Today’s ride began with this view, a few short miles into the Bike NY Twin Lights Ride. This was my second BNY ride of the year, and I chose it because it brought me to an area that I’ve never cycled in: the Jersey Shore.
The ride started in downtown Highlands, NJ, about two hours from my home. Based on the numbers of cars I saw in the lots, I’m guessing the event was attended by about a thousand riders, for which they had about six porta potties, but more on that later.
Having never been to this region of NJ, I did not know what to expect in terms of support and the route itself. I’ll spare you the suspense and tell you that the route is exceptional and very nearly flat. Whatever “hills” there are pop up in the last 10 miles of the route. You can see the route here. I guess I’ve ridden a fare amount of hills this summer, because this route was a breeze and I made wonderful time, despite long lines at the rest areas.
The route takes you through Red Bank, Oceanport, Wall Township with a wonderful stretch adjacent to the boardwalk.
That’s as close as I got to the ocean. I really wanted to take more pictures but did not want to dawdle and lose time on the boardwalk. The ride is worth it just for this stretch along the ocean, though I imagine it could be challenging in the wind.
There were a couple of hiccups in the route, or should I say logistics. First up was this bridge crossing.
The TSA (yes, that TSA) had a team on the bridge to make sure riders walked across the grated section. The grated section was about 15 feet wide. Now imagine dozens of riders trying to negotiate the grates wearing cleated shoes, and you can quickly see that it would’ve been safer to let people ride across the bridge.
The second hiccup involved inadequate support at the rest areas. The first stop, at 10 miles, had 3 or 4 johns. I waited nearly 20 minutes for my turn, even as a BNY volunteer stood next to us shouting that the century riders should depart the rest area or be limited to the 75 mile ride. The next stop had a 10 minute line for water and a 10 minute line for the johns. Once again, there was the announcement that riders should get moving or risk having their route closed.
I think it’s preposterous to set strict time limits if you cannot support the throughput at the rest areas. Lest I sound like a grouchy asshat, the throughput issue was the subject of conversation at all of the rest areas. They need to have more johns and water jugs next year.
After the second rest stop, I decided I wasn’t going to stop at all unless I needed water, and that was the plan I followed for the rest of the ride. There is something to be said for randonneuring, where no one provides a porta john or formal rest area to the riders. I need to try more rando rides next year and fewer “big/commercial” events. I simply expect to much in exchange for my registration fee!
Having said that, the event was otherwise very nicely organized. The route was expertly marked, making the cue sheet and GPS file redundant. The finish line boasted a live band and a number of local restaurants selling food from tents. I scarfed down to empanadas. Yummy.
I did not see a lot of traditional bike porn. About 75% of riders were on Specialized or Trek bikes. A lot…I mean a LOT of mountain bikes for a course that was entirely on nicely paved roads. And at least three tandems, including a lovely powder-blue CoMotion from Virginia.
It’s funny, since getting the Burley Piccolo I’ve been plotting to take one of the kids on it for a short organized ride. The 25 mile version of this ride might have been perfect. The Piccolo is also making me look at tandems, wondering when the kids will be old enough to to step into the rear of a two-up tandem. I’d certainly enjoy their company on rides like this.
Distance: 73 miles mostly flat
# of nice drivers who pulled over to chat with me: 1
# of obnoxious drivers who shouted obscenities and told me to ride on the sidewalk: 2
Empanadas consumed: 2
Home made waffle snacks consumed: 6 (Google “Feed Zone Cookbook, waffles”)
Rating ( 0 -10 ) = 8