06 June 2015

What I Did To Avoid A Race Today

Yesterday I said I love sports.  Let me qualify that:  I love most sports.  Among the exceptions is horse racing.  Fortunately, I never had to write about it. 

I also have never been keen on dog racing.  In fact, I don't care much for anything that involves training animals to put themselves at risk to entertain humans.  Making animals fight each other simply disgusts me:  I fail to see what is entertaining or even thrilling about bullfighting, cockfighting, dog fighting or camel wrestling. 

Believe it or not, that last abomination exists:  I saw a match when I was in Turkey.  During camel mating season, males are tied up and left in a dark room.  Then, just before they're walked out into the ring, they're adorned with embroidered capes and such.  By the time they get into the ring, at least one of them is foaming at the mouth.  If I were an animal-rights activist rather than the mere animal-lover that I am, I probably would have been foaming at the mouth, too.

Seeing that camel wrestling match was the only thing I hated in Turkey.  I don't get quite that worked up over horse racing; I simply don't care for it.  And, if you are here in the US, you probably know that the Belmont Stakes was run today.  There was a lot of buzz about it because of American Pharaoh, who had the opportunity to become the first horse in thirty-seven years to win the Triple Crown.  He did not disappoint those who bet on him.

What that means is crowds and lots of traffic on the roads leading to the Belmont Park race track, which is 25 to 30 kilometers from my apartment, depending on which route I were to take.  Once I rode in the direction of the track on the day of the Belmont Stakes, and even the side roads and some residential streets were clogged with SUVs piloted by testy, impatient drivers.

So, of course, I made it a point of avoiding all of that today.  Instead of a horse race, I saw another kind of sport:

No, it's not baseball.  It's one of its forerunners:  cricket.  I wish I could have gotten a bit closer, or that I had my camera with me.  I was relegated to taking that photo with my cell phone.  I also had to push my limited skills to the limit to capture this image:

OK.  So now you're thinking, "She went all the way to England to get away from a horse race?"  If only...

Actually, I rode in the opposite direction of the race track and found myself riding through the Bronx and Westchester County.  Believe it or not, both of those photos were taken in the Bronx.

Van Cortlandt Park is the second-largest park in the Bronx and the fourth-largest in New York City.  Its northern boundary is the city line with Westchester County.  To its south and east are longtime Irish enclaves  Norwood and Bedford Park.  That is where the players in the photo live, or have lived.

On a nearby field, there was another game of cricket in progress:

Adjoining Norwood and Bedford Park is one of the city's largest enclaves of immigrants from the Anglophone West Indies, centered along Gun Hill Road.  The players in this photo probably live there, or possibly in one of the West Indian neighborhoods of Brooklyn.  Although there is no Jim Crow policy in place in Van Cortlandt (or anyplace else in New York) and, from what I understand, the players were not segregating themselves by race (they were merely playing with friends and family), it was still a bit jarring to see white players on one field and blacks on another.

The house in the photo is in a nearby neighborhood almost no one would associate with the Bronx.  The street on which I found the house is private, as are the streets surrounding it.  A couple of blocks away is the Fieldston School, where the tuition is higher than the salary I earned in any of the first twenty or so years I worked. 

Anyway...I saw the cricket games on my way up to Westchester County and the house on my way back.  In Westchester, I rode as close as I could to the Hudson River and was treated to a vista of the Palisades:

What most people don't realize about the Hudson is that south of the Tappan Zee, it's not really a river:  It's actually a tidal basin.  And I could tell, by the way the water was churning, that the tide was coming in. It turns brownish-green then and looks more like a river when the tide is out.

I pedaled against the wind going upriver, so the wind blew me back into the Bronx and to my place.  And I avoided the throngs of gas-guzzlers people drove to watch little men drive horses in the service of bettors.

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