Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village is once again our meeting point on Day 2 of our New York City gravel adventure with the Giant Revolt. But today, instead of riding over the George Washington Bridge out of the city, we set our sites on Inwood Park in the northern reaches of Manhattan. But while this remote park is easily overlooked by most New Yorkers, it is a gravel rider’s heaven on the edge of the concrete jungle.
Just ask any of our three NYC riders on this Revolt getaway and they’ll tell you the same thing: Inwood Park is the go-to gravel ride in Manhattan. “It is sort of the forgotten park in the city. It’s Manhattan’s last wild forest,” says Austin Horse, who when he is not winning bike messenger world championships authors dizzying bike messenger YouTube videos. “Parks in New York City have very different level of maintenance and attention. The High Line, for example, is a new park [on the lower west side]. It is very well groomed. It is cleaned every night. Inwood Hill in comparison is very different. It’s a much less-populated part of the city. The property values are much lower and so it doesn’t have the same level of care. But in our case that’s a good thing, because we don’t want to see all that attention given to the land. If all of those paths we ride on were well groomed it wouldn’t be so much fun.”
“You just feel like you are out there,” adds Giovanni Jimenez, who works as a bike messenger by day and spends his free time working at the Sun and Air coffee and bike shop in the heart of Williamsburg. “It’s the last piece of geography on the island.”
Already on Day 1, we skimmed through Inwood before riding over the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. But today we want to get the most out of Inwood, as we know it’s the perfect playground for our trio of Revolts.
After grabbing a coffee at a nearby bakery, we roll out of Greenwich Village and head up the west side of the city, much as we did the first day, past landmarks like Grant’s Tomb, before reaching Inwood. Although we had barely touched the park on Day 1, we’ve come prepared to unearth the park’s many hidden secrets, of which Inwood has many.
Entering the park from the first entrance on Payson Avenue the road climbs gently, and as it does the concrete quickly disintegrates. Some people would likely lament the state of disrepair found on these seemingly forgotten roads, but not our trio of Revolt riders. “Man, it gets real technical, real fast here,” says Maurice “Moe” Adams, a fixie specialist and the third member of the Revolt getaway crew. “But that’s a good thing. That’s what we want. That’s what we are looking for when we come to Inwood.”
And soon enough our riders are taking their Revolts truly off-road as they attack the long string of single-track paths inside the park. The Revolt is exceptional in its versatility, and Inwood Park exploits such diversity perfectly. Designed around a lightweight Advanced Composite frameset, it boasts endurance geometry, so you can tackle long, hard rides with less fatigue. The composite fork eats up bumps, while the D-Fuse seat post and Contact XR D-Fuse handlebar absorb shocks and vibrations.
Our Revolt riders enjoy the disintegrating roads, but they really attack the spectacular single tracks in and around the park’s historic Indian Caves. “It’s fun. It’s superfast. It’s lightweight. In many ways it rides like a road bike. But you can hit the trails without flinching,” Horse says about his Revolt. “I have about 20 bikes. But I don’t have a bike like this. It is perhaps the most versatile bike in my stable.”
Bombing down one of the single tracks toward the Indian Caves really puts the Revolt to the test, pushing the bike at its most technical level. Cornering at high speeds on ever-changing terrain the Revolt performs effortlessly, although Moe does miscalculate the height of a fallen tree along the path at one point, giving him a little unexpected back burn, not to mention a good laugh.
Related: GIANT x PELOTON: Escaping New York
Finally, the path runs out and the only way back to the main road is to dismount and navigate down a long-neglected stone stairway. “There is nothing else out there,” Jimenez says, referring to the park’s remote location. “It’s compact too. So you can do a circuit like in cyclocross, whatever, there are just so many options.”
Rolling out of Inwood, the trio stops off at Williams Grocery, a local deli, and the perfect pit stop for a quick refueling before heading back downtown. “Man, I just love it up here!” says Jimenez. “All right, let’s get moving. At least, we can always come back to Inwood.”