The Big Ap­ple on two wheels

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - THE TIMES

‘‘We’ve al­ways sent the folks we didn’t want to the is­lands,’’ says Tony. ‘‘They’re the city’s dump­ing grounds, the bits you’re not sup­posed to see.’’

We cut in­land for a pit stop at Amy Ruth’s, a Har­lem soul-food in­sti­tu­tion. One hunk of fried chicken later, I pant a lit­tle on the climb through Wash­ing­ton Heights, but rel­ish the free­wheel down to Man­hat­tan’s north­ern tip at In­wood. I expected lots of things from a cy­cle around the world’s most fa­mously built-up is­land, but wilder­ness wasn’t on the list. ‘‘It’s vir­gin for­est up here, acre af­ter acre of it,’’ says Tony, look­ing up at the densely wooded slope of In­wood Hill Park.

‘‘There are caves up there that were lived in by the Le­nape In­di­ans. It’s so hilly it was never de­vel­oped.’’ A piece of the wild in the great­est city on earth.

A whizz down the west side and we are back at Bat­tery Park. Tak­ing my leave, I swap the tour com­pany’s natty Trek for my ho­tel clunker, and head off. I am knack­ered — some­where in Tribeca my legs go wob­bly and I al­most sideswipe a van. ‘‘Hey, buddy,’’ comes the yell. ‘‘If you wanna be on the f . . king road, get two more wheels and a brain.’’ At last. The gen­uine voice of New York. They had me wor­ried for a mo­ment there.

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