The Montauk Century: 108 miles, two wheels, no chamois cream

We did it!

Montauk Century 2016

Sunrise in Babylon

We got up at 2:30 am, smeared peanut butter on bagels outside the Barclay’s Center, boarded a minivan to Babylon, Long Island, and proceeded to ride our bikes 108 miles to the end of the line. It was Saturday, May 21: the Montauk Century 2016.

Known to some nipple balm endorsers who shall remain nameless as “an old man’s ride,” this hundred-ish mile pedal-fest to the tip of Long Island has been happening in some form since 1964 (and I’ll have everyone know we only overheard one conversation that referenced “taking fiber”). Seeing as how I got just about all the physical exertion I can imagine wanting in one day from this experience, I say you can take your longer, hillier, spicier, juvenile delinquent-age rides and go ride them yourself, hot shot.

As for Jonathan, Andy, Arthur, and I, we soaked in the sights as we made our way eastward, sights that included:

  • Mansions
  • Potato fields
  • Mother goose and fuzzy baby geese!
  • Signs offering free mulch and mulch at a price
  • Guys in full spandex with beer guts passing us
  • Mansion-dwellers getting their new Lamborghini (or something) delivered off a semi truck whose hubcaps were decked out with six-inch chrome spikes
  • One or more of us belting out Twisted Sister lyrics to keep the energy up

To be honest, much of it is already a blur. The hypnotic effect of spinning mile after mile, enveloped by the twelve-foot-high, super-coiffed hedges of Amagansett, Water Mill, and Southampton turned much of the day into one great green undulation. Even at the 50-mile rest stop, we were getting pretty dopey!

Montauk Century 50 mile rest stop

We’re not even halfway there yet?! Should I laugh or cry…

But when we pedaled through to the finish line—which on this posh ride meant beer, massages, ice cream, and a mobile shower unit—the stiff knees and sore bum readily gave way to excellent new feelings of accomplishment, relief, and the various chemical buzzings that result when you put things like beer and ice cream into your body. Ahh!

Would I do another one? Sure. Would I use the free sample of chamois cream next time? Maybe.

“We just met on the Internet. … Wait, that’s not what it sounds like!”

Nothing wrong with meeting on the Internet, of course! But the phrase sounded funny when I used it to describe my relationship to musician and writer Mariel Beaumont as I blew in to Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory a few nights ago in search of her and not sure I’d recognize her.

Mariel wrote to me last week to say she enjoyed this interview about vinyl record collectors I wrote for Medium and asked if I had any tips for promoting work on the site. While I was super-stoked to get a shout from someone I didn’t know, I had to be super-disappointing and let Mariel know that all the strokes that article’s gotten have been courtesy of the Dust & Grooves publicity machine; no marketing genius of mine.

Church Girls

Mariel (female) with her band. One of these guys is her twin brother!

We got to talking just the same and I learned her band Church Girls was going to be up from Philly in just a few days to play a show. I told her I’d try to make it, she told me she’d put me on the list, and—this outcome is far too infrequent—we both did what we said!

After I made a few wrong guesses, she spotted me in the crowd, we chatted for a bit, I heard Church Girls’ très bon indie/post-punk/folk-type set (with a few ripping guitar solos and a little Sam Cooke thrown in), and she was even nice enough to procure me a secret beer from backstage. (Pro-tip for making friends: this effort never fails to impress.)

In addition to getting lots of love for her music from the persnickety press, Mariel has written some great stuff, including this story, on Medium, about some of the real-life lessons she took from an adolescence spent at DIY shows and basement clubs. (See, this is the extent of my marketing strategy: “Hey, blog readers—check this other article out!”)

Despite its inherent identity as a connector, we all know the Internet has a Jekyll and Hyde personality that can work to isolate us (and deluge us with crap) as well as it can bring us closer together. As something of a luddite, it’s nice for me to occasionally be reminded of the ability of tools like web publishing and email to allow us to meet new, actual people in real, physical places. So much the better when those people are genuinely cool, and offer you beer.