Delaware State Forest North

Although I’ve written about this beautiful swath of land in previous posts, I’ve decided to detail certain rides again in 2018 for new readers. With that said, I consider everything north and east of Rt. 402 to be the northern end of the forest.

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This morning, I decided to start at the parking area on Rt. 739. At 40 degrees and sunny, with a warmer outlook, I dressed down and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. From Rt. 739, the gravel surface climbs for about a mile and a half. I zipped through a mix of gravel and mud sections until I reached Bald Hill, one of many communities nestled in the forest. Your climbing needs will certainly be satisfied on Bald Hill as the gravel goes skyward for 1.25 miles, then drops down for 1.5 miles to the end. The hill seems steeper from the back end.

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I can’t get enough of this sign in front of one of the hunting cabins
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Logo that surrounds Bearded Bastards property

Turning left, back on Five Mile Meadow, I dropped down to Silver Lake Road, turned right and tackled the one paved hill I would see all day. I hung a right into Little Mud Pond, a lakeside community with well groomed gravel roads. A horseshoe that comes right back out, I followed Silver Lake for a mile to Standing Stone Trail.

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Little Mud Pond

Pedaling up Standing Stone offers a completely different view from the previous winter. Loggers took out a big portion of trees, changing the landscape along the right side of the road. The forest is dotted with hunting cabins, some merely shacks, but some have a real rustic appeal.

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After 2 miles, you drop into a creek crossing. It’s very rideable and a lot of fun with a little speed coming off the hill. At the end of Standing Stone, I turned right on Five Mile Meadow, rode up about 2 miles and made another right onto Ben Bush Road, a new road built by the loggers over an old snowmobile trail.

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Ben Bush Road loops back around to Standing Stone Trail. I guess I just wanted to rip through the creek one more time. A left on Five Mile Meadow and before I knew it, I was climbing back up for a mile plus, before descending back to the parking area.

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It warmed up to the mid 50’s by the time I finished, so I was glad I left the jacket in the car. Except for 1.75 miles of pavement on Silver Lake Road, the rest of this Ride was on gravel. Well, gravel and mud.

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In the end, my bike and I were extremely dirty, but our hearts were full.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Kinks – Lola

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Slovang

The following is a guest spot from Brian with some gorgeous pics to help get us through the winter!

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Sometimes an offer is just too good to pass up.  So, when a local like-minded cycling/hiking/skiing/beer tasting friend tells me about this great blog he reads and there’s this contest to submit a bicycling photo and win a pair of Tifosi cycling glasses, I started looking through my photos.  Having nothing to lose, and a cool new pair of glasses to possibly gain, I started following the blog and entered Robert’s contest.  I won, and so thanks are in order to all of you who voted for my image of my bike leaning on a Bucks County covered bridge on a snowy day.  And, bigger thanks are in order to Robert for hosting the blog, and the contest.

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Summer, 2017….  A childhood friend of mine that I grew up with in southeastern PA is closing in on his 50th birthday at the end of January, 2018.  Jon moved to San Diego nearly 20 years ago because he “hates the cold”.  For fun, we’d been messaging back and forth about a bicycle vacation to Portland, OR, or some such location, but nothing ever gelled.  Then, out of the blue, he sends me an email and invites me to go on a cycling vacation with him to a warm destination and celebrate his milestone birthday with him.  Having visited him several times in San Diego in years past, it wasn’t hard for him to set the hook.  It is beautiful there, which is why so many cyclists choose to train there year round.  We quickly narrowed down our choices to somewhere in Arizona, or maybe try out an all-inclusive 4 day tour with Trek Travel in Solvang, CA.  Since it was his birthday, I let him choose and so we booked our 4 day Ride Camp with Trek Travel to Solvang for the end of January into the beginning of February, 2018.  We figured it would be nicer to just let someone else handle all the details and that way we’d end up spending less time fretting over minutia and more time having fun on 2 wheels.  Jon knows I ride all year in PA, as does he in San Diego and so we knew we’d be fit enough to put in some big mile days together this early in the year.
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 Some background on Solvang…it is a small city in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, known for its Danish style architecture.  The area outside of town is full of hills, vineyards, horse and cattle farms and agriculture.  It definitely has a tourism driven economy, and so it caters to showing out-of-towners a good time.  We stayed at the Hotel Corque, which was very comfortable for our time there.  There are tons of shops and restaurants, a totally awesome motorcycle museum, places to do wine tastings, and Firestone Walker Brewing is only 3 miles down the road in Buellton.  Yes, we went there.  Mmmmm, beer.  Since Trek Travel pretty much handles everything except your transportation to and from Solvang, we just had to drive up from San Diego after I arrived from frigid PA.  The package included lodging, nearly all food, bikes and helmets and a Garmin with all routes pre-loaded, two guide hosts to show you around and ride with you, and a Trek Travel support van to refuel from or drop clothes in as the day warmed up.  The riding was very enjoyable with high temp’s around 80* every day, along with mostly sunny skies.  It was a wonderful mid-winter reprieve for me to go someplace warm, be with my friend, meet some new folks and put in some miles.  We rode 4 consecutive days totaling about 165 miles and then said goodbye to our hosts and Solvang.  I booked a few extra days to spend back in San Diego with Jon and his family, and so a day later we put in a beautiful road ride through Rancho Santa Fe which included some coast time.  My friend Dawn, also formerly from PA drove from Upland, CA to come see me and joined us on the last ride.   A good week indeed, as Jon and I ended at just over 200 miles each.  I landed back in Philadelphia on the eve of the Super Bowl, and as I drove home to Upper Bucks County all I could think about was how much I wasn’t enjoying driving in the ice storm that fell that evening.  It was sunny and warm just a few hours earlier that same day…on the other coast.
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Feeling Spring

A couple of weeks ago, that dreaded groundhog saw his shadow. Whether that means six more weeks of winter or not, I truly do not know. What I do know is that these past few days have been warm, 50’s and 60’s. With a snow storm looming for Saturday night, the pressure was on to get a ride in.

Being sick since late January, has kept me off the bike. Feeling weak, with constant headaches and swollen legs, has kept me on the shelf and not thinking I could ride, until today. I peeled myself off the couch and ventured out for a short spin. I’m glad I did. With a 60 degree day, snow and ice disappeared and water was everywhere.

976F6BC2-F011-4229-A476-6CC207727830Streams and creeks appeared in culverts and roads. It was a lot of fun. The pace was slow, the bike got real dirty and my backside got wet. I hope this is a sign of things to come. I would like to stop talking about how cold it’s been and start detailing new rides and adventures.

Whats playing, (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Foreigner – Feels Like the First Time

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