At the Manhattan end of the Williamsburg bridge you immediately need to adjust to riding more aggressively. I stayed on Delancy street up to Eldridge and it was one of the most fun and dangerous rides of my life. Folks were being more attentive to the traffic signals while crossing intersections since this was a main drag, but once you were riding with the flow of traffic, you had best keep up with the cars if you wanted to cover ground and not get hollered or honked at. Drivers seemed to not be phased at all when you had to jump out into their lane to avoid a double parked produce truck or someone swinging open their car door. It was a thrill a minute, and even though I was digging it, I was kind of glad to finally turn onto Eldridge and take a breather. Honestly Eldridge is only a few blocks from the bridge exit, but I felt like I had been through a whole adventure!
Once I was on Eldridge it was only a block or two to Trackstar. I didn’t see a place to lock my bike where it wouldn’t be locked to another bike in front of the store, so I actually had to lock it up across the street, which allowed me to take a snap of the storefront.
The store was about the size of No-Brakes, but much darker inside. Maybe it was morning hangover time or something. The Cure – Hanging Garden was playing which made the mood all the more sinister. I’m sure I stood out like a sore thumb in there browsing the racks with no specific reason to be there. They had a really nice selection of parts and frames, a few partially built up to give you some ideas of what you could construct. I didn’t try to make conversation. There was not a lot to say really. I didn’t want to front like I am the know all-be all of the track bike scene in Atlanta because thats just not true. For me it was simply all about making the pilgrimage, BY BIKE, to the shop without incident, so I was pretty freakin pleased. There was the mandatory store local who just sat in a chair in the middle of the place and came off kind of intimidating which I found sort of asmusing. Does every track bike store have one of those?
Soon enough, I ran out of things to look at, so I decided to push on. My next destination: Deadly Dragon Sound System record store. All reggae dub roots and ska! It was actually only a few blocks from Trackstar. The ride was more of the same excitement, with me holdong onto the GPS for dear life hoping not to drop it. When I got the the address of the store, at first I thought I was in the wrong place, but then I saw the flyer on the door:
I was too early so the joint was all closed up. It was sort of interesting because this all reggae record shop seemed to be smack in the middle of what I suppose is Chinatown. Lots of interesting activity going on, particularly the hustle and bustle of the hair styling joint just downstairs from the record shop. I got tons of strange looks from the locals, but once they saw me scoping out the store flyer they paid me no mind.
Soooo…with no other destinations, I decided to head back across the bridge and get some food particles and waste some time seeing what I could see. I ate at a regular hole in the wall style pizza joint, sitting with my back to a mother and her daughter who were at lunch between the daughters classes at school. This was another moment where I felt like I was experiencing what it must be like to have your everyday life in NY. The mother and daughter were chit chatting about school things, and I picked up enough of the conversation to realize that the school must have been right around the corner. When you are in a neighborhood like Williamsburg, its easy to think that EVERYONE who loves there moved there because its “the place to be” or whatever, but there seemed to be a whole other portion of folks who were not ultra-style people, just regular folks who had a neat neighborhood grow in popularity around them.
After grabbing a bite I kind of tried to fade into the background and people watch for a while. Everything is happening, so there is a lot to see, hear and smell. There was a very distinct smell to the place that I’ll never forget. A few minutes went by, and I decided that just standing on the street looking like I had no idea what I was doing was NOT what I wanted to do, so I headed back to Carries for a breather.
Not wanting to waste too much time, soon enough I was back on my way to King Kog once again. This time I was still using the GPS , but only twice just to get my bearings. I was starting to ride a little more confidently as well.
King Kog was open for business, and once again, I couldn’t see a way to lock up out front without locking to a bunch of other bikes, so I resorted to hooking up across the street. Heres the storefront:
Note the mandatory somewhat intimidating dood just hanging out out front. I told you, EVERY track bike store has one hahaha. As you can see the place is crazy tiny! You could fit three King Kog inside No-Brakes. What they lacked in size they made up for in mellow vibe though. The place was had a lot less of a dark serious edge to it than Trackstar. There is only room for like two people in the store at one time, so I squeezed past someone and started checking out the gear. They have some pretty cool stuff, most notably a Brooklyn Machine Works frame and fork that -really- made me want to learn framebuilding. I dug through the clothing looking for something for my buddy Graham, but got shut down. Everything they had that I liked they didn’t have his size. The ones in his size were not prints I liked. Ugh…no luck. Oh well. The counter babe was super freindly when I asked for stickers so I grabbed some for later use and headed out before we all got claustrophobic. I’d say for sure that King Kog is more of a fixed gear style store where Trackstar seemed more for serious riders, although I am sure both stores get thier fair share of both types of customers.
It was still pretty early and I was determined not to come home without something for Graham + Eric, so I decided to head back across the bridge AGAIN, and swing by the other two stores. By this time I didn’t really need the GPS anymore and once I was on the far side of the bridge I had completely tuned into the rythym of riding in NY which was freakin wild! While grabbing a souvenir for Graham rom Trackstar, I tried to take a pic of the shop so you could see their window sticker, but there was an old lady sitting on the bench in front of the store who bugged the F*** out on me about aiming the camera at her, so I just put it away. I thought that was pretty funny.