Tucked away off Defense Hill Road in Shoreham is a thriving bicycle motocross community that races twice a week from April to October. The facility was founded 40 years ago this month.
Its competitive bicycle racing on a permanent road course attracts riders from all over the Northeast. The New York BMX State Championship event has been hosted there in recent years. Shoreham BMX has leased the property from the Town of Brookhaven for $1 a year since its inception.
Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) was on hand to present a town proclamation commemorating the milestone. She quipped to the crowd that it’s the only fee that has been inflation proof for the last 40 years.
The barbecue grill never missed a beat, feeding the riders and families for the duration of the race card. There were championship bikes on display representing the winning BMX bikes dating from 1982 to the present day. There were also tables with any kind of bike accessory or part that a BMX rider could want or need.
The organization prides itself in offering a healthy lifestyle choice that’s enjoyed by riders who are just tall enough to reach the pedals to senior citizens.
Suffolk County lawmakers are looking to tackle bicyclists who have been intimidating drivers across Long Island.
There have been several different reports of reckless bicyclists putting themselves and others in danger on the road, which included a group of teenagers who harassed a Terryville gym over the summer.
County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she had a “terrifying” experience first-hand a few years ago. While traveling down Route 25A at night, a person wearing all black began popping wheelies toward her car in the middle of the street.
“I wasn’t going fast,” she said. “I chose to stop in the middle of the roadway. It was really scary, and whoever it was, was recklessly trying to frighten me.”
Back in September, county Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) introduced a “reckless biking” bill, which he advanced from Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) who passed away from cancer that same month.
After talking with other towns and villages in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, Sunderman said that although he represents the South Shore, the issue is widespread across the Island.
“Other areas that we spoke to [with a bill in place] have already seen a decline in reckless biking,” he said.
If Sunderman’s bill passes, it would prohibit cyclists from trick riding or weaving through traffic. Violators could also see their bikes impounded, receive $250 fines, or spend 15 days in jail.
And on the North Shore, Hahn said she had been receiving complaints from other people from the area regarding similar concerns of packs of children doing similar things on Route 112, Nesconset Highway and Middle Country Road.
“It’s dangerous,” she said. “The police aren’t able to do very much. They need a tool to confiscate the bike to individuals who do this.”
But along with concerned residents reaching out, Hahn said she was hearing criticism over Sunderman’s bill from bicyclist groups who use their bikes recreationally.
“The intent is very good, and it is needed to curb this kind of [bad] activity,” she said. “The groups absolutely agree with the fact that anyone who rides in a pack and pops wheelies in traffic, that should happen. But because they’re experienced bicyclists, they see the real danger every day.”
Hahn said she is in full support of Sunderman’s reckless biking bill, but there were a few small pieces to his legislation that she wanted to suggest improvements. Her bill was laid out on Nov. 4.
“Suffolk County is notorious for not being safe for bicyclists,” she said. “The purpose of my law is just to make drivers aware — give the cyclists the room, close your door when someone is passing you, people are not looking out.”
Her bill, which will go to public hearing on Dec. 1, will help drivers of cars and bikes be more educated of the dangers they both could face if they choose to act irresponsibly. A decision, or amending, of Sunderman’s bill will be decided on Dec. 15.
Work is picking up once again on the North Shore Rail Trail project, also known as Rails to Trails. Plans are for a 10-mile bike and walking path along LIPA-owned right of ways from Wading River to Mount Sinai.
Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said Medford-based DF Stone Contracting, which was tapped for the Rail Trail project, has finished grading and creating the subbase layer on the path from Crystal Brook Hollow Road in Mount Sinai to Sound Beach Boulevard in Miller Place. Workers are still laying the subbase layer heading further east.
Though there was a period during the pandemic when work stopped for about a month in order to create a safety plan for the project, the company should be ready to start laying down asphalt some time in October. That part of the project will run from Crystal Brook Hollow Road up to Sound Beach Boulevard and should be finished by the end of the year, the legislator said.
Though the project may have to break for the winter, the hope is to have the entire path open to the public by summer of fall 2021.
“It’s literally moving along,” Anker said.
The $8.82 million trail is being funded through federal and state grants, along with Suffolk County funds. Despite major financial difficulties that Suffolk County faces due to COVID-19 and the subsequent business shutdowns, Anker said the funding for the trail is definitively set.
