Saturday, July 30, 2005

61.3 miles almost to Jones Beach (and partway back)

I missed a few days of biking because my stomach has been upset - especially after meals - and it's been tiring to walk.

Not sure why, but it coincides with a bout of late nights and insomnia (5-6 hours a night), and fiendish productivity at work.

I needed a workout because weekends are for long rides, and because I get moody when I'm sedentary.

So this morning, a Saturday, I headed out toward Jones Beach. Sitting on the bike wasn't tiring at all, and I kept my stomach from becoming upset by keeping it empty. From waking up to returning from the ride around 8pm, I had one 3" x 5" square of Elio's pizza :-). And lots of water.

I started with the Atlantic Beach route from two weeks ago, then continued through Long Beach which is in Hempstead, Long Island. Long Beach has a boardwalk with a dedicated bike lane, but the towns or areas after that wouldn't let non-residents onto their beaches. How lame! We should reciprocate and ban them from Central Park.

I reached Point Lookout, which is a nice, bustling beach. It's supposedly the farthest one can go by bike, because afterward the path to Jones Beach becomes a parkway with no shoulder. Here's a photo of Point Lookout beach.

And this is me at the beach. Hard to tell that my arm's outstretched with the camera - I took this photo :-)

I asked someone how long the Loop Parkway was - he thought the initial parkway bridge was just half a mile, and that a bike trail picked up around there, so I gave it a try. I hopped on the parkway at the right of the right lane, and went over the bridge. it was a bit scary. Afterward, the highway became faster but there was a wide grassy area to the side for most of it, which I rode on.

The highway just didn't end, and I crossed two drawbridges - they may have had a two-foot shoulder, with fast traffic - so I stayed far to the right. Midway across the first, I was startled to hear a siren begin to wail. I figured a police officer was mad at me for riding on this road. But no - the drawbridge was preparing to open, and the red arm descended behind me to block cars from continuing. I scooted over the drawbridge, made it in time (probably plenty of time though I didn't look back), but it was still freaky. The second drawbridge didn't open on me.

At the end of the Loop Parkway was a wider highway that led to Jones Beach, called the Meadowbrook Parkway South. No bike trail yet .. I followed this one on the grass when there was some, and on the narrow shoulder when there wasn't. It was scary when there wasn't, because I had to hope the 60 mph cars were paying attention.

The Meadowbrook Parkway South continues over a long bridge before reaching Jones Beach, but doesn't slow down and has no shoulder. The previous bridges had already been too dicey, and riding here with the cars would be riskier - there as no margin of error if a car wasn't paying attention. But there was no bike path. Instead, there was a narrow walkway that the drawbridge operator could use to get to his or her post, so I rode slowly on that one. Alas, it reached a dead end at what I assume is one of the drawbridge operator's two "offices": this is a photo of that dead end, in the middle of the bridge. I could have waited for a lull in traffic, gone over the railing onto the bridge highway, walked past the other "office" and gone back on the narrow walkway, but that seemed too likely to get someone angry. So less than half a mile from Jones Beach, I had to turn around and go home.

It was a somewhat frightening few miles back to Point Lookout - too dangerous a ride - I won't be going back there. Back to safety, I returned to Long Beach, then to Atlantic Beach, then to the Far Rockaway boardwalk.

At B-36 Street I left the boardwalk and took the A train home. I would have liked to ride all the way back, but it was getting late and I knew K would be upset if I delayed dinner too long.

We had a tasty dinner at a local Cuban Chinese restaurant - I had tofu mixed vegetables over yellow rice, K had broccoli with garlic sauce over yellow rice, and we shared some fried banana.

Then, we saw Charlie Chocolate and the Muffin Factory. A fun movie - Willie Wonka, played by Johnny Depp, is gratifyingly strange, though not brilliantly so. As tarasophia notes, much of the fun is in watching Johnny Depp play Michael Jackson.

Here's K after the movie. Hi K!

Caution to John Grisham readers: The Testament is the worst book of his I've read. It gets a 'D'. It just wasn't well written, and aside from a few plot developments, it wasn't interesting. I found myself skipping and skimming through most of the second half.

Good night, blog friends!


Anonymous Brian said...

Thanks for info on how to get to Jones Beach from Point Lookout. I almost attempted Parkway Loop myself - but after reading your blog think I'll avoid it.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Just a couple of comments. Long Beach is a city unto itself. It is not a part of the Town of Hempstead. Nassau County has two such cities. Glen Cove is the other.

The second is that there is a path on the east side of the Meadowbrook Parkway separate from the highway. I see cyclists on it all the time. Here's the info: It looked to me like you were on the west (southbound) side of the parkway.

9:24 AM  
Blogger asf said...

great blog. There exists no bike path along the Meadowbrook. The path is adjacent to the Wantagh Parkway. From Long Beach ride Long Beach rd to Merrick Road East to Cedar Creek Park in Seaford (about 20 miles from beach to beach). It is illegal to ride on the Loop or Meadowbrook, and the State refuses to consider building bike lanes/paths. Although the City under Mayor Bloomberg has implemented cyclist friendly programs/lanes/signs/paths, the State and Nassau County remain notoriously anti-cyclist.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been biking through long beach the past few weeks and was thinking about trying the Meadowbrook Pkwy to bike into Jones Beach one of these days - but after reading this and seeing what you are talking about on google maps I guess I'll have to find some other route to try out....

11:33 AM  

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