The Longest Day
208 miles in one Day

(Last updated: Thu. Sep 24, 2009)

Longest Day 2008 or Ride leaders should listen to their own advice

2008 was not one of my better years. Training went well, once I lowered my seat post just 2 cm. Until I did that my friend Mark dragged me home several times. We'd manage to keep in the low 18's for 120 miles but my right leg had no power on hills as small as overpasses. We trained with Sandy Somers and John Powers. John wasn't able to ride with us on the Longest Day so we missed having him with us. I think that would have been a lot of fun. Sandy is a strong rider but inexperienced at longer rides like the Longest Day. He had a habit of racing to the tops of hills and sprinting at the end of the ride. Our biggest surprise was Gina. She decided to join us for training just three weeks before the Longest Day. Gina is a very strong rider and Mark and I had no problems with her being on the team since we had ridden with her on several other Longest Day rides including our fastest. I was concerned about the lack of saddle time Gina had built up but she was confident so no worries. Our last rider was Thos (Thomas) Cochrane from Mass. He wouldn't be able to train with us most of the time so he trained separate. We rode with him early in the season and he fit in well. He actually rode about 80 out of 100 miles with a broken handle bar. He had no rear brakes and no rear shifting (ouch). So there you have our 6 member team. We also had two SAG drivers.

The day started out well. As usually Mark and I climbed like tortoises (slow and steady). Mark is smart, he paces himself. He knows we have a long day ahead of us. I'm not so smart and if left to my own ways will kill myself by mile 50. Since the first 50 miles contain most of the hills Mark and I weren't moving too fast. Gina and Thos, led by Sandy, climb much better and were off the front quite often. I asked Sandy to wait at the top of the hills for Mark and myself, which he seldom did. I knew there would be a bit of a clash in personalities but I had underestimated the effect. Sandy is definitely a born leader. With the group split in two, I allowed myself to get wound up and upset. Since I'm hyper that's not a good thing. I don't yell and scream but rather take out the punishment physically. That usually means I begin to push the pace. By the time we reached the top of the climb at Chester I was livid. I have no idea how Mark put up with my BS but he did. Nobody was there waiting for Mark and myself. So I pushed the pace to catch up. The section between Chester and Bedminister is a nice downhill and you can make up a bit of time here by doing pace lines. Or you can be a raging maniac and push the pace, like I did. Later on Mark figured out we averaged in the high 16's on the first 100 miles. We normally do in the high 15's on the first 100 miles. When we finally caught the lead group, Mark was a bit beat. I left Mark with Thos (thanks Thos) and chased down Sandy. I spoke with Sandy and we had no more problems with people not waiting. Unfortunately we ran out of downhill and we started into the flat lands, opportunity missed.

So we got back in formation and began working together. By the time we reached Allentown Mark was paying for my outburst. He began getting a leg cramp and we had to drop the pace. When we got to Allentown I felt bad for ruining Mark's day so I went and got him some Ice Cream. Mark recovers well with Ice Cream. So this was my way of saying sorry. When I met up with Mark at our lunch stop I had the Ice Cream but Mark's brother was missing. Mark's brother had everything Mark and I needed for lunch. I think our 30 minute stopped turned into 75 minutes. Thos and Sandy shared food and water with Mark and myself and we were grateful. After much confusion, Mark's brother back tracked looking for us (Note to self: this year clear instructions on stops and turn cell phones on). When he didn't find us he headed towards the lunch stop.

After lunch we got back on the bikes and got going. Despite all the set backs and problems, things felt a little better. I still hadn't calmed down and when we got got the the Ranger's Station Mark let me know (nicely) the I was behaving like an idiot and annoying Thos (sorry Thos). I decided for everyone's sake I'd calm down a bit. I'm not sure I did but nobody said anything further so I guess I did. The ride from the Rangers Station to Green Bank (the Mullica River) was brutal. For the first time I was suffering with the heat and humidity (maybe because of the pushed pace and odd lunch stop too). After seeing a birthday party with a pony Thos stated that if we saw a slip-n-slide we were stopping! That really relieved the tension. A few miles later we stopped at the stop sign in Green Bank. We were met by about seven other teams (guess they didn't see the slip-n-slide either). That stop was the most welcome of all the stops of the day. The next few miles through Egg Harbor to May's Landing were nice as they were in 'civilization'.