If anything, she said the ongoing pandemic has made even more of a case for the trail.
“The pandemic has made people understand how important it is to have outdoor recreational locations,” she said.
This week Anker and officials from the Village of Shoreham, including Mayor Brian Vail, former mayor Ed Weiss met with officials from Verizon, Altice and PSEG Long Island to discuss the trails path. Plans are to go across the old stone bridge that arches across Woodville Road. To make the path accessible, workers would need to run the electrical lines under the bridge instead of over it. The bridge would also need new guardrails and fencing, particularly fencing that curves inward so people on the bridge can’t throw items over and onto cars passing underneath.
There are some more spots along the trail that present challenges. One is a power substation at the corner of Apricot Road and King Road in Rocky Point, where Anker said the path will need to snake around the substation rather than through it. Another is along Echo Avenue in Sound Beach, a relatively highly trafficked road where the path would need to cross. The legislator said she and the county Department of Public Works would need to work with the New York State Department of Transportation in order to make such a place safe to cross.
This article has been amended to correct the ownership of the right-of-ways on the North Shore as well as how far workers have added the subbase layer on the trail.
Mental health, particularly among service members, often seems to be a forgotten topic. One man and his Northport High School friends want to change that by riding bicycles this June from New York to California to raise awareness about mental health concerns among those who have served our nation’s military.
Dante Lombardo is a former U.S. Marine who was medically discharged due to his mental health. The East Northport resident,who graduated from Northport High School in 2015, served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 2015 to 2019. He was trained as a digital wideband transmission equipment operator and as a field radio operator.
Throughout Lombardo’s time in the Marine Reserves, he struggled with depression and anxiety, and like many others in a similar position, tried to “tough it out,” because that’s what he said the current military culture dictates. “Nearly anybody who has served can tell you that it is highly frowned upon to seek out mental health care,” he explained.
These issues came to a head in April of last year for Lombardo, when he attempted to take his own life. Thankfully, he was connected with a local behavioral health service, giving access to the counseling and the psychiatric care he needed.
“Had it not been for these services, I do not believe I would have ever begun the path to wellness that I am on today,” said Lombardo.
Unfortunately, many service members suffer from similar mental health issues but do not seek out the help provided by the military, Lombardo said, in fear of being separated from duty due to their issues.
The statistics are staggering.
“We see 20 veterans each day take their own lives,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist who created in 2005 a national network of professionals who provide free services to U.S. troops, veterans, their loved ones and their community. “People think that because the war is over, so are the challenges, but that’s not the case.”
‘People think that because the war is over, so are the challenges, but that’s not the case.’
— Barbara Van Dahlen
As for Lombardo, he may no longer wear his Marine uniform, but he and his bike team are committed to fighting for their fellow service members.
Lombardo, Brian Fabian and Anthony Rubin, all Northport High School graduates,just earned their college degrees. Lombardo graduated from Clinton College, Fabian from SUNY Plattsburgh last weekend and Rubin from SUNY Buffalo. Now, they’re raising money in a GoFundMe campaign to pay for expenses that occur throughout the trip. Proceeds remaining will be donated to Give an Hour, which earns exceptional ratings as a charity on Guidestar.
Give an Hour was chosen, the bike team stated, because it is an organization that is not affiliated with the Department of Defense and can provide mental health services to those in need, without running the risk of negative consequences from the service members chain of command. Lombardo said that the charity could provide service members the opportunity to get help and start healing before their issues become a crisis that demands the official attention of their command, or one that brings harm to themselves or others, while simultaneously defending them from the stigma of needing mental health care while serving.
“The need is huge,” Van Dahlen said in a phone interview. She is honored and grateful for Lombardo’s efforts to raise awareness and funds for the non-profit.
Van Dahlen emphasizes the need for collaborative approach to address the issues. “We really can take care of the understandable mental health needs of those who serve and their families,” Van Dahlen said. “If we work together and coordinate services — we in the government, nonprofit and private sectors — our country can hopefully step up to serve those who have given so much.”
It’s a concept that Lombardo and his bike team understand. “This fight is not one person’s burden to bear, but instead one we face together.”
During the team’s travels cross-country, they plan to volunteer in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, elderly care homes and other places that offer opportunities to give back. Their journey aims to seek out and hear the testimonies of veterans nationwide so their stories may be heard.
