On Friday afternoon, the day before The Longest Day ride, we all met in front of Mike Recinto’s Amerikick in Medford and packed the cars for the trip. There were eleven of us including eight riders. Among the riders were three Team Evesham members: Mike Recinto, Jim Sweet, and myself.
It took about 3½ hours to get up to Port Jervis, NY where we arrived at our hotel in three cars and promptly proceeded to consolidate the gear into the two SAG vehicles we had arranged for.
Next we headed out for dinner at a local diner, “Arlene n Tom’s” where many of us ordered their “Meany Burgers” and enjoyed each other’s company.
The day of the ride started about 2:30AM on Saturday morning when showered and dressed. There were supposedly about 40-50 people participating in the ride and many of them were out in the parking lot getting ready to ride. We ended up leaving the hotel about 4am. After grabbing a quick breakfast at McDonald’s we were off into the darkness with one SAG in front and one behind. Three of our riders, including Jim Sweet, left a bit later as they were planning to ride at a faster pace.
By 6AM we were riding in what seemed like full daylight. A gentle rain started to fall and lasted almost until lunchtime. This probably helped us stay cool and as a result the first 60 miles of the ride, which were mostly hills, seemed easier than it might have otherwise been.
Steve had the worst luck with flat tires
We had our first flat in the late morning and stopped in the rain while it was fixed. We refilled our water bottles, energy gels/bars/beans, etc. and headed back onto the road.
After making our way through the beautiful historic towns of Newton and Andover we lost a rider when he slipped into a wet drainage grate and broke his derailleur beyond repair. He road in one of our SAG vehicles for several miles before Larry MacDonald from Wheelies responded to a call we made and agreed to look at his bike. Off they went to Wheelies in Medford and we pressed on with one SAG and five riders.
At 110 miles we stopped at a Burger King in Browns Mills for lunch before moving on to the next have of the journey. We were delayed getting there so we didn’t leave the restaurant until about 2pm. Another rider joined us there and we were back to six.
In Chatsworth we stopped at Hot Diggidy Dog then further on at Mick’s Canoe Rentals, both favorite biker stops. The rider with the broken derailleur rejoined us with a loaner bike from Larry and we now had seven in the group.
Around 4pm we ran into more rain, this time much heavier. We were pretty wet in the morning but we were absolutely soaked to the bone in this weather. The rain came down in buckets as we persevered for about 45 minutes before pulling into a Wawa for shelter. It seemed as if we were following the storm. After about 30 minutes the rain passed.
Our team had two more minor accidents where bikers fell over. Both involved wet metal. In one accident a biker went down on a metal drawbridge. The other accident was on railroad tracks. Jim’s team avoided several accidents.
Jim Sweet and his group finished the ride at 6pm. Way to go Jim, Lisa and Greg!
When the rest of us pulled into the Cape May Lighthouse about 9pm we were pretty worn out. But there’s nothing like a welcoming committee gathered to warm a tired biker up and remind us of what we’d just accomplished. Well that’s just what we received when we pulled into the Lighthouse parking lot. Even Jim & Lisa were there waiting for us.
Over the course of 17 hours (13 for the smaller team), through numerous flat tires, accidents, lots of rain, darkness, and 208 miles of NJ we did it: The Longest Day belonged to us.