16 April 2017

Trek To The Sea

Yesterday the Trek project got another rite of initiation, if you will:  I took it on a ride I have experienced with all of my Mercians--and some of the bikes of my youth.

I pedaled down to Long Branch, NJ.   I am glad I went there yesterday, when it was overcast and windy--and turned chilly.  Today is summer-like and, of course, it is Easter Sunday, so lots of families will be taking their post-church service or pre- (or post-) prandial strolls on the boardwalk.  Some may even venture onto the beach, even though it's still  too cold for just about any land, and even most amphibious, animals to swim.

Vehicular traffic  was pretty light throughout the ride, except in one spot where it's almost always congested:  Just past the Victory Bridge, where US 9 and New Jersey Route 35 converge for a couple of miles--which is near the point where the New Jersey Turnpike (the Jersey stretch of I-95) crosses the Garden State Parkway.  But until that stretch, and after it, I didn't see many cars or trucks, even in Newark.

I rode down to the World Trade Center and descended through three levels of "upscale" (i.e., glossy and overpriced) shopping and "fine" (i.e., see above) "dining" (i.e., eating) "expriences" to the PATH train platform.  If Dante's Inferno had been made of glass, steel and faux marble, and the people spent more money for clothes with names on them but weren't really any better-dressed than I was (if I do say so myself), it would have looked like that place.

And, the train parked itself in Journal Square, about halfway through the trip, for a "schedule adjustment".  Hmm...I'll try that the next time I have a deadline to meet. Anyway, a trip that normally takes about 20 minutes took double that amount of time: longer than it took me to ride from my apartment to the World Trade Center.

Once I got out of Newark Penn Station, which smells as if someone's been brewing the same pot of coffee since the day it opened (It's a WPA building.), I was about to swing my leg over my bike when one of the most charming homeless men I've ever encountered asked me for a dollar to help him buy some fried chicken.  Who doesn't like fried chicken?  How could I deny such a request?  Certainly not I, even if he wasn't telling me the truth!

I think, subconsciously, I chose to ride the Trek today because I knew its colors would mirror, more or less, the sea and sky.  It's almost as if the Trek wanted to be there today.  

The last part of the ride--from the Azzolina Bridge to Long Branch--was the flattest and, paradoxically, the most difficult part of the ride.   It took me longer to cover that distance than to ride nearly double that distance, from the intersections of Route 35 and 36 in Matawan to the bridge.  Once I got off the bridge, I was riding right into the teeth of the wind and the temperature felt as it had dropped about twenty degrees F.  When I finally stopped, at the Long Branch boardwalk, it might been good to be a polar bear.

Speaking of which:

I think it's the first time that place has been painted in about 45 years.  My first reaction was "Uh-oh!  They're turning it into a Cold Stone Creamery clone--with CSC prices.    Turns out, I had nothing to fear.  It's still an old-school Jersey Shore roadside ice cream stand.  You won't find exotic flavors there (unless you consider Yuengling Black and Tan exotic), just the stuff you remember from your childhood.  And it's just as good, maybe better, and reasonably priced.  I ordered a cone with vanilla-chocolate twist ice cream and a cherry topping.  Definitely old-school Jersey shore.  

It was good.  Real good.  So was my ride.  So was the day. 


  1. Good story! You've got the old trek looking like a proper road machine. I like the porter bars. I've been thinking of putting a set of those on my fix after I get it powder coated. Kinda like VO's Belleville bar too, can't decide.

    Yuengling Black and Tan is good but the Guiness version is better. Haha.

  2. Phillip--I've never tried the Belleville. But I love the Porteur. And you're right about Guiness vs. Yuengling.