Big city

Empire State of Pen from BigAnimal on Vimeo.

Some cities put your own into context. Cardiff is small, manageable, exceptionally rideable and very liveable. It would fit into New York City many, many times over. I ran the big apple back in ’98. Clocking a very painful 2hr 55mins. It was perhaps the single most exhilarating and humbling experience of my life. At one point, 15 miles in and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge (if memory serves) somebody shouted that I was in 78th place. There were in excess of 30,000 people behind me. A scary thought in a running race. Bright sun bathed the Avenue of the Americas as thousands of people cheered every single competitor. The wheels came off and I finally finished 575th, hobbling across the finish line. But it wasn’t the pain, or the dashed marathon aspirations that I most remember. It was the crowds of hispanic children running alongside and offering sweets. The brownstone buildings of Harlem. Someone on a fixie cheering support and scooting alongside me in the Bronx (moments before a lump of ice was thrown at the runner in front, from an apartment block above). The seemingly hilly Central Park and the similarly teary finishers (I was in bits and less than compos mentis). It was the free taxi ride I was given by a cabbie when he discovered I only had 5 dollars on me (if anyone claims they don’t have a heart I’ll rebuke them strongly). The experience was immense, the city inspirational.

The next time I visit NY, I’ll have my bike with me. The exploration will be less dramatic, more comfortable and further ranging. In the meantime, I’ll settle for this wonderful vision of a chaotic city – the time lapse footage of Patrick Vale capturing the city’s spirit. The Charlie Mingus soundtrack is just about right.

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