The Longest Day
208 miles in one Day

(Last updated: Thu. Sep 24, 2009)

Longest Day 2004

First let me state that I mean no disrespect to the true effort of the Longest Day (the Normandy Invasion) from World War II. A great man men died that day to allow me the freedoms I enjoy. The ability to do this ride and to post the following commentary are just two of the freedoms I enjoy. I often think of the men who gave their lives on D-Day and wonder if I could have done it? I hope I never have to find out.

The following is a post to the newsgroup rec.bicycles.misc I made on June 13, 2005. I've taken some liberties with the story for humor but not too many. It is somewhat of a fun poke my club's ride, the Longest Day. Enjoy ...

The best Longest Day (so far)

I'm feeling pretty good (and still really hungery!) after riding what I'm told is an easy double century. It's run by the Central Jersey Bike Club (NJ, USA) and it's called the Longest Day (it's held near the summer equinox). It's really kind of funny because if you talk to people who are not cyclist (and a few who are) they hear '207 miles in one day' and think your nuts. Talk to people who have ridden doubles and they'll poo-poo it as being easy. Uhm, it's still 200 and 7 miles :-). Anyway this is my fourth time doing this and I'd completed it with an average rolling speed of 15.6, 16.2, 16.8 and Saturday's 17.7 mph! Now the story I'm about to tell is from my point of view, none of the names are change but I may exaggerate the truth a bit. I'll just blame it delirium from too many mile and not enough food. ;-) Yeah that sounds good. Also times are estimated but start finish and avg speed are real.

So to everyone who did it, congratulations!

Start time:     4:07 AM
Finish time:    6:54 PM
Avg. speed:     17.7 mph

Well another Longest Day has passed and hopefully so will the aches
and pains.  :-)

There were 4 members on our team:

Gina - the fastest and strongest member of our team,  It's her job to
       drag the old men's butts home. Which she enjoys too much.  :-)

Mark - sort of the team captain because he had more experience with
       the ride than any of us (5 times and no common sense  ;-).

Dennis - a fast tri-athlete who decided to give a double a try this is
         his first. But he learned fast not to do this ride again. We
         helped him train for his first Longest Day and only neglected
         to mention one thing ...

Greg - our SAG driver. I think he just likes to watch is torture our
       selves. He doesn't get enough credit for his work supporting
       our ride.

and me - I'm the time keeper. I count to 90 and told the person on the
         front of the pace line to come off the front. Yes I did this
         all day long (just call me the Count ;-).  I have 4 Longest
         Days and about the same amount of common sense as Mark.

03:00 - We got up and got ready for the ride, we weren't sleeping anyway
        as some 'dang fool' cyclists wouldn't shut up all night!

04:00 - We're on the road again, it was a dark, 45F and foggy night
        and it was cold! I hate the cold. We rode through the hills in
        Western NJ, these ain't mountains folks, near High Point, NJ.
        Yes, there's not much there so we created a state park around
        the highest point in NJ ;-). These hills kept us slow at the
        beginning. Now might be a good time to point out that I hate
        the cold as flying down these hills at 40+ mph was near
        impossible because of the wind chill! Did I say I hate the

05:35 - The sun was scheduled to rise but it was late due to being
        stuck in Northern NJ traffic and the fog!

06:30 - Gina demonstrates a new use for McDonalds hot coffee as a foot
        warmer. She put the hot cup up to her feet to warm them. Great
        idea, I wonder if it could be a selling point. At this time
        I'd like to point out that Chester McDonald's has the cleanest
        public restrooms we have ever used and the live flowers in the
        bathroom is a touch of class though it seems lost on me
        (McDonald's, clean restroom, touch of class - yep too much for
        me). BTW, it's still cold!

06:45 - We're on the rolling hills of Rt 206 between Bridgewater and
        Chester. We're flying at speeds up to 40 miles an hour.
        Traffic still curses us out and flies by us even though we're
        not slowing them down.

07:30 - We pick up a few stragglers who tag on to our faster pace
        line. There are 4 guys and 3 ladies. At some point a car pulls
        up a propositions the ladies. The leader declines as she is
        married but offer the youngest as sacrifice.  :-) We
        eventually pick up the pace a bit and we lose the ladies. We
        manage to keep one gentleman (Tom? Matt?) who hangs with us.

08:00 - 2 racers on time trail bikes blow by us. We are tempted to
        give chase but figure they're on a casual 40 mile ride and
        decide we have better things to do.

