Today we set off from home, rode down to Richmond Terrace, down along Front Street, over to Fort Wadsworth, & attacked this crazy hill right under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. From there we caught the bike path that goes along the boardwalk through South Beach, continues through Miller Field, & rode up New Dorp Lane to Mill Road so I could look for a backpack I want at KMart (they didn't have it, but I had a hot dog & Paul had a pretzel, & that allowed us to sit down for a few minutes & plan our next move).
We went back down Mill Rd. & rode up Guyon Ave past Hylan Boulevard. We wanted to try to get home by getting to Richmond Avenue, though we knew parts of that were going to be terrifying. We figured whatever wasn't bikable we would just walk through or try to find routes around. On Guyon Avenue we had a bit of a tiff, since Paul was annoyed every time I told him I didn't know where a certain street led (he has this idea that I've memorized every inch of the "South Shore," even though I keep arguing that where I grew up is NOT the "South Shore." grrrr....). Anyway, the bottom line is, he didn't feel comfortable on Hylan Blvd., & I didn't feel comfortable on Amboy Road. So what we wound up doing is just grabbing whatever side streets seemed to go towards Richmond Avenue, and turning to another when each one ran out. We wound up taking Winchester Avenue up to Amboy Road, and from there we walked the bikes across Amboy, up Richmond Ave. to Eltingville Blvd., and over Genessee to Ridgewood Avenue. For some crazy reason he didn't really remember later, Paul decided we should go up Sweetbrook Road, but I'm glad he did, because we saw the creek that runs along there, complete with ducks, and the little wooden bridges connecting the road to people's backyards. It's so insane to think that there are these pockets of nature amid all the traffic & ugliness of Staten Island. Anyhoo, that brought us out to Richmond Avenue, where we alternated walking our bikes on the sidewalk with finding back streets to ride on until we had to get back out onto Richmond Avenue.
We walked across Arthur Kill Road, and that's where we did our most egregious lawbreaking: we rode on the sidewalk for a few blocks. This got me thinking: how hard would it be to make that sidewalk a shared bike path? It would make perfect sense: no one walks on it; the only people we saw were also on bikes. It would only require a few signs! And take it from someone who's ridden the length of Broadway in Manhattan, not to mention East Houston street: that stretch of Richmond Avenue is far too dangerous to ride. The car culture on Staten Island has gotten out of control, & we have to start warming up to alternative modes of transportation. (Side note: I couldn't resist calling out "Fuck you, gas station!" when we passed the Hess on Bay Street. $3.83/gal!)
Rant over. Just before Forest Hill Road we noticed, at the entrance into whatever swampy wilderness is there, a sign that there was a bike path! Since it was obviously a path through this creepy park & not something that would take us closer to home, I asked Paul if he thought it was too late for us to explore it. We decided to ride it for a little bit, but then we turned around to keep heading home. We are definitely going to check it out on another day. (I hear you, Robert Frost.)
I checked the other KMart for my bag (they also didn't have it, even though the website says it's available at both stores), got cash at the Citibank, then we took the back way to Barnes & Noble. From there we walked across Richmond Avenue, where a rooster (that's right: a fucking ROOSTER; I shit you not) was trying to cross the road (insert your own punchline) & freaking out all the cars at the intersection of Travis Avenue & Draper Place. We made our way to Arlene Street, where there are bike lanes, and turned down to Richmond Avenue again. At this point, we were on familiar ground, since we both ride Arlene St. to & from the gym.
At Deppe Street, we paused to call in an order to Brother's Pizza, which we rode to next. The guys there were very nice about making sure our dinner fit in my bike basket. It was a short ride home from there.
So we definitely rode over 20 miles today, but the most amazing part of it was being able to explore so much & know we would have the power to get home. It's just so liberating. It's entertainment, exercise, & transportation all at the same time. I wouldn't want to do the same ride the same way every day, but the point is, I don't have to. Having a lighter bike, having trained to strengthen my riding muscles, it's incredible how much more I'm able to do than I was a year ago. And on a single speed bike, no less!