7am jackhammering outside El Dorado Motel was my wake-up call to leave AC. I did not pass go and did not search for streets from Monopoly (the board game’s original version is based on Atlantic City). However, I wanted to ride the famous Boardwalk before it closed to bikes at 10am.
Atlantic City Boardwalk
The wooden planks here reminded me of the pathway across the Brooklyn Bridge. Protruding nail heads made this an anxious ride, so I kept my eyes down, which wasn’t a bad thing. One takeaway from AC is that some of these people need bigger bathing suits.
At the border of Ventnor City, I paused for a selfie. An Atlantic City bike cop pulled up to me.
“Hey, do you race?” he asked.
“Uhh well, my heart races from pedaling a 40-pound bike towing a 40-pound trailer,” I joked.
Spying the Citi logo he thought they were sponsoring me. I told him it was a shared bike from NYC and explained how the system worked there. Before he could question what one of those bikes was doing all the way down here, I asked him questions.
I learned that he works 10 hours a day, four days a week patrolling the Boardwalk by bike. I want that job! To prevent cyclists from crossing into AC after riding hours end, he stands here at the border from 10 to 11am. I offered to set up tank-like Countri Bike as a roadblock.
When I said I was heading to Cape May his eyebrows furrowed. He had never been that far on a bike and doubted I could make it 45 miles either. Only one way to find out.
Ventnor City > Atlantic City
I continued along the Ventnor City boardwalk where bikes are allowed all day, which instantly made VC a winner in my book. Plus, homes along the beach in VC are nicer, people are better looking and the boardwalk’s nails don’t stick out. The laid-back, uncommercial vibe here is more my style than Trump Taj Mahal. A fisherman’s pier made for breezy views back to AC where casinos now looked like sandcastles.
After the boardwalk ended, I rolled along Atlantic Avenue into Margate City, “a residential community by the sea.” Lucy the Elephant loomed on the roadside. What the hell was an elephant with Gay Pride painted toenails doing on a beach in South Jersey? I stopped for a closer look and left thoroughly dissatisfied by the chocolate milkshake. I hope Lucy doesn’t drink that crap.
Ocean City, NJ
Crossing a non-life-threatening bridge into Ocean City, NJ, I once again caught the attention of kids. This time it wasn’t a garage sale, but rather a lost dog. They had found one and wanted to know if it was mine. At what age does critical thinking begin? Because I clearly am not from around here nor traveling with any pets.
Riding through Ocean City was delightful. A long bike path made me forget all about that Margate City milkshake. Then the Roosevelt Boulevard Bridge into Marmora freaked me out. I was forced onto a tiny walkway because there was no shoulder. It was so narrow that Travoy’s wheels were centimeters from the edge. Like an elephant on a tightrope, I pushed the bike and Travoy one heel-toe step at a time, fearful that Travoy could tip into the road at any moment.
I cooked up such a sweat crossing this bridge that I actually thirsted for soda. I never drink pop, but a Dr. Pepper from Boulevard Super Liquors was, as my friend Justin would say about smooth beer, like blood to the vampire. I later loaded up on natural sugar at a farm stand, sinking my teeth into two over-sized, juicy Jersey peaches that would fuel me all the way to West Cape May.
Although I hadn’t seen sun since the Boardwalk in AC, cloudy skies and cool temps made for ideal cycling weather. Heading down Cold Spring Bike Path, I picked up speed and started smiling inside. I was within striking distance of Cape May, end of the Jersey Shore.
When I lived in Brooklyn and bike commuted to a job I despised, I’d dream about breaking free and riding a Citi Bike beyond the city. Specifically, I’d fantasize about this while riding over the Manhattan Bridge and while listening to a German pop song that I didn’t understand but made me tingle with its adventurous melody. I admit to terrible taste in music, but you have to agree the video looks like a fun day of discovery!
Riding over the bridge into West Cape May, I switched on that song. After countless times of letting my mind wander high up on the Manhattan Bridge, I was gripping that very same daydream by the handlebars. I had Citi Biked from the city down the entire Jersey Shore.
Next up: my amazing hosts in Cape May and a stormy passage into Delaware.