A Longest Day to Ettalong

A Longest Day to Ettalong

As daylight saving time bids goodbye and ushers in mornings bathed in golden light, what better setting for an epic MC ride? With April's continuing warm weather and calm seas, conditions were ripe for none other than the revered Longest Day to Ettalong.

The Longest Day is no ordinary ride. It's a day-long pilgrimage where time seemingly stands still, yet the constraints of ferry and train timetables, not to mention a stop for lunch, keep our wheels spinning. With a 10:50 ferry departure targeted, our journey kicked off with a special early start at 05:50.

Excitement was quietly brewing as Friday approached. Swerlo, a Longest Day stalwart, armed with his trusty pump (after Longest Day lessons learned) and seasickness tablets, was ready to go. Carlos was smiling all week. Meanwhile, Carlos & I persuaded Kev to reschedule his home air conditioning maintenance to join, lured by the promise of more memorable moments on the road with us.

Our early start encountered a slight delay. A few minutes of tardy arrival (embarrassingly including me), and a gear issue, ate up our valuable minutes. Carlos found himself without gears at the start and proceeded to hand out his nutrition to other riders in sorrow, very disappointed to not be riding today. “I won’t be needing this food. Today wasn’t meant to be.” We were now 7. 

With 15 minutes to make up, Julian took the reins on the front, guiding the bunch through city streets northward. A quick check on whether everyone had their weet-bix this morning? James was clear in his response confirming “yep, I have had 5 today!” We made excellent time, reclaiming those minutes with each pedal stroke. We made the time up by the time we had reached Hornsby.  

Kev reluctantly found himself on the front of the group as we set off. On reaching Hornsby after 40 kms he turned and asked “Who is feeling the freshest?” “Why is he asking that?” He was looking for a swap out. We had a laugh and all suggested he stay on the front for a while, until a few hundred metres later, Julian hollered for Swerlo to swap out with Kev. Kev just smiled. 

After the descent to Brooklyn delighted everyone, we were looking forward to coffee. We made it to Brooklyn at 08:59, right on scheduled time, which meant time for a short breather. Brooklyn is a milestone location on this loop - not just for the famous sausage rolls on offer, but also where the ride turns into something special. The work up the Pacific Highway is replaced by the delight of many fewer cars, wonderful vistas, and fresh air on the Mount White climb. We hadn’t been disturbed by a car since Berowra, making this a wonderful segment already. 

Our international crew, hailing from far-flung corners of the globe, added a vibrancy to the ride. From Australia to England (including the Island of Sheepey), Chile, Greece, Italy, and Spain (and with Carlos’ spirit  representing Costa Rica), camaraderie on the day was alive. 

This was the first Ettalong loop for Kate and Grecia, and Grecia’s longest ride ever. Now what makes that even more amazing is that Grecia only jumped on a bike four months ago, and in that time has ridden her longest lengths of 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, and now 160kms - all with MC! The Longest Day is set up for chasing new targets and a sense of accomplishment. For those of us who are familiar with the route, each ride is different and there is always great joy seeing people experience the wonder of riding and scenery on new roads, simply having a great day on two wheels. 



Everyone was looking forward to a break on the ferry by the time we arrived at Ettalong at 10:29, leaving plenty of time for the ferry to arrive. Some chats with locals and other ferry passengers carried the time as we waited for the now late ferry. The ferry schedule had only just returned to normal routing today after large swells diverted the route to Patonga, so seeing a waiting crowd on the wharf was a confident sign the ferry was coming. 

The swell had fallen to about 1.5 from its 4-5m heights earlier in the week. But it still made the ferry rock enough to throw everyone up from their seat a couple of times. I looked over to Grecia while on the ferry, wearing a smile ear to ear - “how good!” Swerlo had fortified himself with a sea sickness tablet, yet gripped the rail with white-knuckeled determination. Despite his valiant efforts, the motion of the sea left him looking a little green around the gills, and it took a good twenty minutes on solid ground before his queasiness finally subsided.

Our midday feast at Pronto Creative Foods in Palm Beach has become a cherished tradition on this ride. Good food and service makes it a perfect oasis before our homeward 50 km journey from Palmie. Our lunchtime banter ranged from tales of food allergies and preferences to the ongoing debate over the ideal temperature and state of lemonade (cold and flat, naturally?). Despite playful complaints about large portion sizes, each plate was eagerly devoured.

There was no time pressure for the cruise back along the Northern Beaches after lunch, but we kept our pace up. We all knew our next stop was 7-11 Mosman and Raff was already looking forward to a Slurpee, with fond memories of our last outing.  

Just past Dee Why, Kev's muscles decided to stage a rebellion, cramping up and declaring mutiny on the ride. With a dramatic flourish, he called for a truce, summoning an Uber to rescue him from the clutches of cramp-induced agony. Perhaps that all-bacon sandwich at lunch would have given enough of a salt cure. Nevertheless, Kev made it home in one piece, with an appreciation for the twists and turns of a Longest Day.

As we peeled off in separate directions home, it was a smile and thanks to the group for such a great day.

Perfect conditions and our top-notch group riding skills turned this day into an absolute gem.

Until the next!

The numbers:

  • 1,074 kms with 12,861^m total (153.5km 1,837^m per rider)
  • 0 mechanicals (technically one mech before the ride)
  • 1 pork & fennel sausage roll enjoyed
  • 1 longest ride ever!