Monday, September 24, 2007

2007 Bike New York Twin Lights Century


View of sunrise over Coney Island from the deck of the SeaStreak Ferry, en route to the start of the 2007, Bike New York, Twin Lights, Monmouth County Century. (You'd think with a name this long it would be a bigger ride than it is, but more on that later.)

I don't know why I decided to do this Century - maybe to prove that I could, maybe to see what it felt like to actually ride 100 miles instead of survive the 100 which is how I felt about the NYC Century, or maybe just because the days are going to get shorter and every opportunity for a beautiful ride seems like a good idea.

The day started well. The forecast was perfect for a ride and I made it to the pick up point at Pier 11 with time to spare.

The SeaStreak Ferry runs to NJ year-round, but this route gets busy during the summer when smart city dwellers run away to the beautiful, clean, uncrowded beaches at Sandy Hook State Park. The ferry ride itself was beautiful and relaxing. I chilled out for the 45 minute ride, and even had a cup of COFFEE.

The start was two minutes away from the ferry landing in Highlands NJ. The sun was up. The day was looking grand. All was right with the world.


The longer distance riders all looked pretty homogeneous. Not that there weren't many colors of people, but not that many different 'types'. Everyone was riding a 'nice' road bike, there were one or two exceptions to the spandex, but we stood out like sore thumbs, and the median age felt like it was about 45.

I checked in (again) and went to get my 100 mile cue sheet. Considering how few people there were, it seemed chaotic at the start. The nice man who I asked for the 100 mile cue sheet, kindly offered me a 50 mile sheet in case I wanted to back out. I very nicely declined and even resisted the urge to drop-kick him for patronizing me before 8am.

I set off down the road, a little nervous about riding in a completely unfamiliar area, but that's one of the best reasons to do these rides - they are plotted, planned, marked, and fully supported, so if you run into trouble, you've got help coming.

I arrived at the Oceanport Rest Stop with a group of riders who left at about 8am - and it wasn't set up yet.
I have no idea what the 7:30 riders did, my guess is they just skipped it. It was only about 10 miles in, so fine.
Got to the Sunnyside Rest Stop - and this is where my memory fails me because they all melt together at a certain point - either here, or at the Shark River Rest Stop they had no water. No Water. I filled my water bottle out of a sink that said "Please, only use sink to wash hands". I'm assuming (mostly because I didn't get sick) that if the water wasn't drinkable, it would have specifically said - "Don't Drink The Water". As it was, the water was warm, I was unhappy, and the rest stops were about 20 miles from each other - out in BF NJ, so water seemed pretty important.
Oh, for those of you who wanted a PBJ - I took the last half they had. Sorry.

Somewhere around the 70 mile mark, I saw my first marshal. He asked me what I was doing so far behind him and I commented that if he was supposed to be sweeping the tail of the ride, I had just left a large bunch at the last rest stop. No idea what that was about. The he asked me how I was enjoying the ride. I said, "Eh".
I thought I was just being cranky at the time.
Don't ask me if I'm enjoying myself at mile 70. Until 50 or 60, I'm usually feeling pretty good. More than 60 miles is where the Century turns into more than the average ride for me and it becomes work. Like a work horse, at about 85 miles, I can smell the stables and start sprinting for home. Between the two, I'm cranky.

The total climb for the 100 is 4,058 feet. Most of that falls into the final 20 miles.


I made it almost all the way to the end and then had to walk the final hill at mile 100 that led past the turnoff to the ferry landing.
There's a sadist laughing somewhere in Monmouth County.

The Twin Lights Century is much much smaller that the NYC Century and I'm not sure if that's the problem, or if that's what makes their lack of preparation even worse. I have much more respect for the organizers of the NYC Century now than I did when I rode it. It's tough to get it together the way they did and the Twin Lights proved that.
I saw one marshal, no SAG wagon, and spent at least a half hour wandering around various rest stops looking for some water to drink, or something that wasn't a cookie to eat.

In the end, I didn't enjoy this as much as the NYC Century, but it was a good experience. It made me think about what I like about biking, and what I'm less than fond of.
I don't like going around in circles. I like seeing new things. I like to focus on a goal. I don't like hills. I like drinking cold water. I don't like mealy cookies. I liked the parkour aspect of the NYC century, I was less enamored with the 85 of 100 miles through suburban NJ.

This has nothing to do with how the ride was organized but man, New Jersey People, what is it with the roadkill? I saw so much roadkill that I'm surprised there are any living things left in Jersey. For a while I was keeping count and making up modes of categorizing the different types, but I gave up at about 35 carcasses and shouldn't a whole deer count as more?

I would absolutely do this ride again, but either I would only do the 30, which is a lovely loop around the most picturesque areas, or I would try to talk someone into going with me. It's just not interesting enough to do alone.

I finished in 8.5 hours including rest stops and missed the 4:30 ferry by minutes.

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