As autumn rolls in, it’s difficult to imagine that just three weeks ago my family and I were spending our summer vacation roasting ourselves on the beach in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The resort communities along the New Jersey coast are like Wasaga Beach on steroids, and Wildwood is the Mark McGwire of the lot. It’s a surreal place, architecturally stuck in the 60s and fronted by a boardwalk brimming with t-shirt shops, greasy fast food and amusement piers.
But Wildwood is way ahead of Toronto.
There are bicycles and bike lanes EVERYWHERE. With the laid back summer resort vibe that keeps car speeds in check, Wildwood is an easy and inviting place to ride – it would give Rob Ford conniptions.
Because it’s about the only place to go, the boardwalk was always packed with pedestrians. Bicycles are only allowed on the boardwalk until 11:00 am. But, on the one morning I managed to stumble out before curfew, I found another surreal scene: a boardwalk of relatively few pedestrians and lots of bicycles – it was a boardcycle.
I had to get in on the action. At the nearest bike rental shop I asked if they had anything with gears. “No, all we have are Beach Cruisers.”
Coooool. Ima rock da beach cruiser down the Jersey shore yo.
I don’t know how different a beach cruiser is to any other “cruiser” bike, but this was a coaster bike with balloon tires and upright handle bars. For $5.00, a black and gray “Retro”, built by Sun Bicycles of Miami, was mine for the next hour. (Check it: Sun has an “Industrial” line of bikes.)
I hadn’t ridden a coaster in who knows and a twinge in my knee made me skeptical at first, but it wasn’t long before I started to really enjoy the bike.
The big tires and padded seat provided a very comfortable ride and, while I didn’t want to push it too hard in unfamiliar territory, the Retro had a momentum of it’s own – she wanted to go – and I had no trouble keeping speed even heading straight into a proper nor’easter.
Taking the “bikes only” path that runs along the beach off the north end of the boardwalk, I got to see a lot more of Wildwood, including the seawall in North Wildwood, where beach erosion has been a problem, and the historic Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, built in 1874.
That one hour on my beach cruiser added an entirely different dimension and quality to my vacation. While I missed the family, it was nice to get a moment on my own, like I do when I commute.
Posted: September 16th, 2010
Author: Stephen Da Cambra
Filed under: Recreational Biking
Tags: bicycles, coaster, cruiser, Jersey | 1 Comment »