As part of my ongoing mental therapy-by-bicycle, I called a friend and fellow cycle club member to join me on a ride from Huntington, Long Island to Orient Point and then back to Greenport to catch the 6:11 PM train back to New York City. Having ridden to Montauk more than a few times in the past, I always wanted to reach Orient Point on the North Fork, and yesterday was as a good a day as any to do that with yet another eighty degree day with low-humidity.
We started in Huntington because there was a direct train from Penn Station, it would put us close to New York State Bike Route 25A, and it would make for a ninety-mile ride. Once we got out of the train station, we quickly found ourselves on suburban roads with some signs of the farms we would see throughout the ride.
Long Island has a reputation for being very flat, but we found that there were a good number of hills between Smithtown and Riverhead. We even encountered one of the most storied climbs on Long Island, East Broadway, which leads from Port Jefferson to Belle Terre. It was a challenging hill, but I managed to climb it through the “sit-and-spin” method and I didn’t need to get out of the saddle. I reached the top before Brian did, and that allowed me to snap a photo of him reaching the summit.
He looks as tired as I feel.
By about 65 miles in, Brian wanted to rest for a minute so we stopped at Hallock’s Cider Mill, a roadside farm stand in Laurel, where they had some very delicious preserves.
And a pretty awesome blueberry crumb pie that rivals that other pie place on the North Fork.
Towards the end of our ride, we found that the one of the best views along Bike Route 25 was at East Marion Orient Park, a place so magical that people can apparently walk on water.
Even with all our rest stops and all the photos we snapped, we reached Orient Point just before 4:00 PM.
I was a little disappointed with the view, but that’s probably because I didn’t scout the route beyond reaching the Orient Point ferry to New London, Connecticut.
We turned back from Orient to Greenport to get our customary beer and burger in town there and to catch the 6:11 PM train. When I was last in Greenport last month, I tried to go to the Greenport Harbor Brewery for a taste, but it was closing so I didn’t get any beer. This time, we had enough time for a flight.
A 100-Mile Loop Around the City Would Be Too Hard
The ride came together over the last couple of days because I had other bike riding plans for this day. Sunday was also the same day as the NYC Century, a ride I first did in 2003, as my first century. This year, I had volunteered on Saturday to get a free entry to the ride.
As I kept thinking about the ride and the route, which is largely the same as it’s been for the last decade, I felt that it would be too emotionally difficult to ride it. It would have reminded me of the first time Sarah and I rode that ride together in 2007. At one point, she fell off her bike around mile 20 and wore a bandage on her knee for the rest of the day. It was her first long-distance ride, and I remember she was bonking with six miles left on the 55-mile route. At Astoria Park, I offered her some encouraging words: “Sarah, we have only six miles to go. That’s the distance between your work and my apartment. You can do that, right?” She then agreed that she could and gave me a big hug. I remember seeing a woman passing by who witnessed this tender moment between us. Her reaction to this moment made me realize we had something special. Sarah ultimately held on to finish the ride, and I was really proud of her. I was also inspired that my support helped her on that day. It was the first time my words picked up someone like that, and I wanted to feel that feeling forever.
By midday Saturday, however, I decided I couldn’t very well ride that route. It would be too emotionally difficult to get through that ride, thinking about how happy we were on that first of many other rides we did together.
For now, it appears, that I need to make some new memories.