Tagged: Montauk

Beach Day, Plus a Century to Montauk

Since last summer, I have been taking a weekday trip to the beach with some friends who work in the bar-and-restaurant trade, or “the industry” as they refer to it. Beach Day been a highlight of each week. And although this has been a pretty sad summer for me, it’s hard to be sad while I am at the beach. And that’s why I’ve been going so often.

I skipped Beach Day this Monday because I had invited my friend Moira to go to the Mets-Marlins doubleheader. We had a blast! Since I had missed Beach Day and because the temperatures were going to be in the high 80s on Thursday, I figured that I would go to the beach that day instead. However, only one friend could go on Thursday so I decided to head to a different beach and bring my road bike with me.

Beach Day… with a Twist

I arrived at the Nostrand Avenue LIRR station to catch the 6:40 AM outbound train to Jamaica and then on to Babylon.

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From Babylon, I planned to ride the 108-mile course to Montauk—the one that I have done many times—and stop at one of the Long Island beaches along the way. I hadn’t decided which beach I would visit, but my candidates were:

  • Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton
  • Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays
  • Coopers Beach in Southampton
  • Main Beach in East Hampton

As silly as it sounds, I was really motivated to head east was because the forecast called for a favorable tail wind. Bicycling on Long Island sometimes feels like sailing because the terrain is pretty flat, especially on the south shore, and the wind can make a huge difference. And because the wind was coming out of the southwest, it would more or less push me across the island.

After riding through Babylon, there was in fact a very strong tail wind. With little effort and little training this season, I was cruising at nearly 20 MPH on some stretches of the route.

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A Flat Tire and then Lunch

I continued for about thirty miles into the ride, and then I got a flat. I got off the bike to find a piece of steel belt, likely from a car or truck, lodged into my tire. I removed it and proceeded to change the tube. After filling the tire to about 90 PSI with my hand pump, I continued to ride.

A few miles later, I came across a bike shop, East End Cyclery. I stopped to go in to get some water, buy a new patch kit, and to fill my tires to my usual 120 PSI. They were very helpful but, because they used a compressor, they were only able to fill my tires to about 100 PSI.

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There would be a bit of foreshadowing after leaving the bike shop. As I cruised through the Moriches, I saw a sign that pointed the way to Riverhead and to Montauk. For some reason, I stopped and snapped a photo of the sign—as if thinking there’s no way I would be going to Riverhead if I was planning on riding along the south shore en route to Montauk.

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By about 11:30, I got hungry. Because I was riding alone, I could heed my hunger and stop whenever I wanted. Citarelli Deli in East Moriches seemed like a reasonable place to stop. It was right off the route, they served sandwiches which is what a hungry cyclist wants on a long ride, and I got a good feeling about it because it reminded me of that market in Oyster Bay that we frequently visit for lunch on club rides.

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A Torn Tire

Just a few miles after leaving the deli, I was riding on a quiet road when I saw a couple of runners along the shoulder in front of me. I veered to the left to give them room to continue their run, and as I veered back to the shoulder, I heard a loud pop. The tube in my rear tire had exploded.

I stopped to inspect the damage and to repair the tube only to find that the tire had a cut in the side wall. The only fix here is to replace the tire. Ugh!

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I looked for a bike shop, but there were only two within a reasonable distance:

  1. Twin Forks Bicycles in Riverhead, about 8 miles northeast.
  2. Rotations Bicycle Center in Southampton, about 20 miles east along my route.

In either case, I couldn’t just walk to the nearest bike shop. I would have to try to ride there.

Every experienced cyclist knows about using a dollar bill to temporarily repair a torn bike tire. I had never had to resort to such a method, but having few other options, I decided to try it.

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Since the beginning of the year, I have been going to the bank to get two-dollar bills. I enjoy paying with them—especially leaving them as tips—because it always gets someone’s attention. People think these bills are rare, but as my mother pointed out, you can just go to the bank and ask for them,

This idiosyncrasy came back to haunt me: the smallest denomination bill I had was for two dollars. I wrapped the two-dollar bill around my new tube, and I found that the bill did not adequately cover the tube. Just a few spins of the rear wheel later, I found that the bill had torn and the tube was seeping out of the ripped tire wall. Had I just carried one-dollar bills, my lesson would have been half as expensive.

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My next attempt was to use a wrapper from a Clif Bar.

