It was a hot summer in the big apple, Saturday, 15th of July, 2006. Hot like when you smell something burning and discover it’s your feet.
At around 1PM we all made introductions and re-introductions. David S., the lifetime dictator, Dave B (ultimate wheel dave), Adam, Brian, Ken, Nick, Joe, Teddy, and me (I hope I didn’t forget a name). All rode 36ers except Dave B. and Brian, who rode geared 29ers.
The NYC uni club gathered for their twice a month congregation at Grant’s Tomb, on Riverside Dr. There were a bunch of big wheelers here for this ride in particular, but also there was Rob, just getting his 7th, 8th, 9th, (and so on) free-mounts, and David S’s kids Fiona and Emmett, 10 and 7, who were free-mounting and cranking around merrily like they were motorized.
Some of us easily-impressed older guys watched and Brian filmed as a couple of the riders, Joe and Nick hucked the 4-step stone stairs down off the Grants’ Tomb platform. Joe nailed it 3 out of 4 that I saw, but his miss was a fairly gnarly looking rollout on the pavement. “Hey Brian, didja film that one? Good!” Maybe Joe will watch it and decide to wear a helmet.
Not only that, but they rode up the steps as well. It actually inspired me to try and succeed at “rolling” up over a curb, first ever, woohoo! Small steps.
After not too much, well ok alot of delay, we took to the streets. From 122nd and Riverside we rode the mean streets of Manhattan’s upper west side south to 110th St. (all figures are aproximate) We hung a left and shot across avenues Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus, alternating between sidewalk and street riding. Many strange reactions came from people upon seeing first one fast-riding big wheel and then realizing it’s a whole line of us, as we buzzed east across the city and finally came to the northwest corner of New York’s famous Central Park.
Entering the park we rolled onto the 6 mile loop bike-path and charged the hill, the whole pack of us towering over the runners and bikers and bladers. A couple stops were made so Brian could film Joe and Nick riding off these rocky protrusions on one side or other of the bikeway. A couple of low-angle, big-wheel ride-by scenes that Brian set up should end up really cool, too. I almost rode over him in one of those, but I don’t think he knows.
It was interesting to watch as Brian the film-crafter worked. A few times, someone suggested filming something and Brian would quickly explain why it’s not going to look good on film. And he himself got into the action when Adam filmed Brian ride off one of the dropoffs. And he STUCK it, too, I’d add.
After some more bikepath riding we left the park onto Central Park West. We zigged and zagged back over to the west side of Manhattan down some quieter cross streets in the hundred-teens. There we passed families out on their brownstone porches and we recieved much cheering as we razored past them on the sun-dappled street.
We twisted northward and before we knew it we were back at Grant’s Tomb and into the thick of the uni club activities. There was wheel-walking, uni-jumprope, hop-twists, custom cokers and kids with slushies. Also, there was juggling! While doing some low-level stuff myself, I saw some fantastic jugglery, up to and including a 5-club cascade, niiiiiiiice.
After meeting a friend who needed a ride north, I took ultimate-wheel Dave’s advice, and busted straight north on Riverside until I saw the signs for the George Washington Bridge. Back to Albany and ice the knee, and when I close my eyes, I’m still riding that lively Central Park bikepath.