This was my first time doing the Ride to Montauk and, I have to say, I can’t wait to do it again. Though thousands of people participate, it never felt too crowded – at any given moment, I was only aware of 2-10 cyclists (except at the rest stops, of course). And cycling through the Hamptons is as good as traveling in a foreign country – albeit one where everyone drives really expensive convertibles, the streets are lined with 25-foot hedges and impeccably-manicured hydrangeas, and the gigantic mansions are just empty, cubical glass figurines that stare off into the eternity of the Atlantic. There was so much unmarred eye candy along the entire ride. The scents along the route were wonderful, too, switching between freshly mowed grass, natural floral perfume, and the sea. Bonus: you don’t actually have to talk to anybody who lives there to enjoy their incredible landscape.
I had originally hoped to do the century, but after a bad bout of food poisoning that really only resolved itself on Friday, I worried I was going to be too dehydrated. So I joined my friend Raymond for the 70-mile ride (74 miles by my odometer); I figured that if I were to die of thirst, at least he’d be there to drag my body to the sidewalk and tell my mom.
In the end, 74 miles were plenty for me. Though most of the ride was quite flat, there is one very daunting-looking bridge sometime before the famous pie rest stop. (That Briermere Farms pie is truly excellent – it’s not just run-of-the-mill farmers market fools’ pie. Flaky crust, generous on the fruit, not too sweet.) And then the last five miles have some short but steep hills that were OMFG mentally tough so close the finish. But I powered over them! And I’m very proud. I couldn’t imagine doing 30 more miles on top of that, but maybe I’ll try it next year. However, doing the 74-mile route meant that I got to sleep in a bit since we didn’t have to start driving to Mastic-Shirley until 7AM.
Some n00b advice:
- Padded bike shorts – they should be mandatory. Esp. if you don’t want to turn your nether regions into mashed turnips. Even if you do wear them, expect to feel very butt-hurt by the end of the ride.
- You won’t be eating a proper meal until the end of the ride. The rest stops are for bananas, water, and, of course, a few slices of pie. Too much eating can make you uncomfortable, so keep it light.
- Next time, I’m wearing sleeves – I got terrible sunburn on my shoulders.
- On that note, wear sunscreen! And lip protectant. (My lips always burn first.)
- It’s pretty cool, weatherwise, up in Montauk. Pack a sweater in your bag. And a towel and toiletries for the best hot shower of your life in the Porta-Kleens (not joking).
- If you register early, you only have to wait on one line to put your bike into the truck. Seems worth the $8.
- Bring your wristband to bike pick-up so they can identify you as the owner. Otherwise, you’ll get into an argument with the bike guards who are just trying to make sure no one steals the hundreds of bikes they’ve got lined up on 10th Ave.
Some people complained about headwind this year, but I didn’t think it was so bad. I experienced far worse in Provence and Gotland. Of course, much credit goes to my beautiful baby bike. A road bike with clips and a computer makes so much more sense when you’re doing a long ride like that, uninterrupted by stoplights and traffic. By the end of the 74 miles, I felt as much love for it as one can feel for a possession.
What ride should I try next?
UPDATE: Fauna I totally forgot to write about: I saw a turtle crossing the road quickly and with purpose (smart!); I saw a deer emerge from my side of the road and only to get hit by a pool truck on the other side of the road (I literally went, “Aww, deer…OH MY GOD!”); the Hamptons have such pretty red-shouldered birds.