Sunday, May 13, 2012

The "Swiezy / Pope" Montauk Railroad Century

I've ridden a fair amount of century rides that start at the Babylon Long Island Rail Road train station and end somewhere in Montauk. For those not intimate with the geographically of Long Island, Babylon is about a third of the way out and the village of Montauk is about 6 miles from the end of the southern tip. The terrain of this part of the island is generally flat but wind can always come into play. Point to point is less than the Benjamin but each ride seems to make it above the hundo with a few zigs and zags.

Most of the rides end at or near the Montauk train station, not the world famous lighthouse as depicted in the ride logo above. Since these rides are point to point, riders are left with how to get back to where they started. In the past, my wife and family have SAGed (or cheered me on) which left them in Montauk with a car for transport back but most people take the train. Trains can only accommodate a few bikes so typically the ride organizers get some trucks to transport the bikes back to Babylon. This time my family had other stuff going on so, for the first time, I was planning on riding the chooch back. It was also the first club event that I did with the Suffolk Bike Riders Association (SBRA).

I've been riding with them for a few training rides but haven't found the right group yet. There was about 200 riders riding the club century. All seemed to know which group they were part of as the groups started leaving at 7am. The C+ group that I most commonly rode with (but were normally on the slow side for me) were waiting for most of the other groups to leave before they started. Rather than wait, I just hopped on a random group. If they were too fast, I rationalized could always fall back and latch on to one of the groups behind us.

The effort to keep pace wound up being fine for me. The weather was perfect with a bit of a tail wind which is always good when the ride generally goes in one direction. Compared to highly structured rides, this ride was generally informal. There was a few cars doing SAG support but the rest stops were more of the mindset to find a common place to stop and mooch bathrooms in store or buy additional foodstuff along the way. Our first stop was at Wendy's and the second at a 7Eleven. This group I was with seemed to savor their stops.

Savor, perhaps, isn't strong enough of a word. The rest stops were about 25 minutes (my goal us under 5). At the second stop one of the girls got a salad made for her from the salad bar. At the third, a different girl got a manicure. Really. She said that rather than wait on the bathroom line in a deli, she went into the nail salon next door with no bathroom line and got a little pampered. She couldn't do a pedicure with the cycling shoes on and to save time only got one coat of polish, but that is how much this group enjoyed their stops.

But while we were riding, the group moved at a good pace. They said their goal was a solid B/B+ pace and we were cruising about 16mph most of the time. I found out that there was no reason to push the time on the breaks because the truck for the bikes was expected at Montauk by 7pm before the last train west (at 7:30pm). We finished up early, ate some good pizza in town and a few of us decided to hope that the truck was near the station early, If so, we could hop on an earlier train. The train station is about a mile outside of town.

At the rail road station there was no truck but a train leaving at 5:30. Everyone else waiting had a bike pass for their bike. Apparently they knew this deal and got an annual bike pass for a few bucks beforehand. I did not. The concern was that the rail road staff only are supposed to let 2 bikes on per car and there was about 20 bikes trying to get on. All must have passes. When the train doors opened, we all put the bikes on quickly. The conductor came by and while the other guys showed their passes, I waved a generic ticket. She didn't give us a hard time so we considered this a win! I'm sure we could have made an even earlier train but even so we saved a few hours.

I looked back at this ride with a lot of positives. The pace was decent. I held it for a hundred miles. I finished a century with a dubious level of fitness and an even more dubious amount of training. I realized that my fitness can't be that bad if I'm still able to ride a century at a decent pace. Today, the next day, I feel fine. Yes my body realizes that it did something but overall I consider this ride a success.

The journey continues....


TriMOEngr said...

Glad the ride wasn't too painful and that the conductor wasn't too picky about the bike's ride back. Sounds like a solid riding day (but I laughed for sure at the manicure note).

Lora Abernathy said...

Hey, that is pretty awesome. Glad you had a great race, and aren't feeling it afterwards.

Kate Geisen said...

That's a long stop, for sure. I was thinking on my solo ride yesterday (only 50 miles) that one of the nice things about the groups that I usually ride with is the regrouping stops, which get me off my seat. Riding alone, I tend to make a lot fewer stops, which makes the rides go faster but not nearly as pleasantly.

Sounds like you had a great ride and there's more fitness lingering than maybe you thought. :)

Al's CL Reviews said...

I cannot stop laughing about the manicure.

Great job!