Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

Heat Wave Bike Ride, posted July 20, 2008 at 11:14 PM


I went to Coney--on my bike! I finally made the trip I've been itching to make since I moved to the big BK. And it happened by accident.

Week after week there've been reasons why I couldn't do the 10-mile ride out to Coney Island. I was away, or it was raining, or it was a scary heat wave, or I'd made plans for the late afternoon, or whatever. And today I again had late afternoon plans (and it was again a scary heat wave), so I decided to simply ride to Prospect Park, then turn around and come home.

The route to the park is easy from my place, with bike lanes all along the way. However, if you ever heard of the neighborhood Park Slope, well, it's called that for a reason. There's a long long long sloping hill up to the park. I live in (on) Cobble Hill--and yeah, between here and there is a valley. So from 3rd Avenue up to 9th Avenue is one tough slope. But I made it, and into the park.

Prospect Park is lovely, and this was my first visit on bicycle. I was surprised by how few bike riders there were--though it was the middle of the afternoon, very humid, very sunny, and about 96 degrees, so perhaps other riders were simply smarter than me and sitting in their air-conditioned apartments somewhere. As I circled along Park Drive I came to the exit that eventually leads to the Ocean Parkway bike path--the oldest bike path in America. It's about a five-mile trek from the Park to the beach, and as I weighed whether I should take it--given the time, given the heat, given the cramp I'd been having in my right calf--I thought, we'll it's five miles home or five miles to Coney. So I went to Coney.

You ain't kiddin' it's the oldest bike path in America! It needs some serious repair. Stretches of it were fantastic, but plenty of it was all busted up concrete, with tree roots pushing the pavement out of their way. I think the city should pay some attention to it (call 311!). Ocean is a big divided boulevard, with lots of cross streets and traffic signals, though I seemed to catch red lights only every five or six blocks. The bike trail is on the west side of the boulevard, separated from the sidewalks and from the traffic. And as I made my way through the cross streets I never felt like someone would turn into me as I crossed--the drivers seemed pretty aware.

I rode along, pleased with my calf's ability to work itself out of a cramp, pleased with the shade from the trees, pleased with--oh my god how can I only be at Avenue J?! It's a long, flat ride out Ocean Parkway.... But eventually--around Avenue W--I felt the suddenly salty cool breeze that only comes from the Atlantic. And the wind picked up something mighty and my legs were not pleased.

Anyway, I made it into Coney, happy and hot and sweaty, and rode up immediately to a hot-dog stand on Surf Ave. No, not Nathan's--the lines were too long there--and yeah, my dog was not as tasty as Nathan's--but given the situation, I was not complaining. I had worked up a hunger and really wanted two dogs, but I had a whole two bucks on me and refused to pay a bank fee to retrieve money from an ATM that's not my bank.

So given the time, and given my hunger, and given the intense heat, and given the tender nature of my right calf, I opted to not ride back. I hopped on the F train, and arrived back in Cobble Hill in air-conditioned comfort.

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