Montauk Century ride


Well, this was supposed to be a meaningful ride in the midst of all the training for the brevets.  I was going to see how quickly it could be done and with favourable conditions, unlike last year, it promised to be a great day.  However, all my plans fell by the wayside as we had a wedding celebration on the Saturday and I soon got into the atmosphere of celebrating and dancing.  I think we got back home at about midnight and I was supposed to be riding at 6am.

Alma drove me down to Babylon and I wasn’t feeling too clever on the way.  I registered and got my cue sheet.  Alma dropped my bag off at the truck, I grabbed a few munchies and headed off.  Alma snapped a quick pic of me before I left…

Paul at the start, Babylon, NY

Just about to start the Montauk Century ride

I started 6:15 and I was aiming for a six hour ride on the saddle with minimal time at the stops.

The first ten miles I didn’t feel good at all.  I really wanted to hurl, that’s how bad I felt.  I didn’t but I wanted to.  I was pleased I had taken painkillers before I left the house but they wouldn’t kick in until about mile 70!!  I passed quite a few riders initially but soon, new riders on the horizon waiting to be overtaken, became an endangered species.  It seems that I had set out early.  It wasn’t long before I got to the first rest stop.  Time taken: 1:15 for 21 miles.

First rest stop, Corey Beach

The first rest stop at Corey Beach

Seven minutes later and I was setting off.  I had grabbed a sandwich to eat, peanut butter and jelly in a tortilla type thing.  I really didn’t feel like eating or drinking much but I forced myself to sip on the water and propel laden liquids.  This section was the one in which I had missed a turn last year and consequently missed the 50 mile rest stop.  This year, I had the cue sheet attached to the handle bar, last year’s route plugged into the Garmin and I was taking note of the turns marked on the road.  This time, I did not miss the turn.  I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong but I couldn’t even do that.  I got to the second rest stop after 3:00 hours.  On track for a 6 hour ride.  I spent 11 minutes at this stop, nearly losing my credit card after I had put down my waterproof pouch to update my Facebook status on the iPhone.  I wandered off to the porta potties only to realise what I had done.  I debated between continuing my mission or going back for the card.  I went back for the card which was fortunately where I had left it and then couldn’t be bothered to walk all the way back to the toilets again.  I could wait.

Second rest stop, Westhampton Beach

The second rest stop at Westhampton Beach

The weather had started off overcast and cool.  I was wearing only jersey and shorts though I did have my arm warmers on.  I needed them initially.  They came off when I stopped on Ponquogue Bridge to take a photo of the old bridge, the one we dive under many times during the summer, the one where I nearly froze back in April diving it in a 5mm!!  Once the sun came out, it warmed up considerably.  That made me take on liquids even more.  The wind was negligible and from the North West.  I remember it being against as I climbed Ponquogue Bridge but that was about it.

Old Ponquogue Bridge

Old Ponquogue Bridge

After the bridge, it was back on Montauk Highway for a few miles before turning off again for another meander around the very nice houses around the Hamptons.  Every year I always mean to take more attention to the houses but every year I forget.  Maybe if I cycle with someone rather than doing it by myself…  For the third stop, there is always an ice cream van.  I was looking forward to an ice cream.  When I got there, no ice cream van!!  Where’s Mr Softee?  Sheesh.  I was told the ice cream van was at the finish.  I got to the third rest stop after 4:47.  I must have lost a few minutes taking the photo of the bridge but it was a slow section.  I started getting back ache from my backpack – almost as if the water was not lying straight in the pouch.  I forgot about the back ache once I got to rest stop but it returned 10 miles later.  I spent 13 minutes at this rest stop.  With a total time of 5 hours so far, 4.5 on the saddle and with 29 miles to go, I was not going to make the 6 hours cycling unless I went up the hill before Montauk at an incredible pace.

Last rest stop, Water Mill

The last rest stop at Water Mill

Normally, on the last section, I pass many riders.  These tend to be the people who do the metric century, 65 miles.  This year, I passed very few riders.  I began thinking if they had transportation problems again as they had to transport everyone, and their bikes, from either Penn Station or Babylon to the starting point.  Passing other cyclists is like chicken soup!!  What seemed like a good age, I finally reached the last segment.  The approach to Montauk is ten miles from the railway station but is very flat and quite monotonous.  It is what can be regarded as scrub land with no shade.  The area years ago had suffered from fire and was burned out but the foliage is starting to come back.  It is short however and not very picturesque.  Plus, nothing breaks this scenery up.  So with the sun beating down on my back, I am still suffering from the night before, I am probably dehydrated and I have 90+ miles in my legs.  My head starts to lose concentration.  I can feel my head wanting to drop and my eyes wanting to close.  I was aware of these sensations and was monitoring the situation closely.  I had decided that it was probably best to pull over to the side and eat something I had in my pockets.  I was going to do that when  I spotted the sign signalling the split in the road between Old Montauk Highway and the new road.  The climb was coming and my head suddenly cleared.

When I first started doing the Montauk Century, back in 2005, the route was Old Montauk Highway.  This consists of about rolling hills with a few of them steepish climbs.  Momentum from the previous hill gets you about half way up but there is still some climb.  I think it was two years ago when the route was changed to the new highway.  This is a higher climb but it is long and drawn out and not as demanding as the old road.  I don’t even bother shifting down to my lowest gear which just shows how steep it is compared to my normal training on hills.  I pass a couple of people climbing this hill and I am soon whizzing down the other side and into Montauk.  I finish the ride in 6:11 cycling time and 6:49 total.  I had hoped to get there before 1pm but I guess after a night celebrating, it wasn’t a bad effort!!

I made a promise to myself not to drink, dance or hike the day before a long ride.  Time to be good especially with these longer rides coming up.

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2 Responses to “Montauk Century ride”

  1. blackraptor. Says:

    Nice recap. I’m thinking about doing this ride next year so this was a nice snapshot of what to expect.

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