Cycling on Long Island: Shelter Island Excursion

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.

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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.

Havens Beach Beachcomber

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.

Garden at Maria’s Kitchen

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.

Peconic River at Marie Eiffel’s

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.

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