Autumn in the Delaware Valley

Each year, it seems, we get treated to something different. This year, summer lasted until mid October. I’m not complaining. However, with Halloween just a few days away, we need more than just a few leaves to fall.

Most places are beautiful in the fall. Milford and the surrounding area benefit from sitting between the Catskills and Pocono Mountains and along the Delaware River, making for a gorgeous place to pedal.

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If you want to see for yourself, get out on the McDade Trail, ride through Peter’s Valley via Old Mine Road, climb up to High Point or traverse the many gravel roads that make up the State and National forests that encompass our region. If you ride a mountain bike or want to learn, look no further than the Port Jervis Watershed Trails. Fall can be seen here at its fullest, with vibrant colors reflecting off the 3 reservoirs, creating a magical atmosphere.

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Oh, and the trails are second to none. Visit Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford for large scale paper maps with color coded trails to guide you along. A ride up to the Hawk’s Nest on Rt. 97 provides breathtaking views of fall foliage along the river and Route 6 in Pike County has far from a shortage of colorful places to enjoy all that fall has to offer.

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After your ride, sample the many cafes and restraunts throughout the Delaware Valley. It’s a great way to cool down, reflect and replenish.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – American Girl

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The Great Allegheny Passage

Hi folks, this is guest blogger Mike. I’m a riding buddy of Rob’s and he asked me to share an experience my wife and I had last week riding the GAP. For those of you who live in Milford, PA, when someone refers to the “GAP” you know they are talking about the Delaware Water Gap. To those in southwestern PA, the GAP is the Great Allegheny Passage, a nearly 150 mile rail to trail biking and hiking route that retraces the former B+O Railroad line through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland, MD to Pittsburgh, PA.

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The start in Cumberland, MD
The GAP today uses the series of tunnels, bridges and viaducts that were built in the early 1900’s to connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. A separate trail, the 185 mile long C+O Canal Trail, connects Washington D.C. to Cumberland, MD. The GAP trail fully opened in 2013 after years of work rebuilding the tunnels and bridges, and then paving the entire trail with crushed limestone. The last 15 miles of the trail into Pittsburgh are paved with asphalt. Logistically, the GAP is very easy to access and travel on. Each town that the trail passes through has parking and toilets for day riders. Some towns have water fountains available and
a few even have a small bike repair stand fully equipped with tools and tire pumps. Each mile of the trail is marked with a concrete post so you always know how far along you are. There are also dozens of campgrounds along the way for those who chose to camp vs. staying in hotels or Bed and Breakfast Inn’s. Many of the campgrounds are free for bikers and are even stocked with free firewood. The larger towns on the GAP have B+B’s that specifically cater to cyclist. There are also many outfitters that will plan your entire trip, complete with a guided support vehicle so all you need to do is pedal to the next destination. Amtrak also operates the “Capital” Line which has a train car with a bike storage room that stops in Pittsburgh, Connellsville, PA, and Cumberland to transport you and your bike before or after the ride.

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Crossing the Mason Dixon Line

My wife and I decided to try this ride the first week of October to take advantage of the fall foliage and the cooler riding temperatures. We started in Cumberland, which was about a 300 mile drive from Milford. There are a few hotels in Cumberland near the trailhead and they all cater to the cyclists. We were allowed to bring our bikes into our room. There is also free parking near the trailhead, under the interstate overpass, and it was a safe place to leave your car for a week. There is also a local bike shop only a few yards from the start just in case of any last minute adjustments or needed supplies. The National Park Service has an information
center at the trailhead with maps of the trail and brochures of each town along the way to Pittsburgh.
I planned our trip to ride a total of 4 days, with a day off in the middle. My wife is a novice rider and had never ridden further than 30 miles in one day. She had no problems conquering the GAP. The trail is nearly flat with the exception of the first 23 miles from Cumberland to the Eastern Continental Divide. The total climb to the Divide was 1800 feet with a nearly constant grade of only 1.6%. My wife handled the climb without any difficulty. The scenery was breathtaking and we stopped several times for photo ops. We stayed the first night in Myersdale, PA (32 miles). Our B+B was one block from the trail and had secure bike storage in the basement. We met several other riders during our stay and had fun exchanging stories.

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Myersdale, PA The second day was an equally scenic ride to Ohiopyle, PA (40 miles). We spent an extra day here to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Fallingwater” and also to do some hiking around the Youghiogheny River. Ohiopyle is also a great place to do some white water rafting on a day off. The 3rd day of riding followed the “Yough” to West Newton, PA (42 miles). The rain was off and on this day which made for a muddy ride, but the scenery was still amazing. My wife’s bike had
a minor mechanical issue we were able to get fixed in Connersville at a bike shop right on the trail.
The final day to Pittsburgh (35 miles) saw the trail change from a scenic ride in the woods to an urban feel the final 15 miles. Multiple bridges over the Monongahela River made for several more photo ops with the city of Pittsburgh in the background. Our son, who is a student at the University of Pittsburgh, joined us on his bike for the final 7 miles to Point State Park, where the GAP ends. This is where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers join to form the Ohio River. After an evening in Pittsburgh, we rode the Amtrak “Capital” back to Cumberland to retrieve our car.
Overall we had an amazing experience on this ride and would definitely do it again. It is something that even a novice rider could do easily. Meeting other cyclists along the way was one of the highlights of the trip. As for the song that would best describe this journey…. it would have to be “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes”!!! For more info on the GAP visit: http://www.GAPtrail.org

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Salisbury Viaduct near Myersdale, PA

Some more pics of this awesome ride!

 

Ride Your Bike

Autumn has decided to play hard to get. With the unseasonably warm weather hanging around, why not find time for extra miles? All I can think about is which bike to ride!

Our time is valuable. When you get a chance to get outdoors, make it count. Go out one day and just ride for hours. Ride as far as your legs will take you. Ride a road bike on a dirt road, a hybrid or cyclocross bike on a mountain bike trail or a Mtb on the street.

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Forget everything and just pedal. Take pictures, get a flat, change your tube, finish your ride. Get dirty out there. Ride through the mud, the rain, the snow, the wind or whatever Mother Nature has to throw at you!

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Stay up late and map out a ride or just read a shitty novel and wing it the next day. Either way, ride your bike. Ride to the cafe, the pizza parlor or the tavern. Fill up on whatever delights you, then ride some more. Get a headlight and ride at night.

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Every now and then, I’m off the bike for a few days to a week for whatever reason. The first ride back always feels like the best ride of the year. You get the idea, just get out there and pedal!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Pretenders –  Middle of the Road

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2017 Maple City Century

Last year, I wrote in detail about what a wonderful event the Maple City Century turned out to be. Based in Honesdale, PA, the event offers rides of 30, 62 and 100 miles, all on gravel and dirt roads with a little pavement thrown in to connect the sections, What I didn’t tell you was that this grass-roots gravel ride, is a family run event. Zach Wentzel, the founder and director, operates with a tight knit and dedicated crew. He, his wife Stacy and his parents are intimately involved and it shows. All riders and staff are treated like first class passengers on their flight around Wayne County.

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Zach and Stacy personally sign everyone in at the registration table. After a pre-ride meeting, the 100 milers are sent off with a Police escort out of Honesdale and onto some of the nicest gravel roads in the northeast. An hour later, the 62 and 30 mile riders receive the same send off.

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This is my third year doing the 100 mile ride and I have seen the route, which is marked with clear color coded arrows for each distance, gets better each time. The aid stations are well stocked and staffed by the friendliest volunteers, who encourage the riders and supply them with a wide variety of fuel, ranging from water, Pb&j & Nutella, Gatorade, fruit, pickles, packaged energy bars, and homemade goodies in sandwich bags.

Zach took matters into his own hands, taking over photographer duties this year and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Stacey was everywhere on the course, making sure riders had a safe passage back to Honesdale.

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Riding with Eric and Darin proved to be the right call, as they motivated me to drink and waited at the top of the hills amid unseasonably hot temperatures. We hit Brown Trout Trail, a 5 mile section of rocks and roots, that as I explained last year, is anything but easy. However, the waterfall and creek crossing were rather dry, enabling you to ride right through it.

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After stopping as rest stop 2, you could really feel the heat and the hills. The cold Coca Cola and pickles helped me forget about the pain. Pedaling out, we hit a series of hills that seemed to go on forever, a tradition of sorts at Maple City; rest, then climb again. As we approached rest stop 3 at 75 miles, I saw the Action Bikes and Outdoor tent from around the corner and it was like I was wandering in the desert and found an oasis.

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Mike and John were awesome, they fed us everything we could eat and after packing up, they caught up and provided an escort complete with lights as we struggled through the last few hills in the dark. At the finish, Zach was there waiting to hand us our gold medals, the well earned traditional finisher’s MCC beer growlers. Which are happily filled at the post ride host, the Irving Cliff Brewery.

