Take the A train.
The Rockaways are different. Scuba divers and surfers take the A train. As do pigeons. This shore community on the edge of the city offers New Yorkers the ocean and it’s only a train ride away. The beach is one long strip running the length of the Rockaways and is managed in parts by the Parks Department and the National Park Service. For cyclists, its more than just a beach, but both part of the city and a community that seems far, far away. (Queens Rockaways Bike Ride)
Far away and close to home.
Taking the elevated train to the Rockaways gives you the feeling that the area is pretty urban. Once you get to the beach, it’s easy to forget that initial observation. The beach is broad, the waves noisy, and the breeze is either refreshing or bracing, depending on the time of year. Without cars for companions, and with a long open space in front of you, the feeling of speed changes, you’re going nowhere, which is fine, unless you’re in a hurry.
When you first get off the boardwalk, you’re deposited in a lush suburban setting, which even gives you an ample on-street bike lane all the way down to Jacob Riis Park. Once in the park, you’re back on the beach, and the bathhouse and promenade are reminders of when the area was developed.
Riding through Fort Tilden, you’ll feel like you’re not in the city at all, but in a remote shore community. Tilden gives way to Breezy Point, a co-op community that, to the chagrin of cyclists, doesn’t allow beach access from most of Rockaway Point Boulevard.
Coming back, there’s a second way through Fort Tilden, and both the maritime forest and sand dunes make this decommissioned defense post an interesting spot for a stop.
Once you’re back in Jacob Riis Park, you’re largely re-tracing your route out, but now that you’re looking east rather than west, you’re witnessing a whole new landscape.
Before returning to the beach a final time, you’ll ride through Beach 116th street, the commercial center of beachdom, and the obligatory beach treats.
Nibbles ‘n Liquids
Beach 116th Street, which the ride goes through, is the commercial center of the island. Ice cream, pizza, sandwiches, beach food galore. Here’s a partial listing of the good eats you can come by in the Rockaways. Jacob Riis Park’s snack bar opens around Memorial Day and stays open through the summer. There are also vendors, and even a few restaurants along the boardwalk in the summer season.
You can do some quality bike meandering and get a locally crowd-sourced info about The Rockaways with Rock Spot. It’s “Your source for all things Rockaway” and a project of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. If that’s not enough Riis Park has lots to do.
Deets (Queens Rockaways Bike Ride)
Distance: 20.3 miles
Terrain: Flat. Mostly bike paths. Some quiet roads. A busy road.
Ride Rating: @@
Notes: The end of America. Great vistas, cool architecture. Bring a towel, pack swimwear, the beach is fine.
Bk05, Bk07, and Bk09 are all nearby.