As many of you know I am a hardcore cyclist, in fact you may notice that as the weather gets better I rarely post on the weekends, for I am off riding my three bikes on rural back roads, at some skate park or through the woods on some snaking trails with no one for miles. One may think that my move to Monsey from Albany took a devastating toll on my cycling lifestyle- but in fact it didn’t. A little known fact is that Monsey is probably one of the greatest Jewish settlements for mountain bikers, but not for road bikers unfortunately.
Albany sucked for mountain biking, I had to drive at least 40 minutes to reach anything that I could be entertained with for more then an hour and even that got boring. The road riding however was awesome and I had several scenic loops just outside my door that required no driving to, and that I didn’t have to fear for my life from angry SUV drivers jealous of my renewable energy mobility.
Switch to Monsey and all the sudden my roles were switched, I went from mostly road riding to mostly mountain biking, with several options of great trails within 30 minutes or less driving from my house. My 18 pound bike lay in the back of a dark closet gathering dust and resembling most bikes across the land began to lose tire pressure. This is why most Americans are fat by the way- because they are too lazy to pump their tires up with air, and so their one exit out of obesity lays on their porch rusting away, until their spouse yells at them to get their fat asses off the couch, and one backbreaking ride later its back to the TV and video games.
So the other day I was feeling under the weather, but it was one of those days, you know around 6pm when the sun is beginning its descent and the cool breeze just beacons you outside- for some outdoors frolicking. So I made the conscious decision that I would ride from my house and roam around Monsey. This is a big deal, for driving in Monsey is awfully scary- kal vachomer- the riding must be insanity and it was somewhat.
Besides for hitchhikers that love to walk right in front of traffic without looking or paying attention to horns, you have to contend with a serious lack of blinker usage, cabs just driving like maniacs, little kids and the best of all- the crappiest pavement ever, which when riding a very light bike without shocks- can lead to severe problems with regards to getting it up and arthritis.
So I ventured out my door and passed by all of the half built section 8 housing on my block, dodging nails and stray pieces of sheetrock. I felt like I was on an obstacle course and people in steel behemoths were trying to kill me as I barreled down Maple avenue- the potholes were huge and the cars were unmoving- Monsey is downstate to me and therefore everyone drives like New Yorkers. Once out of the congested areas of Maple the riding was great. I did make the mistake of coming back down Maple to the infamous dangerous intersection with route 306, I felt like I was in Israel again, except here no one yelled, they just honked and opened up doors without warning, oh and stared at the dude in spandex.
I did notice something interesting from my ride in Monsey, and I have taken one other ride on my trick bike, to bust out some moves by the post office near my house. Chassidic kids love bikes, and in turn I love them. I have developed this special affinity for these kids because once you get past all the stereotypical judging you realize that they are just curious- kind of like when I see a women who has a full size lock hanging from her ear, I know not to stare, but I can’t help it. So to with little Chassidic kids, so what they stare.
I was doing tricks off this little ramp by a loading dock a few weeks ago on erev shabbos and I caused a crowd of about 25 little boys and girls mostly on bikes to form a semi-circle around me and just watch. I felt super cool and I also started chatting with them, I got to trying to teach them how to pop wheelies and other maneuvers that would probably get them killed- but were fun as hell. This one guy was the communicator for the bunch, kind of like at bar mitzvahs when one boy and one girl are seen as the communicators for the two bashful groups. I then told all the kids I was Jewish and orthodox and they didn’t believe me until I started rocking “a bissle Yiddish” – these kids loved me and when the parents came this guy was like “do that trick again” in a thick Monsey accent of course.
So I’m riding the other day down 306 and I’m on the street cruising at a cool 23 miles per hour and suddenly this teenage Chassidic kid on a department store bike, I am looking to see some dude on a fancy bike- this kid starts racing me, his peyos and jacket tails are flying and he is pumping his bike while I cruise. Its way different when your on a bike with tires pumped to 120 psi, but it was hilarious and we both had huge grins on our faces.
I got to hand it to the folks in Monsey- because of all places it seems to be that every kid is playing outside, whatever community you happen to be in- the kids are playing ball, playing with construction supplies, running around in the half built homes, or just playing ball and of course riding their bikes.