The Longest Day
208 miles in one Day

(Last updated: Thu. Sep 24, 2009)

The Longest Day - 2010, the plan

As always I start planning this out months in advance. This year I'm also the event chairperson, which makes me busier than usual. Not much is different in what we want to do. We're still using the plan from the 2009 ride. Speed is about the same but this year we want to start a little earlier. The one problem with starting out earlier is that it gets us to our lunch stop very early. Almost too early to order sandwiches. It looks like there might be a few changes in the route (still working on that). So far we're not sure who we have on our team, we'll work on that. As of April 10th I've done a fair shair of mileage in preparation for the Longest Day. We're well ahead of training pace by about 3 or 4 weeks. This year it apppears that I am taking off the weight which I hope helps with my speed and comfort. I also have a new bike (I broke the old frame last year). This one better fits me. I'm also keeping a careful eye on my training. I past years I've had quite a few pulled muscles (usually my quads) and last year my arms, neck and shoulders were really sore. So those are areas I intend to work over properly this year. One thing to note, this year's weather so far looks like it could be a hot one and if it rains, it looks to be heavy. Just more things to think about and train for.

Length:   210.0  Total expected length in Miles Kilometers
AVG Speed: 17.5  mph - Average riding speed (not including stops)
Stops:      7    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      3:30 AM   0      -       -
  -   Civil      5:00 AM   0      -       -        Est Civil Sunrise
  1   Diner      5:20 AM   32     15      32       Andover Diner      
  -   Normal     5:30 AM   0      -       -        Est. Sunrise
  2   McD's      7:35 AM   67     15      35       Manville McDonald's
  3   Allentown  9:43 AM   100    30      33       Allentown Soccer field
  4   Ranger's  11:39 AM   125    30      24       Ranger's Station
  5   Green Ban  1:24 PM   147    15      22       Green Bank stop sign
  6   May's Lan  2:34 PM   163    15      16       May's Landing McD's
  7   WaWa       4:01 PM   184    15      21       Woodbine WaWa
  8   Finish     6:15 PM   210  12:00     26       Lighthouse
  -   Normal     8:30 PM   0                       Est. Sunset
  -   Civil      9:00 PM   0                       Est. Civil Sunset

Ride Time: 11:54
Earliest finish:  3:30 PM (0 stops, 0 flats)
Earliest finish:  4:00 PM (0 stops, 2 flats)
Planned finish:   5:45 PM (7 stops, 0 flats)
Latest finish:    6:15 PM (7 stops, 2 flats)

My ride!

Not many people can call a big ride their own but I think I can get away with this one. ;-) The 2010 Longest Day is the first year I chaired the ride so this year's ride is mine but I'm willing to share it with everyone else too (that is the point of this ride).

So my work began in January. We had snow on the ground and I began trying to figure out how I would run this thing. The first thing I needed to do was to select a date. Then contact the hotels at each end, the parks departement, the restaurant in Cape May, get volunteers, put together the team, reserve meeting rooms, check and correct the cue sheets, ... it was a lot harder than it sounded. Full press madness came into play during the final weeks before the event (more on that later).

Also during January and February I fixed up the web site (what you see today). I pulled things apart and juggled them about (I still am). I put together the slide show. Found a You Tube video (I need to put mine up too). More pictures and descriptions of the route etc. The bad economy had everyone on edge and I was left to wonder how well things would go.

March wasn't the friendliest of months for training but we did manage to squeeze it in. April brought us better weather and as things got better we did too. May was interesting. I tried out a few new routes and we found we were banging into an unusually strong wind from the South and the West. This seemed to be a precursor for the kind of weather we were going to receive on the Longest Day. So we did a lot of training in the winds. There are few things I can guarantee for the Longest Day but head winds seem to be high on the list of things to expect.

Also during May my event responsibilities started to wear me out. There are a lot of things to do to run this event and most of them occur during the last few weeks of the event. One unusual thing we did was to mark some of the roads. Getting permits for all the communities to mark the roads was out of the question. Yet there were a few troublesome areas along the route. The biggest deal was the 'Y' around mile 130. I received many thanks for that one! :-)

With June came the last minute rush to get things done. The biggest rush was the gooodie bags and the vests. On the Friday before the event I loaded up my wife's car with all the vest and there as barely enough room for everything. I arrived at 7:30 (hours later than I intended) and waited for about 2 hours before getting rushed for everything. At around 10:30 PM I called it a night as I had to be up by 3 AM to be out the door at 4 AM. Upon reaching the room I basically passed out on the bed from exhaustion. But at 2AM I received a call on my cell phone but I was so tired I couldn't deal with it. Turned out someone has come into Newark on Friday night and wouldn't arrive until 4 AM in Port Jervis (Yikes!).

