The Big Apple on two wheels
‘‘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.