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The wrapper held for about six miles, as I rode towards the shop in Riverhead, until the tube popped out of the tire and my last tube exploded. For the remaining two miles or so, I resorted to a combination of both walking my bike and riding on the flat tire—hoping that I was not damaging my rim.

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Ahoy, Riverhead!

I arrived in Riverhead about an hour and a half after sustaining the first blow out. The bike shop—Twin Forks Bicycles—was a full service bike shop. They carried my preferred bike tires: the Continental Grand Prix ($75) and the Continental Gatorskins ($55). I opted for the less expensive of the two and bought a couple of new tubes, too.

Ahoy, Riverhead!

The shop proprietor asked if I wanted him to install the tire, and I explained that I would prefer to install the tire myself since my ride had already gone over budger. A few minutes later after paying for the tire and tubes, I was ready to roll.

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To make up time, I sought a more direct route towards the Hamptons. I went southeast on NY-24 which then would connect me back on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

Along the way, I passed the famous Big Duck in Flanders.

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The Beach!

By about 3:30, I arrived at Coopers Beach in Southampton.

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The beach is as beautiful as the photos I saw during my research.

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The only thing was that I felt out of place among all the well-healed locals.

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My attempt to fit in with the Hamptons set.

Also, the water was very choppy—almost too choppy for swimming.

I didn’t stay at the beach long. The logistics of changing from bicycle clothes to beach wear and back to cycling gear was very time consuming. I also wanted to get to Montauk by 7:30 or so, as it starts to get dark relatively early out east during this time of year.

Snacks and Hills on Montauk Highway

One of my favorite parts of riding to Montauk is the final ten mile stretch after Amagansett. The road is rather desolate except for a few notable stands.

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After passing the “Snack Corridor” there is a fork in the road, and either one will take up some hills. The views of Hither Hills are cool because it is one of the few times on this ride that you see “terrain.”

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Also, from the top of Hither Hills, you can see the end of Long Island—and the Atlantic Ocean—in the distance.

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At Last, Montauk!

Just before 7:30, I arrived in Montauk. I had considered riding out to the point and the famous lighthouse, but I had done this years ago. Also, I didn’t want to get stuck riding back from the point in the dark. So I just decided to find somewhere to eat and hang out until my return train departed just after 10:00 PM.

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After a bit of exploring, I realized that I had never been to Montauk unless it was part of an official Ride to Montauk. I quickly realized that I think I like Montauk more as a concept than as an actual destination. This is peak tourist season for the Hamptons and Montauk, and the crowd resembled the kind of people I avoid in New York.

Also, this place is expensive. For example, one place had a Fish and Chips on the menu for $26.

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I skipped it, and ultimately, I went to a Montauk Circle Burger and eat a Really Good Burger for $18.

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Heading Home

By about 9:45, I headed towards the train station to embark on The Long Train Ride Home.

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It takes about three hours for the train from Montauk to Jamaica. I then had to change to another train to Woodside, and then pedal home from there. After a shower and uploading my route to my Ride with GPS account, I was tucked in bed by 2:00 AM.

As far as beach days go, it was a long one, lasting over 20 hours. It was also my first beach trip that included a century ride. But even with some stressful and expensive bike repairs, nothing makes me happier than being at the beach.

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The Tale of Two Forks

Bicycling on Long Island has a questionable reputation among New York City-area cyclists. One reason, I think, is because the terrain is a lot more challenging and varied in places like Westchester County and across the Hudson in New Jersey and the not-quite-upstate New York counties of Rockland and Orange. Also, let’s not forget that most of Long Island is in Suffolk County, an area regarded as the worst in the USA for bicycling. But Long Island is also suboptimal for long-distance cyclists because one can only ride so far on Long Island before reaching the end of either fork. Nevertheless, there are plenty of good routes available, and a common way to expand the riding options is to ride along both forks of Long Island.

Over the last two weekends, I rode along the south fork to Montauk and along the north fork to Greenport, on two separate rides. The first was the annual Ride to Montauk, which I have ridden in some form or other since 2008, except for 2011. The second was what’s becoming a standard ride from Huntington to Greenport. Since I’ve done these rides—and recounted them on this site—so many times now, I won’t cover all the details, except for a few notes that were novel and stick out after the fact.