 

 

There are so many big endurance events out there and some claim to be grass roots, while they continue to grow and make registration a lottery.  The Maple City Century is truly a grass roots event that I hope grows, but feels more like a hometown ride that will be on my calendar for years to come, although the Metric Century might be next years best course of action for me.  Check out some more pics from this really cool event:

 

 

 

 

Buckhorn Fire Tower

Sometimes you learn a new route and fall in love. Matt told me about a ride he did with his dad last week. Being a mostly gravel route, I have to say it peaked my interest. Yesterday afternoon, I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor to make a trip from the shop to the Buckhorn Fire Tower.

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We departed at 5pm, zig zagged out of town and climbed up Rt. 6 to Schocopee Road. Schocopee is a newly paved road that continues to go skyward, especially as you bear right onto Fire Tower Road, where he gravel starts.

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We took Fire Tower Road until it ended in a gravel parking lot. About a half mile before the lot is a left on Buckhorn Ridge Trail. A short trip on the trail and you’re at the Fire Tower. I’m not sure if this relic is still in use. It’s pretty wobbly and most of the nearby pine trees sit a bit higher than the tower, blocking views of he forest. From the looks of things, this was quite a party spot, some time ago.

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We descended back down to Schocopee Road, made a right and climbed up to Lily Pond. This section of Schocopee is gravel, pave, gravel, as it dips and rises through the forest, bringing you to a beautiful park. You could ride around the lake, although time did not allow it.

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We did a lot of climbing on our way up to the fire tower and again as we reached Lily pond, so you can imagine just how delightful the descent back to town was! We ripped down to Rt. 6 and cut through Old Owego Road as we snaked through town and back to the shop.

No music today, just some more pics of the his really pretty area.

 

When We Gravel, We Grind

With the Maple City Century quickly approaching, Eric, Darin and I took advantage of the unseasonably cool, late August weather and grinded out a 40ish mile gravel ride. Starting just after dawn gives you enough time to get miles in and still have most of the day with the family.

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We Pedaled out of Dingman Falls and over the Dingman Bridge. Needless to say, it was quite foggy. We climbed just above Peter’s Valley and dumped into the gravel section of Old Mine Road. Besides the many potholes and puddles, this a very fun section. Downhill on gravel for the better part of 6 miles, makes riding along the Delaware River a cool experience.

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We turned left on Pompey Road, climbed up, making a left into Ridge Road, a dirt trail littered with rocks and roots for the first mile. It then turns to high weeds on a broken up double track (leaving spools of grass in cassettes and around pedal spindles).

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Ridge Road comes out onto Thunder Mountain Road. The transition from overgrown forest to gravel road was sort of a relief. After 45 minutes, you realize you only went 3 miles. Bonus, the fog was burned off by the bright sun, one day before the solar eclipse. Thunder Mountain runs up to Kuhn Road and right through the heart of the Peter’s Valley School of Craft. We turned right on Kuhn and left on Walpack Road, over the hill and back over the Dingman Bridge.

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Back at the cars, we changed out our water bottles and headed down to the McDade trail for the 2nd part of the ride. About 2 miles in, a half eaten fish falls from the sky, or the trees. Darin spotted an Eagle that flew directly above us and over the river. Apparently, we interrupted the eagles’ breakfast.

We continued at a pace that was probably too fast for me, but I needed the punishment. We arrived at the Bushkill Boat Access and after a brief rest, turned around and rode a torrid pace back to our cars. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones enjoying this beautiful day. There seemed to be quite a few people hiking, bird watching and trail running.

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This is not the first time I’ve pedaled either of these routes, but I never put them together before and I’m glad we did. By he way, most photos while riding are taken by Eric, who always seems to have his phone on the ready!

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What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Jigsaw – (you’ve blown it all) Sky High IMG_0425

 

The High Knob and Back

Another ride through the Delaware State Forest. It never gets old. It has a large network of gravel roads that throw everything at you from pea gravel to 4″ rip rap and everything in between.

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The weatherman got it right on Sunday. 70 degrees and sunny with no wind. An absolutely beautiful day. As you probably surmised, we took advantage of it by planning and executing an adventure that took us from Lord’s Valley to the High Knob.

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We met at the Rt 739 parking area at 6:30am, Joe, Alex, Jason, Jess, Mike, Eric, Anthony and yours truly. The initial push up Five Mile Meadow Road started with a 1.5 mile climb and took us all the way out to Silver Lake Road and up a steep hill, before turning into Little Mud Pond Rd. We came back out onto Silver Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. At the end of Flat Ridge, we said goodbye to Joe and Alex as they turned back and headed for home to attend to a day at the pool with family.

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We pedaled up to Minisink Lake and ducked into the Burnt Mills Trail for a short stretch to the Burnt Mills parking lot. Coming out of the parking lot and out on Rt 402, we turned left on Pine Flats Road. We cruised down to the Bridge at the Beaver Run Hunt and Fish Club for a photo op, refueled and pedaled up to the fork where Hay Road leads to Highline Road and turns into Hobaday Road. For 8 miles, you climb from the fork to the High Knob.

We regrouped at the base and began our assault on the hill. The climb is about 2 miles of loose gravel and winds around the core of the hill, getting steeper towards the top. The High Knob if a good halfway point for any ride and a nice place for lunch. Most reached into their jersey pocket for a sandwich. Eric pulled out a BBQ chicken leg. Yes, you read that right. It seems that Eric enjoys good food, no matter what. I really wish I would have gotten a photo of that fine gourmet atop Pike County’s highest peak.

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Jess enjoys her victory at the peak

The descent was fast and fun. That continued as most of the way back on the Hobaday, Highline, Hay Road link is downhill. After retracing Pine Flats Road, we turned right on Rt. 402 and a left onto Bushkill Falls Road and rode back to Flat Ridge. We dropped back onto Silver Lake Road and hung a right onto Standing Stone Trail. We ripped through the deer management area and back out on Five Mile Meadow Road. After a few more short hills and nice descent to the parking area, we were loading our bikes on our cars by just a few minutes after noon. Here’s a few more pics of this awesome ride:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – Modern Woman

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Milford to Shawnee: The McDade Experience

Well, it finally happened. I wrote about an upcoming ride and it went off without a hitch! The Weather forecast was bleak at best. Rain and cold all day. Everyone showed up enthusiastic and ready for the rain. But, as luck would have it, we were spared for most of the day, save for a little drizzle the last 12 miles.

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We departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 8:30am, pedaled down to The Delaware River and hoped on the McDade Trail. The first 5 miles clicked by rather quickly. At Raymondskill Road, we opted to ride on Rt. 209 and veered in and out of both sections of Zimmerman Farm. We re-entered the McDade Trail at Dingman’s Falls and stayed on gravel for the next 23 miles. 6 or 7 miles in, Jess got her first flat of the day. The tube change made for a needed rest.

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We continued on towards Bushkill, when just before the boat launch, Eric had a nice liquid surprise waiting for us. After a few minutes, we pushed off (Jess caught her second flat here) and hit the Bushkill hills. Just past the boat launch, the trail becomes narrow and hilly. Not hike a bike stuff, but enough to get your attention.

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It started to rain a little and got cool fast. We picked up the pace a bit in an attempt to out run the rain. It never came down that hard. Hitting the parking area at Hialeah Trailhead, we jumped on River Road and made our way to the Gem and Keystone Brew Pub for a delicious lunch.

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The McDade Trail winds through nature, in the form of corn fields, the Delaware River, pine forests and thick brush, all within a few hundred feet of Rt. 209. We were lucky that the heavy rain held out until after the ride. When we arrived, we were greeted by our families, had a few beers, laughed and enjoyed the rest of the day.

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Steve, TC, Joe, Jason, Eric, Rob, Jess, Mike, Kyle and Bill at the finish

Some pics of the day:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Electric Light Orchestra – Strange Magic

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McDade Trail Adventure Ride

On Sunday, June 4th, a group will be leaving Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford and ride to Milford Beach, where we will enter the McDade Trail and pedal 30-35 miles south to the Hialeah trailhead. We will come off the trail briefly to cover both sections of Zimmerman Farm.

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Depending on the weather, it should be a fun ride at an intermediate pace. Adventure bikes (cyclocross, gravel, etc…) and mountain bikes are ideal for this type of surface.

We are meeting at the shop at 7:30am for an 8am rollout. The plan is to reach the end of the trail by noon and have lunch at one of the 2 Brew Pubs in the Shawnee area. You can either have a ride pick you up and/or have lunch with the group or take the Pocono Pony bus back to the shop. The Pocono Pony is a bus service that has a line that runs on the weekends along the Delaware River. A one way fare is $1.50. This includes transportation for you and your bike. Each bus has bike and boat racks, making it a convenient method of transportation to and from all your Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area adventures. You can check the schedule at http://www.mcta.com, click route and select the DEWA Park route.

You’ll need funds for lunch, extra tube, helmet and a lot of enthusiasm. Hope to see you there.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives

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Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been a while since my last post. This was supposed to be about my experience at the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel race. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’ve done a couple of rides the past few weeks, however, nothing of any length or significance.

