The Longest Day
208 miles in one Day

(Last updated: Thu. Sep 24, 2009)

The Longest Day, Day of the ride

The day of the ride

Here's a list of things that need to be done just before o while on the ride.

  • Relax! You've done your training and today you should just ride. If you've trained properly your body knows what to do. If not, well, ouch!
  • Take advantage of your SAG wagon. Don't carry anything extraneous. Keep one extra tube, an air pump and your tire irons.
  • Carry an extra ID to identify yourself in case you can't speak. Don't put it in your wallet with your other ID.
  • While riding drink lots, often and eat small amounts often, on this day you'll really need it. It might now be a bad idea to periodical yell out 'drink'.
  • Remember to downshift at the lights and stops. After a few hours your mind will wander and you'll forget to downshift. If it's a habit then you'll do it unconsciously. It's also another good thing to call out while stopping for a light, yields, stop signs and rest stops. Trust me it will save your knees and some strength on this long ride.
  • Make sure you have at least a water bottle (2 is better). I ride with 2 water bottles and a 3L Camelbak for the Pine Barrens. I fill the water bottles with straight water and dump it on my head to cool off. Even warm water can cool on a hot day.
  • Everyone not following the cue sheet shouldn't be looking at their mileage. Average speed is OK but try to ignore time (except at stops and pace line pull duration) and distance. Try to let you're mind enjoy the scenery and enjoy the ride. In the Pine Barrens see if you can smell the pine, see the animals (yes they're there hiding), feel the breeze on your face and the sweat glistening on your arms (Okay, Sandy you can stop with the 'Do you know how I know you're gay?'comments ;-). It really makes the ride more enjoyable. My team generally can ignore the cue sheet as I have it memorized but one of my fellow riders does double check me as I suffer from the doldrums like everyone else and have been know to take a wrong turn (usually caught quickly). But only once, two years ago and it was only one out of about 150 instructions, not too bad. We still have a good laugh at my expense on that one.
  • Have a good sense of humor and don't push the bounds of 'good taste' within the group. As you begin the second half, tension will be higher and the slightest annoying things will get amplified. People get tired and cranky so be careful.
  • Enjoy the scenery it really is lovely. There are lots of farms, domestic animals and wild animals. But ...
  • ... don't day dream and forget you're in a pace line. Pay attention to what's going on around you. If you've trained properly then your body will be on auto pilot and your mind can wonder a little bit.
  • Don't wear head phones or anything else that might hinder your hearing. It's illegal in the state of NJ! Though we usually look for cars we also listen for them. Today's new hybrid can really mess that up as many are completely silent. It's very eerie to see them pass but not to hear them approach.
  • Don't overlap the wheel of the rider in front of you. You will go down if the two of you bump and it (usually) will be your fault not the rider in front of you. Usually broken bones, bikes and helmets are the outcome of such a crash.
  • If you are in a pace line and it begins to 'yo-yo' (speeds up, slows down, repeat) then back off the wheel in front of you some distance. This usually happens when someone is tired or the terrain changes. Either way it's the quickest way to get into an accident. Be careful!
  • Don't fix your attention on the wheel in front of you. Instead try to see what's going on further down the road or several riders up. This will give you some time to react to a situation.
  • When it's your turn at the front of the pace line keep a watchful eye out for trouble ahead. Not just a few feet in front of you but several yards ahead. This allows to react calmly and guide the group gently around the hazard. Also don't increase the pace. I find that when I get to the front that if I down shift one gear, I don't pull away from the group.
  • Wait until you are not on the front of the pace line to adjust anything you are wearing, take drinks or eat food, stand up or anthing else that might be unexpected. Doing something that suddenly causes you to slow down or causes your bike to shoot backwards is very dangerous. When you are at the front keep pedaling. You can rest when you come off the front. If you're too tired to pull then get off the front sooner. Accidents happen when you're tired.
  • Notify the ride leader of anyone that is either not well or having difficulty with the pace.
  • If you can't keep the pace then don't take a pull at the front of the pace line or shorten your turn. Usually everyone wants to do their fair share of the work but sometimes you can't. When your turn comes just carefully pull off the front of the pace line.
  • Ride within yourself. If you're the one who can't keep the pace be mindful of others. Letting folks know early allows your team to drop the pace a little bit. This could be the difference between completing the ride on the bike or in the SAG. The scenery is much better on the bike. Other times they could allow you to hang at the back to rest up. If you can't handle either then it's time to put your ego aside and just say you can't finish the ride. Don't ruin it for everyone. If you have a good team they'll slow down and help you complete the ride.
  • Remember that this is a 200 and 8 mile ride. On my first ride I was so excited to see 200 miles and was promptly disappoint by not seeing the Light House. I was so worked up about seeing the Light House at 200 miles that the last 8 miles were my least favorite part of the ride. I now finish the ride with the strength to go another 60 miles, except I can't swim. ;-)

