Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Ride to Montauk

A 'century' in cycling terms means a 100 mile bike ride. It's also code for something I never thought I could do. You couldn't have bet me on my first day out in clipless pedals that I'd ever grow confident enough to ride the way I do now. Though my interest in the sport over the past three years has been great, I had a huge fear of riding on my own. I got my very first road bike in 2009, a beautiful gift from a friend, and I put a bit of extra money into it myself, as well. I'd decided to go ahead and switch out the pedals so I'd learn right off the bat how to clip in and out which is the best decision I could've made. I'll never forget falling right over in the first five minutes I was on it and I kept thinking I'll never ever get the hang of this. Well, fast forward to the present, and I'm a radically different person on the bike. I have to giggle even at times when I think about what a process it can be to overcome fear. I think the greatest lesson is learning to not take yourself or things so seriously and to simply try. Just remember how to breathe, take things one step at a time and see what happens. More often than not, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

On that happy note, back to the cycling. Since I've been riding so much, especially lately, a couple of cycling buddies threw out the idea of doing Ride to Montauk together. There are various mileage options you can pedal but we decided on the 100 mile route since most of us had never done a century before. We all signed up and, on June 18th, we hit the road for what would be one of the greatest, most adventurous, hilarious, bonding and memorable days for all of us.

I have to briefly mention the day prior to riding where me, Cristina, Ginna and An volunteered in order to get our ride entry free. It was seriously the most ghetto operation in history. Not only that, it was literally hard work. We loaded trucks for six hours and, if not for the hilarity that always ensues when we're together, we might have lost it. Numerous times. I love our naive smiles before the day begins:
I mean, ghet-to:
Enough of that. Soon enough, ride day got here and we were all excited! We met at An's apartment building just before 4am (this would most certainly be the start of our adventure) and off through Times Square we went on our way to Penn Station. I have to was uniquely cool to be riding at that hour and to realize that we truly do live in the city that never sleeps:
We met the rest of our group at Penn, got our bikes loaded on the truck and jumped on the train to Babylon which is where our official 100 mile start would begin. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, too. We saw the sun come up on the train which was really neat and we were hanging out having coffee while we waited on our bikes to arrive, all before 7am:
By 7:30am, we hit the road! We were all in amazing spirits and each of us was ready to kill it. It truly was awesome riding along such a beautiful route as the sun was just getting a little higher in the sky:
Our first rest stop was really soon into the route at 25 miles and none of us really needed to stop. However, it was right at the beach so we had to check out how neat that was:
We got back on the road and wouldn't you know that Blue Point Brewery was just two short miles away. Wouldn't you also know that, even at 9:00am, they were up and running full swing offering free beers to cyclists. Um, that's only a little up my alley...! So, we had another lovely pit stop tasting delicious beers and cracking each other up, as usual:
We had to make ourselves be responsible and get back on the bike before our full century stayed at a quarter century. We proceeded to ride one of the most beautiful routes alongside the water, past flowers and stunning homes, and we had smiles on our face the whole way:
Around mile 75, we finally approached the rest stop that had the infamous homemade pie we'd kept hearing about. An and I had just come down from catching onto the wheel of some speed demons so I'm hugely disappointed to say that I was in no mood for pie when we stopped. I was solely concerned with gatorade and breathing but I made myself try at least a bite because I'd looked forward to that the most the entire time. It was delicious:
As we got back in the saddle to finish those last miles, An and I ran into that same speedy group again. We looked over at each other with that "let's do this" smirk and we caught their wheel a second time. We powered through the next 12 miles at a solid 25 miles an hour and, at that late point in our ride, we were both SO proud of ourselves. We came around to a final tough climb at the end (arrrrgh!) and we both rolled into the finish together feeling pretty darn amazing. By the way, it was 106 miles and not 100. Liars!

Sadly, our high quickly came down when we learned that a) the crap organization ran out of BEER (what?!?!) and most of the food and b) our girl, Cristina, flatted out with just four miles left to the finish. Luckily, the rest of our awesome crew was there with her to help get her back up and running. Those girls kick some serious ass:
When we finally regrouped, we had to break the news to the girls that there were no celebratory beers which was seriously heartbreaking. Yeah, you think I'm kidding. I'm not. However, we all stopped then and there to recognize the awesome day we'd had and it totally didn't break our spirits. That's about the time that An walks up out of nowhere with mysterious ice cold Coronas and it was like angels were singing:
Yod-An, our savior. She'd walked around and found a little place selling beers and took care of us all. I don't even like Corona but it was the best beer I'd ever had, ha. We still had to wait on the train back and all of us were truly exhausted at that point. You can certainly tell:
It was also pretty trippy to watch the sunset from the train since we'd seen the sunrise together, too:
We got back to Penn Station around 11pm and I wish I could say the night ended on a positive note. Unfortunately, due to very poor organization, we had to wait another 45 minutes for our bikes to arrive and our fatigue was getting the best of us. I'm extremely proud to say that none of us lost it, though. We kept up the positivity for as long as we could but it wasn't easy. It was after midnight when we all finally got our bikes and parted ways. After starting our day at 3:30am, I can tell you that I was dead to the world. So, when I got a terrible flat riding home on Park Avenue, that was just the last straw. I had a good cry as I walked my bike the rest of the way home because, at that point, I think I just needed to vent and that was my way of doing so.

Regardless, we had the most terrific day together. It's amazing when you laugh so hard while riding that you really almost crash. These girls have become dear to me and I couldn't have imagined a better crew to spend nearly 24 hours with. We all bring something so different to the table and it makes for a truly special, unique, rare group and I treasure it. We've been riding hard together since and have no plans of slowing down. I'm a very lucky gal to have these women in my life and I'm excited for what I know will be continued shenanigans to come.  

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