On Tuesday evening, I was just looking to clear my head, so I pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed out to Milford Beach, via the gravel section, below 3rd street, along the river. Once at the beach, I jumped onto the McDade Trail. The first 3-4 miles on the trail are so serene and peaceful. Easy rolling, gravel terrain tucked away in the woods with the Delaware River gracefully flowing along to the left.IMG_5148

I rode past Raymondskill Road and through the single track, to the steps (where the bridge washed out). I shouldered my bike and hiked up to Rt. 209. A half mile on 209 and into the first section of Zimmerman Farm. After cresting the hill, you stay left at the fork, avoiding the Conashaugh horse trails. Another mile and back on Rt. 209 for a 1/4 mile and back into Zimmerman Farm. This section climbs a bit and drops sharply down to the farm. Riding by the dilapidated structures and past Marie Zimmerman’s home, I sped down the dirt road that leads back to the pave.  I took Rt. 209 to Dingmans Ferry and hopped back on the McDade Trail to The Dingmans Campground General Store.IMG_5149

I used the General Store as my turn around and took the McDade Trail back to Dingmans Falls and onto Rt. 209 (out and backs are soooo boring). Jumping back on the McDade Trail to Milford Beach, I past a few couples riding along slowly taking in all that this beautiful stretch of land has to offer.

Back at the shop, just before dark, I realized that I am lucky to be able to get on the bike and pedal, whenever time allows.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Eddie Rabbitt – I Love a Rainy Night

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Lu Lack Wyco Hundo Prep

On Sunday, I’ll be saddling up for my first long gravel ride in 2017. The Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo is an all road (gravel, dirt and pave) adventure in Northeastern PA. They offer 50, 75 and 100 mile routes. I’m all in for the 100.

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Image taken from llwh website

Registration opened on January 1st at 12:01am and filled up in a few hours for this 5th annual ride. While others were waiting for the ball to drop, I was patiently waiting at my laptop for the clock to strike midnight, to see if I’d get in.

Honestly, I knew that it would be tough to get in enough miles this time of year to properly train for what’s billed as a grueling ride. What I did not realize was that my longest ride would be 45 miles a couple of weeks before. I’m trying to make up for lost training with good nutrition. I’m a vegetarian who also enjoys some baked goods. I’ve been eating as clean as possible the last few weeks and adding some stretching and yoga and trying to get in some extra sleep.

I hope to have lots of cool photos and a great story for the blog…..

See you next week!

 

 

Delaware State Forest Gravel Grinding

On Sunday, we were treated to a beautiful spring day. High 60’s and sunny. After a monumental thaw, followed by 3 days of torrential rains, spring is finally here and it couldn’t be better.

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Wanting to get a longer ride in with a couple of weeks to go before the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel ride, I met up with Mike at the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. The roadway was filled with potholes, but dry for most of the way (the state normally lays a fresh layer of gravel across the road in late September). We turned right on Silver Lake Road, climbed the chopped up asphalt and slipped into Little Mud Pond Road, where we picked up Eric, to join us in this gravel adventure.

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We came back on Silver Lake a little and hung a right on Flat Ridge Road, which provided a little respite. We were heading into the deep woods soon after. A left on Bushkill Falls Road and a right on Minisink Road, put us into the Minisink Lake Community, at the fork, the pave turns back to gravel and then to double trail jeep trail. Whittaker Trail was muddy and soft. For about a mile and a half, we worked our way through the woods until the trail came back onto gravel and the road was now fittingly called Whittaker Road. About a mile in and Eric’s rear tire went down. Being set up tubeless, he had to remove the valve and pop a tube in. We learned a valuable lesson: a 23mm road tube will not make due in a 36mm cross tire. Luckily, we had a cross tube, inserted it and off we went.

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Eric trying to blow his tire up manually!

Whittaker Road comes out to Rt. 402. We turned right and pedaled up to Silver Lake Road. At this point, Eric and Mike rode back to their cars (Eric’s at Little Mud Pond Road and Mike’s at the end of Five Mile Meadow Road). I made my way up to the Maple Run parking area to meet up with Matt for some extended saddle time. We headed north to the High Knob Road and turned into Hobbaday Road and down to High Line Road. This is basically 7 miles of pure down hill gravel except for a few little bumps along the way. We hung a sharp left on Pine Flats Road and rode out to Rt. 402 and onto Silver Lake Road.

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After a few miles, we were back on gravel on Standing Stone Trail. A few easy miles to Five Mile Meadow Road and we floated back down to Rt. 739. I was pretty tired and glad to be back at my car. Matt still had to pedal up Rt. 739 to Blooming Grove Road and back onto Rt. 402 for about 15 more miles to his car. Anyway you slice it, it was a beautiful day of riding! Hopefully the big event will be just as nice.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Terence Trent D’arby – Wishing Well

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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Spring in Winter

This last week has been pretty amazing, with temperatures ranging from the 50’s to 73 degrees today! Just when it seemed like the ice and snow wouldn’t stop, we are treated to 7 glorious days in February!

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I know the cold weather will eventually come back, but this little teaser is just the thing that could help shake out those cobwebs and get you ready for a year full of adventures!

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Do something nice for someone, when no one else is looking.

 

Little Bit of Everything

I had a window on Saturday. I got out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 3pm. It was chilly, but the sun was out and I’ll take 35 degrees in February anytime. Not knowing what to expect, I took the Van Dessel WTF, just in case the roads and trails had snow.

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I winded my way through Milford and dropped down Metz Road past the Metz Icehouse and into Milford Beach where I jumped on the Mcdade Trail. I was surprised how dry the surface was. Very little snow. img_0188

I pedaled past Raymondskill Road onto the single track to where the trail drops down the wooden steps. A quick hike up the side of the hill put me over the guardrail and on Rt. 209. From there, I jumped onto Zimmerman Road, rode up and around the old horse trails and back out on 209. Another 1/4 mile and I was back on Zimmerman and climbing up to the Zimmerman Farm (I detailed Marie Zimmerman’s farm and home in a couple of previous posts)

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Zimmerman Farm

After a quick photo op, I pedaled through the farm, past the house and down the trail and back out to Rt. 209. Crossing over Rt. 739, I shot down the McDade extension, over the wooden bridge and back around to 209 for a few miles before jumping back on the Mcdade Trail. As I got back to Milford Beach, the sun just started to set over the Delaware River.

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Sunset over the Delaware River

img_0191Although I long for warmer days, I’ll take 35 in February anytime!!

What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show – The Cover of the Rolling Stoneimg_0187

Cold Nights

All this ice is enough to screw up a few good gravel roads. Well that’s a little extreme. But, seriously, I wish it would just snow already. A foot of snow would be a whole lot better than an inch of ice.img_0178

With winter more than a third over, it was time to get out at night again and navigate through whatever Mother Nature decided to leave on the ground this week. I met up with Eric at 5:30pm at the parking area on Rt. 739 at the foot of Five Mile Meadow Road for a cold gravel ride. Well, maybe not a gravel ride, more like an ice ride.

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Not all rides are epic and although we got out and pedaled for a while, this was a ride that could have waited for a much warmer day. You see, slush and mud may be dirtier, but it’s sure a lot safer to ride through.img_0179

Anyway, we climbed up the first section of road for about a mile and a half, using the truck tire tracks that rip through the snow and ice. Another mile and a half and the tire tracks just about disappeared. It started snowing and we decided to turn back. The last thing we wanted was the snow to cover what little roadway was not already covered in ice. The ride back got me thinking that an investment in studded tires might be a good idea!

A Little Warmth, A Lot of Mud

Mixed in with the snow, rain and ice, we were treated to a 40 degree day today. In fact, the forecasts are calling for warmer weather for the next 3 days. To take advantage, I stuffed my bike(Van Dessel WTF) in the car this morning, charged up my headlight and prepared for an after work ride through the trails off Old Mine Road, just over the River on the New Jersey side.

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I parked at Dingmans Falls and rode across the Dingman Bridge, making a left on Old Mine Road. About a mile and a half later, I turned right on Van Ness Road. Van Ness is a paved road that has seen better days. There are no pot holes, really, just chunks of roadway are missing. It winds nicely through the woods, with a short but steep climb up to Upper Ridge Road. Turning left, you immediately see what appears to be a wall or the side of a mountain. As you approach, the gradient seems less steep and the climb, although not easy on the loose surface, was not as daunting as it first appeared. img_0173

The road was covered in leaves, making it difficult to see the rocks and roots. The mud was unavoidable! Every few feet, soft, loose terrain gave way to puddles and mud. Halfway through, the road turns to trail and goes upward, leaving me wondering why I wasn’t on a mountain bike.  It’s all good though. A wet, muddy, cold ride is still better than a day spent inside.

Coming out onto Jager Road, I hung a left and descended down to Old Mine Road. On the way back, I tried going down Mettler Road and turned right on Van Auken Road. Both were covered in ice. I pedaled about a mile and turned back as ice was still on the  gravel surface.

