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Time to dust off your bikes!

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain is a challenging but rewarding biking spot.

Dust off your bikes. Now is prime time for a scenic bike ride out of Manhattan. Mix in a little exercise with your weekend fun with a ride to Nyack, Beacon, or the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

This popular ride from Manhattan takes you along the Hudson River, across the George Washington Bridge and onto Route 9W into Nyack, a cute cyclist town with tasty lunch spots and boutiques. You’ll be in good company; 9W — a road with broad lanes — is dotted with cyclists training and enjoying the views.

Refueling: Runcible Spoon (37 North Broadway, 845-358-9398), a popular cyclist hangout, is great for a grilled chicken panini with pesto and mozzarella ($6.75).
Around the corner, Didier Dumas Patisserie (163 Main St., 845-353-2031), often has live jazz and serves tasty crepes—the smoked salmon, crème fraiche, lemon, dill ($8.75) is excellent.

Distance: About 60 miles round trip. Difficulty: Moderate, with a few big hills.

Bear Mountain/Beacon
From Nyack, continue north on 9W to Bear Mountain, where you’ll hit a steep climb. Believe us, the views of the Hudson and its lush banks are worth the effort. Continue on to Beacon for a well-earned lunch before hopping on Metro North for the hour and a half ride back to the city. Note: You’ll need a $5 lifetime permit to take your bike on Metro North; buy it at the station, on the train, or by mail in advance. Train fare from Beacon to Grand Central is $13 off peak.

Refueling: Grab a sandwich or pizza for a picnic by the river. Try the cheddar, cranberry apple chutney,and smoked ham sandwich ($7.25) at Homespun Foods (232 Main St., 845-831-5096) or pick up a pizza (small, $14.75; large $16.75) from Brother’s Trattoria, 465 Main St., 845-838-3300.

Distance: About 100 miles one way from the Upper West Side. Difficulty: Challenging, with several big climbs.

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
Who would have thought Far Rockaway was home to one of the most important urban wildlife refuges in the country? Check out hundreds of species of birds on foot while tooling around salty marshes, dense woods and a scenic lake, all for free. To get there, take the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park, to the Ocean Parkway bike path, to Neptune Ave., then go east through Sheepshead Bay. Follow the Rockaway Gateway Greenway bike path along the coast, eventually turning onto Cross Bay Blvd. into the refuge.

Refuge walking trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset, and the staffed visitor center from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wear long pants and bring bug spray. Take the time to bike through the 3,000-odd person community of Broad Channel, which has the feel of a quaint New England town. With its canals, it’s often referred to as the “Venice of New York.”
Distance: About 50 miles roundtrip. Difficulty: Moderate

Q and A with Michael Musto, biking enthusiast
New Yorker Michael Musto, long-time gossip columnist for the Village Voice, has been a Village fixture on his bike for about 25 years. Here’s his take on biking around the Big Apple.

Where are your favorite places to bike?
Central Park is a beautiful landscape. I like going past the reservoir and the lake and by Strawberry Fields. No matter where you enter the park you’re in for a treat. I also like just riding around neighborhoods, around the Village; you get to enjoy people watching and see how neighborhoods are changing. The West Village is the best.

Any parts of the Village that stand out?
I ride up and down Christopher Street, Hudson, Greenwich, and Bleecker. When I spot a place that looks interesting — say, Hudson Bar & Books, a cigar bar with shelves of classic works — I'll check it out and it becomes grist for my column. Biking helps me discover places and personalities and report on them. The only place I can't ride around much is the Meatpacking district, because cobblestones aren't good for a bike. No loss.

What kind of bike are you sporting these days?
I ride a red, used girl’s bike from the 70s. You don’t want a bike that says ‘steal me.’ Even a girl from the 70s wouldn’t want my bike. It has one gear and goes one speed.

Have you ever had any cycling mishaps?
There was the time I wore a flowing outfit as I rode to a club — a bad idea, since it quickly enough got caught in the wheel. It took me forever to extricate it and get the bike going again, and what's worse, the outfit was completely ruined! Now I carry clothes in a bag and change once I'm there. Also, once, when I had a bike with a detachable wheel, it detached as I was riding!


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