMTs pushing a stretcher:
Someone must have shopped 'til they dropped.
The "main street:"
Depressingly, not only can you shop here, but you can also live here:
Just imagine how inspiring it would be to live in a shopping mall and take all your evening meals at the Cheesecake Factory:
Here's a Fly6 still of this serene lunar retailscape:
Just a Mercedes, a dork on a mountain bike, and tumbleweeds made from fast food wrappers and money.
At the northern end of the mall is a gate which opens out into the park containing the mountain bike trails, the only way to access this giant park from this giant mall:
It happens to be right behind an REI, so I went inside to buy an inner tube, because you can never have too many inner tubes:
My heart dropped. Five miles to the bike shop???
Thank goodness it was just a clever merchandising display, and I leaned my bike on a Thule display and selected the appropriate tube for my bicycle:
Smugly, I asked the kid who took my money whether I could access the mountain bike trails from here, assuming he'd have no idea there was singletrack right on the other side of the parking lot.
He gave me detailed directions to the gate without missing a beat.
So I rode across the parking lot:
Wheeled my bike through the gate:
And immediately I was on the trail, the mall retreating into the background:
Never has it felt so good to feel mother nature's rocky bosom beneath my Internet mail order discount closeout tires:
I am not one of those tread weenies. My criteria for selecting mountain bike tires is that they're vertically round and laterally on sale. If they're wide and have some bumps on them they'll probably do fine.
By the way, if you're an American when you're in the shopping mall, what are you when you're in the woods behind the shopping mall?
I'm the first person ever in the world to make that joke.
By the way, it's really creepy watching these videos, because it totally looks like surveillance camera footage of a murder suspect:
Anyway, I'm pleased to report I made it through all my "trouble spots" without having to touch Sidi to soil. None of these sections look especially difficult, mostly because they aren't. For example, I made it through the slightly-off-camber rocky section:
The rocky switchback section:
(You have to take that one wide:)
The extremely daunting "passing other riders heading downhill" section:
(Just kidding, they were both friendly and considerate.)
And even the "big" (for me) climb:
Where I sat panting and staring at my feets:
(I wear socks from cool people because I wish I was.)
Then the murderer returned to his bike, the slight fisheye effect of the Fly6 emphasizing his portly physique:
After recovering I enjoyed a few spirited rock-humping whoop-dee-doos:
Then I showed the Fly6 my nose hairs and turned it off:
After which I headed down to the café, which I'll leave just as soon as I finish this giant coffee in six hours.