Maybe today was just a little taste of things to come. Who knows, a longer road ride might be in the near future.

No music today. Just the sound of the temporary thaw as streams and creeks roared like rivers and everything melted in the road.

 

Walks, Rides and Other Stuff

January 1st:

At 7am, my little girl decided that her morning walk was going to be on the trail instead of the road. I would like to think she wanted to be in nature to start the new year, but it turns out that she just wanted to follow the deer tracks. She’s the only dog I’ve seen that chases a deer into the woods and comes running back out with the deer chasing her.img_4558

Eric and I managed to get in a ride on the Mcdade Trail. With the weather expected to be below 30 degrees, we layered up and pushed off at 10am from Dingmans Falls through the mostly untouched snow, towards Buskill. I figured the cross country skiers would have packed it down by now, but we were lucky enough to have the fresh snow for traction. Honestly, we would have been better off on mountain bikes, but hey, that would have been too easy.

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The Mighty Delaware remains unfrozen!

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Around 11:00 it warmed up to about 35 degrees and the powdery snow started to turn slushy. Thankfully, the Mcdade Trail has very few hills, because Eric’s cantilever brakes were non existent for most of he ride.img_0166

In Bushkill, we found one of the cool log benches that are all over the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, next to a creek that was a perfect spot for a coffee break and it was a good time to shed a couple of layers as well as changing from lobster claw gloves to wool liners.

From there, we turned around and headed back to the parking area where we were surprised to find about 10-15 cars. People asking about the XCountry ski conditions and others hiking up to the falls. A nice ride to kick off the new year!

Coming soon, we will have a few reviews: Eric will review his new Endura Booties and the Bontrager Ion 800 headlight. I’ll review a couple bikes that got me through 2016.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – The Ballad of Billy the Kid

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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

 

Cold Gravel Morning

It was pretty cold on Sunday morning, tempts in the high 20’s around 9am. I’ve been battling the flu for the better part of a week and was not sure I could deal with the cold air well enough to enjoy some time on the bike. I really wanted to join those who opted outside on Friday, but just couldn’t pull myself out of bed.

I got a text from Anthony in the early morning, asking if I was planning to ride today. Feeling a little better, I decided to take him up on it and venture out. We made a plan to meet and ride through the Delaware State Forest for a little gravel adventure and enjoy the emergency access roads as Sunday is the only day that hunters are not occupying the entire area.img_0135Anthony is a strong rider with a lot of speed, so I though it would be cool to get him out in the woods and try to chase him a little. He is riding a brand new Lynskey Titanium bike that was expertly built up by TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor. The bike is light and looks like a true gravel or monstercross beast. It appeared to roll through the loosest gravel and hard pack dirt with ease.img_0133I won’t bore you with roads traveled. However, I will say that it felt great to get outside. It was cold for sure, but being off the bike , even if it’s just for a week and a half to recover, felt like forever. I know we need some snow this winter, but I’m certainly hoping for at least a few rides a month to keep the juices flowing.img_0132 That being said, if the weather is so terribly horrible, I will run, snowshoe or make snow angels, but I will not ride on the trainer. I haven’t for 2 years now and I’m sure it will survive without me. We’ll try a few more product reviews to keep the blog active and take the extra time to properly plan out some exciting adventures for 2017.

What’s playing (what am listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Robert Palmer – Bad Case of Loving You (doctor, doctor)img_0137

 

Cold Coffee & Gravel

It may be mid fall, but it felt like winter on Saturday morning, with temperatures in the low 30’s. So, I layered up and joined Steve, Eric and Mike for a ride through the Delaware State Forest, with a lakeside cafe diversion. img_0114

We met up at the Five Mile Meadow Road Parking Area on Rt. 739. Pedaling the 6.5 mile distance of Five Mile, past numerous trucks parked off the road, we were careful to be loud enough to let hunters know we were not deer!

When we reached Silver Lake Road, we turned right, climbed the pot holed hill and made another right into Little Mud Pond Road, another gravel horseshoe, with a beautiful lake or shall I say pond. The boat launch, while blocked by a tree that was chewed in half by a beaver, served as our cafe this morning.

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Beaver lunch!
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Thermals, Blue Jeans and Coffee!

The wind off the lake made it difficult to light the gas stove and it never really got super hot. Oh well, cool coffee is better than no coffee!

We headed back out to Silver Lake Road and cruised over to Standing Tall Trail. One of my favorite roads, Standing Tall winds through the deer management area, staying at an almost even grade for three miles with one creek crossing. The gravel is loose this time of year, but you can still pedal rather quickly back to Five Mile Meadow Road. A left and we dropped back down to Rt. 739 and into the parking area. img_0118

Afterward, Mike, Steve and I enjoyed a “hot” cup of coffee at a local deli in Lord’s Valley. I’m gonna breakdown and pick up a Biolight stove. With colder days ahead, it’ll sure come in handy!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doors – Break on Throughimg_0120

 

Election Night Gravel Ride

Tuesday, after work, I met up with Eric and John for a night ride on the McDade Trail. I did not want to go home and watch any more of this election. A lengthly spin on the gravel surface was just the right diversion.img_0103

A couple of hours of pedaling appeared to be a good idea and it seems as though a few other people agreed. With headlamps mounted, we entered the trail from the Dingmans Falls parking area and rode towards Bushkill. It was still light out as we rode past the General Store and through the corn fields. You know it’s hunting season when your tires are crushing shotgun shells instead of corn. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not sure they’re biodegradable.

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John’s Bontrager 180 reflective jacket and helmet look cool when the light hits them

It was at times a challenge to keep our bikes on the trail as the leaves were piled a few inches thick in some areas. We decided to turn around at the bridge over Tom’s Creek. We turned our headlamps on and pedaled toward home. We laughed most of the way as a descent or sharp turn is not as easy to see at night. I say this because it was me that missed a turn and rode into the woods. Eric did the same, but recovered before he got too far off the trail.

Night time riding is different and although you can’t get lost on an out and back trail, pedaling in the dark helps create the adventure.

I went home, ate, showered and went right to sleep. I wasn’t going to let politics ruin my night. I didn’t find out who won the election until I got to work today. Whether or not your happy with this election, channel your energy by going outside. Ride, hike, paddle or run!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Blood, Sweat and Tears – Spinning Wheelimg_0105

 

 

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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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:

Maple City Century – Gravel

On Sunday, I traveled to Honesdale, PA with Eric, Matt, Bob and Kyle, to do the Maple City Century, a mixed terrain 100 miler that consisted of about 85% gravel and dirt roads and just over 9,000 feet of climbing. The route brings you through most of rural Wayne County and borders the Delaware River and New York State in several sections. If you haven’t been to this part of Northeastern PA, check it out, it’s beautiful, especially during the fall foliage season.

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100, 62 and 30 mile options are offered. Each route different, but challenging in their own way. The 30 mile option gave riders a glimpse of what pedaling in Wayne County is all about, on mostly dirt and gravel roads.The 62 and 100 mile routes include long, steep climbs through farm land, logging roads and every kind of back road you can imagine.

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Action Bikes and Outdoor was well represented

It was chilly at the start, about 36 degrees, but warmed up to the mid 60’s at mid day. I did not get a chance to sample the 30 and 62 mile routes. I was up in the air about whether to do the 62 or 100 but made a game time decision to push through the 100 mile course. I was rewarded for my efforts with amazing views, awesome rest stops and a chance to ride with some fantastic people. Matt and Bob rode the 62 miler as Matt took care of repairs for the riders at the start and had to wait for the masses to depart. Kyle and Eric joined me on this epic journey.

The 100, left from behind the Post Office in Honesdale at 8:20am and rolled through town with a Police escort. 2 miles later, the gravel adventure began. I compartmentalized the ride into 4 sections, divided by the 3 rest stops. The first section was hilly to say the least. But, anyone who cycles in Northeastern, PA knows there are no flat roads here. Just ups and downs and ups and downs.

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The ride organizer made all routes available for download to a GPS enabled device. Cue sheets were also made available. However, the course was expertly marked out with easily visible color coded signs at every turn. At mile 33, we arrived at the first rest stop and were greeted with friendly volunteers and an array of energy bars, gels, fruit, trail mix, water and energy drink. Volunteers signed in all riders, to ensure they reached the checkpoint safely.

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Eric certainly approved of the descent!

The next section began with a hill, just up the road from the rest stop. Another 15 or so miles or gravel and we hit Brown Trout Trail. This extremely technical, section lasted for five miles. With the side of a mountain to the right and a cliff to the left, the six foot wide trail seemed suited for a full suspension MTB, Fat Bike or ATV.  With a waterfall coming right through, a washed out portion of the trail required a little hike a bike. This was the most challenging part of the course.

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Just as we pushed off Brown Trout Trail, we arrived at rest stop #2. What a welcome sight after bouncing around for more than 40 minutes. After filling bottles and devouring everything in sight, we saddled up and headed out into the beautiful countryside. We saw some odd old homes, rustic churches and more than a few cattle.

