Look Ma, No Train

After riding regularly with a spring-training group over the last twelve weeks, I decided to push myself and ride the full 150-mile route of the Ride to Montauk. This is my fifth ride along this course since 2008, but up to now, I have ridden only 100 miles from Babylon to Montauk. To get to Babylon from New York City, we put our bikes on a truck and take the train to the starting point at the Long Island Railroad station in Babylon. This time, there was no train ride for me nor truck for my bike. I began pedaling at 5:15 AM from Vernon Boulevard and 48th Avenue in Long Island City.

I started in Long Island City because I had already checked in the day before in Manhattan. My bike and I received our tags so I was set to start riding. Sarah was riding the 73-mile course from Mastic-Shirley, and since she had checked in her bike the day before, she offered to check in my bag at Penn Station. I was free to ride from home, hooking up with the official route at Metropolitan Avenue and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg. In all, it saved me four miles of cycling, which I easily could have done, but more importantly, it spared me the frustration of taking the subway into Manhattan before dawn on a Saturday. Getting to sleep an extra thirty minutes before heading east was a nice bonus, too.

The biggest highlight of the ride was that I finished just ahead of my goal. I set out to finish the 150-mile ride in 12 hours, and I arrived at the finish at 4:45, eleven and a half hours after I left Long Island City. It was more than thirty minutes earlier than my finishing time in 2012, when I rode 108 miles and arrived in Montauk at 5:22 PM, with a 7:00 AM start from Babylon.

For most of the ride, I kept an 18-19 mile per hour pace. I tried to keep my heart rate low, around 150 bpm, to ensure I had enough energy for the entire ride. But most of the time I was well under that, around 145 bpm. For most of the ride, I had about a 15 mph average speed, but conserving energy at the beginning and pushing harder in the second half made it easier to increase my average speed as I pushed towards the end.[1] When I finished, my Polar indicated that I had a 16.1 mph average speed over the entire 150 mile route. Last year, it took me just over two hours, about 02:05 to 02:15, to reach each rest stop. This year, I was getting to each one in about 01:30 or 01:45. The early season miles had paid off.

No long ride is complete without bonking, at least for a while. I bonked around mile 70, a few miles after stopping at the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue for the third rest stop of the day (and for a sip of Rastafa Rye). At that point, I became concerned about whether I would be able to finish. So drawing from past experience, I began to eat all the food I had stashed in my jersey pockets. After gnawing on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a small Larabar, and a bag of mixed nuts I picked up at the first rest stop in Lynbrook (mile 22), I came back to life and recovered for the rest of the day.

  1. Unlike previous years, I didn’t take many photos. I didn’t bring my Powershot and my iPhone stayed stored for almost the entire ride. This year, I focused on riding.  ↩

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