City Scapes-The Best Ride in Brooklyn …

bike path

Thanks to Mickerdoo for allowing me to reprint this photo.

What is the magic that happens when you feel two rubber tires burning up the pavement and  you know that for this one day, for this solitary time, you are in charge of your own destiny?

Sound extreme?

Not if you have had any similar experience. A biker who feels the power of a “hog,” the rider who sits high in the saddle and knows the majesty of nature and can feel the muscles of their steed pulsating against their thighs. They will tell you. A solitary ride with wind and sun and sky, sea and wide open roads, the indescribable feeling of being one within yourself … that is pure  magic.

That is the same magic that happens when you can take out a simple two-wheel bike and roll down the road. Ride until your legs are hot and ache and feel wonderful. Ride until you are forced by time and circumstances to stop. Only to know you can hop back on and feel the same magic the next time.

I’d lean into the handlebars and let her glide along the path, eating up the miles until I came to the end and then with little effort, turn her around and head back in the opposite direction.

The Best Ride in Brooklyn

Today I want to tell you about the bike path along Shore Parkway in Brooklyn. A round trip of eight miles that made my day feel so complete, nothing that I had to face at home could stomp on my euphoria, nothing was too much to handle.


Cityroom blogs NY Times

Did the kids expect dinner? Maybe we’d have an impromptu picnic on the living room floor. Was there a job assignment waiting for me or a term paper I had to deal with? Not to worry. Work, always the work for mere dollars, came last. And term papers? Gees, I could write them in the middle of the night while my babies slept.

We lived in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn in a refrigerator-cold one-bedroom apartment for almost six years. And for five and a half of those years I spent spring to fall on my dark blue, fat-tire Schwinn Roadster with foot brakes and a basket.

During those years I worked a hundred office temp assignments, started a home typing business, and worked my way through college and the first ten credits of my graduate degree. I raised the kids like I was the biggest kid in the apartment … and during that wonderful time of my life I was the biggest kid in the apartment.

On the corner of Bay Parkway, our building was crammed with a crazy assortment of residents from three continents, dozens of strange kids who camped in my living room, a second-floor fire escape that faced a park and Bay Parkway traffic, and not a care in the world.

For those years I held onto my naive innocence long enough to enjoy the most spectacular time of my life and as if that wasn’t enough … I lived 1.5 miles from one of the best damn bike paths in Brooklyn. From our corner building to the beginning of the path, a round trip of 3 miles.

The bike path, a round trip of 8 miles.

My summer routine included doing the round trip on the bike path and then gliding down Cropsey Avenue towards the beach. I rode along Surf Avenue to Brighton One and traversed the entire length of the Coney Island Boardwalk (from Brighton to the chain link fence surrounding Sea Gate), a round trip of another 5 miles.

coney island boardwalk

Daily News Pic of Coney Island Boardwalk

A daily ride of 16 miles. On days when I was rushed or it was too cold for the beach, I would only do the eight mile round trip along Shore Parkway and back home … or a mere 11 miles.

The vistas along Shore Parkway change with each neighborhood that skirts different parts of the bike path. Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Bay Ridge.

Heading out in the morning from the Bay Parkway entrance to the path,  I could see the Brooklyn Narrows, Staten Island and the Narrows Bridge before me in the distance.

Once I had ridden under the expanse of the bridge the vista was dominated by small ships, the narrow waterway that leads to New York harbor, and at the end of the first half of my ride, the old 69th Street Ferry Slip, and the opening to Bay Ridge and Owl’s Head Park.

Riding back home, the vista was dominated once more by the Narrows Bridge and again, after I had ridden on the path under the bridge, I faced the end of the Brooklyn Narrows and the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean.

Man-Made Changes

During the years we lived in Bensonhurst, the bike path was in complete disarray, with pot holes and cracked concrete, broken pieces of the short railings hanging over as if to fall onto the retaining walls and crash into the Narrows. Long stretches of the railing were missing and replaced with chicken wire and wooden slats that leaned into the wind or splintered your hands if you touched them.

Much has changed along the path since we were summarily evicted from that small one-bedroom refrigerator, and all but a small section of the path have been repaved with arrows and mile markers and new railings, and new benches.

Along the beach there are now regulations regarding the times of day you are permitted to ride your bike along the Coney Island Boardwalk and plans to rip up the ancient wooden slats and replace them with solid concrete.

I liked the old path with its pot holes and cracked cement and crooked railings … the old Coney Island Boardwalk with its splintered old wooden planks.

old coney island

Old Coney Island Archive from

For while they can replace concrete and old wooden planks, no one can alter what nature created eons ago. Nothing man-made is quite so magical as the views of the Brooklyn Narrows that leads into the main harbor of New York.

I miss Brooklyn … always. And what I miss the most is that eight mile trip from end to end on the bike path along Shore Parkway.

Tell me, please?

Do you ride a bike or a horse and lose yourself in the grandure of nature?