At mile 75, we pulled into rest stop #3. This seemed like a great place to sit down and stretch a bit. With only 25 miles to go, finishing certainly seemed like a reality. Just a few more hills and a lot more gravel!

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Thanking the Gods for a beautiful day!

I kept telling myself that the big climbs were behind us. That didn’t work very well as hill after hill punished every weary leg that pedaled on. I have to say that Eric really got me through this ride. He kept me going when I wasn’t feeling too good. As for Kyle, we only saw him for a few seconds at the start. Every time we hit a sketchy section of trail, I did imagined Kyle laughing and riding right through. It was still light out when we rolled back into Honesdale, 8 hours and 47 minutes later. A quick clothing change at the car and a brief walk to the Irving Cliff Brewery for a well deserved post ride feast.

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A beer growler for every participant

Kudos to Ride Director Zach Wentzel and his staff for putting on a first class ride. The course markers were spot on, the rest stops were fully stocked and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. The course was everything it was supposed to be and more. It’s already on the calendar for next year. September 24th, 2017. Save the date!

 

 

 

 

 

What is Gravel Grinding?

It’s 8am on a Sunday Morning. I’ve just unloaded my bike from the top of my car. I’m doing some last minute checks to make sure I have enough food and water to get me through the day, as I’m about to embark on a 30-35 mile bike ride through mostly gravel roads in the Delaware State Forest. That day, I rode through the state forest, onto the pavement for a couple of miles and back into the forest, with a couple of diversions on dirt roads and grassy trails to end with 32 miles of an all road adventure.

This type of riding is most commonly called “gravel grinding”. Some call it “adventure cycling” and some refer to it as “all road riding”. Whatever you call it, it’s just plain fun.

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2017 Kona Sutra LTD

Gravel Grinding has been popular in the midwest for the better part of a decade. Many of the big gravel races in the US are found there because of the extensive network of gravel and dirt roads that sprawl across the region. Here in the northeastern part of the country, gravel grinding is catching on. In this area alone, we have access to numerous gravel roads that are part of the state forest as well as the McDade Trail, which is a 32 mile gravel and dirt trail, connecting Milford to Stroudsburg as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along with many other off the beaten path options.

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The best part about gravel grinding is that you don’t need a specific bike to get you going. You can pedal across gravel or dirt on a mountain bike, road bike, cyclocross bike, dual sport bike, comfort bike, whatever, just make sure you have enough tread on your tires to shed a little mud and stone. However, most bicycle companies are now producing “gravel bikes”. A good choice for people who just want to have 1 bike. A bike that allows a lot of options for two wheeled adventure. You can hit the gravel, ride in a gran fondo, throw racks and fenders on for loaded touring or just use it as an everyday commuter. Action Bikes and Outdoor, right in the heart of Milford, stock several models of gravel bikes, along with every type of bike and accessory as well as kayaks, paddles and most things for the outdoor enthusiast. Stop in, they are happy to offer advice on where to ride. They even have great paper maps and resources to help you on your journey.

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The beauty of gravel grinding is it gets you out of traffic and puts you right in the middle of nature. There’s no need to hammer through the woods. Slow down, enjoy the scenery and take in everything that nature has to offer. You won’t regret it. In fact, there seems to be a growing number of riders in our area that love having the opportunity to pedal in areas that until recently seemed foreign. On both sides of the Delaware River, there are trails and roads that lead to waterfalls, farms, corn fields, breathe taking views, wildlife sightings, streams, creeks and lakes.

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If you are up for the adventure, try one of the areas local gravel races. The Maple City Century, on September 25, 2016 starts in Honesdale and takes you through beautiful and scenic Wayne County on mostly dirt and gravel roads. In October, Action Bikes and Outdoor sponsor the Erie 80. An 80K gravel, dirt and paved MTB ride that shows you all
that Port Jervis has to offer. If you are not looking for an organized race, there is usually a group riding from somewhere. Mostly from the shop parking lot.

So if I’ve peaked your interest just a little bit, get out and pedal a quiet country road, you’ll be planning your next gravel ride before you load your bike back on the car.

A Little Gravel Prep

Getting out today was harder than I thought. I got up at 6:30am to meet Eric for a morning ride. I took the dog for a walk and got wet as it rained hard for about 10 minutes. I text Eric and opted for a few more hours sleep over a wet ride. He manned up and went out for a rain ride. I waited until 3pm, when it was dry and the forecast looked clear to venture out into the woods.

I’m planning to ride in the Maple City Century next Sunday in Honesdale, PA. It’s a 100 mile gravel adventure with lots of climbing. So, I wanted to just get a few extra miles in on some loose gravel roads to help prepare for the event.

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I rode out of my driveway and up through my community, then veered into the woods via a deer trail and onto Five Mile Meadow Road. I haven’t been on a bike since Tuesday, so I took it easy as I let my legs warm up to the hills. I headed out to Silver Lake Road and climbed up the monster hill before turning left onto Flat Ridge Road.

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About halway up Flat Ridge, I met up with Bob, another local cyclist that was also training for the Maple City Century. He was doing almost he same ride that I was doing today. After, pedaling up to Minisink Lake and turning around, I came back down Flat Ridge and took Bob’s advice when I turned right on Coon Swamp Road. Coon Swamp is gravel and loose packed dirt. It continues for a couple of miles and comes to an end at the top of a hill, with a cool camping spot, over looking Coon Swamp Lake.

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Coming out of Coon Swamp, just before I got back to Flat Ridge, I was startled as I noticed a black shape in the roadway. It was a huge black bear. I fumbled for my phone to take a photo, but he scampered away as I tried to get closer. Probably better off for me. It never ceases to amaze me what beautiful creatures they are.

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Back on Flat Ridge, I rode on, knowing how lucky I am to have this incredible state game land, with all the gravel emergency access roads, right in my backyard. I descended down Silver Lake Road and hung a left back onto Five Mile Meadow Road. From there, I pedaled through the deer trail and home.

I’ve written about this area a few times before, but I felt compelled, as a new road or trail, especially one that ends high above a lake, providing superior views, needs me to tell you about it, so you can go ride it and see for yourself!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Babys – Isn’t It Time

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BikePacking, Part 2

The bikepacking bug came biting again. Last week, I received a message from Will and Kyle that they were planning an overnighter in Promised Land State Park. The thought of a fire, dehydrated food and camp coffee, oh yeah, I was in. I’ve been cultivating my next overnighter on the bike since my last trip. Will plotted out a route from Shohola, so all we had to do was pack, pedal and relax.

I planned on taking my Van Dessel WTF again with my large seatbag, frame bag and handlebar bag. Knobby tires on a route that included 90% pavement was probably not the smartest idea I’ve had. I went with a Camelback instead of a backpack, because I freed up some room with a hammock instead of a tent.

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Friday came and the weather was perfect for a summer outing. At 85 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night, with no rain in the forecast, we were able to pack light as we did not need to consider the thought of a storm. I met Will at Bridge Park, on Twin Lakes Road in Shohola. Kyle had a prior obligation and left from home. We rode to Rt. 6 and pedaled up to Rt. 434(Well Road) and made a left. We climbed up and over Rt. 739 where the road changed to Blooming Grove Road. As soon as you cross over Rt. 739, you enter the twilight zone. Well, not really, but it certainly seemed like life slowed down a bit.

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I think we saw one or two cars, the entire time on Blooming Grove Road. The landscape included quiet, country homes, set way back off the road and farms situated on lush green grass with well maintained barns. As we crossed Rt. 402 and came into the town of Blooming Grove, we passed what appeared to be the only commercial establishment, the Blooming Grove Tavern. The parking lot was at full capacity.

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We made a left on Egypt Road and were treated to a really nice red barn, a waterwheel and a lazy creek. Egypt Road seemed to go slightly up for the entire 3 miles. A left hand turn at the end, put us on Rt. 390, the main thoroughfare leading into Promised Land. We rolled up and down Rt. 390 for 6 miles and made a right on Lower Lake Road. We dropped down the narrow park road for 2 miles to our campsite. As we pulled up, Kyle was already there waiting to tell us about the alternate route he took on mostly dirt roads.

We dismounted, began to unpack and setup camp. I chose to go with a hammock this time, instead of a tent, so my setup was fairly easy and quick. After our last trip, TC from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, highly recommmended a hammock and I don’t think I’ll ever go back in a tent again.

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We collected wood and fired up our camp stoves to get ready for a well deserved dinner after a hard ride with over 2,200 feet of climbing on loaded gravel bikes. By the time we finished eating, the fire was roaring and we shared some laughs. I indulged in a little red wine (Sangiovese), that I transported in a steel growler on the front fork of my bike. By 10pm, exhausted, I retired to my hammock and pulled the bug fly over my head and slipped into a deep sleep.

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Again, I had to work the next day, so I woke up early and packed up my gear as I boiled water. After securing everything to my bike, I gulped down a hot cup of coffee and headed out. I snaked up Lower Lake Road and out on Rt. 390. That early in the morning, the traffic was a lot lighter than the previous evening.

