This is easily forgiven though when you have such a rare extended escape from cycling alongside depth-perception challenged drivers.
The houses slowly turn from tenement buildings, projects and apartment blocks into large, semi detected suburban homesteads. Watching wealthy, middle class families relax on their porches areas, equidistant from the beach and the city, I can’t help but wonder if this is the American Dream that I so often hear about. I continue to wonder.
The path is a hotbed of interesting characters, almost as if building up excitement for what lies ahead in Coney Island. I freewheel past orthodox Jews basking in the sun, groups of Russians playing backgammon, elderly Italians strolling home from the bodegas, and, well, a chubby man who has dozed off in the heat.
Within seconds I’m on the boardwalk, and I’m transported to every movie I’ve ever seen that takes place on Coney Island. My favourite, The Little Fugitive (1953, Dir. Morris, Engel, Orkin) sets the scene in my head, and I’m not to be disappointed.
Leading up to it are a continuous row of ice cream parlours, hot dog stands, fun parks and rides. On the opposite side the boardwalk drops away to the beach, which extends smoothly into the ocean.
Next door is the Wonder Wheel, which spins dutifully behind a packed play park. The image is like a postcard snapshot – Wish You Were Here, Love from Coney Island. It could be a sad picture, with the brash colours and peeling paint, but there’s something majestic about it, proudly rotating high above the tackiness below. That’s my reading anyway.