Tagged: Ride to Montauk

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.

Ride to Montauk: The End

As I noted on Friday, I had planned to ride to Montauk over the weekend. For the first time since 2012, I rode the 108-mile route from Babylon instead of the entire 150-mile course from NYC. I was concerned that rain would spoil the ride, but fortunately, no rain fell on us at any point in the day. Another factor for choosing the shorter course was that I was nursing a cold and didn’t think it wise to ride for twelve hours on a cool, 50° day. Indeed, throughout the ride, I blew snot rockets to relieve my stuffy nose, and the morning after the ride, I had hastened my nasal congestion and developed a nasty cough to accompany it.

Selecting the shorter course allowed my friend Andre and I to cruise all day at a brisk pace, averaging 17 MPH throughout the entire day. We arrived in Montauk in a little under eight hours after leaving Babylon, including about 6-¼ hours of pedaling time. I’m pretty sure this was the fastest ride, over fifty miles in distance, I had ever ridden.


A lot of that was due to finding some other capable riders as drafting partners. For about forty miles, we pace-lined with a group from the Mineola Bicycle Club until one of their riders began to tire and dropped back in speed to conserve energy. For another fifteen miles, from the end of Dune Road to the rest stop in Water Mill, we drafted with two Filipino guys in their twenties. Andre and I—both about forty years in age—kept apace with them, but we separated at the rest stop. I had only worn a short-sleeve bicycling jersey and those budget bike shorts, and I begged Andre to keep pedaling so I could stay warm on a cool and breezy day.

Having done this ride eight times now, I didn’t really encounter any surprises except that the rest stops were stocked as we arrived at each one. As this is a fully supported ride, it was nice to arrive at the rest stops that were still fully stocked. When you ride the longer courses, such as the 150-mile route, those riding the shorter distances arrive earlier and eat everything in sight. By the time you arrive at the latter rest stops, you’ll find that all the food has been picked clean, and the volunteer staffers can offer you nothing more than a little sympathy to power you through the final miles to Montauk. I finally had a slice of pizza at the Westhampton rest stop and fresh whipped cream for my pie at the Amagansett rest stop. Because we were able to eat a substantial amount of food at each rest stops, we bypassed the cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop and the lobster roll at Tully’s in Hampton Bays.

Pie from Briermere Farms: strawberry rhubarb and blueberry crisp, topped with freshly whipped cream

Some food is better for eating than sharing on Instagram.

Besides, all the locals seem disheartened with the new ownership at Tully’s, and, if I really have to choose, I’ll pick pie over cookies any day.

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Riding to Montauk: The Beginning

Tomorrow, for the eighth time since 2008, I will be riding to Montauk on a bicycle.

This year, will be a little different than recent years because I plan to ride the 108-mile course, instead of the full 150-mile route. Earlier this afternoon, I dropped off my bike at the day-before check-in area on the far west side of Manhattan.


Caged, before heading to Babylon.

I opted for the 108-mile route, instead of the full 150-miler, this year for three reasons:

  1. I didn’t do as many long training rides as I have done in years past. Sure, I started the year with a bunch of rides in Southern California, including a century ride on New Year’s Day, but I only rode seven rides since then that were longer than fifty miles. In short, I’m not in good enough shape to comfortably ride for nearly twelve hours when my longest ride over the last four weeks required only five hours of actual riding time.
  2. The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow. The only way I can escape the rain is to finish the ride by early afternoon, around 3:00 PM. The earliest I finished the 150-mile route was in 2013, when I finished a little after 5:00 PM.
  3. As I type, I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or a bad case of seasonal allergies. I have been fighting the temptation to take a nap all day. It might be best to take it easy and ride “only” a century tomorrow.

Though I am riding a shorter course, I won’t miss much. I rode the Brooklyn to Babylon section of the course earlier this week to mark the route with pink circles.


And, with all due respect to the Lynbrook Fire Department, who hosts the westernmost rest stop, and the towns along the Babylon LIRR line, the best parts of the route are east of Babylon, anyway. That’s where you can find things like:

  • Beer samples at the Blue Point Brewery,
  • Cookies at Tate’s Bake Shop in East Moriches that aren’t available at the local bodega,
  • Lobster roll in Hampton Bays,
  • Pie!

And, yes, there’s beer and a hot shower upon arriving in Montauk.

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.

Pedal the West for Five Days

Earlier today, registration opened up for Glen’s Pedal the West bicyling tour. The tour looks pretty impressive. It lasts five days in late September, which everyone knows is the best time of year to travel, and goes from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. It’s a fully supported ride, including lodging, most meals, and transportation for bike and rider. It sounds like an awesome excuse to take a late-summer vacation, but sadly, the price is a little high for me. It costs $3000, in addition to airfare and the inevitable other odds-and-ends.

But $3,000 is not that bad for a tour of this scale for 57 cyclists. Consider that this year’s Ride to Montauk registration costs $195, as of today, plus $65 for the optional, but really useful, bike-and-rider return transportation from Montauk. That’s $260 for a single-day event with 1,500 riders cycling past a bunch of angry malcontents in the Hamptons.

