Montauk in May

With another cycling season upon us, it was time for another ride to Montauk. This is the seventh time, either through the 5BBC’s Montauk Century or on Glen’s Ride to Montauk, that I’ve pedaled to Montauk. And, as I’ve done since 2013, I rode from home.

Greenpoint to Montauk

Greenpoint to Montauk

This year was a bit different in a few ways:

  1. The ride was earlier than usual. The 5BBC used to run their ride on the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, but Glen’s ride was always later in the summer. Word on the street is that he did so to take advantage of the longer day and to avoid the rainy climate and cold temperatures that linger over the east end of Long Island well after Memorial Day weekend. But with all the battles he’s faced with the East End towns of Southampton and East Hampton, he has undoubtedly had to make all kinds of concessions, such as capping the ride at 1,500 participants and scheduling it outside of the summer shitshow season.

  2. For obvious reasons, I didn’t start from Long Island City as I did in 2013 and 2014. This year, I started on the other side of the Newtown Creek, in Greenpoint, which put me about 0.6 miles closer to Montauk than starting from my former home on Vernon Boulevard.

  3. I had a riding partner for almost the entire ride. I rode the century course a couple of times with Sarah, and in 2012, I rode with Colin, a fellow cycling and softball enthusiast. But this year, I rode with Andre for the 150-mile course. Over the years, Andre has accompanied me on some rides and has also helped me mark the first forty miles of the course. This year, he and I rode together from Greenpoint all the way to Amagansett, after which he turned on the after burners and got to Montauk about ten minutes ahead of me.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s common for it to rain on Long Island throughout May. The first year I rode the Montauk Century, it was like the first time you do a hard drug. It was perfect! It was one of those rare May days when the temperature is about 80°, and a gentle southwest wind was at our backs all the way to Montauk.

But, like doing any hard drug, on the subsequent times you do it, it’s never as good as the first time. Each year after that, there was always something wrong. For example, in 2009, Sarah, her friend Mindy, and I rode the 100-mile route from Babylon, but it rained the entire day. And it wasn’t just an isolated shower, it was a menacing drizzle with very cold temperatures. I remember getting to the rest stop in Westhampton Beach, about half way through the ride, unable to feel my feet.

This year’s ride, scheduled before Memorial Day weekend on May 16, saw a sizable storm hit us as we rode through Islip. The rain was heavy enough to impair visibility. Andre and I waited it out under a highway overpass for a few minutes and then, as the rain increased, we took shelter inside a gas station with three other cyclists. We waited out the rain for about an hour an a half, which jeopardized our finishing the ride before 6:00 PM.

Once the rain subsided, Andre and I hustled through the rest of the course. We also shaved off about ten miles of riding by skipping “Glen’s flourishes” in Oakdale, Southampton, and Wainscott. Instead, we stayed on the Montauk Highway through those towns to make up for lost time. We did, however, stop to get a lobster roll at Tully’s in Hampton Bays, as I did last year, but we sat inside because it was too cold for outdoor dining.

We stayed together, pedaling between 17-19 MPH, until we got Amagansett. It was there at the final rest stop, Andre gulped down three slices of pie, whereas I only had one slice of blueberry crisp, enabling him to power through the last fifteen miles of the course about ten minutes ahead of me. Another reason I fell behind was that I followed the prescribed detour around the town of Montauk. Our ride happened on the same weekend as the annual music festival in town, and we were told to take a slight detour to avoid the attendant congestion. I think I might have been one of a few riders who actually took the detour, which was great because it was less congested than the main road, and also had some hard pack at the end before the road ended at the Montauk Highway. (Like with rolling hills, I have become a fan of hard pack.)

Two crazy jerks arrived in Montauk.

Two crazy guys biked from Greenpoint to Montauk.

We arrived, at a lakeside restaurant northeast of town, at about 5:30 PM. The shortcuts saved us about 11 miles—because we had only pedaled 139 miles instead of the more impressive sounding 150—but insured we arrived at the finish in time for a shower and hot food.

I have to admit that I felt a bit cheap afterwards that I skipped some of the more scenic parts of the ride in order to finish the ride by 6:00 PM. But for the first time since I’ve ridden the NYC-Montauk route, I didn’t feel like I needed to sleep for days.

If this sounds like something you would like to do over the next week, a friend of mine is organizing an unsupported ride with a bike truck through the New York Cycle Club. It is fitting that the first group ride to Montauk was through NYCC in 1964, and that, after an extended hiatus, it is coming back as a small group ride.

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