Trails and the Hurricane

(I wrote this for after Hurricane Sandy and was reminded of it after seeing a photo of Ryan Hoey riding today.)

On Sunday, as Hurricane Sandy progressed towards the New York/New Jersey area, Long Island based trail rider and builder Ryan Hoey made a simple observation: “Hurricane coming. Trails are done for.”

Normal trail upkeep in the later part of October for Northeast trail riders is a dedicated occupation. When not being ridden, tarps are brought in to protect the jumps from the elements. Leaves need to be removed from the trails. Lips of jumps need to be continually shaped. In some cases, homemade drainage techniques between sets of jumps at BMX trails are employed so that excess water can be removed faster. All a part of normal upkeep, regardless of the weather.

What was not normal was the hurricane looming on the radar, with winds gusting in excess of 80 mph by the time it reached landfall. Trail riders throughout Long Island and into northeastern Pennsylvania collectively braced for the worst.

Meanwhile, Ryan Hoey had other things to worry about. Since 2009, Hoey has worked as an officer in the New York City Police Department. Hoey was on duty when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, with rains, winds and rising waters from the Hudson and East Rivers battering Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.

Hoey was stationed in Battery Park, in downtown Manhattan, for 17 hours through one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the New York City area. The area was under a mandatory evacuation order from New York City Mayor Bloomberg.

When the flood waters rose too high, Hoey and company moved to higher ground as cars floated through the area. At one point during the night, while the area was kept secure by the NYPD, Hoey briefly spoke with a construction worker at the World Trade Center site, asking about the condition of the cranes atop the Freedom Tower in the wind. “As long as they don’t fly off, I’m good to go,” said the worker, who remained anonymous.

When Hoey’s shift was up, he got to get some rest on the 37th floor of an evacuated hotel in the Zone A flood area. And earlier today, Hoey left New York City and returned to the trails in Long Island to survey the damage.

“There’s a couple trees down and misplaced tarps, but the trails fared pretty well,” he said. “The trails could have run today.”

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