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Where Freedom Meets The Open Road

Originally Posted: July 02, 2009

Robert Florio

Local bikers at the point (L to R): Kimberley Cinque, Joe Mangiaracina, Wray McGowin, Ellen Cea, Robert Florio, Lisa Foster, and Jonathan Foster. Photos by Renate Pfleiderer

Montauk - Motorcycling on the East End of Long Island has become an increasingly popular pastime for locals and non-locals alike. SUV's, convertibles, and sports cars, so common around our roadways are now more frequently interspersed with bands of Harleys, Yamahas, Triumphs and Hondas as well as a wide assortment of one-of-a-kind customs.

It has been said many times that while the automobile was the replacement for the horse and buggy, the motorcycle evolved as the iron horse of our age, conveying to its rider a three dimensional experience when cruising the main thoroughfares and winding back roads of the North and South Forks. The single word most commonly used to evoke this effect has always been - freedom.

Riding in style at Montauk Point.

Among those who ride are organized bike clubs, casual groups of friends, couples and solo riders who explore the Hamptons and North Fork in uniquely personal ways. The lure of the ride is not simply the visual beauty a biker takes in, it's the smell of an orchard as you pass one by, the gravitational feel in the seat of your pants as you round into a curve, the changing temperature from morning to night, the weather the bugs - and the sound, yes - the sound of the thunder from the engine that propels a rider along our roads.

Long Island itself is home to thousands upon thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from all walks of life. There are many towns and venues where bikers congregate. Yet on the Island there are two destinations that hold a truly special mystique - Montauk Point on the South Fork, and Greenport on the North.

I suppose it is only natural. Reaching Montauk Point is the culmination of some determination on the part of the rider (it's way out there), but the climactic visual effect of the dramatic cliffs and Atlantic vista surrounding the 210-year-old lighthouse makes the time taken getting there all the more worth it.

Greenport offers an almost Key West-like experience for a biker, an East End village that for better or worse on some weekend days can be wholly taken over by motorcyclists who have designated this spot an oasis of biker community. There is ample food and drink, plenty of parking, and the village itself is easily navigated on foot.

So we acknowledge the biker and the biker's zen while threading through our streets and villages. They represent a growing consumer element in our local economy. And while the sounds of the biker are powerfully seductive to some and terribly irritating to others, that is simply a debate that may never end. Just know that each is on his or her own personal journey of discovery, and within them lives a little rebel, a little non-conformist, a little patriotic zeal, and most certainly, a large dose of independence.

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