So at 4 AM, after a nice breakfast, my team of 3 riders, Mark, Kevin and myself rode off into the (not yet) sun rise. :-) We started out slowly and worked our pace up. There were times of temptation to chase faster riders but the three of us had done this ride many times before and we knew better. We also knew the route better than any other time (I'm the guy who lays out the router each year :-) ). Our first stop was an enjoyable on at the Hanover Diner, hot tea, a quick pee and we dropped off the lights. Then it was off to the hill climbs. There were times when we took advantage of the route knowledge to it's full effect. Like on the drop between Chester and Bridgewater on Rt. 206. The team that had passed us on the large climb out of Flanders was surprised when we blew by them just outside Bridgewater. :-).

From 4 AM to 7 AM we made excellent progress to the 60 mile mark in Manville. Basically all the major hills had been completed and we made good progress. After the Manville stop we note a head wind from the south and west (not a good thing when your ride is mostly south). While not a stiff wind it was 145+ miles of wind to deal with. So we did the only thing we could do, ignored it but also we made sure not to do anything abusive so we could last the entire ride. So through Manvill, down Canal Rd., through Kingston, Plainsboro, Monmouth Junction, Robbinsville and finally the lunch stop in Allentown. Things had gone very smoothly and pretty much on schedule. In Allentown we picked up a welcomed guest. William, he had trained with us during our windy rides in March. Seems his team was lolly-gagging about and he was getting annoyed with them (we spoiled Will :-) ). So he joined in with us and off we went. I always find the miles after lunch to be as nice as the miles before lunch. So we enjoyed the miles to the Ranger's station. Last year there was the threat that we would find it closed due to budget cuts. For 2011 we expect the same. So we stopped for one last stop before the Pine Barrens of Chatsworth.

As we got back on the road we begin to notice the heat and the wind a bit more. Apparently we're not the only ones. I expected this problem as we had experienced the wind since Manville (mile 61). As we entered Rt 563 to Chatsworth (mile 128) the wind is more noticable. only 14 or so mile of headwind and heat (ouch). Of course I had a plan, around mile 142 is a small town called Jenkins with a gas station/canoe rental. A quick stop there would allow us to break up the monotony of the Barrens, get a quick break from the wind and heat and give us a chance to get in something other than on the bike food. It worked both well and not so well. When we left we felt great! As we rested Team Major Taylor passed, it was a thing of beauty! All decked out in matching colors, all pedling at close to the same pace. Wow! A few minutes later another huge pace line had passed us. When we got back on out bikes we found that huge pace line and they weren't moving that well. As we passed we found that we had leeches! There was some discussion in our team of picking up the pace until we dropped them but I feared that would be too much for our team and that we'd pay dearly for the last 25 miles which are usually the windiest. So our team of 4 did the pulling for a train of 30 people. Again I had a plan to rid ourselves of this drain on our strength and moral. Just after the Mullica Bridge was a port-a-pottie. I told my team to stop there and take a very quick break. We were in and out of there in a few minutes and we were again on out way.

This part of the Barrens is not too bad as it's tree lined. So as we traveled we felt a bit more relaxed. Along the way we came upon a Major Taylor rider named Kenneth. Oddly we though that Team Major Taylor had dropped him but when we stopped in May's Landing they ended up coming in behind us (odd I don't recall passing them). So a quick stop for some ice cream at McDonalds and we were off again in the second doldrums.

We managed to work our pace line rather nicely and kept a good pace. This is a short section of about 12 miles of Pine Scrub to Tuckahoe. I call it the second doldrums because at this point most riders are pretty weary. At this point it becomes pretty apparent that the last 25 miles are going to be windy. We did decide to keep the pulls short so that no one got terribly worn out.

Once we cross the Tuckhoe river we head into a nice Pine and Oak forrest. Which provides some relief both mentally and physically. Also it's just 9 miles to the WaWa at mile 184. The significance of this is that there only remains 23 miles to the lighthouse and you're out of the Barrens. So after a quick stop we're back on the bikes and our greatest fears are realized, a nasty head wind. I've done 10 Longest Day rides and this was the windiest I've experinced. We saw white caps on the bays. So we did what we did all day long worked the pace lines, kept our time on teh front short but kept our spirits. up. The last few miles were uneventful, we did offer other riders a chance to tag on to the train but most were beat but going to finish at their pace. And that's not disgrace.

Later we found out that a large pace line has a crash before the WaWa at mile 184. Only one major injury, a broken shoulder, lots of scrapes and rash, a few broken helmets but no concussions. Most of the pace line was able to avoid the crash but the tale sounded worse than the outcome became.

We also found out from the pace line through the Barrens in Jenkins that when our team was on front that was the fastest and most consistent they have traveled all day. We averaged 16.8 mph for the day and with the wind I'd rank this up there as one of the epic rides. Not our fastest (17.8) but one we could be proud of.