In the year spent in West New York, New Jersey, I had a weather-permitting nightly bike loop that got me out of the house and delivered me from West New York, through Union City and Weehawken, and most nights, into the northern section of Hoboken.
The route I took out of the apartment was random at best. Past the local taxi stand, a distributor of religious candles called El Cacique Botanica, south down any number of dimly lit streets until I arrived at Bergenline Avenue and passed by the many liquor stores and nail salons. And then, somewhere in the streets that were numbered in the 40s, West New York became Union City, and the layout of the land gently started to slope downhill into Weehawken and Hoboken.
There was never really a purpose behind these rides except for hitting a few street spots and random manual pads. I wasn’t about to become the best BMX rider in the world, but I still enjoyed knowing my surroundings in not so intimate detail. And my bike was purple at the time, and since I hated the color of the bike, it was just easier to ride at night. That’s my lame excuse for being too lazy to strip it down and repaint.
Usually, sometime before Bergenline reached 495, I would cut over to a street called New York Avenue, and use the downhill slope to reach the higher parts of Weehawken without effort. Crossing over the South Marginal Highway, I’d hook a left on 32nd St/Paterson Plank Road, and descend a huge hill into the lower areas of Weehawken that quickly gave way to Hoboken.
It was in this area that I explored the most. It often smelled of coffee from a local roaster, in one specific spot that I can pinpoint now even years later. There was a strip club underneath a bridge. I believe it was called The Squeeze Lounge and I believe they referred to themselves as the “the crown jewel of the gentlemen’s club” on their sign. I never went in, but I did spend many hours doing wallrides and curb manuals in the parking lot next to the place.
From there, I either slowly descended the steep hill back into Union City, went for a drink in Hoboken, or called friends in Jersey City and asked if they wanted to come visit me at home, and could they pick me up on the way, and yes, I had my bike with me.
Option 1 happened more often than not. Option 2, not so often, but also not so infrequent. Option 3 never happened, but I continued to try, even when I got flat tires.