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Old 02-07-16, 09:44 AM   #1
Papa Tom
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Long Island: Riding As A Kid In The 60's-70's

While some of you crazy Long Islanders are out there riding through the winter, I've had lots of time to sit on my butt and daydream.

One of the thoughts running through my head is how, at 10-11 years old, I used to take bike rides that I would have to seriously think about now that I'm in my early fifties. One was from my house in "south" Syosset (right near the Plainview Shopping Center) to the Roosevelt Field Mall.

I convinced two or three of my friends to do this at least twice. Without even a thought of asking our parents, we would all get on our Schwinn or Apollo banana-seat/no-speed bikes and start riding the sidewalk out of our neighborhood and onto South Oyster Bay Rd heading south. At Old Country Rd, we would cross over and head west on the sidewalk of Old Country, all 6 1/2 miles to the mall. There, we would use our paper-thin cable locks to "secure" our bikes to a rusty rack outside one of the entrances and we would head inside to spend the day soaking up the air conditioning (we didn't have any at home), gorging ourselves with slices and Cokes at Pizza Supreme, and wandering through record and toy stores until we finally got bored. Then we'd get back on our bikes and do it all in reverse, arriving home for dinner. I remember telling my very strict parents where I had been and my Mom saying, "Wow! That's far!" but not even seeming concerned about the danger. Different times.

On less ambitious days, we rode to the Mid Island (Broadway) Mall several times, never thinking twice about the deadly traffic on 106/107.

So what memories do YOU have about riding our island during your childhood?
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Old 02-07-16, 11:03 AM   #2
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I grew up in Valley Stream and would ride to JFK airport and walks around. When the 747 first came to JFK my friend Danny and I were roaming around the TWA building and walked down a jetway. We entered the plane and when we say the staircase we knew were were on a 747, We went upstairs and sat in the cockpit. If we did that today were would be arrested and interrogated by the FBI.

The 60s/70s were a much simpler time.

Many times we would take Merrick Road to Jamaica and jump on the subway so we could ride around Manhattan.

I once road to Captree, yes I road on the parkway (i was young and stupid, now i'm old and stupid). I found some fishing line and a hook in the trash. I asked for some bait and tide a silver 7 Up can filled with rocks to the line and cast ir off the pier. I caught a few flounder and threw them back since I didn't eat fist.

In my early 20s I purchase a Motobecane Super Mirage from Brands and would ride 2-3 times a week from Valley Stream to my office near Rt 110 and the LIE. They had a drivers locker room where I would shower and change into a suit and tie.

Then in the 80s I stopped riding for some reason. But i'm back in the saddle and on a mission.

My friend Danny and I used to take old lawn mower engines and mount them on a bike using a street sign as a mounting plate. We mounted a larger pullet from a washing machine to the rear wheel using fender washers and bolts. A brake lever was the accelerator and we mounted a idler pulley on a movable arm that acted as the clutch. It was some real mechanical fun, a lot better than the kids today with their video games.
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Old 02-07-16, 12:06 PM   #3
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Dat's wot OM tawkin' bout!
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Old 02-07-16, 07:34 PM   #4
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Since I grew up in Westchester, my only real recollection of any kind of "cool" riding was a trip ('72 ?) I took with a buddy while in high school, riding (my Columbia steel 10 speed) what is now the Old Croton Aqueduct trail from Dobbs Ferry to some point in Ossining, then detouring over to the Sprain Brook Parkway, which was not yet open, from somewhere up north then down to Elmsford and home to Ardsley. It was really neat riding on a 6 lane parkway with no cars !.

Completley correct that we could ride anywhere and never concern ourselves with traffic, locking the bikes, etc... I recall on the OCA/Sprain Brook expedition getting a flat in Ossining and not having a tube or pump and getting it fixed for free at a gas station/garage. You could not possibly do that now here on L.I. or in the NYC area.

I don't recall call though riding "all over" as a kid near where I grew up, possibly because Westchester is a fairly hilly area and we were riding single speeds. Local neighborhoods - yes, but not up many hills, as they were too dangerous to ride down on bikes with coaster brakes.

When I first moved to L.I. In 1980, I was not into cycling but used to do a once a year ride from our apartment in Locust Valley over to Teddy Roosevelts home in OBY. I pretty much only knew one route. After moving to the south shore in '88 I started swimming at Freeport Rec. Center, met a bunch of triathletes who got me into cycling. I then started doing the LIBC and MPBC rides and learned the Gold Coast like the back of my hand. I can now state that I know pretty much where to go and how to get there for about all of Nassau and a good bit of NW Suffolk out to about Kings Park. Cycling is a great way to learn the roads !.

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Old 02-07-16, 07:54 PM   #5
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My recollection is that hills were never a problem until I got older and people started trying to tell me how to climb them.

