Sullivan County – Beautiful

There ‘s no other way to describe Sunday’s weather, except stunning, simply stunning! A bright sunny day with flawless blue skies, moderate wind and 52 degrees. An absolute perfect day for a bike ride. Because it was so nice, I had to make sure to get some yard work in as these beautiful spring, weekend days are at a premium. That being said, I woke up extremely early and cleaned out the shed, put out the patio furniture and began my spring assault on the lawn.

Earlier in the week, I pre planned a Sunday ride with a couple of friends. So, I kissed my understanding and awesome wife goodbye and headed out to meet Eric H. and Debbie at Hupka’s Auto Body in Matamoras, PA, just outside Milford.

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We rode out of the auto body shop and onto Mountain Avenue, right on Delaware drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. A left on Water Street to River Road to Ferry Street and a left on West Main Street. We followed West Main out of the West End neighborhood, across Rt. 97 and onto Rt. 42, passing through Sparrowbush, NY. We followed Rt. 42 for about 11 miles up to Forestburgh Road. Rt. 42 , a well paved road with a five foot shoulder, climbs the whole way. By the time we made the left on Forestburgh Road, we amassed over 1,400 feet of elevation with little respite.

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Forestburgh Road dropped us down to the scenic Mongaup Falls Reservoir, a contributory to the Delaware River, and back up a ridiculously steep hill. Compared to the Poconos, the Catskill Mountains are just that, mountainess. A few more miles and a bit more climbing and the road comes to a split. We veered right onto Leers Road and descended until the road ended. A right on Mohican Lake Road for some more climbing through the town of Highland Lake.

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Mohican Lake Road becomes Highland Lake Road and descends down to the small, quiet town of Eldred, NY. Since, Eldred is our turn around point of sorts, we decided take a lunch break at Peck’s Market (they have a nice covered patio with a pic nic table). This seemed like a great time to tell Eric and Deb that although they said this was their first ride of the year, both of them were riding extremely well. Their winter workouts and diet certainly paid off.

Pedaling out of Eldred, we ascended a very steep Proctor Road (I should have had a lighter lunch before a climb like that). Once we reached the top, we rode the ups and downs for about 8 miles to the Upper Mongaup Road, which rolls for a few more miles where we hung a left on Knight Rd, dropped sharply down and made a left on Rio Dam Road. Rio Dam Road is a twisty ascent before dropping you right onto the Rio Dam, a massive structure that sends water to New York City and electricity to surrounding towns.

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A Photo Op on the Rio Dam. We were really excited to be there!

As soon as we rolled off the dam, we immediately climbed another monster incline. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, we grinded up the hill, until we summited and turned right on Rt. 42. The climbing was finished for the day, but the thrill was about to begin as we plummeted back down Rt. 42 for about 7 miles. We turned left on Berme Road and rode back through the small, hauntingly desolate town of Sparrowbush.

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Although renovated, one of many vacant shops in Sparrowbush, NY
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Riverside Creamery

Heading out of town, we made a left on Rt. 97 and slithered through the west end of Port Jervis. Just before the bridge, we stopped at the Riverside Creamery for an ice cream cone. The Creamery is located on Water St., right on the Delaware River. An absolute oasis, great food and fantastic ice cream. We crossed the bridge and pedaled along the river, back up Avenue C and onto Mountain Avenue for a short sprint to Hupka’s Auto Body.

I’m not sure what was better, the ride or the incredible weather, maybe both! If you want to challenge yourself, this ride is well worth it. 50+ miles and 4,790 feet of climbing make this ride one of the more rewarding adventures on 2 wheels.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Prince – Purple Rain

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Review: Cannondale CAAD 12

Eric reviews the Cannondale CAAD 12:

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What to do when the N+1 urge strikes, where N= the number of bikes currently owned.  I don’t just jump in to what I consider a big ticket item until I’m tired of looking through multiple websites, physical examples and talking to people for their opinion.  It was time, time to upgrade my entry-level road bike to something more fitting of the style of riding I’ve grown to love.  My first road bike took me places far and wide; physically, geographically and on several other areas that needed exploring. I really enjoyed that bike, but more so I wanted to go faster, farther and hang with a group of riders I normally only see from a distance, as I tried to hang on to a wheel during the group rides.  That’s what started the process.

