I know I lead a highly insular existence because when my cloud photo apps show me montages of “precious moments” or whatever it’s like 95% bikes. Here’s the first image from an AI-generated montage one such app served to me under the title “Best of December 2017:”
I can’t say I’m crazy about the complete and total digitization of human consciousness, but there’s no denying its inevitability, because I did indeed tear up like a divorcée at a rom-com upon seeing this photo. As you can see, it is the Milwaukee, subtly gravel-ified and arguably in the prime of its life:
This is in no way to suggest the Milwaukee has since faded into irrelevance; in fact, it’s now my older son’s road bike and it serves him quite well in that regard. Still, at his current rate of growth he seems likely to overtake me very soon, and when he does I look forward to reclaiming this bike and reinventing it yet again, possibly as a fendered-and-friction-shifted all-purpose road bike.
Anyway, I’d just reclaimed my composure when another slide featured a photo of an old friend, and this sent me sobbing anew:
The Jones-ified Marin Pine Mountain started me on a long road (or, more accurately, trail) that ultimately led me to…a Riv-ified Jones:
A commenter recently raised a fair question, that being something like, “Why Riv-ify a Jones when you have two Rivendells?” Well, I did it mostly because I really like bars with lots of sweep and I was curious how they’d feel on this bike, and what I’ve found is that they make it very comfortable without in any way interfering with its fundamental Jones-ness.
The Marin has since moved on–I gave it to a friend–but I very much enjoyed my time with it, and it even changed the way I ride in that instead of riding to one mountain bike spot and going in circles for awhile I’d ride to several and sort of duck in and out of them like sampling the offerings at a buffet:
It was also a bit of a unicorn–or an abomination, depending on your sensibilities–in that it took 27.5 “plus”-sized wheels yet it had quick-release axles front and rear, and even 135mm spacing, which I don’t think is a combination you’ll find on any other bicycle. The downside of this was occasional chain rub on the tire in the lowest gear, and the upside was easy compatibility with all your old mountain bike crap–though that’s dangerous too, since at one point this happened:
The idea was I could move easily between “road” and mountain with just a quick wheel swap, but sadly I’m nowhere near enlightened enough to ride such a monstrosity–though it rode just find, because why wouldn’t it? I mean fundamentally it’s just a Rivendell with disc brakes that’s really, really ugly. And I’m sure there are people who think the Platypus is ugly, too:
I mean those people are deranged, but I believe in an America where even deranged people get to express their opinions. To wit:
I gotta get off Twitter.
As for the Platypus, my ride yesterday exemplified perfectly what it’s about–20 miles, never more than a few miles from home, and a mix of low-key legal, illegal, and quasi-legal trails and paths interspersed with some errand-running:
I mean if you can’t spend two-and-a-half hours picking up some soap at Target are you really a cyclist?
If all you care about is shopping and commuting in an expeditious fashion then get yourself an ebike or something:
By the way, I took the above photo on the mountain bike trails in Highbridge Park in Manhattan, which is also where the Pine Mountain is pictured, and which makes me wonder if my photo app dug those up because my phone’s following me around. Creepy. Then on the way home I rode through Inwood Hill Park:
People think New York City is flat, but there are lots of hills overlooking the waterways in this particular area, which is why it was so strategic during the Revolutionary War:
The Harlem River and Spuyten Duyvil Creek used to meander through here, but they blasted it all open with the Harlem River Ship Canal in the early 20th Century and then eventually sutured Upper Manhattan and the Bronx together with the Henry Hudson Bridge, which does look like a great big staple:
There’s a footpath across the bridge which technically you’re not supposed to ride on but which you totally can. However, the entrance to it is only accessible via these meandering paths, and it requires climbing some very steep pitches. In this sense I’d say it’s perhaps the least accessible bikeable (practically if not legally) bridge in all of New York City. This is ironic, because immediately south of it is the Henry Hudson Greenway, which I believe retains the distinction of being the busiest bike path in the United States. Linking the bridge to the Greenway would be a small matter of carving out a little sliver of space on the highway that takes cars over the bridge, and in so doing it would allow you to ride on a dedicated bike path from the Battery all the way to Canada. (Or, more prosaically, it would allow you to ride between Manhattan and the Northwest Bronx without having to do battle with some of the fiercest motor vehicle traffic in all the Five Boroughs.) Alas, I don’t see that happening anytime soon, so for cyclists this will remain a rarefied view for the foreseeable future:
It’s tough to tell from my lousy photography, but on a clear day you can easily see up the Hudson River to the
Tappan Zee Mario Cuomo Bridge around 20 miles to the north:
Hey, you couldn’t ride over that bridge at all until a couple years ago, so maybe there’s hope after all.