Road to Montauk
"I would be riding my fixed gear 100 miles across the land of Ralph Lauren, bagels, and thick cut deli meat."
As I sat in our two story ocean front room sipping on an ice cold Montauk IPA surrounded by good friends, I couldn't help but think of the adventure that got us here. It had taken us nine hours of travel: seven and half hours on a bike, one hour and a half on a train. We consumed a whole loaf of bread smothered in peanut butter and overcame flat tires. We weren’t a proper team, just three guys with little to no training who blazed across Long Island.
We managed to lay out a semi concrete plan. I would be riding my fixed gear 100 miles across the land of Ralph Lauren, bagels, and thick cut deli meat. I was anxious and doubtful. I woke from my cozy bed in Bushwick and found Andrew sprawled out on my couch. I was in what might be compared to a drunken state. It was dark, I was confused, and I was wondering what in this world had propelled me to wake up at 4am on a Saturday.
First things first, I made a pot of rich, dark, and extremely caffeinated coffee. Andrew had the same look of skepticism as I had on my face. Now that we had some coffee in our system it was time to slide our bodies into our kits. Cycling kits are made of tight body-shaming lycra that shows every curve and bump of your body. It leaves very little to the imagination. Feeling slightly foolish and slightly naked, we took off into the night, as one does wearing a scantily clad bicycle outfit.
As we peddled our way to our first destination, the wet Brooklyn streets reflected the lights of the New York City night. The greens and reds of the traffic lights crashed with with yellows illuminating from the street lamps above. The buildings remained dark while residents slept warmly in their beds, wrapped up in blankets of cotton. Andrew and I on the other hand were treading through damp streets toward the train station. There was no time to sleep, no time to rest. There was a journey to complete, and it wouldn't start unless we made our train.
We arrived to our rendezvous point, Atlantic terminal, at 5:30am. David was there waiting for us. We boarded the train stalking the perfect territory to post up. It was a short trip to Jamaica, Queens where we transferred to Babylon. Once we made our transfer, it was vital to find the perfect spot store our bikes while traveling in comfort. My anticipation boiled as we sat on that train. I felt like a child on Christmas day ready to crack open that first gift. The uncertainty was all I needed to push me forward.
As we exited the train in Babylon I could smell the moisture in the air. The sky above was looming with grey clouds of rain. The air was cool and refreshing to the touch. It was, to me, the perfect weather to start our ride. We dropped our extra gear off with True in Sylvia, who drove our support car. We were lycra-wearing pilgrims cycling into the abyss to the promise land: the most eastern part of New York State, the Montauk Point Light.
"We were far from home. Still yet we pressed on, because we knew for a fact the grass may not be greener on the other side, but it sure was less pretentious."
We peddled our way across many towns of unfamiliar locations as the clouds parted and the sun warmed our fatigued bodies. We crossed through towns of Long Island that were not featured in the magazines of rich and elitist Hamptonites. By car these neighborhoods exist in a blur, yet by the speed of a bike, every ounce of them is consumed. We rested our weary bodies in their grass, and hid our sore skin from the sun beneath the shade of their trees. The locals gazed in amazement as three grown men sped on past them dressed as lycra-wearing, heat-seeking missiles destined for open ocean.
We trekked on long and hard with zero complaints from our group. As our legs made rotation upon rotation our minds stayed in high spirits. We made it to the Hamptons in what seemed like little to no time. We could see the environment change with every stroke of our legs. Cracked streets became newly paved roads. Beat up Pontiacs and Hondas became Land Rovers and BMWs. Acres of farmland became private and exclusive acres of golf courses. We were far from home. Still yet we pressed on, because we knew for a fact the grass may not be greener on the other side, but it sure was less pretentious.
"Hill after hill, my legs ached and screamed out as I peddled with one gear at my disposal."
We made it to Montauk with our hearts beating like the drums of warriors, if warriors road bikes, wore foam helmets, and mounted their steeds wearing lastic polyurethane fiber instead of body armor. This was it, the last push for 18 miles and we would make it to the light house, where we could most likely buy an overpriced commemorative t-shirt. We strived on as the weather worsened. The skies became foreboding, as the waves to the very right of us shattered against the rocks. The hills gradually became longer and steeper as we reached our near end. Hill after hill, my legs ached and screamed out as I peddled with one gear at my disposal. This was by far the most rigorous part of the journey.
After the last 1,500 foot incline, it was a downhill coast to the lighthouse. As we descended to our finish line, I felt euphoria fill my lungs and I exerted it by hollering out pure hysteria. As I turned the last corner I was met by muffled screams of ecstatic supporters who were nice enough to meet three weary souls at the end of our pilgrimage. We hugged and laughed lavishing in our accomplishments. Finally looking out into the vast unforgivable ocean, it made me realize that this small journey was the beginning of many larger ones to come. So in a hotel in Montauk with sore thighs and a heavy heart, I sat with friends laughing and drinking and speaking of days of past and days to come. I don’t know how I got here but I enjoy the journey that brought me here.
Words: Anthony Garito