The Great Thaw?

For someone that lives to ride the trails and back roads, snow can be a real problem. You might have noticed from some of my more recent posts, that I have been riding my gravel bikes on the pave. There are two reasons for this. First, I wanted to hit some longer hills and by this time of year, I’m usually able to get out on the road bike enough to satisfy the urge to climb. Second, I’d rather ride a heavier bike that’s used to getting covered in all sorts of debris and muck.

That said, last week, we got hit with 25-30 inches of snow. With the wind drifts and plow trucks piling it up, visibility around turns has been pretty minimal. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures were forecast to hit above 45 degrees. I made it my business to ride at least twice before Wednesday’s cold snap comes in.

IMG_0265

On Sunday, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and decided to climb Foster Hill to the dude ranch, descended and climbed up Skyline Drive around the cell tower and back down. You feel every fiber of muscle working, pulling up a beefy steel bike with 29X2.1 knobby tires. It’s just the opposite on the descent. The weight of a well made steel bike, grounds you and gives you a ton of confidence while barreling down from one of the highest points of elevation in the area.

IMG_0255

On Tuesday, I did another road ride on the Van Dessel WTF, but this time, from Dingmans Falls. I left the parking area and headed directly uphill on Rt. 739, a road that goes skyward immediately. After 4 miles, you gain more than 800 feet of elevation. That hill would probably get included in a lot of rides, be it not for the lack of shoulder.

IMG_0257

A right on Milford Road, sends you on a roller coaster ride for a few miles, before dropping quickly into Milford. After navigating the only traffic light in town, Rt. 209 winds its way along the Delaware River, all the way back to Dingmans Falls. You know, the snow can be quite beautiful when the sun shines, even if you only have a slight path to ride.

IMG_0264

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue.

IMG_0267

 

 

 

Advertisements

Kona Rove – Steel

If you read my review of the Kona Rove TI, you might be wondering why I’m now reviewing the steel version of Kona’s do all platform.

Let me start by saying that I love the Rove TI. However, Most of my bikes are 59cm and I ordered the frame in a 59 without checking the length of the seat tube or the stand over. As much as I enjoyed the plush ride, it was simply too big for me. So, I parted ways with my beloved steed and ordered the steel Rove in a 57cm.

IMG_0245

After about 550 miles through all kinds of weather and road conditions, I have to say that the steel Rove is everything you’d want in a gravel/monstercross/all road bike. At $1,499.99, you would think it comes poorly spec’d, when in fact, the Rove sports a very nice package. First, the frame is Kona’s cromoly butted steel, paired with a Kona Project Two cromoly disc fork. SRAM Rival shifters and derailers, a SRAM 11-42 cassette with a SRAM S350 40t crankset, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clemente Xplore 700X36 tubeless tires laced to an Alex Al disc wheelset.  An FSA headset, Kona seat post, seatpost clamp, 15 degree flared handlebar and stem as well as a WTB Volt saddle round it all out.

IMG_0247

After about 100 miles, I made the decision to make the Rove my go to gravel bike, for epic long distance events. I switched out the wheelset to Bontrager’s Affinity Elite tubeless. I wanted to go a little wider with my hands in the drops, so the Salsa Woodchipper handlebar just made sense. I lightened up the cockpit a bit with a Chris King headset, Thomson seat post and stem. Although the cassette and crankset are perfectly capable, I switched out the cassette for a 10X42 and the crankset to a Rival 42t, just to allow for a little more top end speed.

After a 100 mile gravel ride and many long, steep climbs, I’m extremely happy with my choice. The steel Rove is snappy enough for any gravel race, long epic adventure or daily commute and climbs as well as it’s TI counterpart.

IMG_0246

Kona leaves nothing to chance. With 3 water bottle mounts, full fender and rack mounts, the Rove is as versatile as a do all bike could be. Also, the olive color is beautiful and adds a bit of class.

IMG_0251

 

 

 

Cummins Hill- Front Side

Another last-minute ride before a storm system comes in. Hopefully, the last one of the season. If not, We’ll just have to ride it out until sunnier sky’s prevail.

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to climb Cummins Hill from the front side with a little trail diversion before descending to Mill Rift. Now, normally, I would ride into Matamoras and take Delaware Drive all the way up from the river and down to Mill Rift before climbing Bluestone Blvd and over Cummins Hill.

IMG_0244

Starting from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, I simply went the opposite way. The front side is far more difficult. The first climb took around 27 minutes. It can be pretty steep in sections. I took a small diversion on Lost Camp Trail. After a mile, I turned around, not wanting to get caught out in the woods again.You realize how far you climbed when you hit the downhill spin into Mill Rift. You roll through the quiet little river town, across the railroad tracks and begin to ascend. Delaware Drive is not quite as long as Cummins Hill, but every bit as steep.

IMG_0242

I reached the top and dropped quickly to the Delaware River. There are some really nice views of the river from the top of both climbs. I cut across Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras and pedaled down Rt. 209 and back to the shop. Next week, I’ll review the Kona Rove Steel version.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)’94 R-556198-1338494496-8396.jpeg

 

 

Lost in the Woods?

On Tuesday night, I left work about 4pm and decided on my way home to turn around and head for Dingman’s Falls. I had my bike and gear in the car, just in case. The sky was overcast and gloomy, I knew I had this chance to get a ride in before Mother Nature poured down on us for a few days (according to the weather forecast).

img_0234

By 4:30, I rolled out onto Rt. 209, made a right on Rt. 739 and glided over the wood planks of the Dingmans Ferry Bridge. A right on Old Mine Road and I immediately started climbing. At the top, I hung a right onto the gravel section of Old Mine Road. For six miles, along the river and through the fields, the grade was primarily downhill and flat. Except for a few washed out sections, the surface was in pretty good shape.

img_0237

At the end, I turned left on Pompey Road and climbed out of the Walpack Loop. I saw a trail I’ve been wanting to explore. I thought it came out in front of the Walpack Inn. It probably did, but I took a wrong turn in the woods. I tried to find my way out, but it seemed the trail just kept dropping down. I checked the map on my phone and found my direction. By this time, it was almost dark. The map showed what looked like a road a few miles away. I turned my headlight on and bounced down the trail, hoping I wouldn’t have to sleep under the stars, without camping gear or a jacket.

img_0235

Out in the distance, I saw a light, it sailed by pretty quick. Thankfully, it was a car. Another half mile and I finally found the road. I turned on navigation (what would I do without a smart phone) and pedaled back to Old Mine Road. On the ride back to my car, I was happy I didn’t panic and just kept moving forward. I was happier that I turned around and was even luckier still to have this brief adventure!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The J Geils Band – Centerfold

img_0238