Hot Dog, Good Dog (USA Day 5)


The sun has returned, and with it a pace of life that I’d happily keep for weeks. Breakfast on the roof, a stroll through Harlem with Rachel and Elizabeth (excellent friends who happened to be in New York for a wedding), a full-pack-weight ride down the bank of the Hudson in the dry heat of a stateside summer. Gosh, soon I’ll have no need to say ‘full-pack-weight’. It’ll all be that.

Surprisingly, riding with full weight is no harder than riding bag-free. Accelerating and braking take a glug more energy, but the beauty of my preferred set of physics laws is that inertia kicks in and you become this trundling juggernaut of forward movement. (Don’t worry mum, my brakes are awesome. We’ve practised our emergency stops!)

New York tip: When the High Line says ‘NO BIKES’, you should interpret this as ‘NO BIKES’. We assumed, optimistically, that walking them neatly along the edge of the elevated, disused, railway track, would be fine, but a kind yet very serious man with an earpiece guided us down the nearest ramp sharpish. Instead, we cycled to the east village in search of a legendary hotdog which we found and dispatched with relish. Pickled cucumber and coriander relish, to be precise. I’m not proud to admit that this monstrosity also contained, in no particular order, macaroni cheese, more cheese, bacon, spring onions, cayenne pepper and a small male dog. Only one of those things was made-up.


After a thrilling traverse of Williamsburg bridge (a cracker, btw) accompanied by Ben, a New Yorker who took a liking to our Surlys and wanted to know if we were “off camping or something”, we descended into Williamsburg itself, a trendy neighbourhood just shedding its industrial shell, revealing a warm, diverse, villagey-feeling community. Our new hosts live on the seventh floor of an apartment block with unimpeded views of the sun as it reluctantly set behind Manhattan’s skyline. That’d be incredible enough, but they have the kind of small, jolly dog that I’d happily stuff into my backpack when nobody’s looking and take across the country with me. Alas, no backpack, but the dog could just cling on or trot beside us or something. Maybe I can fashion a sort of rudimentary papoose, once I learn what those words mean.

After dark, but with the air still hot and breathy, we explored the park that lined the East River, populated by a good cross section of the world, I’d say, playing volleyball, walking their dogs, salsa dancing, photographing the unphotographable view of Manhattan at night. Even a seal joined us, popping her whiskery face up above the waves to join in the festivities.

One more day in New York, then. Nervous? Nah.