Every stop

Our stops are usually kept short, this is important early on as it means that you'll pass through the Pine Barrens earlier in the day (yes every minute counts). We've found that 10 to 15 minutes works well and it doesn't let your muscles tighten up. Which in turn means that you won't need to warm up your muscles again and can get back into a pace line quickly.

  • While pulling into the rest stop downshift to an easy gear. It's better to downshift to a 'too easy' gear than it is to a 'too hard' gear. Remember that you will stiffen up a bit at rest stops.
  • Refill fluid into your Camelbak and/or bottles. Keep one bottle just water for dumping over your head in the heat of the day. As I've said I carry extra water in the Pine Barrens for this purpose. My main fluid source is my Camelbak.
  • At the same time don't eat too much at one time as it will sit in your stomach undigested. This is especially true if a hard section, such as a steep climb, is coming up. Eat less food but eat more often.
  • Eat a little something, a banana, a power bar, something. On this day you won't be able to replace the calories you burn. Don't push your luck with too large a deficit by not eating or waiting until you're hungry. Then it's too late.
  • Vary your diet (food/drink) through out the day. If you eat the same thing all day long your digestive system will get bored and that usually leads to rumbling, gas or worse
  • A quick check of your tires for debris stuck on or in the tire and check for slow leaks. By catching it early you'll avoid a flat later on.
  • Potty breaks, Smoke'm if you've got'em! Restrooms, that is. There are many places (WaWa's, parks, etc.) where you can stop but don't get nasty with small stores that don't have public rest rooms. I don't recommend roadside stops in the Pine Barrens. There are ticks, snakes, mosquitoes and swamps. Even a port-a-potty beats hiding behind a tree. Besides it gives you a chance to see if you're drinking enough. If your urine exits dark and foul (you won't need to put your nose in it to know) then drink more fluids, NOW! If it's light then you're fine. In between, adjust accordingly. If you can't go then you're probably not drinking enough. On one really hot day (105F) we rode 100 miles, needed no pee breaks, sweat like mad and drank like fish. I suffered from dehydration for the next 3 days. I must have drank about 11L of fluid that day. I don't recommend riding on a 105F degree day.
  • Have a sore back, shoulders and/or neck from riding in a tuck too long? One solution is to lay down on hot asphalt (but not in traffic). The heat from the road will do wonders for your muscles. Thanks Gina Lipman for that one! :-) You might want to cover your face with a cool wet towel to cool your face off. That way you won't overheat.
  • Before leaving a stop make sure you've already down shifted before you get on the bike. You really should have down shifted as you came into the stop but you may have forgotten.

The Lunch stop

Our lunch stops tend to be a bit longer but we're trying to do a lot more here. In the past we've kept them to 45 - 60 minutes and that's worked well. This year we're trying 30 minutes (worked well in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009) with an additional 30 minute break 2 stops later once we're past the worst of the Pine Barrens. We're hoping that the shorter stops will be more forgiving on our muscles. As the longer the stop the more your muscles will tense up. We're also saving 15 minutes in over all time (old = 60 + 15 min for 2 stops vs. new = 30 + 30 min. for 2 stops).

  • We like to eat 'normal' food. Ice Cream, subs, cookies and/or cake. But never eat too much, save it for the next stop. And don't experiment with new food the day of the ride. Having food sit in your stomach, undigested, is a sure way to upset your digestive tract. That can lead to a shortened ride.
  • In addition to eating a (slightly) larger meal. Pump up your tires to full pressure.
  • Use the rest room!
  • Wash up, you'll feel more comfortable. Even rinsing your hair might not be a bad idea. Getting the sweat out of your hair and off your face means it won't get in your eyes later. It should at least cool you off.
  • Change your clothes and your socks. It will make it seem more like a new ride.
  • Re-apply sun block (every 2 hours) or sooner if you sweat heavily.
  • Re-apply chamois cream to your shorts.
  • Keep it short so as not to let your muscle become too tight.
  • You might want to put away that phone, it may eat up valuable time that could be used to shove food in your mouth.