Mountain Bike Training NYC

Suit up in the usual way — mountain helmet, gloves, shades, baggies, H2O pack — out the door, but it is a bit different to start with elevator pleasantries with the guy with the two dachshunds, each floor dinging otherwise quiet but for the muzak playing in my head. Pedaling into bright sunshine and brighter car horns, business suited pedestrians, delivery cyclists with front baskets, traffic cop white gloves whistles, drafting buses until they pull over, I surf the wake into the more frenetic middle lane fray. Heading uptown comic zippy BMX under geared single speed cadence, 25 minutes to Grand Central Station. Walk the bike into the main concourse, no one pays any special attention except mid 20’s with sideburns and headphones, raised eyebrows to gear inspection to approving nods. Cleat clack down platform 34 to board the Metro North, bike wedged into a space not meant for it but I have a $5 per year card that says that I can at this off-peak hour. I sit and don’t bother to take my helmet off, just another freaky hat, an hour meditation to Cortlandt.

My destination is Blue Mountain, alleged to be a pleasant enough collection of trails. One quickly loses the timing and blunt moronic courage necessary for mountain bike racing, a need that I’ve ill-advisedly put myself having to address by signing up for some event in Breckenridge on the 4th of July from which forthwith a short bikepacking trip with Boots.

I step off, the train gathers ambition and disappears, in fifteen minutes more I am in the woods, roller coaster hand shock overcooking corners panic braking grins, that feeling of turning a corner to see a rooty cracked short pitch that you know is at the limit of the cog if you body english it just right if you’d had a clue it was coming. Fine single track work by the locals affords a few few repeat hours, my rust clung replies to the boulders transitions needle threadings sounding a bit better as the afternoon rolls on.

(Screen shot from MotionX iPhone App)

Time check inspiration for race pace back to the reservation entrance then the surreality of minding the gap into the southbound train, packed with pinstriped bill capped upstate Yankee fans on their way to the stadium stop at 125th. I stand sweating melting.

Back at Grand Central I’m expelled onto 42nd Street, onward onto the 2nd Ave. bike path. I slow approaching a crosswalk as the light is midway shining yellow, pedestrians wide eyed like deer at dusk on a Minnesota rural two lane. A white haired woman with a cane stares at me, it takes me a second to register that she’s astonished that I’ve stopped. “Oh my goodness! Very good, sir!” she says, everyone at the corner laughs. Green light and I’m back in the thick of things, I have to spin madly to catch up to the Cat 6 peloton.

One last stop on the Lower East Side.