I spoke with TC at Action Bikes and Outdoors about the brands they represent in the shop and I also looked at a half dozen other brands that seem to capture what I was after.  TC was in no hurry to put me on a bike that he just wanted to sell, rather he wanted to be sure he understood what I was after, price point, group set upgrade, more aggressive frame posture, a lighter bike, a stiffer and more responsive ride.

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It was time. So after a few days of website scrutiny, reading gear reviews online and in magazines and talking to a few riders I set my sights on the Cannondale CAAD 12, outfitted with Shimano’s proven 105 group set.  The CAAD 12 comes in 7 possible models from the 105 gruppo, up to their top shelf offering the CAAD 12 Black Inc. A few models come fitted with disc brakes, all are made of Cannondale’s superior aluminum tubes , SmartFormed 6069 Alloy, SPEED SAVE, BB30, Di2 Ready with a Speed Save BallisTec full carbon fork collared by a tapered head tube all set in a race geometry that isn’t a torture rack.

 

The 105 gruppo is at the bottom of the model range but don’t be fooled.  This bike jumps when asked, the BB30 bottom bracket translates a great deal of pedaling effort into forward motion, the frame design, from years of testing and real life application is far more than you would expect.  The 105’s shifting is crisp, dependable and encourages the rider to push faster and further. Cannondale delivers a great package with some finer touches such as Mavic’s Aksium complete wheel set.  The gearing comes in 52/36 up front and an 11 speed 11-28 cassette in an attempt to satisfy a wide audience of riders who want to climb and ride in a pace line. Internal cabling is standard on all CAAD 12 models and ticked off one of the boxes near the top of my demands.  Lastly the color, I have a CAAD X, the cyclocross model in Cannondale’s black and white paint scheme so I was hoping for an option to the primer grey and they delivered.  Team Color has a glossy, slightly metallic black as the base color with a metallic grey on the down tube, seat stays and the underside of the top tube.  Cannondale’s pro peloton racing team’s signature green covers the fork and seat tube along with some branding graphics.

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Lastly, the saddle, a Selle Royal won’t be seen in the professional ranks but I can tell you it’s not a leather clad brick or a couch cushion.  It’s light, flexes and doesn’t seem to need a break in period.

After talking it all over with TC, who seemed ready to ride along with me on the maiden voyage, the bike arrived less than a week later and during that time a few notable publications named this particular CAAD 12 105 the 2016 Bike of the Year. Now I feel pretty smart riding this bike around and look forward to years of enjoyment and keeping up during the group rides.

 

I Love New York-Point Peter

A few mornings ago, I was driving on Rt. 84, and got off on the Port Jervis exit. I noticed the I Love New York circular heliport looking artwork in the grass on the side of the highway. As I have passed this a bunch of times, I’ve often remembered the I Love New York TV commercials from the 1970’s. This got me thinking (I know that’s dangerous).

After my appointment, I would drive back to Milford, get on my bike, ride through Montague, NJ, onto the highway, and take a picture with my bike, on the I Love NY sign. As luck would have it, Eric called, wanting to ride. So we met at Action Bikes and Outdoor, and off we went.IMG_2753

We left the shop, traversed Milford, and made our way over the Milford Bridge. We rode up Deckertown Turnpike, made a left onto New Road, and rode over to Clove Road. Turning right on Clove, we roller coastered for about 4.5 miles to Montague, and hung a left on Rt. 23. A mile down the road, we rode on the exit ramp against traffic to get up to the highway. After taking a few photos, I realized that this was a remarkably stupid idea. Not very well thought out. Will never do it again!

From there, we pedaled through the city of Port Jervis and up Rt. 97, made a right on Skyline Drive, and began the climb up to Point Peter. Skyline Drive is a steep climb for about 2.5 miles. Switchback after switchback, we kept ascending until we capped the mountain, and rode back down the other side for about a half mile to Point Peter.

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The Port Jervis Bridge from Point Peter

Point Peter offers incredible panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument in New Jersey. After a few photos, we carefully slipped back down Skyline Drive. If you ever want to feel like the road was built especially for you, ride down Skyline Drive sometime. You’ll want to to ride back up just to descend it again!

