Monday, April 27, 2009

Ocean Sunday.

(as always, please feel free to click on any of the photos for a larger view)

I was blessed with ignorance yesterday. I totally forgot about Game 6 between the Rangers and the Capitals, and I forgot to keep tabs on the Mets or the Yanks.

Since all the teams lost today, and the Knicks are still, well, the Knicks, my bliss as a red-blooded testosterone-laden New York lad, was rare indeed.

My back was feeling a lot better this morning. So after cleaning up and having breakfast, I headed out over to another bike shop (Lindenhurst Bikes) which was closer to me. Artie was a very nice man. He fixed the seat height for me for free. That's two nice bike shops in two days, LOL. From there I pointed the car, with bike in tow, east on Montauk Highway. I was headed for Cedar Beach, right off Ocean Parkway. I made sure to apply plenty of SPF again (can't stress this shit enough) and did so as I was hearing about SFP (St. Francis Prep) and that whole incident involving swine flu today.
The weather was gorgeous. And yes, there was traffic, going over the Robert Moses Causeway, but I was feeling so good, that nothing mattered. Blue sky above me and shimmering ocean ripples below me, as I crossed to Captree and then to Ocean Parkway.
I got to the beach, and kicked into high gear. After making sure all systems were a go, I removed my Trek off the car bike rack, and headed immediately for Ocean Parkway going west.
With the knowledge that it was 90 inland (about 80 where I was), I figured to load up on liquids. Not only did I have 1 Gatorade bottle and 1 water bottle on my bike, but I even brought my Camelback with me. As it turned out, it was probably the best idea I had all day long. There's nothing easier than driking through a straw that is right next to you, without having to reach down and grab a bottle.

The ride should have been fairly boring. Ocean Parkway is one long, straight road that takes you all the way from the Robert Moses Causeway bridge, west to the famous "needle" at Jones Beach. However, it wasn't just the exhiliration of knowing that I was about to ride again, or that the weather was nice, or that my bike seat was at the right height.

It was also about all those damn cars passing me at about 80 miles per hour!

It was a little unsettling at first, but I got used to it. I kept thinking that if I was hit by a car from behind, that yes, I would be catapulted. And yes, there will be broken bones, like a collarbone, and maybe a couple of ribs (you know, like a side order), but at least I would land in the hay straw, or on the sand. Who knows? If I got hit hard enough, I might just get knocked all the way into the baywater. Nice way to take a cool bath on this scorcher of an April day.

Fortunately, none of that happened. Instead, miles of roads and beaches passed by me as the headwind continued to play games with me and my machine.

I actually headed east on Cedar beach for about a mile, going back towards the bridge. I did this to get to the U-turn, where i could then head back west. East and West roads were seperated by brush and a small embankment. I past Overlook Beach on my way to the U-turn too, so it was a little bit more of a hike than I thought it would be.

Well, I finally crossed over. I got of my bike and walked it along the U. When I looked at the oncoming traffic that was now heading westward, I felt like I was playing chicken with my life. Crossing to the right shoulder from a left lane U, is a daunting task. The cars seem far away, but at about 80 mph, they come really quickly. There is very little reaction time, and you can't drop anything in the road, or you are road pizza.

Once I got to the northside shoulder, I got back on my bike In earnest, I wanted to go as fast as I could, so I brought it up all the way to the 21st gear. I could feel the burn on my quads as I dug into my pedals. It felt good in a sick and twisted sort of way. At some points, I actually stood up to sprint with my bike.
I knew I had passed where I had parked, when I saw the turnaround signs for Cedar Beach, a mile afer that, I was in Nassau County. Wee!

There was a little cove on my right (the north side, the bay side) where a lot of speed boats and yachts were anchored. Crossing the parkway were some scantily clad women and gents. They were crossing to get to the cove and probably get into a boat (or something I slowed down and got a look...At the boats that is! Nice speedboats!

Anywho, I kept on cycling. What a great feeling this is. After all the miles I did yesterday, I was unfazed by it!
Coming up was Gilgo Beach. Gilgo is a happening scene right now. This is the 2nd time I pass though here in as many weeks, and there are just hordes of teenagers, surfers, bikers, etc. all wanting to party. I felt really tempted to just ditch the bike somewhere, and go down to the watering hole for some brewskis, but I had a training mission to accomplish. Blech. LOL.

