Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Long Island Century

I recently visited the Empire State for the first time to ride a century. I’ve been a part of a small email group of vintage cycling nuts like myself for a couple of years now and when the group began planning a century tour of the eastern part of Long Island (where one group member spends his summers) I took the opportunity to see a part of the US I hadn’t yet visited and to finally meet, face to face, many of these guys with whom I’ve traded parts, sought wrenching advice and discussed the finer points of all things cycling.

I flew into JFK and traveled to Penn Station to meet up with one member where we enjoyed several Belgian beers while waiting for another to finish up his day at the office. Then three of us took a cab to the Meat Packing District and enjoyed the beers and food offerings at the Standard Hotel Biergarten before taking a rental car to our host’s home in central Long Island.

Much of Friday was spent preparing our bikes for Saturday’s ride and "talking shop" as various guys trickled in by car or train and set up tents in yard. I didn’t travel with my bike. Since our host rides the same size frames as I do he offered to loan me a bike, a Dutch made Cera 531 frame with a mixed drivetrain that just plain works. As was to be expected, all of the bikes were vintage (or at least classic) bikes with lots of character. Present were a 1972 Mercian, a 70s Wes Mason, a modified Lambert with homemade LED lights and an SX3 hub, an 853 Lemond, an early 70s Olympia, an ’83 Waterford Paramount, ’79 Peugeot PK-10, 80s Univega Gran Turismo, the 650b Bilenky Constructeur tandem built for the 2010 NAHBS and reviewed by Bicycle Quarterly in Volume 9, No. 2, among others.
Wes Mason and Lambert by sommervillebikes
Early 70s Olympia by sommervillebikes

Bilenky Constructeur tandem by sommervillebikes

Our host had thoroughly planned a 116 mile route of the eastern half of the island, taking us through small beach communities, the Hamptons, farms, wineries, historic points of interests and the like.  The terrain was relatively flat (~2,700 ft of climbing) as compared to most of the riding we do here in Louisville and the surrounding area, but it’s not “pancake” flat like you’ll find in south Florida or the like. The roads are generally in very good condition and bike lanes are plentiful.

Our route

We set out just before 6am on Saturday and traveled a few miles to a diner to fuel up. One of the riders had traveled from New Hampshire and had brought a jug of New Hampshire Grade B (darker and richer) maple syrup, which is rarely, if ever shipped out of state. That beats colored corn syrup on your flapjacks for sure. We headed east around the south shore of the island, took two ferries to navigate the eastern tip of the island and back along the north shore of the island.

photo by sommervillebikes

Dune Rd by sommervillebikes

It was a great ride, with a high in the low 90s and high humidity, to which we here are accustomed. The riding was great, but the camaraderie, conversation and new terrain and things to see made it special for me. Perhaps the most interesting part of the ride was what we referred to as The Great Portage, a 400 yard traverse of a beach to connect with another road. Ah, shoes full of sand!

photo by sommervillebikes

The Great Sand Purge by sommervillebikes

It was a great weekend for me and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to have done it. Many thanks to our gracious host and family for the detailed planning and a fantastic ride!

photo by sommervillebikes

photo by sommervillebikes

photo by sommervillebikes

photo by sommervillebikes

photo by sommervillebikes
by Justin