I just returned from a two-week vacation on Fire Island. If you’re a New Yorker, you understand this Shangri-La: just a 30-mile barrier island off Long Island accessible by ferry, consisting of about 15 towns, each with its own personality, some National Seashore areas, lots of fearless deer and no cars. Vacationers either own a house there or rent for anywhere from a week to 2 months. They come to relax, get away from the grind of their “real” lives, walk barefoot, enjoy the drop dead gorgeous sunsets, sit on the beach, interact with new people, reacquaint with summer friends and hang out. One of my supreme enjoyments there is bike riding, and Fire Island (specifically, Fair Harbor, the town we go to) provides me with the ultimate outdoor riding experience.
Fair Harbor itself is too small for a good workout so each morning, I follow a route (often repeating many parts of it so that I can fill up an hour) from Fair Harbor to Dunewood, back through Fair Harbor to Saltair and then on to Kismet. But it’s not so easy; it often becomes an obstacle course.
Here’s what I mean:
Above is what a path looks like; not much width and often a fall-off on either side where you risk acquiring poison ivy or deer tics).
There’s a good shot that a deer will leap out in front of you on a path. They are as ubiquitous as squirrels in Central Park.
Just like in the big cities, you have people walking or even biking while texting!! Yikes!
One must remember that many of those on bicycles are city people who don’t ride except on Fire Island so their knowledge of protocol and safety is limited. They ride in the middle of the walkway and think nothing of entering a busier route without signaling, ringing their bell or otherwise being cautious.
And don’t forget the kids, often as young as 5. Reckless, oblivious and utterly fearless.
When a biker wants to pass a walker or another biker, the unwritten rule is to say “on your left.” The action you expect is for the person to move to the right, allowing the pass. Not only have I seen kids who don’t know left from right, but adults as well.
Obstacles in the road can include clumps of people socializing and taking up the entire space; people pulling wagons; and gawkers enjoying a young, bikini-clad girl.
It’s not easy biking for exercise in Fire Island but I’ll take all the distractions and difficulties over staying home any day!