Went out for a ride to the beach with some friends late last night. It was probably the best experience of my life. At least of my week. Last night was foggy and warm and quiet and beautiful. Perfect for riding.
The far reaches of Brooklyn are so empty and quiet it's kind of spooky. The fog just intensifies the effect. If anyone has the time or inclination, I highly suggest a visit out there. Preferably late at night.
We took Flatbush Ave all the way out. The traffic is kind of hairy before prospect park, but not bad at all afterwards.
I have included a map with notes of our trip for anyone interested in journeying out there. These notes are not in chronological order.
1: Somewhere along Avenue U in this area is the bestest donut shop ever, I discovered. I was still open at 4 am, and the donuts were $0.50 each. I got a custard-filled chocolate-covered, and a frosted jelly-filled. They also had sour cream crullers.
2: Along Avenue U in here, between the park and the nature preserve, is like riding on a trail in the country. Last night the fog here smelled like lilacs and sulpher.
3: This was the site of my greatest adventure of the night. There is a huge shopping mall here, Kings Plaza Mall. It seems to emerge out of thin air, and have no place being there. Or at least it did last night (the fog again). There is a huge Sears, a Macy's, I don't know what else. And there is a parking ramp. A massive, white, gleaming, concrete, empty parking ramp.
On our way home, we decided to ride around in the parking ramp. We got in no problem, and rode to the top. All the lights were off on the top of the ramp. It was just a huge, empty concrete field. We rode around, admired the view. We were about to ride down, when I noticed that were weren't quite at the top. There was still another level, a half-level above us. Here is a sattelite photo of the mall and parking garage to help you understand.
1 was where we were. 2 was where we wanted to be. * was the ramp leading up to 2. I started to ride towards *. I got up a good head of steam, maybe 15 miles per hour. I hit the ramp. That's when I saw it.
The barrier chain.
10 feet in front of me.
I didn't even try to slow down.
The chain downed me like a linebacker. I fell face-first. My bike landed on top of me 5 or 6 seconds later. I think I was stilled clipped in.
I jumped up and checked my bike first (of course). Miraculously, nothing was damaged. I felt fine too. I still don't understand it. I basically rode my bike full speed ahead into the ground.
I got back on my bike and we got the heck outa there. I was really freaking spooked. I thought the parking ramp itself was out for my blood. I swear as we were regrouping outside a security guard approached us. My friends tell me I imagined him.
4: Getting across the Belt Parkway is kind of the hardest thing ever on a bike. Ostensibly, there is a "bike path". In fact, it is a series of glass-strewn, unlit sidewalks, each about 20 or 30 feet long, interupted by and endless series of onramps, offramps and cloverleafs.
Once you're across the Belt Parkway, the trick is to stay on the east side of Flatbush as you ride past Floyd Bennet Field (an abandoned air-field, and AWESOME in its own right). There is a bike path on the east side, but it is not visible from the road. On the west there is merely another glass-strewn sidewalk. I once got a blowout here that was so bad it destroyed a Gatorskin. The bike path is very pretty. Unlit, foggy, and next to a dinosaur of a military instalation.
Riding over the Marine Parkway bridge, the cars whirr over the metal grating, sounding like spaceships of the future.
5: Once you're on Rockaway, getting to the beach is an adventure. Get across the highway somehow (there's an underpass/overpass system that works well if you can figure it out). Ride south. You'll encounter acres upon acres of parking lots, totally empty. Ride towards the lights along the shore. You will come upon the bath houses, an eerie set of structures, looking like a roman arcade, well lit, with benches, bathrooms (unlocked!) and a shuttered surf-shop. We locked up our bikes on the boardwalk, rolled some oregano into a philly, and set out upon the sand to drink jamaican beer, listen to the surf, watch the stars, and contemplate our existence.
I love New York City.