Erie 80

erie-80Saturday was a magical day for cycling in the Tri-State area, especially The City of Port Jervis. The inaugural Erie 80 Mountain Bike race took place in the brand new Watershed Park Trails & Recreation Area. The trail system is the brainchild of Dejay Birtch, a Port Jervis native. Birtch currently lives in Arizona, but returns frequently to build trails. Dejay, along with TC Crawford, the owner of Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, plus an amazing volunteer trail crew, have carved out over 25 miles of trail. All their hard work was on display yesterday. img_0076

The registration and staging area took place in front of and  inside the tiki bar at the Erie Hotel and Restaurant. The Race drew over 150 registered riders, a huge number for a 1st year race. The Erie 80 is an 80 kilometer(50 miles) Race. A 40k and 12 mile Fun Race  were also offered. It all kicked off at the corner of Front Street and Jersey Avenue and headed up Pike Street, onto Orange Street, a left on Reservior Avenue and into the Watershed. img_0075

The volunteers really shined. Every turn was clearly marked, making it easy for all riders to stay on course. The aid station at mile 9 and again at 12 was stocked with energy snacks, water, soda and all kinds of goodies from Honey Stinger.  Trek Bicycles was on hand to help with repairs.

On a personal note, it was really cool to hit the trails with riders of all abilities, from extremely fast racers to average MTB enthusiasts to road riders, like me who were finding out just how hard mountain biking in a densely wooded forest can be.

Three miles in and we climbed to the top of Point Peter, treating the riders to a majestic view of Port Jervis, the Delaware river and the Catskill, Pocono and Kittatinny mountain ranges.

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A birdseye view of what rocks can do to a tire

I rode with friends, Jim from Long Island and Sean and Pete from South Jersey. At mile 6, Sean shredded his rear tire on a rock. He booted the tire with a candy wrapper and rode on for a little over a mile, when the hole proved to be too much for the foil wrapper to seal. From that point, he walked to the aid station, where Trek/Bontrager had a bin full of tires, tubes and a little of everything to keep the riders going. A quick tire change and Sean was back on the trail. Everyone endured a little pain yesterday, whether it was of the mechanical kind or physical, but it was well worth it.

The terrain was a mixed bag of hills, smooth trail and some rock gardens, until we re-entered after exiting the mile 12 aid station. From there, it was rock garden after rock garden, really challenging riders. In between the rocks and hills, were bench cut trails, that carved they’re way through the hills, while overlooking streams that flowed from reservoir to reservoir. Oh, and least I forget the amazing views of all three reservoirs.

The Race came to an end right where it all started, complete with a professional finish line, a beer garden and entertaining finishing ceremony. Don’t miss this race next year. If you don’t currently ride a mountain bike, start training, you won’t be sorry!

Results from the Erie 80 MTB race can be found here.

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Bontrager Flare R

Tonight, I review the Bontrager Flare R tail light. I do not work for Bontrager or Trek. I am not paid to pitch their products. If I believe in a product, I simply talk it up. The Flare R is Bontrager’s best tail light, maybe the best tail light ever.

A little over a year ago, I saw a training video on the Flare R. I usually put in a couple thousand miles on the road and always knew that I needed something other than reflective clothing.img_0065

The next time I was at the shop, I picked one up and immediately put it on my road bike. It came charged. I couldn’t believe how bright it was. 65 Lumens does not sound like much, but if you value your eyes, don’t look directly into it.

The Flare R has 2 day-time modes and 2 night modes. In day mode: 65 lumens the Flare R lasts for 4.25 hours. At 35 lumens, it last for 10 hours! In night mode: 65 lumens last an impressive 23 hours and at 5 lumens steady, it lasts for 21 hours. It has a battery save mode at 5%, so it won’t die on the way home. Oh, and the Flare R can be seen from 2 km away, day or night.img_0067

After a year plus, and a lot of abuse, the Flare R is as bright and effective as it was right out of the box. It has protected me on the road and the trail during hunting season. The Flare R comes with a USB cable for speedy charges, a quick connect bracket to fit around your seat post and a seat bag clip. It pares easily with Bontrager’s Transmitter handlebar remote.