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About halway home, I had to stop and take a picture at the Blooming Grove Tavern. The terrain was a lot less hilly in this direction and when I hit Rt. 739 I turned right and rode directly to my house. Another trip in the books. The next one will have to be away from a campground as camping in the deep woods provides a unique challenge that begs to be explored.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Wolf – Lights Out

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Back in the Saddle

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to get on a bike. Sometimes, life gets in the way and then you find your way back. This Sunday morning, I got out of bed and decided to just ride out of the garage, through my community and onto the gravel that is Five Mile Meadow Road. You see, what’s been keeping me away from my bike is still there and I was beginning to think that going for long bike rides was selfish and my way of running away from things. How wrong I was. This ride, through the beautiful state forest, helped me realize how grateful I am to be able to get away for a few hours and just pedal through the woods. I can still get back to reality, just with a renewed perspective.

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Anyway, I scooted up through my community and into the deer trail that leads to Five Mile Meadow Road. I turned right and immediately felt relaxed. I hung a left on Standing Stone Trail. It’s amazing how the weeds have grown through the middle of the road since my last ride there. The creek crossing was rideable today, although I stopped for a quick photo. I plowed through the loose gravel, as this wonderful 3 mile stretch is closed to vehicular traffic and the road surface does not get too packed down. Standing Stone takes you through the Pennsylvania Deer Management area that is fenced off for a few miles, along most of the road.

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Turning left on Silver Lake Road, I hit the pavement for about a mile and took a diversion through Little Mud Pond Road, a 1 mile horse shoe that puts you right back on Silver Lake Road. I then turned left back onto Five Mile Meadow. After a short climb, I made a right hand turn and dropped down Bald Hill Road. Bald Hill is a neat crushed gravel road that pretty much descends for 2.5 miles and comes to an end. An overgrown trail leads into private property. I have never explored here, as there are more than a few No Tresspassing signs. I turned around and headed back up to Five Mile Meadow, climbing through the dense woods.

Hunting cabins, complete with OutHouses and no running water, litter the landscape, through the Delaware State Forest. Some are run down and some look well taken care of. I ripped up Five Mile Meadow and slipped into the deer trail and back into my community. I rode towards the back of my community on gravel roads that are a little less forgiving. Large stones that just do not seem to penetrate the hard clay that make up the road surface. I found a clearing and another creek that seemed like a good spot for a drink and another photo.

 If your going to escape for a little while, there’s no better way than just hopping on your bike and pedaling into the woods at a relaxed pace. You really can just forget about the world for a change and enjoy the serenity. 

Adventure Loop(gravel, mud, grass & Pave)

With a break in the humidity for a day, a gravel grinder through the Delaware State Forest seemed like a good idea. I’ve written a few posts about different areas of the forest (Five Mile Meadow Road, Standing Tall Trail, Flat Ridge Road area, Whittaker Road and the High Knob Road, High Line Road area), but this time, the idea was to come up with a way to connect them and extend the ride.

I made plans to ride with Will and Kyle at 9am on Sunday. Will mapped out a route that would connect all of the aforementioned areas into a nice loop. I rode from home and met up with Will and Kyle at the Rt. 739 Parking area.

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We headed north on Rt. 739 and made a left on an undisclosed road. To connect the loop, we would have to pedal on a jeep trail and gravel road through private property for about 2.5 miles. Back on the pave, we made a left on Rt. 402 for about a half mile, then onto the High Knob Road. Electing not to climb up to the fire tower, we connected the High Knob Road (a relatively flat, hard packed gravel road) with High Line Road and descended for a few miles down to Hay Road and into the woods.

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The old jeep trail was overgrown. We pedaled through the area that was engulfed with the early spring forest fires. You could see some burnt trees on the ground, but the growth was overtaking the black ash. However, a few hunting cabins were not able to survive the fires. We crossed an old wooden plank foot bridge and continued on the trail.

Hay Road is closer to a backwoods trail then it is to a road. We came out of the woods and made a left hand turn on Snow Hill Road, a quiet country road that is roughly paved in sections and gravel in others. A left on Resica Falls Road put us back on pavement for  about a quarter mile, before hanging a right on Whittaker Road. After a mile of gravel, Whittaker turned into another jeep trail that was a little less over grown and a little less rocky, which made the descents a lot of fun.

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As we came out of the woods again, we rode around the back end of Minisink Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. For 3.5 miles, the gravel on Flat Ridge is small and hard packed, which provides a really nice surface. Another left put us on Silver Lake Road for a mile and a right put us on Standing Tall Trail. This is a neat gravel road that winds through a deer management section that is fenced off on the left hand side of the road. After 2 miles, a creek comes right through the road. Kyle rode through as Will and I walked through, carrying our bikes. Another mile and our paths went different ways. Will and Kyle made a left on Five Mile Meadow Road for a 2 mile ride to the parking area and I headed in the other direction to a deer trail in the woods that leads to my community.

What a nice ride through a really quiet section. If you slow it down a little, there is plenty to see. Kyle rode up on a black bear on Whittaker Road (A little noise and it walked away). There are some quaint little cabins and plenty of places to camp. The loop was just about 45 miles with some good climbs (nothing too hard). This ride is doable on a cyclocross, mountain or hybrid bike. Though, it would be a little too tough for a road bike.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Have you ever seen the rain”

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Gravel AM

After a couple of beautiful days, the rain is headed back. While doing some early morning road rides this week, Eric thought we should get a gravel ride in this morning before Mother Nature exercised her right to spring. With only 2 hours before I had to be at work, we settled on Five Mile Meadow Road and the surrounding trails. As I’ve previously stated, Five Mile Meadow Road, which connects Rt. 739 and Silver Lake Road, is hard packed gravel for about 6.4 miles. We started out on Five Mile, and found our way onto Standing Tall Trail, a snow mobile trail deep in the Delaware State Forest.

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I didn’t have to ride through, but it was fun!

There is a creek crossing about a mile into the trail, that’s maybe crossable at best. The trail is lined with wire fencing in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s Deer Management Program. Ending at Silver Lake Road, we turned left, followed the broken pavement for a mile, and did the Little Mud Pond gravel horseshoe. Little Mud Pond is a gravel road that’s a little more than a mile through a beautiful lake community that reminds you of an old fishing village.

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Once out on Silver Lake road again, we pedaled down and hung a left back onto Five Mile Meadow. We went up the first hill, and right onto Bald Hill Road. Bald Hill is a well groomed combination of smooth crushed gravel and dirt. Hunting cabins litter both sides of the road for 2 1/2 miles until it comes to an abrupt end in a dirt circle. Private Property separates Bald Hill from the back of the Dingman Delaware School campus.

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We zipped back up Bald Hill, right on Five Mile Meadow, and grinded our way back to the deer trail that takes us back around to my house. We were both very content to get a ride in this morning as the rain started to come down, just as we exited the woods. A quick shower and off to work, daydreaming about where to ride this weekend.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Joe Cocker – When the Night Comes

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24 Hour Solo Bikepacking Trip: part 1

I’ve recently been bitten by the backpacking/bike camping bug. First, I would like to get out, and do a solo 24 hour bike camping trip. I’m thinking that this would be a good reset after a stressful week. Also, flying solo would be a great way to find my strengths and weaknesses on the trail and in the woods. I plan on preparing for as much as possible and packing whatever I think I will need, then adjusting my packing for later trips accordingly.

Living in the Milford area gives me more than a few options. Since I do not intend on making a campfire, my choice of campsites are many. I’ll just pick an area, do a recon ride to scout out a camp site, and map out the route later at home. Now, what to bring?

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A list of what to Pack:

Cooking Equipment/Food: Alcohol stove, denatured alcohol, matches, kettle, fork, folding knife, spoon, stainless steel cup, coffee filter, and pour over bracket. As this is only a 1 night trip, I will try to get by with some homemade soup, energy bars, water, coffee, and a PB&J

Clothes/Shoes: 1 set of bib shorts and jersey, 2 pairs of socks, 1 sweatshirt and long tights, gloves, beanie, t-shirt, extra pair of underwear, sneakers, riding shoes, helmet, and sunglasses

Tools: Multi tool, tire lever, mini pump, 2 tubes, patch kit, camera, cell phone

Shelter/Sleeping: 2 man tent, footprint, sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, inflatable pillow, candle lantern

First Aid: Rollup first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray

I’ll probably ride my Van Dessel WTF. It’s a steel bike that should hold everything fairly well. I will probably pack everything in my Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag, my Revelate Tangle frame bag, and my Bushwhacker Cody handlebar bag. I’ll carry 2 large water bottles and a 70oz blatter in a backpack.

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Riding directly out of my house and into the Delaware State Forest would be ideal for my 1st solo. However, I think the best way to get it in is to just get it in.

