Down The Shore
I’ve taken many remarkable rides within New York City’s borders. I have pedaled from Far Rockaway, to Harlem which took me across the many great bridges that connect New York's boroughs. Riding in New Jersey is something I know little about. My friend and local New Jersey resident, Greg Maka, suggested a ride down the shore. New Jerseyans refer to the 141 miles of ocean coastline as “The Shore." I was intrigued by this and anxious for a new campaign in claiming undocumented lands through cycling warfare.
"I pumped my way through the muffled morning streets of Brooklyn. The air was a mixture of fresh morning dew and thick heavy humidity."
I began my adventure as I do most of our adventures, before the sun rises. I pumped my way through the muffled morning streets of Brooklyn. The air was a mixture of fresh morning dew and thick heavy humidity. I always enjoy early morning rides through the city. There is a calmness to it, like I'm riding though the the eye of a hurricane. I biked my way to Penn Station where my real journey would begin. I boarded the New Jersey Transit, which Greg boarded too along the way at another stop. We disembarked and met at Perth Amboy. From there we mounted our metal steeds and proceeded to invade the shore.
Greg led the way. He had already planned out our route. I felt the air rapidly becoming thicker and hotter with every minute passing. Greg and I have a solid record of unintentionally picking days to ride in excessively violent temperatures. Today was no different. Either way we were off and into the unknown abyss of the land of Jersey.
Our ride was what you would expect of any suburban environment; big lawns, fun windy roads, and scary political sentiments. I’m not sure how many towns and back roads we took on our way, but it was spectacular to say the least. I road on shores, long straight bikes paths, wooden bike paths along the water, and even through some poorly graded sand paths. The ride was never the same for very long. We blazed new trails and wove in and out of one suburban neighborhood to the next with great fortitude.
"We had 20 more miles to go, and believe me they were the most grueling miles of the entire journey."
With 30 miles behind us, we came to Highlands reach. We made it the shore, yet the battle had nearly just begun. With our hearts full of determination, we headed North to Sandy Hook. My legs burned and screamed out as we bolted our way up the shore. We aimed for the tip of Sandy Hook, bypassing an infinite amount of wooden beaches that dotted the coastline. At the most Northern Point of Sandy Hook resides the Fort Hancock historic district, which was as intriguing as it was odd. To me it felt like a military ghost town forgotten over time. Monuments of missiles dotted the lawns, as side trails led to historical militarized structures aged by weather and time. It was now about midday and figured it was time to get through the last segment of our ride - Asbury Park.
We had 20 more miles to go, and believe me they were the most grueling miles of the entire journey. The heat was at its highest - 95 degrees. I felt my muscles seizing as if my body had been wrung out like a rag and all the water I'd guzzled down all day escaped out of every pore. I felt sharp pains shoot from the bottom of my back up to my shoulders. It felt as though someone was twisting my nerves with a pair of pliers. I began to slow as I watched Greg shoot off like a heat cycling missile in search for white sand and cold beer. I biked slow but I biked steadily until finally we reached the end of our pilgrimage. Asbury Park at last.
Technically it was off season since it was September, but the August like heat said differently. First things first, we bought ice cold lemonades. Even now, 5 months later writing this story, I can still feel the cold refreshing tartness run down my dry scratchy throat. We needed to cool our aching bodies, so naturally we dove into the crashing waves of the ocean. I floated for 30 minutes and let the salt water revive my nearly dead body. After our swim it was time for food…lots and lots of food…and of course lots of beer. We basked in our glory and celebrated our victories and triumphs over cold Modelos and tacos, it was the meal fit for warriors.
This adventure had run its course. Tired and ready to recuperate for the next adventure, we turned homeward bound. I took the train back Penn Station and had planned to take the subway from there, but once I stepped onto the platform, I decided otherwise. No. I already rode 60 miles, and now I would ride the last measly 8 to Brooklyn. On the ride home, I was honked at, screamed at, and even flipped off by a taxi’s passenger. But in those last 8 miles I could not help but to ignore the chaos and be swept away by the inner peace of a long a successful journey.