One Hundred Fifty Miles to Montauk: No Hills, but a Lot of Wind, and a Few Cops

On Saturday, I rode to Montauk on a bicycle for the sixth time since 2008. Like last year, I pedaled 150 miles, from Long Island City to the other end of Long Island in Montauk.


Hit-and-Run Crash in Long Island City

The day had an inauspicious start. I woke up around 4:30 AM and, as I was preparing to go, I heard outside of my window, the sound of screeching tires followed by a crash. A small sports utility vehicle, which was blaring music at a very high volume, had just rear ended a minivan that was stopped at a red light on Vernon Boulevard at 48th Avenue. I then heard a woman’s voice in the minivan scream in a slurred voice, “Shit! Let’s get the fuck out of here!” The small SUV then went in reverse uncontrollably and almost hit the curb on Vernon Boulevard. Luckily, there were no cars parked on the street or else they would have been crushed for sure. The driver in the minivan got out of the car, inspected the damage, and made a phone call, presumably to the police. As I continued getting ready for my ride, I would go back to the window to check if the police had arrived. After several minutes, I saw that the driver and passenger in the SUV swapped seats, and then the SUV accelerated south on Vernon Boulevard, blew past a red light, and fled the scene. Ten minutes after the crash, the paramedics arrived, and they proceeded to check the driver of the minivan. By the time I went downstairs to hit the road for my ride, the police had still not arrived to investigate a hit-and-run collision that was also likely a DUI. Thankfully, no one appeared to be critically injured, but because the police didn’t respond for at least twenty minutes, with a precinct only two blocks away, I can’t trust the NYPD’s ability to respond to felony hit-and-run and drunken driving.

Watching a hit-and-run crash right outside my window made me very anxious about pedaling through Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County, knowing there would be a bunch of residual drunken drivers on the road at 5:00 AM and that they would proceed undisturbed.

Starting from Vernon Boulevard, the west end of Long Island

Thankfully, my initial concern was unfounded as I saw very few cars out on the road at 5:00 AM, and since I knew there wouldn’t be any police out there anywhere, I blew threw just about every light and stop sign until I got into Nassau County. After all, Montauk is very far away, and I have only thirteen hours to get there.

Headwind, Heartburn, and My Hammy

The ride itself was a lot harder than last year. First, I had not been on my road bike since my last club ride on May 3, and there’s always some comfort issues going between my road bike and my commuter bike. Around mile 35, my right hamstring cramped up. After eating a shot block, drinking a bunch of water, and stretching my legs, I returned to the road, but because I was anxious about cramping up again, I wasn’t able to pull up on my pedal and wasn’t able to go very fast.

Second, I had not eaten an especially good pre-ride meal. Instead, I ended up at Corner Bistro devouring a chili burger when I should have gotten something with rice or pasta. For the first third of the ride, I had some pretty bad heartburn that didn’t clear up until I got to Patchogue, around mile 60, and it was bad enough that I didn’t get any beer at the Blue Point Brewery.

Not a Drop of Beer Until Montauk

Third, there was a significant headwind the entire ride. Everyone I spoke to complained about the wind, and although it wasn’t so strong that it threatened to blow you off the road, it did force you to pedal hard the entire route. You weren’t coasting for very long on this ride. Last year, I finished the 150-mile route in a little more than nine hours of riding. This year, I pedaled for more than ten and a half hours. The wind was toughest on those long flat stretches, such as the nine-mile stretch of Union Avenue, east of Babylon, the seven miles of Dune Road, between Westhampton and Quogue, and the final sixteen miles of the Montauk Highway, east of Amagansett. That last stretch included some hills, which blocked the wind a little and gave you a nice descent after you reached the top. I have never been so happy to see hills!

My bike and I are tired #ridetomontauk

Riding for a Lobster Roll… and Pie

As I suspected would happened, food was scarce after the Westhampton rest stop. There were a few energy bars left, and I ate a couple to give me a bit of energy. I didn’t need that much because I was planning on getting a lobster roll at Tully’s in Hampton Bays. And that’s exactly what I did.

Tully's Lobster Roll

In years past, the pie from Briermere Farms is available at the rest stop in Water Mill, but this year, it was at the last rest stop in Amagansett. I skipped this stop last year, but this year, I needed a bathroom and water break, so I stopped there. And I had a slice of cherry pie.

I finished the ride around 5:40 PM, and I had a great time despite the wind, heartburn, and sore legs.

Beer Here!

Beach Towns vs. Bikes

But whatever fun I had was tempered by knowing that ride was considerably smaller than in years’ past. The ride had a hard ridership limit, and because East Hampton had threatened to prevent the ride to go through their town, the 30-mile route and the new 70-mile Montauk loop was cancelled. I didn’t learn about that until I checked in on Friday, and I saw a couple of inconsolable people, crying on the phone after learning about their weekend plans being cancelled.[1]

Despite ruining a lot of people’s plans by shrinking the ride, the cops in Southampton and East Hampton provided a few police officers to guide us through some tricky intersections. That was nice of them, but I couldn’t believe how young a lot of the traffic cops looked. Is that what kids do for jobs now that we don’t have video stores for them to work at?

At least it’s nice to see cops patrolling traffic somewhere!

  1. Sarah, for one, was planning on riding the Montauk-to-Montauk loop, after spending 12 hours route marking the week before. She had even brought her bike out east a few days earlier, but then she had no ride to do.  ↩

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  1. Do you think it’ll be much too cold to ride in the 3rd week of October along this route? How long of a ride is it from Babylon to Montauk. Thanks.

    1. My guess is that it will be brisk (possible highs in the 50s). Westhampton Beach, for example, is almost always the coldest spot in the metropolitan region. My bigger concern would the headwind, which usually comes from the north that time of year. But again, it all depends on what kind of day it is.

      Also, Babylon LIRR to Montauk LIRR, using Glen’s routing, is about 100 miles.

      I hope you go for it. It should be a nice ride.