After Gilgo, comes West Gilgo. Not only does West Gilgo have a beach as well, but they also have a few blocks of residential housing (probably summer rentals). One house had a flagpole about 20 feet high. It was impossible not to see a POW-MIA flag at the top, with a NY Mets flag beneath it. How odd and funny!
After West Gilgo, you go for a decent stretch until you get to Tobay Beach. Tobay has a very large parking lot, and I'm sure there is a very good reason for it, except, I just don't know why. Singleton's Seafood Shack is there but it's not that big, and the baybeach is not all that large either. I had gone to Singleton's one time, a couple of years ago when I was living with Ileana.

There were a lot of cars going into Tobay Beach. They were all moving slowly on the shoulder. Hey! That's my shoulder not yours! I wanted to yell at the cars. I wound up having to ride my bike on grass. It was bumpy, but I managed for a bit. Then, when the grass turned to sand, I nearly wiped out, so I got off the bike and just walked it to the entrance.

There was a Nassau County Parks vehicle and a couple of State Trooper Cars handling crowd control. Was this beach open? Hmmmm.. I could use a hot dog and a cold beer right about now.

Once I was in the entry lane for Tobay, I hopped back on my bike and rode it straight to the restaurant. There were a lot of people around there, but to my chagrin, Singleton's was still closed. I must have heard at least a few people discussing how it probably won't be opening until Memorial Day. At least I wasn't the only person who guessed wrong about this.

When I left Tobay, and got back on the shoulder, the nightmare began. The shoulder ended. Do I turn back and opt for half the mileage? Or do I continue, and pray that the motorists of New York will not only see me, but not fulfill my dreaded doomsday destiny of being cannoned into the brush.

I did it.

It was very scary, but very exhilirating. In a way, it's a good thing I have children. If I didn't, I would probably be dead by now with the added risks I would be taking above those that I take right now.

There were a few cars that honked, and some even took their time to roll down their windows, stick their heads out and yell, "ASSHOLE!" With all these warm and humane New York-styled offerings and gestures, I felt right at home.

I rode my bike all the way to the needle, just turning on the U right in front of it, and headed back. When I did go back the shoulder situation was even worse. Not only was it missing, but it was even missing past Tobay Beach. So what did I do? I played chicken again. I didn't even wait to get to a turnaround this time. I simply got off my bike, backed it up into the sand (because now I was on the south bound, beach side) and waited for a good gap between cars and their freshmouthed owners to pass me by. And I did it so fast, that I could hear the extra life bell ring in my head when I crossed over to the other shoulder (the north side again), all in one swoop!

I am the human version of Frogger.

So now, I had my shoulder again, but it meant I had to ride against traffic. This means that impact of a car going 80 and my bike going 20 would be 100 MPH. In other words, drop the spatula, and pick up the vacuum, because there would be no solid pieces of Alex left to pick up in the event of a head-on.


Thank you for that brief, but important Public Service Announcement. Now. To Continue...
Well, there really isn't much to continue is there? At least the cycling part anyway. Sure, I finished what I started. I rode back the same way back for the rest of the way that I came. I played chicken again to cross back to the south side of Ocean Parkway so that I can enter Cedar Beach. I rode around the parking lot a little (sort of like a simulated victory lap, hah!), and made my way back to homebase, aka. my black Honda Civic)

After learning how to use the U lock and cable, I locked my bike right onto one of the big wooden posts that was right in front of my car. I then took my fabric chair, and bag, and headed for the beach.

Cedar Beach is endless. I must Google Map measure this, but I felt like I walked a mile just to get to the water. I finally found some real estate, that I would claim on behalf of the Sovereignty of Gonzalez, and plunked myself down to rest. I started reading, Running From The Devil again.
It didn't take long to realize that I was getting cold, and that the wind was whipping up. At about 5pm, I decided to leave. I took the beaches of Long Island head on with my Trek and can say that I have declared victory!