08:05 - We catch the racers without trying, our egos are boosted.  :-)

09:15 - With a nice pace line down canal road We're in Kingston in no
        time, the 17 year Cicadas can be heard in near by Princeton.
        It sounds exactly like a bad 1950's movie with Peter Graves
        and giant grasshoppers. Anyway Tom decided to go back to find
        his other team member, I think there was some miscommunication
        on their part there. We thanked him and we got on our way to

09:45 - We're in Plainsboro at a stop sign at a busy intersection. A
        kind motorist lets us through, we are confused. We figure
        they're not from around here and doubt we'll ever see one
        again. ;-)

10:00 - Tummies grumbling, 10 miles to go till the lunch stop. We pick
        up the pace, food is a great motivator especially when you can
        eat whatever you want and not worry about whether it will kill
        you. Think about it we're riding in NJ traffic all day for 207

10:30 - It's Allentown NJ, lunch time and we've just completed 100
        miles. We're half way there. My arms hurt, my back hurts and
        my neck hurts. Boy are they going to feel wonderful when we
        get done. Some people think the glass is half full, some half
        empty, I wonder why the bartender hasn't started pouring yet.
        My wife is there with my 2 dogs and I try to sit down as my
        Chow Chow Taz drags me to every tree to sniff and mark. I
        thought my arm was sore earlier, I was mistaken! I hand Taz
        back to my wife who correct him with a stern voice and he
        listens. Hmph!

10:45 - Now Allentown is wonderful busy place, cyclist love to stop
        there. But we were slight impressed with the porta-potty with
        the Auto Shopper as reading material. Not as classy as Chester
        McDonald's but still unusual. At this point I apply Coppertone
        Sport spray on sun block. This stuff works but I should have
        probably paid more attention to the 'apply evenly' part. It's
        now a nice sunny breezy day great day for a picnic. One last
        thing to do and that is to apply 'Butt Buttr' (chamios creme).

10:50 - We're on the road again and we begin a fun filled pace line at
        21 mph.

12:00 - We pick up a new stranger, John. He's tall and riding solo or
        just hitching rides with fast groups. Which is a good idea as
        the wind is out of the East and South-East which is a cross
        wind head wind combination. We continue at 21 mph, wind be

12:30 - Somewhere around here we remember seeing a park, a beautiful
        park with nice shady trees, clean bathrooms and paved
        roads. We keep riding.

13:00 - We still haven't found the park and I can't take the pace no
        more as I am about to bonk (no it doesn't mean that). So we
        stop and the solo rider proceeds on without us. I proceed to
        devour food, water, Gatorade and any hand that gets in my

        BTW, we're now in the Pine Barrens, it's pretty. Now a note
        for those who are not familiar with NJ other than Port
        Elizabeth, the Oil refineries and Newark Airport. Really the
        rest of NJ doesn't look like that. We also have lots of
        farms. Most are now growing houses but we still have lots of
        farms. The particular section we were in can only describe it
        as a Desert with Pine trees!  ;-) Once your in the Pine
        Barrens you will see Pine trees, white sand, Blueberry farms,
        white sand, Cranberry bogs, white sand and the road ahead of
        you. You don't want to stop there because the sun will beat
        down on you and you will shrivel up in the heat (I like it
        there at least it's warm). If you must stop you will deal with
        ticks, snakes, Mosquitoes (NJ's state bird), Pine flies, Green
        Heads (a swat won't kill these things), snapping turtles,
        no-see-ums, and the Jersey Devil, who I am told, considers
        'Butt-Buttr' like steak sauce. Hmmm. At this time Mark's tire
        explodes (pinch flat) and I decide it's not my problem as I
        continue to eat.

13:05 - Mark has been arguing with his tire for 5 minutes. He's got it
        back together but he notes that the tube remained under the
        tire bead no mater what he did. I being the team mechanic (I
        can count and fix things, too bad I can't tell a story worth a
        dang) I was elected to figure out what to do. After a bit of
        fidgeting with the tire I managed to get the tube to come out
        from under the bead. the only thing I did different was use
        different curse words.  And with that magnificant triumph
        under my belt I proceeded to lay down on the hot pavement. It
        feels great as it loosens the muscles in my back.

        Now you've probably notice that I haven't complained about
        Pine flies, Green Heads or Mosquitoes. Well one of the nice
        benefits of a good wind is that flying bugs have difficulty
        flying in a good wind.  Another benefit is tail wind, there's
        nothing better than a tail wind. Well we didn't get one of

13:10 - We're back on the rode again but we're only doing a 19 mph
        pace (what a relief).

13:35 - We found that great Park we saw last year! We must be getting
        old as it looks nothing like what we remembered and we decided
        to take our chances in the woods.

