Without further ado...Here's what went down in the second half of the Ride to Montauk (See the first half of my review here).
50(ish) mile rest stop:
At this point, my friends and I were KILLING it as far as time goes. We made it to the halfway mark in just under four hours, but of course, it was already swarming with cyclists.
|What a beautiful mess.|
Of course, it was also freaking delicious. Don't ask me why, but PB&J hits every spot the body needs during a long day of activity like that. I also made it in time to score some fresh watermelon and nab some gatorade before it ran out. The later in the day it got, the fewer supplies were on hand.
Miles 50-75: This is the road that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends....
MILES. That's what happened here, folks. Dozens of miles zoomed by and my legs were flying through each and every one. I don't know what got into me, but there was this seemingly endless stretch of gravely beach road immediately following the 50-mile rest stop and I barreled through it.
Anyone who did the tour will know what I'm talking about––having to pedal against those strong headwinds coming off the waterfront was no easy task. And I remembered from last year what would be waiting for us at the end of the road.
The mother of all bridges.
I do not have a photo because I was too busy hauling butt over the thing, but I'm happy to report it was not as tough as last year. I was dying for some hill action after all that flat road, which is probably one of the toughest parts of this ride––it's no where NEAR as flat as Glenn and his team seem to believe, but when it does flatten out, it is SERIOUSLY flat for a LONG time. Bright side: This is the point on the tour where it's fun to hop off the road and take a quick detour to the beach. I didn't stop this time around, but I recommend it for first-timers.
After we passed the bridge, we hit the rolling hills section of the tour, which I personally love more than any other. No one else probably agrees with me, but that's OK. After powering through at least a half dozen mini-hills (they're all on a highway, with a pretty narrow path for bikes), we entered a bit of suburban beauty. As soon as we started hitting ponds and passing wide gardens, I knew we were close to the rest stop and I kicked it into overdrive...
Mile 75 rest stop: Eat my dust
|You know you've made it when you see the windmill!|
It was so night and day from last year's ride, I couldn't believe it. I remember very vividly scraping my friend off the ground after he nearly collapsed from exhaustion during last year's ride and barely making it to the rest stop myself before the pain stabbing its way into my kneecap reached epic levels of hurt.
I was grinning like an idiot this time around. Not only had I made it in one piece, but all my team was behind me. Not FAR behind me, but they were behind me none the less.
THAT NEVER HAPPENS.
Two of them (you know who you are, boys) are always miles ahead of me and I usually enjoy a nice view of their backsides whenever we go on longer bike rides. If ever I needed proof that I've strengthened as a cyclist in the last year, it was the look on their faces when they pulled into the rest stop and saw me there ahead of them.
Alright. I want to punch myself for bragging but I couldn't help it.
I did not eat much as this rest stop, namely because they pretty much only had PB&Js and some pie and I didn't want anything heavy sloshing around in my stomach during the last leg of the ride. There's a little cafe across the street that I recommend checking out. I grabbed a coconut water and some plantain chips for carbs and we took a good 40 minute break to build up steam again.
The home stretch: DEAR GOD IS IT OVER YET?
In my mind, I thought they would space that length out. Instead, it was all basically tacked on to the last leg of the tour, which extended about eight miles further than last year's finish line so that it could take place a bigger, prettier venue.
Those eight miles were the closest to hell I've ever come.
I lost count of how many hills we had to cross, but there were at least six and it seemed like each one was steeper than the one before. At this point, my group was pretty far behind me and because I had no one there to check my mood, I might have fired off a few choice words along the way. Sorry to anyone I offended but it was TOUGH you guys. I felt every single pound of Blue II underneath me and all I wanted was to get off my bike and never get back on again.
The bright side: The scenery was lovely as ever. And none of us died.
When, finally, we reached the finish, all that fatigue and rage completely dissolved and I was so excited to see so many smiling faces there to greet us. I've never been happier to have a bell to ring than that moment. It really meant a lot, even if those nameless cheerleaders didn't know me from Adam.
For the FIRST TIME EVER y'all, I actually made it to the finish line in time for food AND beer. I'm not saying it was the best food ever, but it was food and I ate it and nothing is better than a cold beer after a ride like that.
We rolled in around 5:30, which put our total tour time at about 9.5 hours (minus our rest stop breaks). Not too shabby! The sheer fact that I was able to hobble to the shower truck without excruciating pain this year was reason enough to celebrate. And we were at least two hours, if not more, faster than our NYC Century Tour time from September.
I wish I could say my crew finished as perky as I did. Unfortunately, one friend slipped on some sandy road in the last leg and sliced a good chunk of skin off her arm in the process. As she pointed out, there was no first aid team to be found at the finish line which, if true, is pretty disappointing and shortsighted of the tour operators to forget. She went home without proper bandages (a volunteer gave her a T-shirt to wrap it with) and wound up with a bad infection afterward.
Another pal succumbed to a flat tire on the rolling hills of death portion of the ride and had to walk the the last couple of miles. I had completely forgotten my spare bike tubes, so it was lucky I made it through without getting a flat of my own.
And one last bummer to report...the time they give cyclists at the finish line is just not enough to really enjoy ant of it. My crew certainly made good time, but if you cycled at an average 10 mph pace and took about 15-20 min at each rest stop, that would put you at the finish line by nearly 7 p.m. for the 100-mile route. It was 6:45, we just got our food and then they announced the LAST shuttle to the train back to Manhattan was leaving at 7. We rushed and barely made it. Unlike last year, they didn't have tour buses on hand to shuttle volunteers to the city, which I wasn't aware of.
When I asked Anne about it, she gave me a pretty shady look and told me I should probably get on the school buses they had shuttling regular participants to the train station. I obliged, but there was something in her face that made me believe she wasn't telling the whole story. There might have been special buses for tour staff, but not enough room for all volunteers. That's perfectly OK, but a little transparency would have been nice.
From the sound of the emails I've received from Tour Director Glenn over the last four weeks, what transpired after this year's tour was a big, hot MESS. Some bikes never made it back to Manhattan and dozens of cyclists were left to pick up their bikes at various bike shops in the city and even as far as Babylon.
Fortunately, I made the best decision by opting to pick up my bike the day AFTER the tour this year. After waiting till 2 a.m. last year and going home empty-handed, I wasn't about to repeat that process. Blue II was right there waiting for me when I picked her up the next afternoon.
|My team, totally tuckered out.|
I've heard from others who did the ride this year that it will be their last ride to Montauk. This saddens me a little, because I think it's such a unique and special bike tour. But, honestly, I can't blame them. Disorganization runs rampant at this tours and it seems like Glenn and his team have this "Oh well, shit happens!" mentality about most of the hiccups.
While I completely agree that people shouldn't whine about each and every little thing that goes wrong (c'mon people, pack your own damn Lara bars if they're THAT important to you!), I do think that we paid a good chunk of change to participate and we should at least have the security that our bikes will be safe and our wounds will be tended to in due time.
In Glenn's final Montauk email, he mentioned they'll likely cap participants next year, which I think is a wise move. That, or they need to come up with a better way to ration out food at rest stops throughout the day. Cluster fucks weren't a problem during the tour, it was mainly limited supplies.
My Century Tour future:
This century tour definitely took a lot out of me, but I'm still pretty pumped for the next 100-miler on my schedule: TransAlt's NYC Century Tour, which takes place Sept. 9.
Me and Blue II are ready to roll. Hope to see some y'all there!