Part 2 will be my assessment of the trip. I’ll post some photos, thoughts, and details. Until then, get outside, ride your bike, paddle your kyack, and read my blog!

 

 

Pedaling Through the Promised Land

Before long, I’ll be writing about long, somewhat fast road rides. But for now, the winter that never was, continues to linger. As long as it does, shorter, slower rides through the Pennsylvania landscape rule the day.

Located 17 miles west of Milford in Greentown, PA is Promised Land State Park. About 3,000 acres in size, Promised Land State Park is on the Pocono Plateau, 1,800 feet above sea level, and is surrounded by 12,464 acres of Pennsylvania’s Delaware State Forest, including natural areas. Visitors enjoy fishing and boating in two lakes, rustic cabins, camping, miles of biking and hiking trails, and exploring the forests.The forests of the park consist primarily of beech, oak, maple, and hemlock trees. Two lakes and several small streams add to the park’s outstanding scenic beauty.

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I parked in the main parking area at the DCNR Park Office. Steve, at the counter, was very helpful; he pointed me in the right direction, and handed me some maps of the park. Once outside and on my bike, I headed out to Rhododendron Trail. A rather flat but bumpy trail, Rhododendron Trail is a nice way to ease into the trail system. After about 1.5 miles, the trail turned to gravel, and winded through a small village of cabins along the main lake. It ended at the tip of the lake. Crossing the road and onto the tow path, puts you over the wooden bridge and along a gravel path, just above the beach.

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After cruising along the lake and through a few campsites, I came to Tower Trail. A technical, rocky sort of single-track, Tower Trail climbed up a few small hills, and dumped me into a dried up creek bed, before climbing back up and onto Cross Cut Trail. Like Tower Trail, Crosscut Trail is a technical trail that would have been better suited with a mountain bike. Today, I rode my Van Dessel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. A steel 700c monster cross bike with 29X2.1 tires, she goes almost anywhere. Still, a MTB with at least front suspension would have handled the terrain a lot better.

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After navigating a section of woods, I found the Boundry Trail. A much more subtle trail, Boundry starts at the north shore of the big lake, and winds through the forest to the southern end of the lower laker, before putting you right back on Tower Trail.

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After a few more miles, I was back at the main parking area. Although windy and 45 degrees, the sun was shining, and the bare trees gave me an awesome view of both lakes from various parts of the trail. Getting in the car and driving a few miles to a place so serene and beautiful is more than worth it. Promised Land State Park will certainly feel my bike roll over it’s trails more than a few times this summer.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Golden Earring – Cut.

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Daylight Savings Time=Fun

Since moving the clocks ahead on Sunday Morning, I have been unable figure out what and where I want to ride. The when is all taken care of. The when is as soon as I leave work. With about 2 1/2 hours of daylight left when I leave the office at 5pm, I could do a road ride from work or a multitude of gravel and dirt rides from Dingmans Ferry or Milford. Today, I chose a dirt/gravel and road ride with Steve. We decided to hit the trails and gravel roads off of Old Mine Road.

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You can get to Old Mine Road from either Dingmans Ferry or from Milford. I prefer to leave from Milford. Leaving from Action Bike and Outdoor in the Heart of Milford, head out to the Milford Bridge. Once over the bridge, on the New Jersey side, hang a right onto Old Mine Road. Travel about 6 1/2 miles and make a right onto Mettler Road. Mettler is a loosely packed gravel road. When you get to the river, turn right onto Van Auken Road and thats where the fun starts. Van Auken is a mix of loose gravel and dirt, that quietly takes you into a trail after about a mile.

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The trail winds through a couple of campgrounds along the Delaware river and treats you to some beautiful views of the river and the Delaware Valley. Your probably ok here with a hybrid, cyclocross or mountain bike. There might be a bit too much rocks and roots for a road bike, though. However, I did go over the bars and into the mud after hitting a large root in the trail. Didn’t feel good at first, but I was lucky enough to pedal out of the woods. The singletrack does wind along the ledge as you climb out of the woods and make a left back onto Old Mine Road. After a half mile, you turn right and climb Jagger Hill.

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A little over a mile of climbing and you come to the top right at the Upper Ridge Road Trailhead. Thats where the climbing continues. Another 3/4 of a mile up in the loosest gravel, dirt and sand you could imagine. Alot of sand on that side of Old Mine, but a really nice section of trail with alot of up and a whole lotta downs!

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The trail comes out on Rt. 560 in Layton, NJ. You have a few choices to get back to Milford. Old Mine Road, Rt. 209 (on the other side of the Dingmans Bridge) or the McDade Trail. This ride is another example of all the terrain that can be ridden in and out of milford.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Aretha Franklin  – Who’s Zoomin Who

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Navigating the High Country

Another warm February day! 50 degrees and sunny! You couldn’t ask for more! While checking out this weekends weather, and since the roads are still covered in way too much salt, I decided to venture out and try a ride pretty far off the beaten path: the climb up the High Knob to the fire tower.

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I met up with Will at the Maple Run parking area on Rt. 402 in Blooming Grove Township. We turned right out of the parking area onto Rt. 402, and after a mile, we hung a left, hit the gravel, and immediately started to climb. The High Knob Road is a loose gravel surface, making it almost impossible to get out of the saddle on the way up. The road winds its way skyward for about 1.75 miles, and just as you think you’re at the top, the grade steepens sharply. Another quarter mile, and finally I can breathe.

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Fire Tower and Cell Towers atop the High Knob

At 2100 feet, the High Knob is the highest elevation in Pike County. The view is pretty darn good too! Now, time to descend through the loose stuff. The ride down was fantastic! A nice reward for a tough climb. At the bottom, we beared right onto Hobday Road, a more packed down gravel surface made for a smoother ride. After a few miles, Hobday turned into High Line Road. High Line is a road that seems to literally pull you as you swoop up and down, and twist and turn through the Pennsylvania State Forest.

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As we came to a 3 way intersection of gravel roads, we were met with a funky sign post, pointing you in the direction towards any one of the many hunting cabins that litter the State Forest. Intrestingly enough, DCNR has put in dozens of camping areas throughout the state forest, complete with fire rings and picnic tables.

We made a right on Hay Road, and followed it for about 1.5 miles through logging country. As the road went from hard packed gravel to 4-5 inch rip rap, we turned around and headed back to the intersection, where we took Pine Flats Road. We came to a creek that, aided by the recent rains, overtook the road. After a few more miles, we made a left on Rt. 402, and climbed our way back to the parking area. We talked of ways to connect this route to a few other gravel roads, making for a 50-70 mile ride on mostly gravel.

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Sunrise Trails

Well, winter is finally here. With a couple of moderate snowfalls and a weekend of sub zero temperatures, I think it’s safe to say that it’s winter, even if it did not rear its ugly head until mid-February! Since, my Van Dessel WTF is back in service, I was itching to get out and see what it felt like with 29×2.1 tires. I decided to leave right from my house in Conashaugh Lakes, and ride up to a short deer trail that connects the community with Five Mile Meadow Road.

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It was about 25 degrees and cloudy at noon, and there was a bit of wind. I turned right onto Five Mile, and followed it up and down until I crossed Rt. 739. There is a parking area at 739 with a trail that snakes around it to avoid a locked gate when it’s not hunting season. A gravel jeep road drops down for about 1 1/2 miles, and ends at the edge of Rt. 84. A right takes you into a nice network of trails that is easily rideable on a mtb, cyclocross, or gravel bike.

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The first descent was pretty cool, down a grassy hill with what seemed like roadway rumple strips. After a quick hike a bike across a half -frozen creek, I was back on the trail, and climbing a somewhat steep hill that put me at a spot overlooking 2 creeks coming together. I had to stop for lunch here as it seemed about the flattest spot on the trail.

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Seemed like a good lunch stop

After lunch, I descended down a short rocky section, and was met with some pretty nice single track that swooped and swirled all around what I believe is PA State Gameland, tucked in behind the Sunrise Lakes and Lake Adventure communities. The only downside was the ice that seemed to freeze over low lying sections of the trail. After hitting about 5.5 miles of the trail, I was back on the jeep road and headed back as the cold was penatrating my shoes.

I will explore these trails more as the spring warms things up a bit. An intermediate ride on a trail that begs to be ridden. It’s a secret paradise for mountain bikers and adventure seekers!

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Old Mine, Buttermilk Falls, Walpack & Peter’s Valley

Super Bowl Sunday! So why can’t I just sit on the couch, watch the pre game chatter, and eat everything in sight? A look at the upcoming week’s weather, and I had to get one more ride in before Mother Nature shows us what winter really feels like. The plan was a McDade Trail ride, but Kyle suggested an alternate route that turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

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I met up with Eric and Kyle at Dingman Falls at around 10:30am. At 35 deegrees and sunny, it was perfect weather for a gravel ride. We headed out over the Dingman Bridge and into New Jersey. As described in an earlier post, the Dingman Bridge is a wooden surface bridge. A person stands in the middle, and collects a $1 toll from each passing vehicle. From the bridge, we made the first right onto Old Mine Road and up the Peter’s Valley climb. At the top, a right hand turn puts you on old Old Mine Road, a hard packed gravel road that has seen better days. For 6 miles, you slither down, scoping out dilapidated barns and farmlife from another era.