Once we turned onto Rt 50 in May's Landing we were pretty much back in the doldrums. This section was interesting as after we had made a stop Sandy declared that he had enough of pace lines. Gina later told me she was surprise at my response which was just 'okay'. Sandy did the smart thing to do and let us know that he was tired. He just did it in a funny way. I kind of expected that to happen as he had pushed pretty hard early in the day. I guess I had mellowed out some though I was pretty wound up still. I told Gina I wasn't happy with the pace as it was getting late and felt I could be daveraging in the 18's. I got the impression that Gina could have pushed the pace also. She's always been a strong rider. Good thing we didn't as nobody noticed that Thos was suffering a bit from dehydration. I didn't know about it until I saw a video that Gina or Thos had posted on Facebook. Jim, the other SAG, had taken videos of us riding on Rt 50. Thos was licking his chops as he rode. Dehydration can sneak up on you, so be careful. So we basically rode into Woodbine without much further incident just at a slight slower pace.

While at the WaWa I was clock watching and boiling again. This time I decided not to take it out on anyone but rather burn it up at the front of the pace line. We left at 7:15PM or so. Sundown was around 8:30PM. We had 23 miles to go. I was determined to get to the lighthouse by no later than 8:30PM. We started off easy from the WaWa. I began to crank it up 22 mph or so, gradually. At one point Mark told me we were going too fast and to back it down. I then took a very long turn at the front of the pace line. Gina followed with another long turn and everyone else took their normal turn. Lather, rinse, repeat. I know it sounds like heroics but it wasn't. I was just burning off steam, quite literally. At one point Mark's tire went flat with a loud 'pfft'. And in 30 seconds we had swapped wheels and were back on the road doing pace lines. We were all determined to reach our goal, the lighthouse before dark. When we finally turned onto Sunset Blvd. we knew we were going to do it. At this point Sandy took off in a mad dash for the finish. I sort of knew he would as he'd always ended our training rides in this manor. I let him get about a 1/4 mile on me and I gave chase. I was a little miffed that he did this but in the same breath I was glad he did. I've always want to chase someone down at the end of the Longest Day and here was my chance. Well I almost caught him. At the end I was 50 ft. back when he turned into the lighthouse. I was very disappointed but that last surge burned off any left over aggression I had. I went back to the hotel and I slept for 8 full hours (after eating rather lightly). I normally can't sleep more than 6 hours.

We arrive at 8:25PM. We just rode 23.1 mile in 70 minutes. That means we averaged 19.8 mph for the last 23 miles. That is something beyond amazing! No we couldn't have kept that pace all day. I doubt we could have done 18 mph avg. all day. But we could have broken into the high 17's. Oddly enough I can't remember what we did for the day.

So, I learned two new lessons. One; I don't listen to my own advice and that I am an idiot. To Mark and Thos, I apologize, I almost ruin the day for both of you. Now Mark gets to use that to taint me when ever he wants. So far he hasn't, much. It will be good for a few jokes I'm sure. Will 2009 be any different? I don't know, I hope so. I'm hoping that I've learned enough not to push myself past the breaking point during training. I'm tired of the injuries. This year I'm not going to be team leader. I'm going to stick to navigating. I'm really good at that.

Needs to be corrected for the 2008 ride

Length:   208.0 Total expected length in Miles Kilometers
AVG Speed: 17.0 mph - Average riding speed (not including stops)
Stops:      8   Number of stops, (enter time below after you enter the stops)
Flats:      2   in 15 minute intervals

 Stop    Name    Time    Mileage Duration Distance Notes
  0   Start      4:30 AM  0       -
  -   Civil      5:00 AM  0       -       -        Est Civil Sunrise
  -   Normal     5:30 AM  0       -       -        Est. Sunrise
  1   Diner      6:23 AM  32      15      32       Andover Diner
  2   McD's      8:42 AM  67      15      35       Manville McDonald's
  3   Allentown 10:57 AM  100     30      34       Allentown Soccer field
  4   Ranger's  12:51 PM  125     30      24       Ranger's Station
  5   Green Ban  2:39 PM  147     15      22       Green Bank stop sign
  6   May's Lan  3:51 PM  163     15      16       May's Landing Rt 50
  7   WaWa       5:20 PM  184     15      21       Woodbine WaWa
  8   Lighthous  7:00 PM  208     0       24       Lighthouse
  9   Finish     7:30 PM  208   12:15     0        Late finish (2 flats)
  -   Normal     8:30 PM   0      -       -        Est. Sunset
  -   Civil      9:00 PM   0      -       -        Est. Civil Sunset

Ride Time: 12:15
Earliest finish:  4:45 PM (0 stops, 0 flats)
Earliest finish:  5:15 PM (0 stops, 2 flats)
Planned finish:   7:00 PM (8 stops, 0 flats)
Latest finish:    7:30 PM (8 stops, 2 flats)