Even at 67-years-old, I can still remember those first seconds of realizing I was riding my brother’s “Huffy” bike by myself without the training wheels. My dad was pushing and gliding me right in front of our house and then boom, he was gone and I was riding all by myself. I zigged and zagged, but in very little time I mastered that bike.
Fast forward to the Hamptons in 2020. Bicycles are everywhere. This is without doubt the year of the bicycle in the Hamptons. Families of six, including a reluctant mom can be seen on the local roads weaving about with helmets on. The bikes are all unusual and defining of those who are riding them. There are the old style cruisers, very stylish and cool but not as efficient as the multi-gear lightweight carbon fiber high-tech, high-speed road bikes. Then there are the trail bikes with the thicker tires and defining straight handlebar. The local police usually cruise parks and beach areas on this off trail bike. There are also a few very old, rusted “three speed bikes” still in use; back in the day they actual called them “English racing bikes.” Of course there are also the obvious rental bikes, along with those eye catching, multi-thousand dollar, most likely imported “road bikes” that also are all over the Hamptons, but cruising at much higher speeds.
Make no mistake about it, folks are riding bikes more than ever this season and they are riding in the latest fashions of casual bike and formal bike attire! There are the beach-goers in bathing suits, the old spandex bike outfit folks (me included) and then there is everything in between.
When I was in grade school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), we rode our bikes to school in the late fall and early spring. No one was driven to school in those days and school busing was only for handicapped kids. Back in those pre-teen days, I was amazed how the girls could ride to school in their skirted uniform and wonderful knee socks. Many of guys in the warmer weather would take off our school emblemed blazers and hold them in one hand. Yes, somewhere on the ride to school we all would ride with no hands – usually down slight hills. I mention this because in the Hamptons there are women who have mastered riding a bike with just a sundress on, also very amazing.
Before I lived in the Hamptons full time, I was a member of the New York Athletic Club’s bike group and we would do an annual 100 mile Hamptons bike ride. The ride was from Southampton to Riverhead to Orient Point and then we took the ferry to cross Shelter Island, only to head up 114 to East Hampton and ride 27W back to Southampton. At the end, no matter the weather, we did the “Gene Bay” ocean swim at Little Plains Beach, Southampton before showering and having a BBQ at a local home.
From that experience (did it ten times), I was introduced to many beautiful roads, lanes, paths, and trails to ride on all over the Hamptons and North Fork. Riding in any of the villages on the “Main Street” is not smart, but done by some. When I lived in both East Hampton Village and then in Montauk, I rode my bike almost daily all year-round. I still have my favorite 10-20-40 mile rides all with beach stops in them. I try to keep my bike beach exposure to a minimal to keep the sand out of the chain and thus the gears, it’s tough getting the sand out of the chain.
In closing, I want to say when you ride, ride safely by wearing a helmet, riding on the correct side of the road, and being alert to oncoming traffic. Most likely you too will somehow take part in the 2020 Year of the Bike in the Hamptons.