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American & P.O.W. Flags atop Point Peter

Hang a right on Rt. 97, a mile later  make a sharp left on Sleepy Hollow Road for a recovery spin along the river and through the west end of Port Jervis. A right on Ferry Street and a quick left on River Road, along the Port Jervis Fitness Path, and back on the the Bridge. Once back in Pennsylvania, we hung a right off the bridge onto Delaware Drive, for a spin on the other side of the river.

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Eric hammers on the the fitness path

A left on Avenue C and over to Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras, and a right hand turn on Rt. 209/Rt. 6. Navigating a busy shopping district, we slid through and made our way back to Milford. Although the ride began very recklessly, the ride up and down Point Peter and the ride through west end made for a fantastic ride on a beautiful day!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Harry Chapin – Greatest Stories Live71jJCu8fbZL._SX425_

Bashakill Vinyards and Winery Ride

On Sunday, May 22, 2016, we will be riding from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford to the Bashakill Vinyards and Winery in Wurtsboro, NY. We will leave the shop at 9:00am. The route will be about 50 miles. Transportation back to Milford will be provided (spouses and friends are welcome to meet us there to help with transports). Please call the shop ahead of time or leave a comment here if you intend on riding with us, so we can have enough transportation.

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Open Sundays too!

Bashakill is an organic winery that produces about 1200 cases a year. The tasting room is a rustic room attached to the side of the garage. There is no charge to taste four of their wines. If they have more than 4 wines available there is a $4 tasting fee, which includes a souvenir glass. They sell by the glass or you can buy a bottle and share it amongst friends. Feel free to bring your own cheese and crackers or a lunch where you can eat on the outside seating area. glass_closeup_web

The have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. They haven’t posted who’s playing on May 22 yet, but they usually have first class entertainment.

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In 2011, they built the BashaKill Wine Cave! They cut into the mountain and poured a 67-yard concrete cave, which is 40 feet deep and 16 feet wide. Being under ground creates a constant temperature with high humidity. This provides the perfect environment for aging their red wines. They usually give tours of the cave periodically during the day.

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Bashakill Vinyards Wine Cave

So come enjoy a challenging ride with us from Milford to Wurtsboro. It is a no drop ride, so everyone will arrive together. We will pedal through the beautiful tri state area, chow on homemade food, listen to good music and taste some of the finest wines in the Catskills.

 

 

 

Review: Kona Rove Ti

In an attempt to add more content, I’ve decided to do a few reviews. Not to bore you, but to get you and me excited about cycling again as the spring unfolds and summer quickly approaches.

During the winter, I picked up a 2016 Kona Rove Ti Frame. Kona sells the Rove, which is their do all cross and gravel bike, in Aluminum, Steel and Titanium. At this time, the Ti Rove is only available as a frame. With that in mind, I conferred with TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor as to how to properly spec this bike for some on road/off road adventures.

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First, the frame (3AL/2.5V titanium) is made in Tennessee by Lynskey, one of the premiere builders of titanium bikes. I decided to pair it with a Kona Project 2 carbon fork, allowing the frame and fork to take up to a 50mm tire for a super plush ride over the rough stuff. Next, I wanted to use road bike gearing as I will be doing a lot of mixed bag type of rides that will take me on and off road. Specs are as follows: Sram Force carbon crankset, Sram GXP bottom bracket, Sram Rival shifters, Sram Rival derailleurs, Sram 1170 11X32 cassette, Bontrager Affinity Elite tubeless ready disc wheelset, Thomson Elite seatpost and stem, Chris King headset, Shimano mechanical disc brakes, Arundel stainless cages, Shimano Pro saddle and a Salsa Cowchipper handlebar and WTB Nano 40mm tires round it all out.IMG_2605

After about 300 miles of winter and spring riding through gravel, singletrack, grass, pavement, dirt and mud, I can honestly say that the Rove has performed flawlessly. At just about 20lbs with pedals, it flies out of corners and is light enough to climb any hill(especially with the 11-32 cassette). With the Cowchipper bars and tubeless tire setup, it’s as stable as any bike I’ve ridden. And least I say, the ride quality of Ti is incredible!The Kona Rove Ti is the kind of bike you fall in love with for its beauty and ride quality then forge a life-long bond with after epic adventures.IMG_2606

2 Rides, Lot’s of Fun & Adventure

Now that the weather seems to have turned for the better, it’s time to hit the road and get some quality miles in. With temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s this weekend, I had to find time to put tires on blacktop.

