Stretching it Out

Summer is officially in full swing. That means the sun is shining and thoughts of long days in the saddle are here. Usually, 25-30 miles through the state forests, around the tri-state area and along the Delaware River, makes for a good enough ride, but Sunday presented an opportunity to stretch things out a bit.

Steve and I are getting ready for a long ride in upstate New York next month and Mike is preparing for a full Ironman Triathlon in October. So, we ventured out at 6:30am.

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For Mike, this was no ordinary training ride. This was his first ride in over a month after suffering a concussion, separated shoulder and various other injuries in a serious crash. With not being able to train for most of the month, Mike is determined to get back to his pre-crash form. With that in mind, we pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor early enough to be almost completely void of traffic. We headed down to Matamoras via Rt. 209/Rt. 6 and made a left on Mountain Avenue.

Apparently enamored by the river today, we rode along Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge, hanging an immediate left into West End, and rode along the New York side of the river. We came out on Rt. 97 (took a photo opportunity at the Conservatory) and rode through Port Jervis to River Road. We pace lined down River Road to work on our fitness and connected it to Old Mine Road at the Milford Bridge. Old Mine is full of potholes for the first 3 miles, so we took it easy until we reached the new pavement.

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We then picked up the pace a bit until we rolled over the Dingmans Bridge. Turning right on Rt. 209, we roller coastered over the last 8 miles back into Milford. Mike finished safely and reported no pain at the end of the ride. We were just honored to be a part of his recovery.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Dire Straits – Walk of Life

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New York State of Mind

With Milford being located in the Tri-State area, rides in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are all within reach. Some days, all 3 states are incorporated in local rides, like Sunday, when we rode through each state with a Point Peter climb. But Tuesday was all about New York. Western Orange County has many beautiful roads. The roadway is well paved, the homes are stately, and the scenery is second to none.

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I met up with Kyle at Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and we pedaled down Rt.209/ Rt. 6 towards Matamoras. We veered left onto Mountain Avenue, hammered down to the Delaware River, and continued over the Port Jervis Bridge. Once in New York, we rode through the small river city, over to Port Jervis High School, and out onto Rt. 209 towards Middletown. This section of 209 is flat and fast. There is a narrow shoulder, but it’s enough to ride safely. As soon as you pass the horse farm on the right and Neversink Drive, go another mile and Peenpack Trail is on the left.

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Peenpack is a nicely paved road that snakes up and around some well groomed country homes. You climb up Peenpack for about 4 miles, before dropping down across Rt. 42 and back up to a left hand turn on Old Forestburg Road. You basically just fly down until you reach Rt. 42 again, and make a right, pedaling another half mile you hang a sharp right onto Wilson Road.

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Wilson immediately sends you back uphill, steeply at first but leveling out before capping the hill and flying down to Rt. 97. There, you make a right, and start the climb up to the Hawk’s Nest. Every 1/4 of a mile or so, there is a pull off that allows you some of the most breathtaking views of the Delaware River Valley. The road twists and turns for a few miles with a long descent back into Sparrowbush, NY. A right hand turn onto Sleepy Hollow Rd. puts you along the river and through Port Jervis’s West End neighborhood.

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We cruised over the Port Jervis Bridge and back into Matamoras, PA. While pedaling along the PA side of the river, I realized how lucky we are to be able to ride in so many cool places and over such diverse terrain. After left a onto Mountain Avenue, we cooled down as we rode back into Milford.

Although the elevation gain is not terribly high, this is a difficult ride as it requires extremely good bike handling skills. The downhill sections are steep, and wind around corners before coming to sudden stops. Use caution whenever riding on Rt. 97.  A blinking red taillight alerts drivers that your sharing the road.

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One last picture of the Delaware River

 

 

 

Father’s Day Ride

The last few days, I have been away, scouting out hotels and rest stops for a 4 day charity ride that I organize with my brother, a friend, and a dedicated volunteer staff. I’ll post some details as the event draws closer. For that reason, I have not been able to ride in 5 days, so I contacted Eric and we planned a morning Father’s Day ride, finishing up early enough to get home and spend some quality time with our families.

We really lucked out at 7am with blue skies and almost perfect weather. We met up at the parking area at Dingmans Falls, and headed out on Rt. 209 towards Milford. Eric did a long ride with a lot of climbing the previous day, so we decided that only 1 big hill would be appropriate for the day.

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We reached Milford, where we took 3rd Street, and hung a left onto George Street. Next, we made a right onto 4th Street, and followed it around and out to Rt. 209/ Rt. 6. Pedaling downhill towards Matamoras, the roads were empty. Every traffic light was green, and turning left on Mountain Avenue, we cruised toward the Delaware River and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Moving under the train trestle and up Pike Street, we made a left onto Rt, 97, over the first hill by the observatory, and turned right onto Skyline Drive. That’s where the climbing began. It’s 2.5 miles of switchbacks until the road summits, and then drops back down a little to Point Peter. As I’ve written in an earlier post, Point Peter offers panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument.

We did the Skyline Drive loop, and descended back into Port Jervis. Then we navigated through town, and headed over to River Road. Wanting to get back home, we rode in a mini paceline all the way to the Milford Bridge, and took Old Mine Road back to the Dingmans Bridge, passing a few cyclists and runners who were enjoying the beautiful morning.