With all the technology that comes our way, a bicycle tail light gets little attention, but it’s the one thing that I will not go on the road without!img_0066

Morning Gravel

Every now and then, you are presented with some unexpected free time. What you do with that time is totally up to you. You could do some yard work, catch up on sleep or depending on the weather, crank out some extra miles. I took the day off from work today, to accompany my wife to an out of town, late morning doctor’s appointment. When my alarm went off at the usual 6am, because I forgot to reset it for later, I hopped out of bed, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, splashed some cold water on my face and jumped into my cycling clothes. img_0063

I won’t detail my entire ride, just that I pedaled out to Five Mile Meadow Road for a morning gravel spin. I touched Standing Tall Trail and attempted to ride up to Minisink Lake via Flat Ridge Road. That did not happen, as a Road crew was spreading some fresh gravel across the road. The new stuff was too soft, like riding on sand. They said that after Flat Ridge, they were going to hit Five Mile. It will probably be about a week to 10 days before the stone is compacted enough to ride on. I spun around and headed home, satisfied with just over 22 miles. With this week’s Indian Summer still hanging around, any ride is a good ride! Get outside and take advantage!

What’s playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doobie Brothers – China Grove

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Watershed Trails

In two short weeks, the City of Port Jervis, NY will play host to the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race at the Watershed Park Trail System. Since I’ve only gotten one mtb ride in all year, I figured it was time to test my skills with a few miles in the Watershed. I met up with Big John at Reservior #1 at 9am for what we hoped would be an epic day in the woods.

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From the parking area, we headed up Reservior Road. Right out of the gate,  the loose gravel and dirt road climbs for about 1.6 miles. Nothing steep, but continous as we turned right on Lenni Lenape Trail and continued to climb until Lenape merged with Brant Path and leveled off. Here, we shedded our outer layers and checked the map to make sure we wouldn’t be riding in circles. At the trail head, an encased map of the entire watershed is color coded, enabling the rider to take a snapshot of the map for later reference on the trail. Having already had our share of jeep trails, we went looking for some singletrack.

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Big John capping the hill

We made a right on Box Baum Road and after another half mile of gravel, we met up with Kyle, who was leading a group through the trail system. He pointed us into Mahackamack Trail and we hung a left on Lost Bear Trail. Finally, some singletrack. Nothing smooth. A lot of rocks and roots, but it rolled real nice for a couple of miles, looping right back to Box Baum Road and dropping us along the eastern side of Reservior #3. The descent allows for a clear view of the reservior and the Deerpark Dam.

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From there, we turned left and enjoyed the rocky decline down Reservior Road. Before hitting Reservior #1 again, we made a left on the Beginner’s Berm and followed it up to Tallulah. Not a good idea. Tallulah is an advanced trail that goes skyward for about 3/4 of a mile. This is where we did some hike a bike. With a left turn at the top on Lenni Lenape, we cruised back down to Reservior Road and dropped back to the parking area.

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Holding on for dear life!

We did not get to see the entire watershed. Next time, we’ll attempt to hit DeJay Downs and some of the Expert Trails to get a real feel for the place. What I’ve seen so far, the trails are well marked and color coded. As long as you stay on the trail system, it would be pretty hard to get lost. From what I heard, the trails are only half finished. I can’t wait to see what DeJay, TC and crew have in store for the rest of the park!

We finished it off  with a feast at Roy’s Corner at Homer’s Restaurant in Port Jervis. According to the Times Herald Record, the original restaurant opened in 1852.

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

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Not Giving In

As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, opportunities for road rides begin to dwindle. It’s either early morning rides and that means layering up for the 35-45 degree tempatures or after work rides that finish in the dark.

I knew that I wanted to get a ride in yesterday or today. I tried yesterday and suffered through a mechanical incident that saw me abandon after 3 miles. Today, with renewed vigor, I hoped on my bike at Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed towards Port Jervis. I was aiming for a climb up Point Peter and a loop around River Road, but just as I hit Matamoras, I rode right into a pothole.