Now...Most people would have gone home and relaxed. Normal people, that is. When I get into a groove, it is frightening how hard and long I can go. This is one of the reasons why I will be doing my 8th marathon this November. This is one of the reasons why people look at me and say "You are deranged!" right to my arranged face.

When I got home, I did rest. For about 20 minutes or so...
Then I went for an 8+ mile run. White and hairy legs. Oh, how appealing....

Hey! I did not sweat off enough, and I was feeling good! So...Don't bust my chops!!! I decided to run to beautiful Argyle Lake. On the way, I passed across the train tracks.

It's about 3.5 miles to get to Argyle Lake, and once I got there, I ran two loops around the lake. It is was absolutely beautiful today.There were swans and ducks just relaxing in the lake.

There are some beautiful houses along the west side of the lake too.

The waterfall facing Montauk Highway was very pretty.Someone had gotten married, and they were even taking pictures, right by the lake too.

Unlike the last (and first) time that I did this course, where I really injured myself, I was in full control this time around. I think the cycling has strengthed my quads (in just 2 short days too) to the point that it might have given my calves a little break by not having to depend on them as much to carry me forward.

Here's a fun game. See if you can determine the path I used to get back!

Once again don't be shy to click on the photos for a larger view.

In then end, and when I got home, I noticed that I did my run in an 8:34 pace, so I definitely had a lot left in the tank. Enough that it enabled me to break 30 miles running this week, to go along with 50 miles cycling. After this, I called my kids to see how they were. Matt's team won 19-5. Nice! I also congratulated him and Steffie for their great marks in school this semester. Steffie had straight A's and A+s. Sick! After I told them how much I loved them, I finally took a real nap. Only to wake up and start writing this and finishing off my "Pig At Prep" blog [otherwise entitled -> "Corona with a Twist of Swine"]

God bless my endurance. This is a gift that I will savor for as long as I can. Good times indeed.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your site while looking for a run route in Alley Pond Park.

I am always amazed by those who can run a marathon. Not sure if I am aiming to do it in a few years or not. I just started running last year. My first 5K was the Revlon in central park. My time was 44:21 - ick!

My third time race was the JFK Runway 5K on April 19. My time was 36:21. Was hoping for under 35, but the head wind at JFK airport was insane.

My next 5K is on May 2nd at the RXR/TIAA CREF events near Eisenhower park. I am still hoping for under 35 minutes.

I have several more 5Ks this year, but they all end in me doing the IronGirl triathlon in Syracuse on July 26.

I say all of this because you are motivational. I am hoping that by reading your adventures in running, I can learn more about running as a sport and as a hobby.

I look forward to reading more.


Anonymous said...

Oh..I've got a new bike and have been meaning to drive out there and give Ocean Parkway a whirl. How long is the straight away?

Alex Gonzalez said...

Hello Irene,
Running a marathon is only amazing because of how amazing we are.

With the proper training and motivation you can achieve anything that is within your control.

One thing I love about doing my races, is the training I put in between. And I love training so much because is the real challenge.

For me, it's all about channelling energies. If I have a great day, I channel it into a great run. And if I have a bad day, then I covert my energy there too. After awhile, you will start noticing that you no longer view your training as a challenge but as fun.

Running with others is great. Signing up for a running club near you is definitely recommended. On days where I don't run with anyone, I love to bring my iPod along, but sometimes silence has its own rewards (listening to your footsteps, hearbeat, breathing, etc).

IronGirl Triathlon is pretty amazing stuff! One day, I hope to be able to swim well enough to do an IronMan myself. Maybe before I hit 50? LOL.

All the best to you and your adventures, and if you ever need any advice or suggestions, please feel free to come back and ask! :-)

Alex Gonzalez said...

Your best bet would be to start on the east side of Ocean Parkway, though I will say that it is fairly dangerous given how fast the cars and motorcycles will be whizzing by you. Also, you don't want to go past Tobay Beach under any circumstance as there is NO shoulder!!!

Other than that, if you park your car at Gilgo, you could go towards Tobay, and then come back along the same shoulder and even go all the way near to where the bridge is (Robert Moses causeway). I went and parked at Cedar beach, but then had to play "Frogger" from the south to the north side of the inlet.

I've got some bike routes for Long Island that I will be posting in the next week or so that might be a bit safer!