A year ago to the day I wrote a post called a long island ride. This past weekend I had the good fortune of making it again. The mouth procedure I’m planning was bumped back by one week giving me the opportunity to sign up for this over-sold ride before the cutoff date.
Although I’ve been commuting to work on a bicycle every day for a few months, that 10-mile round trip did little to prepare me for a long ride. So this year rather than starting from Penn Station, I elected the shorter 110 mile ride from Babylon to Montauk. I thought it would be easier. Last year there was a light tailwind making the lengthily ride somewhat of a breeze. To change perspective, the weather decided on a non-stop 15 mph headwind as a reminder of who was in ultimate control. Still, it was sunny, cool, and a beautiful day for a bike ride.
The Babylon route meant turning over the bike in Manhattan so it would be waiting at the start point. It also meant showing up at the Penn Station train terminal at 4:30 am. I showed up bushy-tailed, along with hundreds of others. The train was full. I sat next to a couple who flew in from Seattle to make the ride. They peppered me with questions about what they might see. They were experienced long-haul bikers having traveled up and down the West Coast several times. After we got off the train, I never saw them again as a thousand or two riders headed off the platform to look for their bikes.
As always for events like this, a pocket full of patience is worth its wait (yes pun). Because the train was full, there was a wait getting off the platform, a wait getting into where the bikes were staged, a wait to get out with the bike, and a wait to check a bag (unless you want to ride 110 miles loaded down, you check a bag with fresh clothes, towel, and reading material for the return trip). At the end the waits were in reverse. Like taking an airline trip, the pleasures of traveling are served with courses of waiting on either end of the trip.
Still, the ride was beautiful and worth the small inconveniences. What was painfully obvious for señor ego was that riders of all types seemed to push a more robust cadence than my legs were willing to permit. I had to remind myself it was a ride not a race, even though there were benefits to finishing earlier, like savoring a few minutes before the crowd was too large gobbling down a couple pints of free Blue Point Blueberry Pale Ale before the 3.5 hour train trip back. After landing at Penn Station at 8:45 pm, I hopped on a Citi Bike and was home by 9 for a well-deserved piece of sauce-ladened lasagne before greeting my bed with open arms.
The bike was patiently waiting for me to pick up the next day, Sunday, at the place where I dropped it off on Friday. With luck or good fortune, I’ll do the ride again sometime.