Yesterday, I went to New York to rollerski with Nat Herz, current Columbia graduate student and former editor at FasterSkier.com. I’d been looking forward to hanging out with Nat, and I’m always into a change of scenery. We met at the 96th Street entrance to Central Park on New York’s West Side.
Yesterday’s roll contrasted starkly with my only other experience in Central Park. Some years ago, my wife and I rolled with friends of ours there, when inline skates were still in vogue. We were castaways in a sea of inline skaters. Some of them had balance and knew what they were about; some of them wanted to execute space-hogging dance moves against the current of their compadres; almost none of them wore helmets. Over two hours, “Watch the sticks [poles]” was an endless refrain.
At 10 AM on Sunday morning, things were quieter. We didn’t have the park to ourselves, but there was a lot of open pavement available. We saw but one inline skater, while runners and cyclists of all inclinations were on the road that loops around the park. In a time when helmets are basically de rigueur, Nat remarked on the number of people riding without them. We saw riders ranging from tourists on rental bikes to triathletes threading through traffic, going way faster than conditions allowed.
I kind of lost track of where we were in the park until we passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. While there are no extreme elevation changes, there was a lot of up and down with few extended downhills for recovery. This is a great refuge in the middle of the city.