This past Sunday, I ventured out to Rockaway Beach from Astoria. It was only my 2nd time riding out there since late October 2013 and I always told myself I would do it again once summer had finally arrived.
I do a lot of solo trips, but I feel rides like these are more fun in groups. Therefore, I dragged Ross Remmel to come along and experience his 1st ride out there. Nathan's Hot Dogs was all he needed to hear in order to suit-up.
We met up with Kevin Toomer halfway. He was there for my 1st trip, so it was only appropriate for him to join us and lead us to his own backyard, the Rockaways.
The journey is relatively simple and flat for most of the ride. Traffic was considerably low for a Sunday. However, when riding up and down Ocean Parkway - you will come to many stop signs and red lights, which can tamper with your momentum.
Besides taking a small detour to Nathan's for a quick hot dog in Coney Island, the 1st real break didn't come until we arrived at Plumb Beach (technically closed). It's a small, quiet, and charming one. Unfortunately we had decades of bike miles ahead of us, so standing around long wasn't on the schedule. However, I recommend it for anyone to soak their feet if they are passing by or willing to take the ride to Plumb Beach.
Once back on the road, riders get to enjoy the green views of the Marine Park pathway. Eventually, you'll arrive at what could be your sworn enemy on this trip - The Marine Parkway Memorial Bridge. It's a long and narrow bridge, thus making it a bit of squeeze with cyclists and pedestrians coming towards you.
For all the effort, you are presented with Riis Park just on the other side. This is your standard boardwalk beach and a nice one, too, by NYC standards.
Rockaway Beach is only about 3 miles away. We found a change in the atmosphere by coming across the obvious surfers attempting to hang ten. Make sure before you leave the Rockaways, check out Whit's End (97-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard) for $3 beers and amazing pizza (I can't remember the name of the one we had, but it had hard-shell clams). The staff were super cool and friendly there. Definitely worth a visit.
I could go on and on about the ride, but what would be the fun in that? I want people to go out and do it for themselves. If you are solely relying on a bicycle to get there and go home, it may be a difficult ride for you. Of course, it all depends where you are coming from. It is not a ride for beginners, but if you like to challenge yourself like I do - then GO FOR IT, but be careful, hydrate, and take the proper precautions.
The Jamaica Bay Greenway is a great scenic path. For those speed demons or even casual riders, you can pedal for miles and miles of car-free roads. Be aware there will be a few times you'll end up on busy highway-like streets. If you feel nervous around fast moving cars, then just know what you may be getting yourself into.
At the end of it all, when you see that skyline...there is no better reward to Bike Your City.