South Fork to Montauk

For the second year in a row, I skipped the full 150-mile route and opted instead for the 108-mile route that starts in Babylon. This year, I took advantage of the check-in in Brooklyn, at Atlantic Terminal, since that would spare me having to travel to Manhattan at 3:00 in the morning. However, that does not spare me from riding past bars at 3:00 AM when people are still out from the night before.

It never fails to amuse me that as I am about to start the Montauk ride, there are people still out from the night before.

As I arrived, I met a first-time rider who was doing her first century. Almost immediately, she admitted to being nervous to ride her first century. She said she trained with the New York Cycle Club, doing the C-SIG program, and that her longest ride was 70 miles in the hilly Bergen and Rockland counties region that seemingly every NYCC ride goes to every weekend. A few other riders and I advised her that the Babylon to Montauk route is significantly easier than what she rode on those club rides. However, Long Island can present one unique challenge that doesn’t factor as much as other rides in the area: the wind.

The headwind on this year’s ride was as bad as it was in 2014. We tried pace-lining to mitigate the effects, but I couldn’t keep up with my riding partners. I had a 16 MPH average speed for most of the first 50 miles, but once we got to Dune Road, the unrelenting headwind pushed that average way down. I was pedaling at almost full strength and the fastest I could manage was a meager 11 MPH.

Once I knew I couldn’t set a personal best for this ride and that we would be taking the 5:30 PM train home, I took it easy and kept a manageable pace to enjoy the scenery.

And to savor multiple slices of pie.

I finished the ride about fifty minutes slower than last year’s effort and managed a 15.1 MPH average speed, almost two full miles-per-hour slower than last year and about the same as what I did in 2014. However, because I took it easy, I wasn’t as exhausted afterward as I was in 2014. I told my friend Andre that I had another twenty miles in me. But aside from going to the lighthouse and back, I couldn’t go any further. I had really reached the end of the road. Besides, I really wanted to eat and have a beer.

North Fork to Greenport

This past weekend, I went with a small group from Huntington to Greenport, a ride that I’ve done a number of times now. Although you’re ever only about fifteen or so miles from the Montauk route, this is a significantly different ride. There are a few rolling hills on this ride, and Belle Terre east of Port Jefferson is certainly a noteworthy climb. Another way that this ride was different from last week’s Montauk ride was the wind on the Greenport ride was “favorable.” It was mostly from the north but later in the day, the wind began pushing us east. It was a welcome respite from the Montauk ride the week before.

The easy riding conditions made it so that we weren’t too hungry. Instead of eating at the crowded and expensive deli in Miller Place, we instead used the opportunity for a brief rest. A shaded porch welcomed us, but some big-city skepticism made us resist the temptation. We continued eastward.

As we usually do on these rides, we stopped for pie. Another group of cyclists also arrived at Briermere Farms in Riverhead at the same time as us. Their aim was to eat a strawberry rhubarb while we set our sights on a blueberry crisp.

When I asked where they were riding, one rider told me they were headed to Orient to catch a ferry. Their ultimate destination was Boston over a four-day period. It so happened that one of my friends was doing that same ride and, as soon as that thought crossed my mind, he rolls up to the pie stand. Hello Harry L!

About eleven miles later, partly on my insistence, we stopped at Lieb Cellars, a winery in Cutchogue. I had been there in January on a day trip, and I really enjoyed the dry sparkling cider. We split a bottle before heading out on our final eleven-mile stretch to Greenport.

Is there liquor in cider (“inside ‘er”)?

After a few sandwiches and a few beers, and yes, that pie, we were on our way to the train.

The pie after riding in my backpack for 22 miles from Riverhead to Greenport.

The only thing that is a big minus about these rides is the amount of time one spends on a train at the end of the rides. Each ride, from Montauk or from Greenport, takes about three hours to return to New York. Doing this on consecutive weekends can test your patience.

It might be time to ride somewhere else this coming weekend.

Gardening Leave Bears Little Fruit

Pardon my silence over the last three weeks. I was asked to take an unpaid gardening leave for two weeks, and I stayed away from the computer as much as I could. And after my digital sabbatical was over, the beginning of the semester loomed on the horizon. Between the two, I stopped posting on this site.

I should have said something about it, but I was surprised as anyone that I would take such an extended leave from posting.