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Crossing over the old wooden bridge, we pedaled our way back to Rt. 209, and cooled down on the Dingmans Falls Road to the welcome center. At 40+ miles and 1 climb, this is an intermediate ride with the reward at the halfway point.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Bruce Hornby and the Range – The Show Goes On

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Overnight on the Bike

Yes, it finally happened: I got out on an overnight backpacking trip. Although I did not go it alone, as originally planned, it was an eye opening adventure that is sure to happen again. When I mentioned it to TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor, he was all over it. He planned a route that would have us pedal from Bushkill to Milford on the McDade Trail, with an overnight in Dingmans Ferry, alongside the Delaware River.

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Kyle and Will were recruited for the initial trip, and away we went. Kyle rode out from Milford to Bushkill, and met us at the Bushkill Access (boat launch). Ray and Meghan gave TC, Will, and myself a first class shuttle over to Bushkill.

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At 70 degrees and sunny, it was a beautiful evening to test out a fully loaded bike on loose gravel, and at 7pm, it left us ample time to ride 10 miles and setup camp. I was riding my Van Dessel WTF with my Revelate Designs seat pack and frame bag, and my Bushwhacker Cody handlebar bag. I bolted 1 Salsa Anything Cage to my fork to carry an unusually large steel bottle, and finally I wore a backpack, complete with a 70 ounce water blatter.

After 10 miles of pedaling, we reached our campsite. It was a nice clearing, with a cluster of trees, between the McDade Trail and Delaware River. As I pulled my tent and sleeping gear from my seat-bag, TC, Will, and Kyle set up their hammocks. Although experienced campers, they were each trying out a hammock for a full night in the woods for the first time. With our bedroom in the woods fully assembled, it was time to build a fire and cook dinner.

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After eating gourmet food by the fire, and laughing a little, TC made a bear bag, collected our extra food, and deposited it over a tree branch back in the woods. Returning to my tent, I made an attempt to light my candle lantern in complete darkness, to no avail. So, I crawled into my sleeping bag and called it a night. The temperature dropped to around 40-45 degrees, making for optimal sleeping weather. In the morning, I had little time to break down my tent and replace everything back in my bags and get to the office for a weekend work commitment.

Everything seemed to be working in my favor. After a great nights sleep, my gear slipped back on my bike without a problem. I met the guys by the fire, boiled some water, grinded some beans, and enjoyed my first real camp coffee.

I made my way up the trail to my car, only 4 miles away, and headed to work. Everyone else rode the full way back to Milford. As I pedaled back, I was already planning how to pack for the next trip. One things for sure: next time, I will be in no hurry in the morning, and the riding will be a little further.

What I did I learn? Bikes, tents, and coffee make a weekend adventure priceless!

 

 

 

 

 

After Work Spin

Finishing work on Wednesday at 4:30PM instead of 6:00pm, afforded me the opportunity to get the ride in that I’ve been wanting to do. I’ve been planning on a 40 miler with over 4,000 feet of climbing. I wanted to incorporate Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. When I left work, I headed straight for Milford.

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I headed out of Action Bikes and Outdoor at 5:00pm under blue skys and temperatures in the mid 70’s with not much humidity, near perfect conditions  for a bike ride. I shot down Rt. 209 and Rt. 6 through Milford, Westfall Township and into Matamoras. Traffic was a little thick at this time, so I turned left on Mountain Avenue and avoided Matamoras Boro. I hit the river and turned right on Delaware Drive and then left over the Port Jervis Bridge and into New York. I went under the train trestle and buzzed through the river town, over the Neversink River and turned left on Rt.6 (also known as Slate Hill Road). Rt.6 climbs gradually for about 3 1/2 miles until it caps at the Greenville exit for Rt. 84.

IMG_3071Descending down about a 1/2 mile, I turned right on Mountain Road and then another mile, right on Greenville Turnpike. Greenville goes steeply up for about 1 1/2 miles, then drops down for 2 1/2 miles, just at about where the Rt. 6 climb began. A careful left on Rt. 23, brought me through the Montague, NJ traffic and up past Clove Road. Rt. 23 climbs for about 7 miles, but never really gets too steep. I followed it up to the High Point State Park entrance and hung a left into the park.

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From  there, it’s straight up to the monument. Short, steep climbs on narrow park roads with little to no traffic. I quickly turned around at the monument in an effort to get back to town before the sun went down. The descent is fast and furious, through the park and back down Rt. 23 for a 1/2 mile to a left hand turn on Saw Mill Road. Saw Mill is a road I’ve previously mentioned. The grade is a bit downhill from Rt. 23 and through it’s many twists and turns, it eventually makes it’s way over to Deckertown Turnpike after about 4 miles.IMG_3096

A right on Deckertown and I’m ready to pedal up and down the many little hills that make up this roller coaster stretch of road that leads all the way back to the Milford Bridge. After a half mile on Deckertown, I got up out of the saddle for a push up the hill and pop, my chain breaks. This should normally not be a problem, because I usually have a spare link in my seat pack. Today, I decided to carry a new tool and tube in my back pocket and took my seat pack off the bike, forgetting about the chain link, and as luck would have it, well…………..So, as I walked my bike up the hills and glided down, I called around and thanks to TC of Action Bikes and Outdoor, who dispatched his lovely and pregnant wife Meghan(who was on her way home from work) over to pick me up. I was so grateful as the mosquitoes were eating me alive. A lesson learned in preparedness and for all of the activity trackers, I certainly got my steps in for that day.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Counting Crows – Rain Kingaugust-and-everything-after-4dcfda1791f21