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Tire Sidewall Puncture

As soon as I heard the loud pop, I knew I had a flat and pulled over to assess the damage. Realizing that the sidewall of my tire was ripped, I had to figure out a way to repair the tire enough to get me back to the shop. After pulling out the old tube, I took a piece of cardboard out of my seat bag and placed it inside the tire, over the tear. I replaced the tube and blew up the tire to about 50lbs of pressure. I did not want to blow the tire up to capacity as I was afraid the tube would come through. It was just enough to pedal the 5.5 miles back to Milford. Once at the shop, I immediately changed the tire and headed back out to finish what I started.

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With daylight at a premium, I decided that quantity was not as important as quality. I rode through Milford and made a right on Foster Hill Road for a 2+ mile climb. Foster Hill starts out rather steep, levels off in sections, gets steeper in other sections and continually climbs right up to the Malibu Dude Ranch, an 800 acre resort that offers old west style vacations, horse back rides on scenic trails and a rustic restaurant and tavern.

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Getting up the hill is the work, stopping at the ranch is the reward. Horses come right up to the fence, like they’re greeting you as you enter. I took a quick photo op and zipped up for the descent. At the bottom of the hill, I took Pear Alley back to the shop. I almost gave in and called it a day when I flatted. I’m so glad I regrouped and made it happen.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner

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Press Release: Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race

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The City of Port Jervis Holds Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race in City Park before Halloween

Port Jervis, NY – The city is working hard at showcasing the new trail system in the newly opened Watershed Park which will host the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race on October 29th.  The race will have three distance options for participants including a 12 mile, 25 mile, and 50 mile course.  Trail crews have been working hard to build a fun, challenging, fast, and technical course attracting mountain bike riders and racers of all abilities.  Racers will face single track terrain with rocks, logs, roots, and water crossings.

The start of the race will take place on Front Street with a police escort to Brewers Reservoir.  From there, racers will give it their personal best and finish the course in the fastest time possible.   Racers will be categorized by age, bicycle type, and ability level.  Prizes will be distributed to all of the top 3 finishers within each category.

The City of Port Jervis has had a tremendous amount of help and support with the organization of the Erie 80 race.  Dejay Birtch is heading off the event and has designed the course.  Other sponsors include Action Bikes and Outdoor, Polar Bottle, Dark Horse Cycles, Fox N Hare Brewing Co, Joe Fix Its, BTI, Honey Stinger, Swift Wick Apparel, Newburgh Brewing, Dumonde Tech Racing Oils, Stan’s No Tubes, Port Jervis Brick Oven Pizza, Advocate Cycles, and Shop Rite of Montague.

Registration is open now on Bikereg.com!!   Information and registration is also available at http://www.discoverportjervis.com.

A New Gravel Loop

There is no better way to take full advantage of the incredible fall foliage than a bike ride. On this picture perfect day, a gravel ride was in order. So I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor for a late afternoon ride through the Zimmerman Farm and the Conashaugh Horse Trail.

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We left the shop and cruised through Milford, to Milford Beach and onto the McDade Trail. At Raymondskill Road, we hopped onto Rt. 209 and made a right at the second Zimmerman Road entrance. Zimmerman Road goes through the Zimmerman Farm and onto horse trails that lead up to Raymondskill Falls. We made a right at the horse trail and went through two creek crossings before climbing an extremely steep and winding hill with loose gravel that made the climb doable at best. I walked up the middle section as my rear wheel was all over the place.

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After crossing a rather deep, dried up creek bed, we beared left and that’s where the real climbing began. The roadway, full of gullys from water run off, became an obstacle course that just kept going up. Somehow, we both managed to grind it out as we capped the hill and turned left on Conashaugh Road, a hard packed pea gravel road that goes from Milford Road to Long Meadow Chapel Road.

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After about a mile, we went around the gate and onto the Conashaugh Horse Trail. This was new territory for me. Immediately, we dropped down they rail, which was just a bit wider than single track. The trail surface contained wooden steps, every 50 feet or so for almost a half mile. The road came down in a swampy valley and went back up for a little bit and dropped back down to Zimmerman Road, right at the driveway of the Marie Zimmerman Estate. We cruised onto the property and rode around the house and through the gardens.

