Tagged: North Fork

Playing Hookey on Halloween from Playing Hookey on Halloween

Remember how I planned to ride from the Bronx to Beacon on Halloween Friday?

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Those plans changed on Thursday after I received an email from the NYCC club president. I had proposed a North Fork ride from Huntington to Orient Point, similar to the ride I did in September instead of the NYC Century, but he said that taking the train from Greenport to Ronkonkoma might pose a challenge for a club ride. Indeed, that train from Greenport is a very small one, with only three cars, I think, and last time, we had to cram our bikes into a small area. If more than six riders were to come on my proposed club ride, we would be left scrambling for space and some of us might even be stranded.

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He proposed that I lead a fifty-mile loop from Ronkonkoma, which would rely on a train with more regular service and with more capacity for bicycles. He sent me a few cue sheets, and I reviewed them during a break on Thursday. He also suggested, in the interest of adding more miles, finishing in Babylon, which also has more train service. Since I was pressed for time on Thursday, I misread his suggestion and that I should ride from Babylon to Greenport. In my head, that seemed like an equivalent ride to Huntington to Greenport so I agreed to lead that one.

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So, instead of riding to Beacon, I decided to scout the ride from Babylon to Greenport. In passing, I asked if the club president wanted to join. He did, and the next morning, we connected on a Babylon-bound train in Jamaica for a Halloween ride towards Ronkonkoma and Riverhead.

This week was peak foliage on Long Island, and the leaves were in their autumnal greatness.


And there were haunted houses ready for Halloween.

Halloween Ride to Greenport

And a decommissioned but well-preserved gas station in Yaphank.

Halloween Ride to Greenport

After I posed for this photo, someone drove right up to the pumps, expecting to fuel up, until he realized that it was out of service and drove on in search of gasoline elsewhere.

In Yaphank, our two-man riding group split up. He headed back to Ronkonkoma and I continued east towards Riverhead and then to Greenport.

Fall Foliage Cycling Selfie

There were more leaves in their full glory.

Halloween Ride to Greenport

Further east, there were even more signs of Halloween, such as this corn maze in Cutchogue.

Halloween Ride to Greenport

For whatever reason, every ride I did on Long Island this year was with a headwind. This one was no different, and I had the wind in my face for the entire seventy miles. A few miles after Riverhead, I was getting cold and tired. I had planned to scout a hillier route along the Long Island Sound, but the headwind made reconsider. Instead, I followed NY-25 the whole way from Riverhead.

Halloween Ride to Greenport

When I saw the carousel in Greenport, one that I had last seen with my mom in August, my exhausting journey on two wheels was finished.

North Fork Ride to Orient Because I Skipped the NYC Century

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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.

Chickens in Huntington

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.

Climb from Port Jefferson to Belle Terre

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.

Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves

And a pretty awesome blueberry crumb pie that rivals that other pie place on the North Fork.

Blueberry Crumb Pie

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.

East Marion Orient Park

Even with all our rest stops and all the photos we snapped, we reached Orient Point just before 4:00 PM.

The End

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.

Orient Point Ferry

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.

We Biked 90 Miles… Beer Me

We finished the day at First and South, a pretty good place at the corner of First and South in Greenport with food and prices that rivaled what I found at Birdsdall Inn in Peekskill.

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.

NYC Century 2014 Route Map

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.