Anyway, I’m confident that Glen will get a bunch of riders to register for his Pedal the West tour. Cyclists are, after all, a spendy bunch. For example, the upcoming Grand Fondo New York costs about $289, plus registration fee for a single-day ride that consistently sells out, likely because you get a jersey and a bottle of wine. And if you want to upgrade to the GFNY Plus package, which includes access to a VIP tent in Fort Lee, New Jersey, you’ll need to spend $1,900 (registration fee waived). Shelling nearly $2,000 for a single-day bike ride makes spending $3,000 for a five-day tour seem like a downright bargain.

Before you ask, no, I’m not riding the Grand Fondo New York. But if I were riding and were rich enough to afford the Plus-package, I would never spend $1,600 for an upgraded riding experience. Because, as spendy as my fellow cyclists are, I’m a comparative miser, and $1,600 in my mind can buy a pretty nice bike.

Disclosure: Although I have ridden the Ride to Montauk in past years for free, I’ve done so in exchange for route marking services. The opinions expressed here are my own and were triggered only by the public announcement of the Pedal the West tour. I don’t think Glen even knows who I am.

Biking and Eating for Airline Miles

One of the highlights of riding to Montauk last weekend was stopping at Tully’s Lobster in Hampton Bays for a lobster roll. Growing up in California, I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to lobster rolls, as it’s not as much a thing as it is out here, so I can’t tell you if it’s the best lobster roll in the Hamptons. All I know is that I like what I like, and I like the Tully’s roll a lot.

Tully's Lobster Roll

Another bonus to stopping there for lunch, aside from not having to fight hungry and tired cyclists for scraps at the depleted rest stop in Westhampton, was that I earned airline miles for eating there because the Backbay Grille, the restaurant operation at Tully’s, participates in the Rewards Network dining program. A few friends of mine are really into earning miles while we eat, and we each have stories about getting that surprise email informing you that you dined at a participating restaurant a few days.

That’s what happened to me. I had to have a conversation with myself to figure out where I earned these miles:

Where on earth is the Backbay Grille? Did I really eat there on Saturday?

But I rode to Montauk on Saturday….

Oh, right!

As a VIP member, I get five miles per dollar[1]. My twenty-dollar lobster roll, with tax and tip, earned me 118 airline miles, which puts me 1/169th of the way towards a domestic economy-to-business class upgrade. All I had to do was ride almost as many miles on my bike, 101.8 miles apparently, which makes riding for airline miles a pretty terrible deal.

And if that calculation is not bad enough, because I was cycling, I was primarily eating for energy. I don’t want to know how much I paid per calorie.

  1. In the halcyon days of the dot-com bubble, it used to be ten miles per dollar.  ↩

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.  ↩

The End of Bike Month Means Riding to the End of Long Island

For the sixth time since 2008, I will be riding a bike to Montauk. The ride is this Saturday and like I did last year, I’ll be riding the 150-mile route from New York City. The official route begins at Penn Station in Manhattan, but if I am able to check in my bag the day before, I’m going to cheat a little and start pedaling from home in Long Island City. In all, that should save me only about three miles of riding but a whopping forty-five minutes that I can spend sleeping. My plan is to hit the road at 5:00 AM and arrive in Montauk by 5:00 PM.

Montauk 150

The weather looks to be a bit cooler than it was for last year’s ride. The forecast calls for a high of about 60° out east with a chance of light drizzle developing throughout the day. As I look at Forecast.io for New York, Babylon, Westhampton, and Montauk, it looks like I’ll be pedaling ahead of any rain all day. (Maybe that’ll translate to tailwind, too.) Because it’s going to be cool, I’ll be wearing a long-sleeve wool jersey, which should keep me warm (but not too warm) and dry from sweat and drizzle. It’ll also save me the trouble of getting too much sun.

Having done this a few times, there’s not many unknowns on this ride. I know the route well, especially since I’ve marked the parts of the route more than a few times. I know where the route is challenging, such as the high-traffic area in Amityville where we cross the Sunrise Highway and the miles-long hilly section right before we reach Montauk. And I know the milestones that help break up a long ride into manageable sections.

The only thing I might do different from years past is go to Tully’s Lobster in Hampton Bays. I went there in September with my mom and her half-brother, who lives in Riverhead, Long Island.

Since the food supply begins to dwindle after Westhampton, I plan to recharge with a lobster roll after the seven-mile slog on Dune Road and climbing up the Ponquogue Bridge. Should I call ahead?

If you want to follow my progress, I’ll be posting updates to my Twitter feed with the hashtags #ridetomontauk and #werideforpie. I’ve even made a few IFTTT recipes to automatically post when I get to the five rest stops with 125, 108, 87, 59, and 30 miles left to go, and when I arrive at Camp Hero State Park in Montauk.

Wish me luck!

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!

IMG 1129

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.  ↩