The bike team has created a Facebook group page, Coast-to-Coast for Mental Health, which will be updated to post stories and experiences of the team, as well as testimonies of those who have suffered. This trip is a humanitarian interactive wellness journey as seen through three young Long Island men who are raising awareness for those who suffer with mental health issues all too often in silence.
Lombardo encourages people to share the funding page, the Facebook page, as well as sharing their own stories. His message to the public, “We’ll be seeing you on the trail.”
The Times of Huntington will provide updates of the team’s journey in upcoming issues.
The GoFundMe page, Give an Hour website and an overview of the charity from Charity Navigatorcan be found at:
Cody Carey wanted to do something a little more adventurous this summer than work double shifts at a local restaurant. So the Miller Place-bred junior accounting major at Ohio State University decided to strap on a helmet, hop on a blue Giant Defy road bike and push himself further than he ever thought possible.
Joined by 29 other members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity from all over the country, Carey, 21, is currently on a 67-day, 4,000-mile bike ride from Seattle, Washington, ending Aug. 12 in Washington, D.C., with scheduled stops along the way to spend time with people of all ages dealing with disabilities through dinners, dances and games.
The Journey of Hope is an annual fundraising bike excursion hosted by the fraternity’s national philanthropy, The Ability Experience, since 1987 that raises funds and awareness for people with physical and mental disabilities — ranging quadriplegia to Down syndrome to autism.
“It’s incredible to see, especially with everything in the news about students today and this next generation,” The Ability Experience Chief Executive Officer Basil Lyberg said. “It’s very encouraging to understand the power that young people have to impact their communities and that they’re not just talking the talk, they’re out walking it. And in our case, riding across the country.”
Split among three teams of cyclists, each team takes on a different route that ultimately converges in D.C. Individual riders are required to raise $5,500 to contribute to an overall goal of $650,000, and Carey, the only Ohio State student on the ride this year, has already raised $5,799 through an online campaign.
He said members of the fraternity, which spans colleges and universities across the country, are encouraged to participate in the ambitious experience and he knew it was something he would regret not doing.
“I wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and do something that’s essentially life-changing and that I’ll never forget,” Carey said. “This experience has definitely made helping people even more of a strong value of mine. Everybody should help anybody they can on a daily basis.”
Since embarking June 6 on the Journey of Hope’s TransAmerica route, Carey and his fellow cyclists have pedaled through seven states, including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, hitting the road each day at 6 a.m. and wrapping up in the early afternoon. The riders generally sleep on gym floors and YMCA’s within the towns they visit, and travel an average of 75 miles per day. During a 12-hour bike rides, the athletes aren’t allowed to listen to music for safety reasons. Carey laughed about the long rides, and admitted there are parts of home he misses.
“How much I miss my bed,” he said. “There’s lot of chatting with the others, lots of silence, and lots of wind.”
He has ridden through sprawling peaks and snow-capped mountains in Montana, crossed over valleys in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, past cornfields in Kansas and said he has loved “taking in the big, beautiful country on two wheels.”
But for Carey, nothing compares to the experience of meeting locals from each state during the ride’s friendship visits. After a morning of pedaling, cyclists visit local groups supporting people with disabilities and take part in a long list of activities, from drawing with kids to playing wheelchair basketball and kickball to having lengthy conversations with teens and adults who face challenges every day.
“It’s been extremely heartwarming,” he said of the visits. “Many of the organizations say it’s like Christmas when we come by. We just make sure the adults and kids are having a great time. You don’t realize everything you have until realizing it can be taken away like with the people we’ve met that have suffered injuries, and with those who are disabled their whole life.”
Referring to the impact it has had on his fellow cyclists, he said, “I’ve never seen a group of guys cry as much as I do now.”
He recalled a special moment in Casper, Wyoming, when a man who recently suffered a brain tumor relayed a resonating message.
“We were all about to get up and go play some games over in a park when he stood up and sat us all back down to tell us not to stress over the little things in life,” Carey said. “Because, he said, you can wake up one day and have something like what he experienced happen to you and your whole life could change. He told us to enjoy every second we have as we are, which was really touching coming from a guy now considered disabled. It kind of just pointed out all the stupid things we stress about in our regular lives.”
Preparation for the journey consisted of getting on a bike just a week and a half before heading to Seattle, Carey admitted, but being an athlete during his days in Miller Place provided him with much-needed mental stamina. He played soccer, which he competed in at a national level, and lacrosse, too.
