2016 in Review

What a year it’s been. 2016 gave us a mild winter, a warm spring, a hot and sunny summer and a gorgeous fall foliage season. I was able to get in a lot of rides, on the road bike, the gravel bike and even a few mountain bike rides. I was able to ride over 100 miles twice. I caught a bit of the bike packing bug and did two sub 24 hour overnighters.

I’m not going to detail my yearly mileage, hours on the bike or elevation gained, because that is not what this blog is about. I’m simply going to tell you that I have had a wonderful year of riding with a lot of really cool people here in Milford, Pike County, the Poconos, Port Jervis, Sussex County and the entire area. I took some photos, drank a lot of coffee and settled in to a much more relaxed style of riding.

One thing I learned in 2016 is that most cyclists don’t race. They try to go too fast and miss everything that the world around them has to offer. For the last 20 years or so, that’s been me. I have tried in vain to keep up with faster riders. I now ride a little faster when I want to. But, dropping the speed a few miles an hour to take in the sights and stopping every now and again to have coffee makes a tough ride all the more enjoyable.

My modest goals for 2017:

Ride more!

A solo overnighter in the Delaware State Forest

A multi night group Bike Packing Adventure

2 road rides over 100 miles

2 gravel rides over 100 miles

50 mile mountain bike ride

Be a better father

Be a better husband

My first attempt at a 100 mile gravel ride will be the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo in Jenkins Township, PA on April 23rd, 2017. It might be a bit of a challenge to train for a ride of that length, so early in the year, but I’m hoping that I’m not alone in this.

so far, it looks like another mild winter, hopefully that means more riding!

Happy New Year!

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Crushing Snow

Even though it’s only Mid December, winter is here. It’s so frigid outside, that the entire east coast is experiencing a cold snap. While I was walking the dog in the snow, early Sunday morning, I figured there was no way I was going ride a bike or do much of anything outside. After more than enough coffee, my lovely wife suggested spending the day either hanging Christmas decorations or shopping. Hmm, what to do?

Well, the only way I could brave a day out shopping would be if I could spend a little time out on the bike first. So I layered up, put my mtb shoes, helmet and gloves by the fire for a few minutes and headed out on the Trek Stache.img_0157

The roads were covered in the white stuff, so I snuck through the woods, behind my house and into the Delaware State Forest. Not sure where I was going (but that’s the fun part, isn’t it?), I found a snow mobile trail that would have otherwise been brutal to ride over, but with the snow packed into it, I felt like I was on a pedal assisted sled. Somehow, that trail ended a little over a mile later at a driveway to a hunting cabin. I ventured down and ended up on Five Mile Meadow Road. It’s cool to find trails you never knew existed, and probably rode by more than a few times.img_0161

I jumped into the old Boy Scout camp and found some untouched, endless trails of 6-8 inches of snow. I worked my way past all the dilapidated buildings and dropped down to the lake. Rock Hill Pond, at the foot of the camp, which I believe is now part of the PA State Forest, is completely engulfed in nature. After propping my bike up for a pic, I attempted a sip out of my water bottle. I was only out for about an hour and my bottle was frozen. Lesson learned. Next time, I’ll carry my bottle or wear a hydration pack.img_0154

Pedaling up from the lake and out of the camp was an adventure. When I reached the gravel roads again, I felt as if I were rolling along a smooth section of blacktop. I scurried through the trees and back into my community, satisfied and ready to take on the day and the stores. But first, I would relax a bit and warm up by the fire.img_0156 What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Just the Classics – Santa Claus is Coming to Town (The Jackson 5 version) and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.jackson5-christmasalbum

 

Sussex Branch & Paulinskill Valley Trails

Just across the Delaware River from Milford, sits an old rail bed, formerly used by the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Today, it is a multi use trail, used primarily by hikers and cyclists. The Sussex Branch Trail, travels from Branchville to Byrum Township, approximately 20 miles of primarily flat, gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It crosses lakes, swamps and the Paulinskill River. It intersects with the Paulinskill Valley Trail at Warbasse Junction. The Paulinskill, formerly used by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, is also gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It goes upward from Warbasse at a 1-2% grade, making the return trip extremely fast.

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I hooked up with Eric at 7:30am at the Branchville Fire Department parking lot. At about 28 degrees, we were in for a chilly start. As we shoved off, we missed the trail head and pedaled in circles for 3 miles before hopping into the woods. Immediately, I knew we were on a pretty cool piece of real estate. img_0142

The Sussex Branch Trail is 4 feet wide with trees overhanging the six inch rut that serves as the best line to roll through. Wooden bridges cross the wet land that separate the many farms that dominate this beautiful county, tucked away in northern New Jersey. img_0141

We took a coffee and nature break at Warbasse Junction, and stayed on the Sussex for a few more miles. When we turned around, a few cyclists on fat Bikes came motoring by. In fact, we passed more than a few hikers, people walking their dogs and a group of women that were out running their way to warmth. img_0146

When we reached Warbasse Junction again, we hung a left onto the Paulinskill. Although, the Sussex Branch Trail is beautiful, quiet and rustic, it is not as well groomed as the Paulinskill, which is wider with and even surface from left to right. We pedaled up for a few miles, until we reached an area that was saturated from the recent rains, with water overflowing from a pond, right across the trail. This seemed a good place to turn around and head back to Branchville. As I previously stated, the Paulinskill has a slight grade and after the turn around, we really picked up some speed as we made our way back to the Sussex Branch Trail. We followed the trail all the way back into town, realizing where we missed the turn at the start. img_0145

Either of these two trails can be covered on a cyclocross bike, mountain bike or even a hybrid bike. They both travel through a few small towns with ample opportunities to refill fluids and stock up on food supplies. Now go out and ride!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Steve Windwood – When You See a Chance220px-arc_of_a_diver_cover