Before starting my leave, I planned to a bunch of awesome things, although tending to a garden was not one of them, including:

  • Visiting my friend Joe in Maine. He works there during the summer, and invited me to spend some time in the summer resort town of Northeast Harbor. Having never been before, it sounded like paradise.
  • Join my friend Steve in Baltimore as he watches a baseball game at a thirtieth different ballpark. Over the last three years, Steve leveraged all the spending his business generates into frequent flyer miles. Those miles allowed him to travel to a bunch of different cities to watch a baseball game at every current major league ballpark. His last stop was on August 17, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. He’s not sure whether he’s going to do the International League or the Pacific Coast League next…or whether he’ll ever attend another baseball game again.
  • Hit the beach. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve been going to the beaches around here, and it’s pretty easy to bike to many of the beaches around here.
  • Organize my living and working space. Since I switched to the other side of the Newtown Creek, I’ve been uninspired to unpack the boxes I used to carry and hold my possessions. Going on cleaning and organizing binges used to be an embarrassing indulgence.
  • Go to Block Island or somewhere similarly exotic. As well as bikes and trains work together, bikes and ferries work even better. I had considered doing something like riding my bike out to Montauk and then catching the ferry to Block Island. But I could never find a time to do that.

As is the case with most of my grand plans, I did very few of these. Yes, I did go to the beach once, and I did go to Baltimore to watch the Mets play at Citi Field South Camden Yards with Steve and a few friends. But I didn’t visit any new places, such as the northeastern coast of Maine or one of America’s “Last Great Places”. Instead, I did a few familiar bike rides.

  1. Biked to Peekskill. This was a Monday ride that turned into an opportunity to enjoy dollar-oysters at the Peekskill’s Brewery. It however started as a coin-toss ride. My friend Brian and I rode the Westchester and Putnam county trails to Carmel, then rode on NY-301 to the junction with US-9. There we flipped a coin. Heads: we turned right to Beacon; Tails: we turned left to Peekskill. Since neither of us had a coin, I asked Siri to do so. At first, it gave us a smart-ass response: “You’re never going to believe this, but the coin landed on its edge.” We flipped again, Siri said “tails,” and we headed south to Peekskill. I’m considering making this a formal club ride, calling it something like “Heads Beacon, Tails Peekskill.”
  2. Biked to Philadelphia. I am planning to write a dedicated post about this ride. In the meantime, suffice to say that I had planned to ride all the way to Baltimore, over two days, to meet my friend Steve for that game at his thirtieth major-league park. However, after riding 97 miles to Philadelphia in 95°F heat, I decided it would be better to ship my bike back to New York and take a bus to Baltimore. The ride did serve as a testing ground for my canonical route to Philadelphia.
  3. Biked to Amagansett. Like the aborted ride to Baltimore, this was supposed to a Babylon-to-Montauk ride. On the same day as this ride through the Hamptons, our house was hosting a BBQ—a DreBQ as we call it out here. Since I didn’t want to miss the party, I aimed to return to NYC on the 3:30 PM train out of Montauk, which would put me in NYC by 7:00 PM. A couple of mechanical issues delayed our group’s progress so I bailed in Amagansett to catch that Montauk train along its westbound route. Until we had those flats, after the first half of the ride, we were due to finish the whole 92-mile course in about six hours.

And since returning to work, I assembled syllabi for three classes:

  1. Media Technologies at CUNY Queens College
  2. Media Criticism, also at Queens College
  3. Latin American Film, a new class at Pratt Institute

With the long summer break and my own gardening leave behind me and the semester beginning today, I recognize that I didn’t completely “turn off” during the break or do something completely unfamiliar. But I did do things that I enjoy and do pretty well.

And, yes, I’ll resume posting to this site again.

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.

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.  ↩

Sign up for the Ride to Montauk

Sign up for one of my favorite organized bike rides, Glen’s annual Ride to Montauk. This is the ride that is famous for its pie at the Water Mill rest stop.

I have it on good authority that despite some administrative hiccups and rumors that it was cancelled, the ride is unofficially officially confirmed and will proceed on Saturday, May 31, the Saturday after Memorial Day.

Admittedly, this is not a cheap ride. Registration starts around $150, but it is very well organized, and it’s one of the few rides that usually doesn’t run out of food. And they also don’t run out of beer!

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As I’ve done in the past, I’ll be helping with marking the route in exchange for a free registration, and as I did last year, I’ll be aiming to ride the entire 150-mile course, from one end of Long Island to the other.

