This was the second of two day trips that I had on Long Island, New York. The first took me to Shelter Island, a 50 mile ride that was a nice way to spend a day. This 45 mile ride to Montauk Point was better in terms of interesting places to visit in addition to the views of the waterfront.
This ride took me from Amagansett to Montauk Point. Route 27 east was busy, but there is a generous bicycle lane all the way to Montauk Point. Still, I was looking for opportunities to use side roads as an option to get away from Route 27. That opportunity came when I found the fork in the road that took me down Old Montauk Highway.
Hither Hills State Park looked interesting, so I took a spin around the camp sites and did some people watching. I propped my bike against a rail fence and hiked over the dune to see the beach that stretched seemingly for miles in both directions. It was a somewhat chilly and windy day, so there were only a few people walking the beach. There were some lifeguards trying to keep warm and chatting at the lifeguard stand.
From there I rode into Montauk and picked up Route 27 once again for a short distance to the entrance of Camp Hero State Park. This looked like a good place to explore. The entrance road took me to a parking lot on the sand cliff. As I looked back toward the northwest, I saw a radar tower and I wanted to learn more about it.
Camp Hero dates back to World War II when it was both a defensive position and a training base. As a defense, it had large cannon bunkers aimed over the water to defend against German submarines or warships that might approach the coast. As a training base, it was used to train soldiers to operate antiaircraft weapons with live fire at unmanned aircraft.
When I got to the base of the RADAR antenna, I learned that it was built much later in 1960 as a part of the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system in place at the time to provide air defense for the United States against Soviet bombers. This particular site could detect and track targets up to 200 miles away. It was decommissioned in 1980.
From there to Montauk Point was a very short ride. The lighthouse there is picturesque, but they charged an entry fee to get close. I didn’t see a need to do that. Instead, I spent my money at the small restaurant at the point. There is a great selection of food and I had a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with a soda. The outdoor seating was nice, especially since the sun had broken out and I was able to bask in warm rays as I ate.
On the way back to Montauk, I spotted a road that I had mentally marked on my way east toward the point earlier. I swung right and headed toward Block Island Sound on Old West Lake Drive. This was another side trip that happily took me away from Route 27 once again.
I was getting hungry for some ice cream. A marina with a small store seemed to be the ticket, but all they sold was bait. The person behind the counter was able to point me toward a Ben and Jerry’s that was a little further up the road. I happened to pass a boat ramp where two men were taking a 30 foot commercial fishing boat out of the water using a trailer that had hydraulic bunks to lift the boat up and out of the water. That was something to think about as I ate my Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.
I hung out at the area near the ice cream shop for a while, soaking in the ambiance of the docks, boats, and water. Then it was time to head back to my lodging. There was a hill to climb on Route 27 that rose about 140 feet over two miles with grades up to 6%. The reward was 3 miles downhill after the summit.
The remaining ride west on Route 27 was uneventful and it didn’t feel as long as the ride in the opposite direction in the morning. I had a slight following breeze pushing me toward home. I was moving along so well that I almost missed my turn.
At the end of the day I was happy with my travels. The time that I spent at the beaches, the parks, and the waterfront were rewarding and the food was good. I would recommend this ride to Montauk Point if you are willing to put up with a few miles of Route 27.
My wife Marne had a bridge camp in Amagansett, Long Island, so I decided to go with her and bring my bicycle for some day trips. Our lodging was inexpensive because we had a room provided at the excellent rate of $100 per night by the camp sponsors. A friend told me that that area is rated as on of the worst in the country for cycling, but my research didn’t turn up those results. My experience was mixed, but I can’t say it was an awful experience.
To begin, I’m a distance cyclist, a bicycle tourist, so I’ve become accustomed to long distances between stops for interesting features. The busy roads are the major negative, but I rode in early June so that the high summer traffic was not yet in play. There are very few trails in the area that support the distances that I like to ride, usually 50 to 60 miles on a day tour. I did two rides during this visit.
This was the first ride that took me from Amagansett to Shelter Island, a total of 50 round trip miles. Before heading west, I rode to the Devon Yacht Club where the bridge camp was being held. The yacht club is located in an area of Napeague Bay that is bounded on three sides by Long Island real estate. It is a picturesque site, although there were only two sailboats on moorings since it was early in the season.
