Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Ronkonkoma 200K: Two Ferries, Two Islands and a Very Big Duck.

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.


  1. I did not realize I was riding with the Hudson Valley Randonneur. I have been following your posts for a while now, keeping an eye out for rides I thought I'd be able to do over the summer. Thanks again for the ride and advice.


  2. Ha, ha! It was great fun riding with you. Thanks for reading the blog from time to time and, more importantly, thanks for pulling my sorry butt up those hills on the last 25 miles of last weekend's ride. I need to get out and do some more hill work this afternoon. Best of luck with your surgery. I hope for a speedy recovery. Let me know if you want to join us for one of our hilly permanent routes this fall when you're back in the saddle. That NYC 200K is good fun, too, as I mentioned.

  3. Sounds like a really fun course. I will have to make it out next year.