It is most important to start this off with a big WOOOHOOO! Because this past Saturday, May 16th, I completed my first century bike ride (that means 100+ miles)!!
My longest bike ride before this weekend was 60 miles, so to have almost doubled that with a total of 108 miles, is something I’m not afraid to feel very proud about.
By the way, let’s give it up for pride. There’s no harm in patting yourself on the back for small and large accomplishments. We too often don’t recognize our strengths.
Ok, back to what I came here to do.
So, Saturday I participated in the 50th anniversary of the Ride To Montauk, which is an organized bike ride of various lengths, all ending on the eastern tip of Long Island- Montauk. The distances start as low as 30 miles and the max someone can ride is 150…which is the ride from Manhattan to Montauk. I chose the 108-mile ride, which is the route from Long Island’s Babylon to Montauk. After hearing about the beautiful route along the water, and seeing pictures of the pie at rest stops and beer at the finish, I decided this was my kinda ride. Especially because it wasn’t a race.
I still struggled with the high price point for such a ride (it cost me $230 cash when I paid the day before the ride) that didn’t even include bike shipping (I paid my coach $100 to do that). So I went into basically paying solely because I wanted to finish my first 100-miler. Cost was killing me, but I planned to eat it all back in pie and pb&js. I mean, let’s be real…food is the reason I do most things in life.
Saturday morning at 5:30am, I rode over to meet a few of my Terrier Tri teammates (Lucy, Cori, Lauren & James) at T2 Multisport to wait for our coach to show up with his SUV and load us all in for the car ride to Babylon. Aside from my tri bike, with me was a huge backpack filled with essentials for mainly after the ride: towel, change of clothes, jacket, sneakers(in case there was time for a run after the ride), bathing suit (you never know), toiletries, extra food, spare bike tubes, etc. It was quite a load but I’m so glad I was prepared. When Coach Robert showed up, we all helped to rack the bikes and get our gear into the car. Not long after, we were off…and gabbing in the car, probably annoying the heck out of Robert and James. Energy at 6am is high with us ladies.
We arrived at the Babylon train station and unloaded the bikes, grabbed a map, and checked the weather one last time to notice that it would in fact rain on us in due time, and most likely for quite a while. I came prepared by wearing: tri top, arm warmers, bike top with sleeves and then a light wind breaker. I knew I could shed layers if I wanted, and in the end, I never took a thing off. Helps to be prepared. But it doesn’t always go so according to plan. I didn’t pack enough food in my shirt pocket and Lauren forgot a huge necessity- bike shoes. Robert was kind enough to lend her his, and soon after we clipped in and we were off riding.
Within a couple miles, we were lost. I mean there was no one else besides our group of five Terriers out there in our line of sight, and it was kind of surprising. Lucy led us all as she knew the area best and had before completed this ride. We trusted her and on we went through neighborhoods and along waterways, picking up a few riders here and there. For quite some time we rode in a pack of about 15 people, and I was happy to meet some nice folks which is always a bonus. I can’t remember when it happened, but maybe around mile 15 or so, the rain started to come down, and it was bad. I felt pellets of water striking me and the dirt from everyones wheels was spraying me as I trailed in the back (my group was a little too fast for me, so I was the caboose trying to keep up). A few wrong turns led us to actually miss the first rest stop which totally bummed me out because I was cold and hungry. Lucy knew of a deli in Bellport, so we all stopped off there and some took bathroom breaks and ate packed snacks. I consumed a small banana and a Honey Stinger honey waffle, but that was all I had, so I knew the next 20+ miles until the next rest stop were going to be brutal without food and in the freezing rain. Yay.
Round two. Off we went heading for the next rest stop which would be in the town of West Hampton. I tried to enjoy the sights but to be honest I was getting really annoyed by the rain and the fact that I was cycling at a pretty fast pace to keep up with most. Then the worst happened - we really did get lost. The road signs were hard to find and we started going in circles…in the rain. Cold, unhappy, lost cyclists do not make for a very positive situation. Maps were soaked and hard to read, GPS was spotty and mentally we all felt drained. At one point it was clear to us that we did an extra 8 miles. We eventually got back on course but I realized that at the speed Lucy was leading us, I would not make it to Montauk a happy camper. I’m just better cruising. So at some point, Cori and I pulled back and took it down a notch and let the others go. We’d see them at the rest stop ahead. Our first rest stop was 65 miles in. Yes, 65 miles of downpours, mouths full of dirt, shoes filled with water, and bodies chilled to the bone. BUT, we made it, and there was food. Hallelujah. The second I clipped out of my bike, someone yelled PIZZA and I bolted for the tent, putting that hot cheese slice down so fast I hardly remember what it tasted like. I can’t say I’ve eaten pizza on a race course, but man was that the ticket. cold, hungry girl + hot, satisfying pizza=success. From then I went onto having an open-faced pb&j, banana, Oreo, Kit Kat bar, jelly beans, some grapes & strawberries and a bottle of water. You would have thought I hadn’t eaten in days. Sheesh. I was getting my monies worth. Cori and I saw another group of Terriers at that stop and decided to ride off with them. 25 more miles until the next stop. Let’s do this.