Riding out of town is always pretty this time of year. Before the trees become green, an array of flowers are in bloom and many store fronts and homes display just enough to get you really excited for the spring and summer seasons.

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A few sights from Milford including the old Milford Theater(home of the Black Bear Film Festival) and the Dimmick Inn

I rode with John on Sunday from Layton Hainesville Road on the New Jersey side. After an easy spin at conversational pace, we traveled through Layton and over to Peter’s Valley. We hung a left on the Walpack Road and went past the Walpack Inn and around the Walpack loop. The loop is about 12 miles. A roller coaster type road that winds you in and around the National Forest, providing scenic views of the Flatbrook Creek.

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John hammering it over the Walpack Loop on his new Trek Emonda

We re-traced the route back to Layton Hainsville Road and back to Milford. On the way back, a black pickup truck with what appeared to be an intoxicated driver, decided it was not willing to share the road. After a few swerves and short stops, the driver sped away and probably figured that it was better to get back to the bar.

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All and all, a really nice ride on what turned out to be the warmest day of the year, so far. It felt good to finally ride in shorts and short sleeves.

Today, I rode with TC and Eric from Action Bikes and Outdoor. We left the shop at about 7:30am on a crisp, slightly windy April morning. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. You couldn’t ask for more. After a slow cruise through Milford’s side streets, we dropped down past the Metz Icehouse and up to Rt. 209 and over the Milford Bridge.

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Metz Icehouse

We climbed up Deckertown Turnpike, across Rt. 206 and made a right on New Road. We followed New Road into Cemetery Road and crossed over Rt. 206 again and made a left on Layton Hainesville Road. Riding with TC and Eric, I knew the pace would be fast. I grabbed onto a wheel and hung on through Layton and chased them over to Peter’s Valley, a scenic artists colony that’s home to a popular climb among local cyclist.

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Pedaling up the back of Old Mine Road(the Peter’s Valley Climb), I took up my usual position behind TC and Eric, spinning at a brisk pace up the steep 1st few hundred feet. As the hill crests, the grade becomes much more manageable. It’s one of those climbs that you have to really push up the 1st part, to enjoy an easy spin for the rest of the hill. Coming over the top, you shoot straight down hill for a little over a mile and cross over Rt. 560.

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Old Mine Road is a quiet country road that spans from the Dingmans Bridge to the Milford Bridge on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. On nice days, you will see scores of cyclists and runners enjoying the serene surroundings. A quick trip back over the Milford bridge and into Milford for some well deserved coffee. Quick tip. Get out early if you can, before the weather has a chance to turn on you.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen the Rain.

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Greenville Turnpike & 3 States

Everything you wanted to know about the wind but were afraid to ask. Yeah, it was windy today! Did I say it was windy? It was windy!

Having an opportunity to get out and squeeze a ride in on what appeared to be a beautifully sunny day, I met up with Steve at Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford. On a whim, we decided on a ride around the Delaware Valley and a climb up Greenville Turnpike.

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Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge

Leaving the shop, we headed east on Rt. 209/Rt 6. Although flat and fast, we had to deal with a lot of evening traffic, oh and did I say, wind? Just as we crossed Rt. 84, we turned left onto Mountain Avenue to avoid busy Matamoras. Turning right on Delaware Drive, we approached the Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge and I couldn’t help but think that as we ride through this area on a daily basis, it’s real easy to take for granted the scenery that is all around us. A perfect example was the ride over the bridge and the view of the incredibly serene Delaware River.

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Pushing through the wind, we made our way through the streets of the old, up and coming small city of Port Jervis, NY. (The once rundown, river city is making a comeback with scores of new businesses and great restaurants). Going under the overpass and up Pike Street, we made a right on E. Main Street and pedaled over the Neversink River Bridge and into Montague, NJ.

