A town rather than a camp
While New York City is generally known as a home for immigrants and transients, a place for people on the move looking to move, Bay Ridge is known for having families that stay through multiple generations. This might contribute to the comfort level that you can feel in the air. Comfort or not, the riding is good. Simple, straightforward, pretty surroundings, and great views.
Riding up and down the ridge
I thought of Bay Ridge as “gritty” for years. That was before I took this ride. The route starts out on the edge of a busy commercial strip, but by taking a side street, you quickly leave that world behind. In a few blocks, you’re on a bike path and that you climbed out of a subway station minutes earlier is largely forgotten. Pass Owl’s Head Park, turn on Shore Road, and you have stately houses on one side and New York Bay on the other. The view over the water, taking in the Verrazano Narrows and the bridge of that name, with Staten Island in the background is impressive enough that it’s easy to not notice the Belt Parkway buzzing below.
At the end of Shore, you turn onto a sidewalk to ride over the highway and drop down to Shore Road Park. You’re effectively riding back from where you came, and straight ahead is New Jersey and Upper New York Bay. Once at the northern end of the path, turn to enjoy Pier 69.
Pier 69. Views. Fishing. Time to stop and take in a good look.
Turn around and head out. Once you climb out of the park, turn and you’re on Shore road again. Take it to 83rd Street, where you’ll turn and venture into the neighborhood. Once you get to Narrows, the first intersection, stop and turn and check out the home known as The Gingerbread House. It’s worth a look.
Back on 83rd. Pop out on Third Avenue. Third Avenue is a good place for a break. Several cozy cafes and eateries line the block between 83rd and 84th where you’ll turn again and make it to Ridge Boulevard.
Ridge is yet another quiet street and will take you back north through the neighborhood. Near the end, you’ll turn on Senator, make your way back to Fourth Avenue, and the ride is already done.
Swill and Provisions
Both Fourth Avenue,where the ride begins and ends, and Third Avenue, where the ride passes, are crowded with choices. The eateries at Third avenue are more diverse, more interesting, and have a more casual atmosphere, all good for taking the time to enjoy your food.
Hanging out on the pier and fishing is a fine pastime. But checking out the Harbor Defense Museum in Fort Hamilton is a great way to educate yourself about the important task of defending waterways. The museum itself is located in a former defense bastion and is stocked with artifacts from World War II, when the Germans periodically tried invading, all the way back to the Revolutionary War (during which New York was an important battleground.
If you’re riding on Saturdays, check out the Stand4 Gallery and Community Art Center. It’s a little off-piste, but a different sort of art gallery; less pretense, more focused on community and the future.
Deets (Bay Ridge Bike Ride)
How to get there: Take the R train to the Bay Ridge Avenue stop.
Distance: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gained: 434 Feet
Terrain: Mostly flat, though you descend and ascend the ridge.
Ride Rating: @@
Notes: Urban, suburban, and park. Great views, good eats.