Despite the questionable forecast, Memorial Day was beautiful and hot. All week before we had been talking about trying to go to the beach during the long weekend, but waking up to rain on Sunday canceled the trip that day and sent us to the movies, even though the day turned out to be fine. We decided, even if the weather wasn’t beach weather, we would go on a longish bike ride on a loop around Jamaica Bay. But we woke up to sunshine, clear skies, and a low chance or rain, even in the afternoon, so we packed our bags and biked straight to the beach.
Rockaway Beach is interesting to me because when I first heard about it, it wasn’t because of the beach, it was because of the ride out there. From Park Slope in Brooklyn, you can do a 30 mile out and back ride or about 50 around the bay. My friend and I were just getting in to distance cycling and had yet to do our first century, but we were working up to it, so we decided to check out this Rockaway ride that was suppose to be mostly greenways, which meant much less of the stop and go you get riding in New York City. We really had no idea what to expect and for some reason we took a really odd route out to the greenway beyond Coney Island. I ended up starving. STARVING. And on our route there was nothing open. NOTHING. We happened upon Rockaway Taco, it was like a gift from the gods. Seriously, we were going down the street next to it and didn’t even see it, we saw a bagel place around the corner and went back to check it out only to see it was closed and noticed people hanging out on the next corner. We joined the line. It wasn’t just that I was starving. It was fucking amazing. We watched them make the guacamole from scratch and peal the plantains for chips right there. It was reason to come back. Again and again. We stopped by the beach that was pretty much empty, it was September, maybe.
That was 2008 and the end of the season. The next year. we went out again and again. And not to the beach, I mean, we always biked the board walk. To tacos. Amazing tacos. The beach looked nice and clean, but I’ve never been much of a beach person, I’m more for lakes. Finally we actually made a trip for the beach in 2010, oh and for the tacos. The beach crew was mostly locals and a few of us Brooklyn transplants looking for a beach close to home and 100 times better than Coney Island. In 2011, Rockaway Taco teamed up with a couple other vendors, think lobster rolls, amazing Italian ices, and bar among others to reopen one of the old beach stands that was closed and empty. I don’t know if we were all slowly migrating to Rockaway or if the word about Rockaway Taco on the beach reached critical mass and everyone started flocking there. Either way, Rockaway is the current place to be. The beach is full from one end to the other and I still love it.
You have to go to the original taco stand down on 96th Street because they don’t have the full menu at the beach stand and I always want the stuff they don’t serve at the beach. This weekend was the first time we didn’t go down the street because we forgot that the menu was partial. We did bike by on our way home and the line was around the corner, the longest I’ve seen it and I’ve waited in line almost an hour for it. It’s that good.
There is this area at the far east end of Coney Island along the Belt Parkway where people kite surf and they are there almost every time we bike by in the afternoon on the way home. It’s so awesome! I always end up stopping to take pictures. Just after we got past Coney Island and back on the Ocean Avenue for the final stretch home, I got a flat tire. Of course I didn’t have any of my stuff with to repair it. So that meant a horrible train ride back to Coney Island to catch the D back home because the train was not running toward Manhattan at the station I was closest too. It doesn’t help that I misread the map and went to the Q instead of the F. Opps. It was still an excellent ride and after 4 hours at the beach, I was done, and a bit burned. Nothing a few days and some aloe can’t cure. I can wear skirts again today! Yeah!
Bottom line, go check out Rockaway. And you should definately do it by bike. Take the short route like we did and it’s only 30 miles round trip depending on where your coming from and it’s a really easy ride. I promise. Except the Marine Parkway Bridge, it’s not a hard one, but if you’re not used to going over a bridge daily, you might want to prepare yourself for it.