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We pedaled out of the he estate, down Zimmerman Road and made a left on Rt. 209 and back to the McDade Trail. Finally, some flat terrain. Although we were moving pretty quickly we talked all the way back as we rode from daylight to darkness, from open trail to hidden forest. Rolling off the trail, we rode past the Metz ice house and down the gravel trail along the river (Delaware River). The trail, only a half mile long, ends at a steep, paved hill that puts you right in the middle of Milford.

Every bike ride gives you the opportunity to explore new areas. Today, we were lucky enough to find a new loop through the horse trails and see another part of the Zimmerman Farm. Here’s some more pics:

The Knob

If you ride anywhere near Milford, you’ve heard of the The Knob. If you’ve even been through Milford at night, you’ve seen The Knob. The Knob sits atop the Raymondskill Ridge in the Cliff Park section of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Cliff Trail and the Quarry Trail intersect the Knob Trail. There are more than eight miles of Trail to connect in the Cliff Park area. Any one of the climbs rewards the rider or hiker with a fantastic view. In fact, the cover photo for this blog was one I took about 3 years ago, after hiking to the top.

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Another view from The Knob

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Today, I left from the Action Bikes and Outdoor and accessed the Milford Knob trailhead at the North Contact Station. After climbing for about a mile, I made a left on the Quarry Trail and a right on the Cliff Trail and rode up to the Knob. I pedaled down the single track along the ridge to also get a view of the Milford Bridge, the Delaware River and the vast corn fields along the river.

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I descended into the Milford Cemetary, turned around and rode back up and around to the North Contact Station. My aim was to ride out to Raymonskill Road and Jump on the McDade Trail for an easy spin back to Milford. I lost my navigational skills for a moment and ended up coming out the same way I went in. I rode down Rt. 209 to Raymondskill and entered the McDade Trail.

The Knob is a nice easy hike or bike ride that can be started from anywhere in town. There are some steep sections that require low gears or possibly a little hike a bike.

Whats Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Supertramp – The Logical Song

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Lazy Weekend Spin

Rain, rain go away. After five straight days of rain, enough already! Anyway, I got a small window today to get out and get the blood flowing through my legs again. I had more than the required recovery period, following last weekend’s monster ride.

I decided to do a road ride and stay out of the mud and puddles that cover the gravel roads and trails.

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Matt at Action Bikes and Outdoor, suggested a route that covered some familiar roads and some new ones. I headed out under the dark grey skies at around 3:30pm. After navigating Milford, I pedaled across the bridge into Montague, NJ and up Deckertown Turnpike. Deckertown gets vertical immediately. You climb for just about 2 miles. A right on New Road and nice spin through the quiet Autum landscape. As you get to Rt. 206, Flatbrook Farm is on the left with their farm stand on the right side of the road, serving up fruits and veggies, fresh off the farm. It seems that this time of year, farm stands pop up all over the place, one of the perks of The Autum season.

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One of the many farm stands along Rt. 206

A short ride on 206 and a left on Hotalen Road. Hotalen is a shaded street with very little traffic. It comes to a fork at the top. I missed the turn and went up the hill. At the top, I checked the map on my phone and spun around. I should have veered right at the fork and descended Back down to Rt. 206. I wanted to get off the main drag, so I turned left on Bridges Way and right on Layton Hainsville Road.

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After a flat mile, I hung a left on Jager Road and climbed up the backside and dropped down, making a sharp right on Old Mine Road. You can reach speeds of over 45mph on Jager, just be careful as Old Mine comes up rather quickly.

Old Mine Road is the quintessential country Road. The only problem this time of day is that the shadows on the road surface make it extremely difficult to see all the pot holes, even on this overcast day. So, I soft pedaled all the way to the Milford Bridge. As luck would have it, I got to ride about 10 mph, right next to a deer that was trotting along side of me for about 1000 feet. Not spooked, she just eased her way back into the woods. Crossing the bridge, I caught a glimpse of the early fall foliage on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. I hope the weather cooperates and allows me a few rides a week this month as I have signed up for the Erie 80, a 50 Mile Mountain bike race in the Port Jervis  Watershed trail system, on October 29th. My lack of Mtb skills it are making me think I might have gotten over my head a bit on this one. We’ll see. I’ll detail that race very soon in another post.

What’s playing: (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Argent – Hold you head up

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