Starting toward my goal, I pedaled Route 27 west to East Hampton where I turned north on Route 114. While Amagansett and East Hampton are charming little towns, it was good to turn off of 27 and ride on the more pastoral 114. There is an adequate bike lane most of the route.
Near Sag Harbor the New York bike route took me into a residential area where I found Havens Beach. I had my camera with me and I was taking pictures when a woman with a reusable shopping bag approached me and asked what I was photographing. I explained that I am a cyclist and street photographer.
We chatted and she explained her activities on the beach. As a member of the local historical society and sometime beachcomber, she was searching for artifacts. There had been a dredge operation in November 2017 and the tailings, mostly coarse sand, were dumped on Havens Beach. She comes out to scour the beach each time it rains to find shards of pottery and ceramics that are mixed with the tailings. Each rain washes away surface sand to reveal more of these treasures. She showed me some of the pieces that she found, likely dating back two or three hundred years.
After my visit at the beach, I spent some time in Sag Harbor enjoying the waterfront before crossing the bridge into North Hampton. I boarded the South Ferry and as we shuttled across the Peconic River to Shelter Island I asked the attendant on the deck about lunch recommendations on Shelter Island. Without hesitation, she sent me to Maria’s Kitchen, a place that serves Mexican cuisine.
Maria’s kitchen is about mid way between the South Ferry and the North Ferry on Shelter Island. I ordered an enchilada and was invited to sit in the garden behind the restaurant to eat. It was a green and peaceful place to rest a while before continuing my ride. They were also kind enough to let me use their bathroom.
I came to a point where Route 114 turns left and Route 37 takes off to the right. I decided to explore Route 37. Unfortunately, it was mostly residential with no access to the water. So, I doubled back and headed toward the North Ferry. There were quite a few great spots to stop and enjoy a view of the Peconic River.
The Mashomack Preserve occupies a large area of the island, but cycling is not permitted. If you are prepared to hike, this seems to be a popular destination. I was not prepared to hike and it was too late in the day for me.
Before heading back to Amagansett, I stopped at Marie Eiffel Market for some ice cream. I parked my bike and walked to the nearby docks as I ate it and rested a while longer for the 25 mile ride.
The ride back to our lodging was uneventful, except that I found East Hampton congested. There are no bike lanes through East Hampton and the traffic was heavy in late afternoon at about four PM. I chose to bail out of the street and slowly ride the sidewalk through town to avoid getting squished.
It’s probably not for everybody, but I enjoyed my excursion to Shelter Island.
Last week I was moving along smartly behind another rider I was using to set a pace. We were clipping along at between 18 and 20 miles per hour. Suddenly, something smacked the roof of my mouth. I felt a chitinous object in the back of my throat about the size of a bean. Instantaneously I hacked and spit it out. As it came out the only thing that I could verify for you is that it was black and that I was able to confirm the size as it accelerated toward the ground.
The roof of my mouth was throbbing with pain. I wondered whether or not to declare an emergency, but decided to wait while monitoring for some other side effect such as swelling from a sting. After all, it could have been a bee or a wasp.
Later in the evening, the symptoms evolved into something like a sore throat. That night I had some issue with breathing because the back of my throat was swollen. The symptoms persisted the next day, although it was getting progressively better.
There is a need, I thought, for bug protection for bicycle riders. Research on the Internet uncovered mixed results, as it often does. One solution that I found is a screen to cover your face, similar to the protection worn by fencers. That is something that I do not want to be seen wearing. A bandanna is also in that category. I had visions of a small mask to fit over the mouth with a screen to keep the bugs out. I must have been channeling Hannibal Lecter.
Other sage advice from the Internet included, “Keep your mouth shut”. That’s a problem if you are forced to mouth-breathe due to allergies or exertion. Another person suggested you will “learn your lesson” if you happen to suck in a bee or wasp.
I happen to have a theory about that to ease your fears, although not scientifically founded or proven. Some bugs are less likely to run into your face because they can sense the slightly increased pressure in front of you. Flies have that ability. They can sense the slight increase in pressure as your hand or the swatter approaches and escape just in time. Bees, wasps, and flies are maneuverable and they can get out of the way to save themselves, unlike a beetle lumbering through the air.
Today I “got back on that horse” and rode my usual 25 mile training run. I must admit that I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible. There were a couple of clouds of gnats that I rode through, but no more bean-sized suicidal beetles. The farther I rode I realized that there was no problem to solve. I’ll swallow a few gnats, but another collision with a black bean is unlikely.