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.  ↩

The Ride to Montauk: Glen Did Good


A week after marking the 40-mile stretch of Glen’s Ride to Montauk from Brooklyn to Babylon, I rode the remaining 108 miles (or was it 110 miles) from Babylon to Montauk. Yesterday’s ride was not my first century nor was it my first Montauk ride. I won’t wax rhapsodic over the magic of riding on two wheels or the spectacular scenery of Long Island’s southern shore. I also won’t comment on some of the most novel street names you’ll find when you’re used to uninspired street names such as “5th Ave”, “Vernon Blvd”, and “47th Rd.” Once you pedal on a century ride to Montauk, the major parts of each experience become pretty standard. However, there are some minor differences that I absolutely appreciated having done Glen’s ride for the first time.1

Early Drop Off and Late Pick Up

Glen wisely offers early drop off for your bike on Friday and pick up on Sunday. It took me about 45 minutes to drop off my bike on Friday because I, like everyone else, did so after work. However, early bike drop off allows a Queens dweller to board the train at Woodside instead of Penn Station. I didn’t do that, but I know at least one person who did. That move can net you about thirty extra minutes of sleep.


Picking up on Sunday was especially convenient for me. I was able to run an errand at B&H and then pick up my bike on 10th Avenue and 31st St. There was no wait to enter the bike area, and it took me only a few minutes to find my bike.

Beer in the Morning and in the Evening

Having one of the rest stops at Blue Point Brewery was absolutely genius. It might seem ill-advised to drink a beer when you still have about 80+ miles of cycling ahead of you, but it’s fine if manage your intake and eat a big almond-butter-and-jelly sandwich. I ordered a half of an actual pint of the Rastafa Rye and could barely finish it. I just wanted a taste of something else other than Gatorade and energy bars.


I also appreciated that there was free beer at the finish line in Montauk, and that it was from a local Long Island brewery.


Having done a few other centuries, I’ve come to expect the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pita and hummus, and apples and bananas as standard cycling food. I appreciated getting tabouleh salad with my hummus and those Larabar energy bars are pretty tasty. But it was the blueberry pie that brought a smile to my face and for a brief moment made me forget about my aching knee and cramped calf. My only regret is that I didn’t get any cheese cake, which I was eagerly anticipating to savoring during the ride. Does anyone know which rest stop had it?


Buses to Montauk Station

As I was riding towards the end of the ride (and of Long Island) it occurred to me that we were still a ways from the Montauk LIRR Station. In the past, we’ve held the finish line party at a restaurant near the train station. Prior to 2008, we would just bike from the restaurant where we had our to the train station.2 After riding 108 miles, I didn’t want to ride another eight to the train station with my bag in tow. Thankfully, there were buses that took us to the train station, and we managed to board the final train of the night. Sweet!


Right now. I’m in pain. This was the longest it took me to ride a century (at over ten hours). My right calf cramped around mile 30, my left knee became very sore, and I just never could get a good strong pace going for long. I also got a bad mild sunburn because I didn’t apply any sunscreen. However, I had a great time, and I can’t wait to ride another hundred again.

  1. Full disclosure: I rode the ride for free because I volunteered, but what I have written here is my own opinion. 
  2. For many years, the Montauk Century had staged their party at Ruschmeyer’s. But new ownership did such a bad job in catering our finish line party that the Five Borough Bike Club moved the party elsewhere the following year. 

Riding to Montauk

This will be a running log of my third time riding the annual Montauk Century. This year will be different because it will actually be a nice day, unless last year’s ride where it rained for the first seventy five miles of the ride and unlike 2008, where I was in some sort of riding shape.

10:50 PM: Alarm is set for 3:00 AM, and I’m missing three rather important early-season softball games. But I know this will be worth it.

4:24 AM: Checked in at Penn Station. Looking a little bleary eyed.


10:27 AM: Reached the 50-mile rest stop in fairly good time. I had a bit of a delay with a flat tire but I caught up with a fairly speedy rider who pulled me and helped me catch up to my pace. Although it now seems unlikely that I’ll finish by 2:00. Oh well. Serves me right for sitting on my ass all spring.

10:42 AM: Sarah just caught up to me as I was about to leave….


2:50 PM: Made it to the finish line. It’s not quite “The End” but it is as far as the train goes. Again not quite the seven hours I was hoping for but it was still pretty good for doing a ride off the couch. And now I hurt… Ouch!