Since last summer, I have been taking a weekday trip to the beach with some friends who work in the bar-and-restaurant trade, or “the industry” as they refer to it. Beach Day been a highlight of each week. And although this has been a pretty sad summer for me, it’s hard to be sad while I am at the beach. And that’s why I’ve been going so often.
I skipped Beach Day this Monday because I had invited my friend Moira to go to the Mets-Marlins doubleheader. We had a blast! Since I had missed Beach Day and because the temperatures were going to be in the high 80s on Thursday, I figured that I would go to the beach that day instead. However, only one friend could go on Thursday so I decided to head to a different beach and bring my road bike with me.
Beach Day… with a Twist
I arrived at the Nostrand Avenue LIRR station to catch the 6:40 AM outbound train to Jamaica and then on to Babylon.
From Babylon, I planned to ride the 108-mile course to Montauk—the one that I have done many times—and stop at one of the Long Island beaches along the way. I hadn’t decided which beach I would visit, but my candidates were:
- Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton
- Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays
- Coopers Beach in Southampton
- Main Beach in East Hampton
As silly as it sounds, I was really motivated to head east was because the forecast called for a favorable tail wind. Bicycling on Long Island sometimes feels like sailing because the terrain is pretty flat, especially on the south shore, and the wind can make a huge difference. And because the wind was coming out of the southwest, it would more or less push me across the island.
After riding through Babylon, there was in fact a very strong tail wind. With little effort and little training this season, I was cruising at nearly 20 MPH on some stretches of the route.
A Flat Tire and then Lunch
I continued for about thirty miles into the ride, and then I got a flat. I got off the bike to find a piece of steel belt, likely from a car or truck, lodged into my tire. I removed it and proceeded to change the tube. After filling the tire to about 90 PSI with my hand pump, I continued to ride.
A few miles later, I came across a bike shop, East End Cyclery. I stopped to go in to get some water, buy a new patch kit, and to fill my tires to my usual 120 PSI. They were very helpful but, because they used a compressor, they were only able to fill my tires to about 100 PSI.
There would be a bit of foreshadowing after leaving the bike shop. As I cruised through the Moriches, I saw a sign that pointed the way to Riverhead and to Montauk. For some reason, I stopped and snapped a photo of the sign—as if thinking there’s no way I would be going to Riverhead if I was planning on riding along the south shore en route to Montauk.
By about 11:30, I got hungry. Because I was riding alone, I could heed my hunger and stop whenever I wanted. Citarelli Deli in East Moriches seemed like a reasonable place to stop. It was right off the route, they served sandwiches which is what a hungry cyclist wants on a long ride, and I got a good feeling about it because it reminded me of that market in Oyster Bay that we frequently visit for lunch on club rides.
A Torn Tire
Just a few miles after leaving the deli, I was riding on a quiet road when I saw a couple of runners along the shoulder in front of me. I veered to the left to give them room to continue their run, and as I veered back to the shoulder, I heard a loud pop. The tube in my rear tire had exploded.
I stopped to inspect the damage and to repair the tube only to find that the tire had a cut in the side wall. The only fix here is to replace the tire. Ugh!
I looked for a bike shop, but there were only two within a reasonable distance:
- Twin Forks Bicycles in Riverhead, about 8 miles northeast.
- Rotations Bicycle Center in Southampton, about 20 miles east along my route.
In either case, I couldn’t just walk to the nearest bike shop. I would have to try to ride there.
Every experienced cyclist knows about using a dollar bill to temporarily repair a torn bike tire. I had never had to resort to such a method, but having few other options, I decided to try it.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been going to the bank to get two-dollar bills. I enjoy paying with them—especially leaving them as tips—because it always gets someone’s attention. People think these bills are rare, but as my mother pointed out, you can just go to the bank and ask for them,
This idiosyncrasy came back to haunt me: the smallest denomination bill I had was for two dollars. I wrapped the two-dollar bill around my new tube, and I found that the bill did not adequately cover the tube. Just a few spins of the rear wheel later, I found that the bill had torn and the tube was seeping out of the ripped tire wall. Had I just carried one-dollar bills, my lesson would have been half as expensive.
My next attempt was to use a wrapper from a Clif Bar.
The wrapper held for about six miles, as I rode towards the shop in Riverhead, until the tube popped out of the tire and my last tube exploded. For the remaining two miles or so, I resorted to a combination of both walking my bike and riding on the flat tire—hoping that I was not damaging my rim.
I arrived in Riverhead about an hour and a half after sustaining the first blow out. The bike shop—Twin Forks Bicycles—was a full service bike shop. They carried my preferred bike tires: the Continental Grand Prix ($75) and the Continental Gatorskins ($55). I opted for the less expensive of the two and bought a couple of new tubes, too.
The shop proprietor asked if I wanted him to install the tire, and I explained that I would prefer to install the tire myself since my ride had already gone over budger. A few minutes later after paying for the tire and tubes, I was ready to roll.
To make up time, I sought a more direct route towards the Hamptons. I went southeast on NY-24 which then would connect me back on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.
Along the way, I passed the famous Big Duck in Flanders.
By about 3:30, I arrived at Coopers Beach in Southampton.
The beach is as beautiful as the photos I saw during my research.
The only thing was that I felt out of place among all the well-healed locals.
Also, the water was very choppy—almost too choppy for swimming.
I didn’t stay at the beach long. The logistics of changing from bicycle clothes to beach wear and back to cycling gear was very time consuming. I also wanted to get to Montauk by 7:30 or so, as it starts to get dark relatively early out east during this time of year.
Snacks and Hills on Montauk Highway
One of my favorite parts of riding to Montauk is the final ten mile stretch after Amagansett. The road is rather desolate except for a few notable stands.
After passing the “Snack Corridor” there is a fork in the road, and either one will take up some hills. The views of Hither Hills are cool because it is one of the few times on this ride that you see “terrain.”
Also, from the top of Hither Hills, you can see the end of Long Island—and the Atlantic Ocean—in the distance.
At Last, Montauk!
Just before 7:30, I arrived in Montauk. I had considered riding out to the point and the famous lighthouse, but I had done this years ago. Also, I didn’t want to get stuck riding back from the point in the dark. So I just decided to find somewhere to eat and hang out until my return train departed just after 10:00 PM.
After a bit of exploring, I realized that I had never been to Montauk unless it was part of an official Ride to Montauk. I quickly realized that I think I like Montauk more as a concept than as an actual destination. This is peak tourist season for the Hamptons and Montauk, and the crowd resembled the kind of people I avoid in New York.
Also, this place is expensive. For example, one place had a Fish and Chips on the menu for $26.
I skipped it, and ultimately, I went to a Montauk Circle Burger and eat a Really Good Burger for $18.
By about 9:45, I headed towards the train station to embark on The Long Train Ride Home.
It takes about three hours for the train from Montauk to Jamaica. I then had to change to another train to Woodside, and then pedal home from there. After a shower and uploading my route to my Ride with GPS account, I was tucked in bed by 2:00 AM.
As far as beach days go, it was a long one, lasting over 20 hours. It was also my first beach trip that included a century ride. But even with some stressful and expensive bike repairs, nothing makes me happier than being at the beach.
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