Where do you go to find peace and solitude?

fOIS In The City

Note:  Visit Mike’s blog … Mikerdoo …  for more great photography from my beloved Brooklyn. Link under the first photograph. Thanks, Mike.



Filed under City Scapes

22 responses to “City Scapes-The Best Ride in Brooklyn …

  1. This is a beautiful post. I am a demon walker myself, and I live a short distance from two trail heads.


  2. Loved this. If you ask me the old path with its potholes and cracked pavement and splintered rails, might be less comfortable than the straight smooth road, but a lot more interesting, the kind of thing that sorties are made of.


    • So true, Shelley. The character of the path has been paved over … and the Coney Island Boardwalk … the community groups are still arguing with city planners to come up with something less “horrible” than concrete slabs to replace the ancient planks. Oh well, I at least have great memories of what they used to be 🙂


  3. Well, Florence, you knew I’d jump all over this post, eh? I love riding my bicycle through Alameda. It’s a small city of about 80,000 residents and I have a special route I ride so I don’t have to interface with hardly any automobiles and I can see the ducks, ponds, marina, grass, boats, trees, and more. I love, love it. It’s great exercise and good for my mind.
    Now, another great exercise is riding my horse, of course. I’ve graduated to the point I can take him out on trail all by myself and THAT is something I’ve dreamed of for years. Such quietude and peacefulness. I love it.
    Your writing brings me right into the heart of where you grew up. Without your posts, I would never know anything about that area.


    • You better believe I thought of you, Patti. I pictured you ambling through Alameda … a place you have graciously told us about in your posts and on Facebook … and I truly thought of you with the reference to the horse 🙂 Thanks for your kind words … it’s always a tickle for me to introduce my readers to the NYC they never hear about in the newspaper.


  4. annerallen

    I rode my bike everywhere when I was a kid. I didn’t even learn to drive a car until I was nearly 30. Bikes were great for almost everything in New England, and if they weren’t, we had buses. Now I’m way too old and fat, but I still look at bikes with longing sometimes…Thanks for a great post.


  5. I suppose we are both getting too old, Anne. Still, we have great memories of those two-wheel wonders that brought us so much pleasure. Glasd you enjoyed the post.


  6. I just loved this post, Florence. Like you, I was a kid on a mission with a bike and a basket. I marvel now at the distances I rode — several times along the Los Angeles River to the beach — 15 miles one way. That route has since been closed because of graffiti and vandalism, but there’s a movement to revitalize it.

    A few years ago my husband bought me a bike for Christmas, one of those mountain-city hybrids. The first time I got on it and toodled down the street — pure heaven and nostalgia all in one. In fact, you’ve inspired me to take it out this weekend!


    • Thanks, Debra. There was always something special about being able to ride off on my bike. I can see you shared that joy. I hope that someone brings back that route because it sounds so great.

      Yes, haul the bike out and go for a ride soon 🙂


  7. One day, my (at the time) 12 YO son decided to fix all of our bikes. They haven’t worked since. 🙂 Every summer, I bug my DH for new bikes so we can go riding again, but alas, I am still bikeless. I should go buy my own, huh, and leave the DH behind in the dust. LOL.

    Ah, to ride one’s bike on the boardwalk … I’ve only seen that in the movies, Florence, so I’m green with desire…


    • Appreciate the comments, Sheila … don’t be green … do get your own wheels and leave DH in the dust. The ride along the ocean is spectacular and even though they have restricted access in the past few years, it is well worth the effort for bikers to take that magnificent ride. Thanks so much for the visit my friend 🙂


  8. You made me want to ride a bike again! I’ll leave riding the horses up to my 9 year old though . . . she takes lessons once a week, but she’s much more brave than I;-)


  9. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog so I nominated you for a Liebster Award! stop in to my blog for details!


  10. christicorbett


    I love when you do these types of posts because I can settle in, read your words, and be transported to a different time and era.

    Christi Corbett


  11. Florence,

    Having most of my spine rebuilt and some resulting nerve damage have played havoc with my balance and sense of safety riding a bike. That was something I loved to do and actually when I was raising my kids one of my best activities for relaxation. Last bike ride I took was a fantastic all day one in Yosemite Valley. Now it’s a stationary one for me.


    • I know the feeling, Casey. Actually because of major issues with my knees and feet, I am know researching an adult three wheel bike. Same movement and pleasure without the risk of losing my balance. I’ll let everyone know how it works out. Thanks so much for the visit 🙂


  12. Love this memory, Florence! I will forever be a lover of bike riding. I tell you nothing makes me feel like a kid again so much as riding bikes. I just love it–the freedom! I feel it all over again like the first time every time I ride. Now that my kids are big enough it’s something we make sure to do.

    As a kid, we also got that feeling with jetskiing. It was the motorcycle of the lakes, and only thing better than biking! 🙂


    • Ah PK … I can see you smiling and carefree on your bike. Riding along the water, letting the breeze tossle that pretty blonde hair. Yes, enjoy and take the kids with you. It’s one of the things you can do with them that is safe, cheap and creates tons of memories 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s