The Ronkonkoma 200K is one of two brevets put on by the Long Island Randonneurs this season. Only in its second year, LI Randonneurs sure knows how to throw a party. This event had almost 50 starters, many of whom had not previously ridden a brevet of any type or size, which is a testament to the club's ability to effectively spread the word. Having ridden the club's inaugural brevet last season, I knew I was in for a treat that was well worth the price of admission.
This Saturday's event began at 8:00 am at the Ronkonkoma station of the Long Island RR and both the time and the location serve to accommodate the needs of NYC riders who want to travel to and from the ride via public transportation. At the start, RBA Steve and his partners Susan and Dan were filled with energy and good cheer as they signed riders in and offered hot coffee and bagels to all who were interested.
After a listening to Steve's safety instructions and wise advice, riders clipped in and hit the road. The first leg of this brevet involves riding over some pretty flat, low traffic roads that lend themselves very nicely to pace line riding. Aided by some healthy tailwinds, it was not too difficult to keep the pace above 20 mph most of the way from the start to the first control.
We arrived at the control with Steve still smiling as he signed in riders and doled out drinks and energy bars. After a quick pitstop, I headed out in search of the ferry landing only eight miles away.
The delight of our ride to the eastern tip of Long Island at this time of year involved seeing calm blue waters, peaceful back roads, low season activity in the quaint, historic villages, scores of diminutive pine trees and colorful early spring blossoms.
There are also two short ferry rides on this route, which provide great views of the coastline, the smell of the sea and allow riders to take in scenic Shelter Island for all of about 4-1/2 miles. It's also nice to have a forced rest break while technically moving forward on the route.
Returning to the main island after our second brief ferry ride, we wound our way through the North Shore, which is filled with more wineries and fewer people than it's southern sister. In the final 25 miles, though, the generally flat terrain gives way to a series of choppy hills that were not exactly welcome after pounding out the preceding 100 miles in the 20+ mph range. Ouch!
Finally, what ride to eastern Long Island would be complete without a nod to the great Big Duck?
Up Next: the Blue Mountain 400K organized by PA Randonneurs this coming weekend.