Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

21 November 2010

When A Favorite Ride Changes

I, of all people, should not be fazed by change.

But how do you react when one of your favorite bike rides is about to be altered, possibly beyond recognition?:

I guess I shouldn't be so worried about what's going to happen to Rockaway Beach.  This guy looks like he might not survive the changes.

Just for  the heck of it, I decided to see how close I could ride to him.  How close I got to him surprised me.  What disturbed me was the reason why I could:

Not only is his wing broken; he was even more sickly than he looked from a hundred feet away.  

I may not be much of a naturalist, much less an orinthologist.  But I think it's a pretty safe to say he won't be there come next spring's cycling season.  I wonder who else won't--and will--be.

Much of the boardwalk--like many of its counterparts up and down the East Coast--hasn't borne the brunt of this year's storms very well.  So it's being rebuilt:

I always wondered what a boardwalk would look like if it were built in the Brutalist style.  Well, all right, I never did.  But now I know.  

My dislike of this boardwalk is not only from an aesthetic point of view.  The lines between the slabs are even sharper than the ones between the weathered wooden boards of the old boardwalk.  Those slabs are not always perfectly level with each other, and even if they were, the edge of a tire could skid against the edge of one of those slabs and cause a nasty spill.

As much as I dislike them, I can understand why they're being built that way. For one thing, it probably fits in with the row houses that are being built on the streets leading to it.  But more important--at least to the builders--it's probably cheaper than rebuilding with wooden boards.  It also won't weather and splinter the way wooden boards do, though concrete doesn't always age well in damp places, either.  

The latter, by the way, is the reason why builders have gotten away from the Brutalist style.  That, and the fact that raw concrete slabs can be unbelievably depressing, especially under the gray skies that one sees about 250 days a year in much of Northern Europe and northeastern North America, where so many of those buidings went up.

My question is:  If it's made of concrete, can it still be called a boardwalk?

Anyway, I have to wonder what next spring's--or even this winter's--rides will look like.  I hope that some of the old bungalows will remain:

Well, whatever happens, I guess I should be happy if the concrete replacement for the boardwalk remains open to cyclists.  I can tolerate almost anything that's by the ocean, so I guess whatever they're building will work, in some way or another, for me.

Still, I can't say I am happy about the prospect of a ride I've done for about 25 years being changed irrevocably.  All  I can hope is that at least something about it will be for the better for us.