Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Cape May Surrey Ride

I strongly dislike them. As a motorist and pedestrian in Cape May, I find them a nuisance. I think they look dumb. So when my niece suggested we rent one and pedal around Cape May one hot and humid Saturday, I agreed. I didn't agree enthusiastically, I agreed thoughtfully. You see, as a writer/blogger/hostess I like to know what other people find interesting about Cape May. These pedal-powered deathtraps, oh sorry, surreys, have been around as long as I can remember, so there must be something enjoyable about them. Right?

Prepping the Surrey

She was the leader of this excursion, and was ushered to the driver's seat by the bike store guy. The Kid called shotgun. I was happy to provide pedal power from the back seat. Our instructions: stay off the busy streets like Lafayette and Sunset, and keep your feet off that metal thing or they'll get whacked by the pedals. Remember those bike traffic signals you learned in grade school and rarely use? These could mean the difference between LIFE AND DEATH in a surrey, for in order to reach the quiet, less-traveled streets, you have to travel in traffic on busy streets like Lafayette and Sunset. As you can imagine, along with the friendly, polite visitors that descend upon Cape May every year, there are the loud, careless drivers in giant vehicles in back. Cape May's streets were designed for pedestrians and horse-and-carriages, don't forget. There's very little room for a surrey and an Escalade going the same direction on Beach Drive (not one of the verboten streets).

The view from the back seat: that's a laminated map, not a GPS.

I was surprised to find out that the person in the driver's seat has full control over the steering (the passenger side steering wheel just spins as The Kid found out) and braking. Also, the pedaling takes some muscle, especially if you're hoping to survive the busy streets like Lafayette and Sunset. For a person used to a supercharged MINI Cooper, the process of merging into automobile traffic at toroise speeds was torture.

An hour is plenty, especially on a hot and humid July day. I'm pretty sure no one I know saw me in that thing, but there are some photos of me in the surrey floating around in cyberspace somewhere. Do I sound negative? Maybe so, but once I told friends I had bitten the bullet and rode in a surrey, I heard many other tales that started something like this: "I had no idea..." I have more surrey stories, too, but decorum advises me to leave them out...........

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