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  • Patrick Baechle

Walter Mitty arrives in New York City

After lunch the rain stopped and the trail lead me through a series of parks and back streets through the city of Newark. At one point I stopped at a corner to study my maps and I heard someone yelling out to me " Hey! Where ya going?" I looked up and saw that it was four police officers, hanging out on a street corner, sitting on their bright yellow Harley Davidsons.



When I told them I was riding into NYC it openeded the door to a half hour lively debate as to which roads and bridges I was going to take. I felt like I was on an episode of Seinfeld. Two agreed that there were no pedestrian sidewalks on the bridge crossing the Passiac River and two said there were none on the bridge crossing the Hackensack River. Nobody would concour on the best streets to get there but, eventually they all agreed that I should follow the route that was on my trail map. Afterall, someone on a bicyle has figured this out already. They wished me well and off I went, unknowingly, in the opposite direction down a one way street, illeagally, right in front of them.



As I moved east closer toward the rivers, the neighborhoods started getting rougher. There were rusted out junked cars, dumpsters overflowing with trash and a general run down, unmaintained appearance of the buildings and streets. I rode faster.

After passing under a few railroad bridges I found myself in a kind of massive dystopian industrial wasteland with miles of rusting shipping containers, a huge abandoned power plant and gloomy, empty warehouse houses. It's Sunday evening, I am on an open road all by myself and there is not a soul to be seen anywhere. Dark storm clouds are brewing in the west behind me. I keep following my map. I stop at an empty crossroad the with a stop light. Like a scene from the movie Brazil, a tractor trailer, from nowhere, comes barreling down the road and blows right through the red light.



The road turns and I see in front of me the first bridge I must cross over; the Passiac River bridge. It is an ominous black iron structure. There is a cloverleaf ramp; from my road, up to the road over the bridge. I see sidewalks wrapping up the side of the ramp. This is a good sign, I think but, but I am confounded by the idea that someone would actually want to walk to this desolate, rusted out, no man's land.



When I got up on the bridge there was a three foot wide pedestrian walk. Just wide enough to scrape your knuckles on the guards, so I walked the bike. The bridge bounced up and down wildly, as trucks loudly roared over.

When I got to the other end, my route took me through an even larger open plane of deteriorating shipping industries. After a half hour of riding through the pot-holed empty roads. I arrive at the second Iron bridge. My heart sinks when I see detour signs. They are building a new bridge next to the old one. I check the map and I will have ride west, a mile and a half away from the bridge, then come back to get to be on the other side of the road. I am sickened by this prospect, especially since rain is coming and I am not even sure if the bridge has a pedestrian crossover. I decided to walk my bike backwards up the off-ramp. When I get to the bridge I can see that there is a narrow pedestrian path but, it is obvious it has not been used for many years as it is overgrown with weeds and covered with debris and broken glass. In fact, the pedestrian path is completely inaccessible. It just ended in the weeds on the other side of the guard rail.

With all my strength, I lifted up the Bessemer and handily put it over the guard rail to crunch my way over the Hackensack River to Jersey City.



Today I have reached my third milestone The twin towers 911 memorial site.

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