“I’m so excited for him, he’s always been in terrific shape and he probably has thighs the size of tree trunks now,”Carey’s mother Elizabeth Hine joked. “I’m proud as heck of him. Between seeing the country and all the people, he says this is the best summer he’s ever had.”
Just two days into the cross-country ride, Carey said the group logged 125 miles over 24 hours while passing through Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state.
“Everyone on that route, except one person who suffered hypothermia, finished, and at the end of it we all looked at each other and said, ‘That’s the hardest thing we’ve ever done in our lives,’” Carey said. “We all say that our bike is our disability and we have to overcome it each day.”
Innkeepers have brought European bicycle culture to Long Island.
Marty and Elyse Buchman, who have been bicycling the world together for a decade, opened the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn on June 1, located at 48 Main St., Stony Brook.
The couple set out to create a bed and breakfast that would cater to cyclists; providing not only sleeping space and a morning meal, but bike tour itineraries and even bikes, if needed, as well. Two months in, business has been much better than they expected.
“We’ve had people just looking for a place to stay — and that’s fine,” the husband said, indicating that not only cyclists have made up their clientele. A wedding party used Brookside for lodging recently.
The Buchmans have enjoyed bicycling in Europe because traveling by bicycle is considered normal there. It’s not just recreation; it’s a legitimate form of transportation, even for vacationers.
Their inspiration for a new kind of American bed and breakfast came during a 2010 bike tour of Italy. They booked a room in a “bike hotel” in Riccione on the Adriatic Sea. “Each day a guide came and took you for a different ride,” Marty said. “The idea was that you came back to the same place; and didn’t have to worry about navigating [your way] around.”
The following week they had a similar experience at Lake Garda in the mountains of northern Italy, this time staying at a “sports hotel.”
By vacation’s end, they had all the inspiration needed to start their own business.
When they first saw the colonial revival building at 48 Main Street, next to the Stony Brook Grist Mill and across the street from the duck pond, they decided it was perfect.
Built in 1941 by renowned architect Richard Haviland Smythe in a beautiful natural setting, it had the added advantage of being within walking distance of restaurants and shops, a museum and historical landmarks, a pond and nature preserve. It took perseverance, patience and negotiation skills, but they were able to purchase the house in 2014.
“This is an up and coming area for people to visit,” Marty said. “We’re always struck by how beautiful it is when we go on bike rides. People think they have to go out to the Hamptons or Sag Harbor. This is an undiscovered area. Just in the past year, [the opening of] the Jazz Loft and the Reboli Center, it seems like a lot of stuff is happening.”
The couple has done various kinds of marketing. The most effective, they said, was the simplest. A friend who runs a bike tour company put their business cards in every bike store in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
“It’s called a Bed and Bike Inn because it is a Bed & Breakfast, but oriented towards cyclists,” Marty said. “We have mechanical stuff. We have pumps. We have everything you might need for your bike. We have bikes, we have helmets; but most importantly, if you come to me and you say, ‘I want to do 20 miles and I want to see historic things,’ I’ve created a route book to provide just that. People can look through our ride book and decide what fits them.”
Elyse pointed out that each ride page gives you distance and elevation data in addition to the general route.
“Once a route is chosen, we print out turn-by-turn directions and we also provide a Garmin GPS which mounts on their bike and beeps when they have to make a turn,” Marty said. “I have lots of suggested routes — everything from 12 to 100 miles.”
Marty is a high school history teacher and said he would love to lead a local history bike tour. So far, though, no one has asked for that. Elyse noted that most guests have preferred self-guided rides, because then it becomes an adventure. “People tend to like to do that,” she said.
The house has three bedrooms, each with a private bath, and is open to guests seasonally. It will close Nov. 1 and reopen to guests on April 1 next year. For more information, call 631-675-0393.
The sun appeared just in time for Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn’s (D-Setauket) ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the official opening of Forsythe Meadow County Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s walking trail.
The ceremony took place Monday afternoon at 52 Hollow Rd. in Stony Brook. More than 50 people were in attendance including Hahn; former legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher; Cynthia Barnes, president of the Board of Trustees Three Village; and Louise Harrison. Barnes and Harrison were both co-chairs of the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village.
Once Hahn cut the ribbon, those who attended the ceremony were invited to hike the trail.
