145 Miles to Montauk

18 May

This past weekend was something of an odyssey; from California to New York on Saturday and New York City to Montauk on Sunday, I was truly all over the place. Saturday’s journey was defined by overhead monotone announcements informing half-awake travelers of delayed flights. While Sunday’s adventure was an amazing trek that challenged me both mentally and physically. It was definitely a weekend like no other.

Having arrived in New York about 4 hours after the scheduled time, I was slightly frazzled and out of sorts upon landing. Thankfully I hadn’t checked any baggage so I went straight to the AirTrain, eventually deciding upon spending the extra $5 to take the Long Island Rail Road as opposed to the Subway back into NYC. Despite my mental decision, I took the AirTrain to Howard Beach rather than Jamaica so I ended up saving a few bucks and losing some more time by taking the Subway.

I didn’t arrive home until about 11pm or so, and I didn’t start packing for the ride to Montauk until midnight… I finally fell asleep around 2am which only allowed for about an hour of sleep before I had to wake for the Montauk Century– granted, had I arrived home “on time” I would have had about 5 hours of sleep. In any case, I was in complete denial of the day ahead.

At 3am, I woke to my alarm, floundered about my room in darkness and donned my bike gear that I had laid out just an hour ago. My brain was still sleeping even though the alarm jump started my body into motion. Had I not carefully laid out my clothes and backpack I definitely would have had trouble finding and sorting gear for the day.

I checked in to the event at Penn Station among a handful of avid cyclists, some in groups with matching jerseys, while other solo cyclists like myself lingered on the outskirts of the activity. I received my cue sheet; and after giving it a quick glance, I took off down 8th Avenue just after 5am.

It was surreal crossing the East River into Brooklyn. The sun rose as I made my way across the Williamsburg Bridge, pacing myself behind someone far more awesome than I could ever imagine: a young woman who was completing the 145 miles in flip flops. Her amazing-ness coupled with the beautiful sunrise and my adrenaline set the day off on a wonderful note.

The first rest stop was in Queens, though I didn’t tarry long nor did I stock up on foodstuffs (I regretted this trend later on). The second stop was in Babylon where I stopped long enough to snap a photo. Unfortunately, I lost the cue sheet while riding from the finish line, so I can’t quite recall the remaining rest stops other than the very last one, at Water Mill, where I actually stopped to eat 2 bananas and an apple as I’m quite certain I had depleted all glucose stores in my muscles. Had I actually utilized the rest stops to rest and replenish sugar levels and whatnot, maybe the ride wouldn’t have been as… interesting.

I discovered my physical threshold around 90 miles into the ride. That’s when all sorts of interesting things happened. My leg muscles began to feel like they were constantly contracted, as if at any moment they’d implode. My lungs had that same sensation as I would have had after the last 100 meters of running a mile- except instead of being sharp and lasting a minute or so, the feeling was somewhat subdued and lasted for the remaining hours of the ride. To keep myself going, I remembered the people who believed in me and donated to the Bike & Build Fund as well as thinking of all the pain that people go through who can’t afford housing. It was an excruciating mental and physical exercise.

Thankfully, I found a friend to pace to, or rather, he found me- thanks to my Bike & Build jersey. Matt noticed my super snazzy gear as he was passing by and cycled alongside me for a good amount of the second half of the trek. I did my best to keep pace with him, which ironically increased my average speed for the last bit of the journey. Matt also gave me invaluable tips on shifting gears and tackling hills, which completely altered my hill strategy- okay fine! I didn’t have any strategy for hills before Sunday. Needless to say, Matt was a lifesaver.

I rolled through the finish line around 4pm – 11 hours after starting and completely spent. It was incredible. After parking my bike on the lawn, I took a shower and sat in the shade of a truck to munch on some turkey jerky and reflect on the journey. Everything was great. The shower, the jerky, the lawn… I was riding a wave of endorphins. It was a beautiful experience on so many levels; it was an incredible journey in so many ways. A perfect primer for the awesomeness that is Bike & Build.

NYC to Montauk

NYC to Montauk

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