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We hung a left on Greenville Turnpike, got out of traffic, back into New York and started to climb. At a little over 3 miles, Greenville Turnpike starts out a mere gradual uphill for the 1st 1.25 miles. As it bears right, the road inclines sharply and continues to climb for about 2 more miles, passing some hillside homes and a parking area for the trailhead to the Shawangunk Trail in the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, before dropping back down to where we made a left on Old Mountain Road. Old Mountain Road is carved into the side of the mountain, providing a road surface that is smooth but slanted down to the low side.

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Old Mountain Road drops down to a sudden stop at Rt. 6 in Greenville in front of the Firehouse Deli. A steep, half mile climb awaits as we turn left on Rt. 6. For some reason, the climb seems fast(just one of those roads that feels like your going faster than you should). As we capped the summit, I zipped up and pulled my gloves on and prepared for the long, descent. Did I say it was windy? It felt like the wind was actually pushing us back uphill. Rt. 6 drops through Deerpark, NY for 3.5 miles to the border of Montague and Port Jervis. Pedaling back through Port Jervis, E. Main Street eventually rolls right into Rt. 97. We climbed up to the Main Street overlook and were treated to an excellent view of the city.

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Descending Rt. 97 to Sleepy Hollow Road, we winded through the quiet West End Neighborhood of Port Jervis and back to the bridge and across to Matamoras. As we traveled through Matamoras and into Milford, we were hit hard by the wind. For 5 plus miles, we crawled back to Action Bikes and Outdoors, happy to have gotten it in.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Genesis – Abacab

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Cummins Hill Climb

Last evening, I had a chance to get a quick ride in before dark. Not only was it the end of the day, it was also the last chance to get a ride in before unseasonably cold tempatures and snow set in for the next few days. I met up with Mike at Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6pm. Having only about 1.5 hours of light, we decided to hit a short but tough loop that’s known in the area as Cummins Hill.

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Action Bikes and Outdoor & the Frisky Goat Coffee House 611 Broad Street Milford, PA 18337

Leaving the shop, we headed north on Rt. 209/Rt. 6, towards Port Jervis, NY. With alot of traffic at that time of day, we made sure we had our blinkies on to alert cars that we were on the side of the roadway. Rt. 209/Rt. 6 is fast and flat all the way into Matamoras. Passing the box stores and Rt. 84, we went under the overpass and made a left on Mountain Avenue, just before the Firehouse. The scenery immediatley turns from, cars, noise and traffic to quiet, desolate and peaceful. Mountain Avenue is a nice way to connect Rt. 209/Rt.6 with the Delaware River without having to ride through Matamoras (where there is no room for bikes on Pennsylvannia Avenue).

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Delaware Drive

Mountain Avenue winds through some residential areas and comes to an end at Delaware Drive. Making a left on Delaware Drive, we enjoyed a few miles of riding along the Delaware River. With the recent rains, the river was flowing quite quickly, creating a relaxing sound as we approached the climbs.  Right at the end of Delaware Drive, along the river are boat launches for the three major river trip companies in the area.

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View from the Descent into Millrift

Just as Delaware Drive turns into Bluestone Blvd. the road immediately pitches up and the fun starts. Passing a few farms and cool rustic homes, the road climbs up for a few miles before descending down into Millrift, PA. With not much there, except for a bunch of neatly situated, pretty country homes, Millrift gives you some awesome scenery and a chance to refresh your legs before the real climbing begins.

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In Millrift, Bluestone Blvd. becomes Cummins Hill Road. Cummins Hill ascends for about 4 miles. With little respite, the road twist and turns and snakes through the woods, but never stops going up. The slow pace allows you some breathtaking views. Approaching the top, the road turns right and steepens, taking the last bit of strength that I had in my legs.

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The descent is steep and technical. The low light made it an adventure. Mike seemed to rip right down, while I took my time around the turns and made sure that I would need a new set of brake pads soon. Cummins Hill Road dumps you back on Rt.209/Rt.6. Making a right, we cooled down with a nice cruise aroung Old Milford Road and and back into town.

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Strava map

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tuff Enuff

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