Round three. There were six of us trying to stick together by creating a pace line of twos. Cori and I trailed in the back and held it strong for 10 miles until we decided we should let them cycle on without us. Once again, we found ourselves with a strong group of riders and there’s no point in holding them back, so we didn’t. Entering South Hampton proved to be not as pleasant as expected as Dune Rd was a nightmare in terms of potholes. This is a ride known for it’s many flat tires along the way, and we didn’t want to be part of that statistic. We climbed one big bridge and on the other side saw some beautiful sights and passed through stunning neighborhoods with such peace and quiet in the air. We briefly stopped around mile 85 to snap pictures of the calming bay and then carried on as our rest stop was nearing closer between 90-95 miles in. Soon it came upon us and it felt like Christmas time. (Seriously, I think I heard bells.) I saw the water mill, repping the town of the same name - Watermill. I was ready for some pie. But there was no pie. I thought there was pie at every stop? Nope, just the last one. Hang in there, Britt. Ok, so no pie, but more pb&j, fruit, and a basket full of candy. Scarfed some of that down, filled up my water bottle, took a pic with the water mill, and we were ready (well, we had to be) for the next leg.
Round four. This one was exciting because within several miles out from our last stop, we would reach our 100th mile! Cori and I had each never completed a century ride before, and this was going to be a big deal for both of us. When we got to THAT spot, we pulled over and snapped some quick pics to mark and celebrate the occasion. The weather was finally nice, we were riding at a steady pace, and now we were getting closer to the finish. We were pretty happy and let that accomplishment sink in. But the ride was not over and we had a tad more to do. We soon got to the next rest stop (which would be our final) in Amagansett. And guess what I ate?! PIE!!!! I ran for the table looking everywhere for apple, but was left with only blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry. I was one bummed chick, but suddenly I turned to my right and there was a HUGE tub of Nutella that wasn’t opened yet. I basically dove into it. And then I smeared it onto a chocolate chip caramel cookie…because that’s just what you do. Or what I do :)
Round five never happened. And here is why. We had done the 108 miles already because of those many extra miles we did early on going in circles. Staffers at the stop told us it would be another 18 miles to the finish in Montauk and Cori was just not feeling that. For some reason, in our minds, we thought we had like 10 to go. 18 just didn’t appeal to us, and after all, we did the mileage we set out to do. So without much hesitation, we let them load our bikes into the truck on site and we hopped on the van that then took us to the finish at Montauk. No shame there.
Arriving at the finish was pretty fantastic. I had never been to Montauk and I was happy to finally get to experience it, even if just for a short while. Right away, our coach greeted us and brought us our things so we could clean up…in the HOT SHOWERS! Yes, my friends, the best part of this ride were the perks at the finish line. There were mobile hot showers so I got to clean off the cold, dirty muck on my body and put on my fresh gear. I almost never left that stall it was so refreshing. Then the teammates all gathered and shared a feast by the water with Blue Point beer which they were serving, along with Mister Softee(!). You bet your butt I had it all. The feeling of accomplishment - going from having done 60 miles to 108 - was well matched with sugar and alcohol. I’m not a drinker at all, but there’s something about a beer that perfectly fits a celebration.
After a few shared stories and team pics, we got our bikes racked on the car once again and waved goodbye to Montauk to begin the warm car ride home. I would have never been able to sneak in a run or a swim but it was smart to have my gear just in case. It was also nice to feel the strength I had to actually do it if I had to. I was starting to feel closer to that Ironman than ever before.
We stopped for some BBQ on the way home, because why turn down more food, and by 11pm I was back in the big city and beat as can be. You can imagine when I hit my bed it was a real treat.
Some takeaways from this ride:
-My saddle. It’s killing my nether regions. I know it’s because I wasn’t riding in aero, but man was it painful and the reason for me not being able to keep up a fast pace. I can't change my shorts so I need to change my a) saddle and/or b) my position.
-Aero bars. I should have gotten into them more. I did it for just a hot sec and had a million reasons why I did't do it more. I’m a baby.
-Money. When I feel I am being ripped off, I get very PO’ed. This ride was great but way too expensive. I would change a few things.
-Mileage. 100 miles was not physically hard for me and I think my training should get a round of applause for that. It’s nice to know hard work pays off.
-Mental toughness. I now know I can do 100+ miles so the Ironman bike course scares me a lot less. That's why these century rides pay off.
-Stick with friends. Don’t ever do these rides without someone your speed. The buddy system should always be in place.
-Have fun. You don’t get many experiences (if any) like this. Enjoy every moment.
Ride on. Ride long. Wear padding.