14:00 - We come across another team with one of our bike club members,
        Matt, with them. We say hello to Matt and he gets all wound up
        with hello's, how are you's and such. Matt is what some mihgt
        describe as a little hyper (and you might call the Atlantic a
        little lake ;-). Matt seemed quiet as we only heard him when
        they were a few hundred feet way and for a few hundered feet
        as he passed. :-) Actually I was very glad to hear Matt's
        voice as he brings a certain amount of energy, joy and
        enthusiasm to any 207 mile ride (I'm not sure I could handle
        him for much more than 210 miles ;-). I guess we were keeping
        about the same pace as they didn't seem to get far ahead of
        us. Despite that we decide that we should stay the course on
        not give into the temptation to give chase. Gina is the most

15:30 - The team who passed us is now a few yards ahead of us. This
        game of 'I'm in front' will continue for the rest of the ride.

15:35 - A motor cycle gentleman (loose term) takes kind note of
        Dennis' posterior, Gina is upset that he hasn't noted her
        figure and we explain that she's not his type. At this point I
        shut my mouth to any further comment as they would have:

        A) only put my foot in my mouth.
        B) got me in trouble with my wife
        C) left me stammering in stupidity
        D) led to the inevitable question "Does this make me look
           fat?" to which there is no correct answers only worsening
           wrong ones.
        E) All of the above.

16:00 - We are now having difficulty reeling Gina in. We've been
        pushing the pace and beating into a head wind for the last 50
        miles (with about 40 to go).

17:30 - Last call! We hit the WaWa at about mile 183. We hit the rest
        rooms (they're clean but nothing special) and tank up on
        caffeine and sugar. Other teams stop there and we talk about
        there day so far. Everyone seems to have had a pretty good
        day. Matt's team passes us for the last time.

17:45 - We're back on the bikes and begin another push of 19 mph. We
        want off the bikes and into clean clothes and lots of
        food. The wind begins to get stronger and I begin to notice it
        getting colder (I hate the cold!).

17:50 - Who put that @#$%! hill there. Some DOT engineer thought he'd
        be funny and put an over pass over the water way. What are
        they trying to do, kill us?  ;-) A few more miles and we
        turned onto Rt 626. Nothing happened there.

18:30 - We just hit mile 200 and Dennis asks: 'Where's the
        lighthouse?'. We neglected to tell him that it's really 207
        miles, oops. Dennis is not a happy cyclist.

18:45 - We turn right and finally see the lighthouse, Only 3 more
        miles until we get off these @#$%! bikes. Dennis's spirits
        pick up as well as our pace. We figure it will only hurt for a
        few more minutes. Someone starts with 'Are we there yet' every
        couple of seconds. We pick up the pace further.  ;-)

18:54 - We're done and we've beating our best speed and arrival
        time. We finished at almost a mile per hour faster and 1.5
        hour earlier. I have polka-dotted sun burn (remember apply
        evenly). So now I take inventory: only the sunburn on my arms
        hurt. My neck is burning (muscles not sunburn), my legs burn a
        bit but I can still walk, my lungs burn (I've never had that
        happen before) and I'd prefer not to sit on my bicycle seat
        for a while. I guess not too bad. So I drank over 450 oz of
        fluids (Gatorade, Coke and water), ate a Turkey sub with lots
        of mustard (Mmmmustard), 8 packets of GU, 3 power bars, a fig
        newton, a banana, 2 rice krispy treats, 2 hand fulls of gorp,
        several soy pretzels and 1 double caffeine mocha cliff shot (I
        hate the flavor but needed the caffeine). A rather light diet
        considering the mileage. But the love handles are still there,
        ARGH! And because we had arrived a full hour and half early
        the mosquitoes were going to be deprived of this meal of 4
        cyclists. BTW, may I note that we had 208 miles not 207 miles.
        Was that extra mile really necessary. OK so it's a .5 % error
        so we'll give it to them.

        Previously I mentioned the sun block and that it would become
        important later. Well, it's later. Apparently I had failed to
        apply it evenly to my arms and if I had been wearing the TdF
        polka dotted jersey it would have continued right down to my
        gloves. My face, neck, ears and legs were fine but I now have
        polka dotted arms. It wouldn't be so bad except I live in the
        flat lands and can't climb to save myself. ;-(

        So we headed down to Gina's parents place at the shore, where
        we had lots of good food and good company: Gina's parents,
        Gina's husband John, her cousin and his girl friend, Gina's
        Conure and her father's Conure. Gorgeous birds!