PS, Steve: There's some very cool riding east of Kings Park. You ought to try heading out at least as far as Port Jeff this summer. But don't try to park your bike on the ferry deck. (We know what happens then!)
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Old 02-07-16, 09:03 PM   #6
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Hey Tom,

Yeah, I keep telling myself the same thing. Trouble is always time. I typically hookup up with a few buddies for a BP road ride during the roadie season, but last few years we haven't been doing long distance stuff. What we need to do is just meet in Greenlawn and head east. I know there's a lot of good riding, that's all Huntington Bike Club territory, just got to learn it better.
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Old 02-09-16, 12:18 PM   #7
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I grew up in Setauket. My rides weren't as intrepid as going to an airport, but there isn't a whole lot to do in the exurbs, and bikes were the only way not to be 100% dependent on Mom and Dad to drive you places. I rode as far as Port Jefferson, a slightly more interesting town. I took marine biology one summer, and would ride a bike to West Meadow Beach where the class was. I would ride ride up to Old Field, past all the big rich people houses. And there was a lot of bumming around the neighborhood. Setauket and Stony Brook are still sort of bucolic, compared to much of LI, so I don't remember worrying too much about traffic.

I rode out to Mount Sinai (from Manhattan) a couple of times in the last couple of years, and once or twice rode around my old haunts. It struck me how little it has changed 30+ years later, and how much of the way I still remembered. Alas, my reason for going to that area has since disappeared, so I probably won't be making the trip again any time soon.
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Old 02-09-16, 04:58 PM   #8
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Those are all still cool places to ride on LI. Did you ever get out to Rocky Point? In the late 60's, my father used to cram us all into the station wagon and drive out there from Syosset to some place that had the best pistachio ice cream anywhere. This past summer, I rode through RP - passing by again for the first time in more than 40 years - and I couldn't find that ice cream place anywhere. But it seems like it would still be a good place for kids to bike.
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Old 02-11-16, 09:43 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by oldnslow2 View Post

In my early 20s I purchase a Motobecane Super Mirage from Brands and would ride 2-3 times a week from Valley Stream to my office near Rt 110 and the LIE.
I love Brands bikes. I live in New Jersey and travel all the way to LI to buy new bicycles. I have two bike shops in my town and one only sells Bria bikes and the other is owned by a moron who always over charges me.

Growing up in the 1970's, we were the last generation to play in the streets. Today, you would never allow your children to play unsupervised in the streets even if there were other children.
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Old 02-12-16, 06:36 AM   #10
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Growing up in the 1970's, we were the last generation to play in the streets. Today, you would never allow your children to play unsupervised in the streets even if there were other children.
Today kids have to have their parents buy then hover boards and drones. We made skate boards out of a broken skate and a 2x4. We used to make hot air balloons out of strips of balsa wood frame, birthday candles and a bag from the dry cleaners.
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Old 02-12-16, 10:45 AM   #11
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Today kids have to have their parents buy then hover boards and drones. We made skate boards out of a broken skate and a 2x4. We used to make hot air balloons out of strips of balsa wood frame, birthday candles and a bag from the dry cleaners.
Hell, when I was 10 I thought I was the only Zeppelin engineer and Manufacturer in Nassau Co.
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Old 02-12-16, 10:53 AM   #12
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A bit ahead of the stated time window (mid-50's.. yeah, old!). I was born in Queens and grew up on Long Island, Merrick to be specific. Like others, we would leave on our bikes in the morning and "try" to get home in time for dinner. We would ride them down to Nick's Fishing Station, long gone I expect, and either fish off the dock for snappers or scalp crabs off the mud banks. Our favorite rides, or bike hikes as we called them, were to Old Westbury near the north shore of the island. I don't hear of too many kids being given this much freedom these days, including my grand kids.
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Old 02-12-16, 02:27 PM   #13
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...I don't hear of too many kids being given this much freedom these days, including my grand kids.
I had built my grandson's first three bikes before he was a year-old. It turns out that neither he, nor my other four grandchildren, even know how to ride bikes. Their parents just never thought it was safe, and my son's wives, both sophisticated ladies of the 21st Century, never thought it was important.

Very sad, as I always pictured sharing the bicycling experience with all of them.

Anyway, Bob, I am 53, so you're not old on MY calendar.
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Old 02-12-16, 05:21 PM   #14
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Hell, when I was 10 I thought I was the only Zeppelin engineer and Manufacturer in Nassau Co.
Thinking back at some of the things I did with my friend Danny, they would be considered terrorist acts today.
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Old 02-19-16, 09:43 AM   #15
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I grew up near Union Turnpike and Main Street in Queens. I recall one summer day, probably '69, when my best friend, his girlfriend and I rode from our neighborhood to Plandome and back. It's only a dim memory - mostly I remember the pain, but I still remember it as fun and a good ride. I don't even know the route we took - it was before the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway became a real MUP, but I bet we went through Alley Pond Park on our way up there.

I had to get back to work my little shift at Baskin-Robbins down on Queens Blvd near the Van Wyck, and I went straight there, bike and sweat and all. Having to stand for 5 hours after that 2-3 hours trip was tough. I was the only one of us three with a one-speed bike. I think that's when I first developed a fat butt.

I only resumed biking a few years ago after college, family, career, etc. but I've circled Queens and western L.I. often enough lately.
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Old 02-21-16, 01:01 PM   #16
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