After a jammed week and with the deep freeze on the way, I couldn’t wait to get out on my bike last Sunday. My husband and I were visiting Eastern Long Island, so the opportunity for a bicycle ride to Montauk (above) was a bonus. The ride revealed the scenic beauty and quiet pleasures of the off-season in this summer resort area, but also shed light on dramatic changes to the coastline wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
Maybe befitting a holiday weekend, it was a slow start — my departure delayed by a flat front tire. I’d forgotten (bad bike blogger!) to replace the spare tube in my saddle bag. So, like a boozer in need of a swig, I sat myself down outside Bermuda Bikes, waiting for a surprised clerk to unlock the shop door at 10 a.m.
For tips on cold weather riding, view our Winter Cycling Guide!
Back at home with a new tube and a spare in hand, I faced the next hurdle: the struggle, with eyebrow tweezers and inadequate reading glasses, to coax the cause of the flat — a stone the size of a grain of sand — from a tiny slit in the rubber.
Finally, with road-worthy tires, temperatures hovering around 45 degrees F. and weather.com’s tantalizing promise of a tailwind, I pushed off by myself in late morning. I ‘m okay with riding alone for long stretches. Like many, I find road cycling meditative. It’s productive time for thought fueled by a brisk heart rate and the bliss of moving under my own power through cold fresh air. Liberated from the intense focus and “presence” that city cycling demands on weekdays, I find that I can allow my mind to wander across wide-open roads on weekends. And then there’s this: Among the many signals and cues used to assure precision and safety when I ride with friends in a pace line, there are none that I know of for: “I want to stop at that antique shop.”
Solo it was, along a southerly route that hugged the beach through East Hampton and Amagansett and then on to Route 27, commencing at Napeaque. Some say they consider the off-season sights of boarded-up buildings along this main artery forbidding. But I find pleasure in discovering shapes and features that tend to be obscured by the revelers who crowd restaurants and watering holes like the Clam Bar along the Napeaque stretch during the summer.
Although I had spent the chilly last day of 2012 on a post-Sandy reconnaissance ride along the East Hampton beaches with my friend Marty, this would be my first chance to view the Montauk shoreline with its string of motels. I found that the still-boarded-up backs of the hotels that had been left thrusting into thin air in the October storm’s immediate wake have been temporarily shorn up with bulldozed sand and fencing. Their relative height along the coastline reveals just how much of the beach Sandy claimed. At the public beach access in Montauk Village I pulled over to join the visitors enjoying the winter sunshine and snapping photos.
Among the photos I posted to the velojoy Instagram feed was a shot of my cycling shoes planted in the rock-strewn sand. A friend commented, “Great picture. Not what you expect in January.” And even though the heavenly tailwind morphed into a devilish headwind on the ride home, I couldn’t have agreed more with my friend’s assessment.