Coalition members wore pink ribbons, which the group selected upon their outrage that developers wanted to turn the property into a 40-house subdivision.
For these members, the trail is a symbol of success in an effort to preserve this approximate 36-acre property. But according to Jeffrey Weissman, scoutmaster of Troop 377 for the Three Village Boy Scouts, the trail will not be the last improvement made to the property. Weissman wants to have more benches in the area among other improvements.
Hahn, as well as Viloria-Fisher, Barnes, Harrison and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) thanked the individuals who helped create the trail. They also thanked those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for their support and effort to save “Stony Brook’s last forest.”
“It is this group standing here today that saved this forest,” Harrison said. “Someday we’ll have access from the village center.”
Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) will finally cut the ribbon and officially open a new walking trail created in the Forsythe Meadow County Park and Nora Bredes Preserve on Monday, July 27.
Park visitors can walk and hike the trail, which spans around 1.2 miles according to Hahn. However, fires, camping and hunting are not permitted at the park, which will be open from dawn until dusk.
The county and Three Village Boy Scouts led by Jeffrey Weissman, scoutmaster of Troop 377, have made several improvements to the property in addition to the walking trail. The county parks department created a parking lot located in close proximity to the trail.
Weissman and his team, however, established the gated entranceway for the trail. They also set up fence posts and directional signs where the trail diverges to help visitors follow the trail.
People walking or hiking the trail can use hiking sticks, which are placed in holders at the entrance and exit of the trail. Visitors can also see signs throughout the trail that provide information on ticks, poison ivy and the bamboo forest, which the trail goes through, Weissman said.
“It’s nice to know this area of land preserved by Suffolk County [is] to remain a meadow and forest area and not be bulldozed and built up,” Weissman said.
In 1999, the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village was created to push for the preservation of Forsythe Meadow after developmental pressures jeopardized the woodland area with a 40-lot home subdivision. The adjoining Smoke Run Farm was threatened, too.
According to Louise Harrison, who was the co-chair of the coalition, the homes would have disrupted the ambiance of the area as the woodland wraps around the farm.
In order to prevent the farm’s disappearance after the owner Joan Johnson died, the county and Brookhaven Town bought the development rights, which prevented future building on the property.
Not only did the county and town want to preserve the farm but community members realized the park was the last forest in Stony Brook. The coalition, which was around 2,000 members strong at the time, according to Harrison, banded together and fought to save the property. The county purchased the 36-acre Forsythe Meadow in 1999 to help preserve the area.
While members of the coalition celebrated the preservation of the property, Harrison said, they were not able to officially use the property until recently with the creation of the walking trail.
“It’s a real success story,” Harrison said in a phone interview. “It’s a wonderful joy to know that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.”
The late county Legislator Nora Bredes also advocated for the area between 1992 and 1998 followed by her legislative successor, Vivian Viloria-Fisher. In April 2012, the park’s preserve was renamed to honor Bredes’ memory.
While the new trail is one of the most recent improvements, Weissman said there is more to come.
He wants to establish rest areas along the trail as well as kiosks, among other projects. Because Eagle Scouts take the lead on executing these plans according to their availability, it may take until next spring to make these plans a reality.
In regards to the walking trail residents can attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will take place Monday at 52 Hollow Road in Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. Hahn said the trail and the park alike are for local residents to use and enjoy.
“It has a healthy recreation aspect when you walk and hike the trail,” Hahn said. “It’s also good for your emotional well-being to get out and enjoy nature and put away electronics and just experience what we have here. It’s a beautiful addition to our parks in the area.”
With the summer in full bloom, the Friends of the Greenway will mow, prune, clip and beautify the Greenway Trail — and the group would like community help.
Volunteers for the event, this Saturday, July 25, from 8 to 10 a.m., should bring gloves, trash bags, clippers, mowers, brooms or shovels along with any gardening tools. They can choose an area on the hiking and biking trail to clean or report to a trailhead for an assigned task.
The Greenway Trail, which opened in 2009, runs from Limroy Lane in East Setauket to the New York State Department of Transportation parking lot in Port Jefferson Station, close to Route 112.
A monthly effort to clean the trail will help maintain the community connection. Volunteers who cannot make the Greenway’s monthly beautification schedule can contact Charlie McAteer from Friends of the Greenway at [email protected] to find out other ways to help.
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