Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ride to Montauk 2011 - Ride Report

Start of the ride
The first time I ever rode a century was in the Ride to Montauk. At the time, riding 100 miles seemed incredibly daunting and I remember how nervous I was before that ride. 100 miles? Really? How hard is it going to be? And am I going to be able to walk afterwards? As it turned out, the Ride to Montauk is actually one of the best ways to experience a century ride for the first time.

I enjoy participating in this ride because it's a relatively easy century that lends itself more to a social atmosphere than a "grit your teeth and finish" ride. And because, for the price of $82, the ride organizers promise rest areas and an all-you-can-eat buffet with free beer at the end of the ride. This year, my adventure actually began the day before the ride when I went downtown to pick up my registration materials. While standing in line, a massive thunderstorm rolled through the city. True to form, I was caught standing in the line without an umbrella as sheets of torrential rain fell on me. That was awesome. But it was still worth it since I hate standing in lines on the mornings of rides.

The next morning, I met up with a few friends at 7am in Babylon, the start location for the 100 mile ride (there are several distances that are offered for riders, including 30 miles, 70 miles, and 145 miles). We unpacked our bikes, packed our ride gear, and started rolling.

Early on in the ride, we got to talking about blogs and how so many of us take the advice of blogs so seriously. Despite spending much of my time at work talking about the rigors of double-blinded, placebo-controlled medical trials, I will easily accept as gospel what is written in some of the blogs that I follow regularly. In fact, we talked about a recent entry in Cycling Tips that discussed cramps and how hydration may not have anything to do with cramping. So in order to test this idea, I decided to limit my water intake and see what happened on this ride. No, probably not that smart... but I never said I was very bright.
Anyways, between all the chatting and laughing, we must've lost track of where we were. Because we zoomed right past the first rest area without noticing it. It's not that we didn't want to stop... the guys at the front just didn't notice the signs indicating the rest area. And I was in the back busy making jokes and trying to take photos of everyone. Anyways, this was a little unfortunate because the first rest area was my favorite from last year... mainly because it's on a beach. But not a problem. None of felt very tired after only 25 miles so we just kept going.

By the time we hit the second rest area, the morning was starting to warm up. This second rest area had some issues because the ride organizers didn't really plan for riders needing... water. The line to get water was incredibly long and many of the riders were (understandably) annoyed that they had to stand in line for 20 minutes for water. Luckily, because I was not hydrating myself I didn't really care much about the water line. Thankfully, the bathroom line was much shorter since I did have to pee. After taking care of Nature's call and downing a Honey Stinger Waffle, I was ready to go.

Back on the road again, we wandered down to the south shore of Long Island and some of the beachfront properties that line the seashore. Riding through the aptly named Dune Road, we encountered some remnants of the recent thunderstorms that had passed through the area... namely 4 inch deep pools of water on the road. This was annoying. Not only did I end up driving through a few potholes because I couldn't see them in the water but I was also wearing my white shoes. They weren't that white after this section. Nor was my white jersey. Boo. On a brighter note, I did see Winnie the Pooh.
Hello to Winnie the Pooh
At the end of Dune Road, we turned onto Lighthouse Road and approached one of the two climbs on the ride... a bridge. Granted it's actually quite pretty up on the bridge and many of the riders ended up getting off their bikes and taking photos at the top. One dude lifted his bike above his head to take a picture... which made me a little nervous since he looked a little shaky and I half-expected him to fall off the bridge from the effort.

The third rest area was the best for one single reason. Pie. They served pie at the third rest area! How awesome is that? I suspect that having a bunch of blueberry and apple pie in the middle of the ride isn't really that good for you but they tasted so damned good that it was worth it. I finally decided that I should fill up at least one of my bottles for the last 30 miles of the ride. Until this point, I had drank just two bottles worth of hydration (42oz) and wasn't even feeling the beginnings of a cramp. Maybe it was true. Maybe hydration had nothing to do with cramping.
One of the two "climbs" on the ride
After finishing the last of our respective pie slices, we set off for the final leg of the ride. The last leg of the ride is probably the most difficult for the new century riders. There are two reasons for this. One is that the route is actually 104 miles. So when you are psychologically expecting to ride 100 miles and the finish doesn't magically appear as soon as your bike computer hits 100.0, a feeling of overwhelming rage takes over your body. Which then leads to the second reason. The entire ride is done on terrain that is flatter than a pancake... except at the very end. Not only do you have to ride a few "extra" miles... but the only "climb" of the entire ride is in those extra miles. And if you're not ready for it, it can feel like you're tackling the Zoncolan. Well, the mini mini Zoncolan.

In any case, getting over this minor obstacle didn't faze our group much and we cruised into the finish area in high spirits. Everybody finished strong and I had only drank 3 bottles of water for the entire ride without cramping. One of the best things about this ride is that the organizers haul in a ton of showers for the riders to use after they finish... and at least for me, taking a shower to clean off the road grime after a long ride always feels awesome. Combine that with some free food and beer and most of the riders ended the day happy and satisfied.

No comments:

Post a Comment