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Old Mine dumps you onto the Walpack Loop. Making a right, we climbed a bit, came to the fork in the road, and hung a hard right. Going up and over the top, we descended down to the beginning and off to the next off road section. A left hand turn put us on Mountain Road. A mix of dirt, gravel and sand, Mountain Road still had plenty of ice from last weeks snow storm. After about 2 miles, we were treated to an awesome sight, “Buttermilk Falls”.

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Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls (in the Delaware Water Gap) is a picturesque waterfall right by the road. It cascades spectacularly, 90 feet down the red shale face off the Kittatinny Ridge. It is the only waterfall in New Jersey, apart from Great Falls, with a developed viewing area: the National Park Service has erected an interpretive display and built a wooden walkway to the topnot a bad place to be on a February afternoon. Mountain Road took us through a series of bridges with locked gates across the road.

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Mountain Road came out onto Walpack Road just behind the Peter’s Valley Cemetery. As we came back to Peter’s Valley, we turned left onto Kuhn Road and followed it up to old Old Mine and took a a right. Back on gravel for about 2 more miles, Old Mine came back out on the top of the Peter’s Valley climb. We flew down to Rt. 560, and took another left back over the Dingman Bridge. Cruising back to the Dingman Falls parking area, instead of being happy with this ride, I was contemplating how I could connect this over to Van Ness or the McDade Trail to extend what was already a fantastic ride! 21 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation make this doable for almost anyone looking for a scenic ride.

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Snow, Sun and Fun!

Another beautifully warm winter day. 50 degrees on January 31st. With Last weekend’s snowfall of about 8 inches and temperatures hovering just above freezing all week, it was time to explore the back roads and see how much riding we could get in.

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I met up with Eric at the parking area on Rt. 739, adjacent to Five Mile Meadow Road. We began with a short climb up Five Mile, which was covered in a mix of snow and ice. It was a difficult climb as we could not seem to get any traction. Between the thaw and the pack down caused by passing pickup trucks, the road was extremely slippery on the ascent and an adventure to say the least on the following descent. Deciding to try another path, we hung a right onto Standing Stone Trail, which is a crushed gravel road, primarily used as a snowmobile trail. Covered in snow, with what looked like the tracks from a snowmobile, Standing Stone Trail was a much more viable option.

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The untouched snow, about 4 inches deep on either side of the snowmobile tracks was a pleasure to plow through. Standing Stone twists and turns with little incline, all the way to Silver Lake Road. We turned right and rode the pavement to Rt. 402. Recent construction has turned Rt.402 from a pothole filled back road into a nicely paved thoroughfare with enough shoulder to ride safely along.

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We made yet another right onto Hemlock Farms Road. From Rt. 402, Hemlock Farms Road climbs for about 3 miles, before offering up a steep descent down towards the golf course. Eric lead the way as we weaved through the golf course, past a cool dock that went out over a lake that made for a nice photo opportunity. As we made our way towards the exit gate of this picturesque country community, we were treated to the sight of more than a few beautiful stone and wood homes, that sit quietly in the Pennsylvania forest.

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We rode out of Hemlock Farms onto Rt. 739 and after another mile, we were back at the parking area. Bottom line…… Do not let the winter keep you inside. whether it’s 20 degrees or 50 degrees, find a way to get outside!

 

 

Exploring: off the beaten path

2016 is under way! Now that the winter weather is here, it’s time to layer up and head out in to the cold and enjoy every opportunity to ride, before the snow arrives. This weekend, I decided to take 2 days to explore the old Boy Scout camp that sits just off Five Mile Meadow and across from Saw Creek Road as well as some gravel off shoot roads that were begging me check them out. On Saturday I headed straight out of my house, riding about a mile of pavement, hooked left on to a deer trail and on to Five Mile Meadow Road. About a half mile up and right in to the Boy Scout Camp.

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As I’ve described in a previous post, Five Mile Meadow Road is a crushed gravel road. The path to the Boy Scout camp is a grassy jeep trail. I winded up the trail passed a couple of dilapidated buildings and as I turned the corner past the rustic old cabin, I saw what appeared to be someone sitting on the porch. As I spun around, I noticed camoflouge and a compound bow. “Just glad it was a hunter and not one of the Boy Scouts from 60 years ago”.

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Not wanting to screw up the hunt, I headed out of the camp and on to Saw Creek Road. Another crushed gravel road that spans about 5 miles out to Silver Lake Road. I headed back early, knowing Sunday was going to be a little warmer. I hooked up with Will on Sunday and went right back to the Boy Scout camp. Below the area where I spotted the hunter, a trail led down to a serene lake, surrounded by tall pine trees.

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Rock Hill Pond

We rode up a steep hill and back out of the camp and across to Saw Creek Road. We crossed over a creek that runs right through the road, having to hop off the bikes for just a moment. Riding out to Silver Lake Road, we hung a left then left on to an off shoot gravel road. After a few feet, the gravel tuned to 6-8″ rip rap stone. For 2 miles, we rode over what seemed like a tough trail for even a truck.

Getting back on Five Mile Meadow Road, we ventured over to Bald Hill Road. Bald Hill is a nice mix of dirt and gravel. It drops for about 3 miles and ends. We headed back home before light became a problem.

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Bottom line: If your looking for a nice, quiet off the beaten path ride, you can find miles and miles of gravel, dirt and grass right in our backyard.

 

Gravel, Dirt & Blacktop (Ride Everything)

60F on December 13th! I could end this post here, that’s how nice of a day it was, but I won’t. If I did, I would not be able to share today’s fun ride on a mixed bag of terrain. Will, Eric, and I rode out of Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford a little after noon. I over dressed, again (the only one not in shorts). We headed out to Milford Road, and climbed up to Conashaugh Road. With the pavement behind us, we rode the trail on Long Meadow Road and onto Zimmerman Road. Zimmerman is a mix of gravel and dirt, and leads right into the old Zimmerman Farm. It was the home of noted artist Marie Zimmerman (1879-1972). It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979.

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This late in the fall, the leaves cover the trail

At the farm, we ran into Norman and Jamie. They were having a lot of fun on their awesome Fat Bikes. Zimmerman Road dumps you onto Rt. 209 for about 200 feet, then back up Zimmerman Road and into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

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A Barn on Zimmerman Farm that has not been renovated yet
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This Barn stands tall! The wood and beautiful harware are still intact.

We climbed up and over a dirt section, and across 2 dried up river beds that sat a bit lower than the trail, and our bikes had to be walked. I was never a fan of hopping off the bike, but on a day like this, it just adds to the mixed bag of terrain we enjoyed.

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We came back to Rt. 209, and crossed over onto the McDade Trail. We rode the gravel for a few miles, and had to come back out onto the pavement for a mile and back on the McDade before reaching the Dingman’s Bridge. A wooden surface bridge that actually has a toll of $1.00. A Toll taker stands out in the middle of the bridge, between both lanes, and continues to turn around to take the toll from drivers travelling in each direction. It certainly takes you back to a simpler time.

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After crossing over the Delaware River into New Jersey, we turned left on Old Mine Road, and cruised down to Van Ness Road, a dirt and gravel road that leads into a section of single track, past an old baseball field in the middle of the woods.

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Van Ness Road climb

We then came to a climb that appeared from about 200 feet away to be a dirt wall. At the top, my legs burning by now, the road went back into single track for a couple of more miles of ups and downs. Then we came out onto Jagger Road. Turning left, we descended down to Old Mine, and hung a right towards the Milford Bridge. On The Pennsylvainia side we went down Metz Road past the old ice house and onto River Road, a short gravel section with a steep climb back up to 3rd St. A Quarter mile and 10 minutes later, we were sitting in the Frisky Goat Coffee House (in the same building as the bike shop), happy to have ridden this incredible route when it usually is covered in snow by now!

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Black Friday McDade Trail

Every now and then, you ride just because you can. This morning presented itself with just that opportunity. With Thanksgiving over and scores of people out shopping the Black Friday sales, myself, Eric, and TC decided to squeeze in a morning ride on the McDade Trail. The trail starts at the Hialeah Trailhead, near the Delaware Water Gap, and ends at Milford Beach in Milford, PA, roughly 32 miles of hard packed gravel and dirt, running through the Delaware Water Gap National Park. Although the trail is mostly flat, there are some climbs between Raymonskill Road and Dingmans Falls that will challenge the strongest of riders.

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Today, we started out at Dingmans Falls, and rode south towards the Bushkill Access (boat launch). It was just below 40F at the start, and as the trail runs right along side the Delaware River, there was plenty of fog coming off the river onto the trail. As we hit the trail, we immediately ran into a hunter, who did not seem happy that we were riding through. Dressed in as much Hi Viz cycling gear as we could find, and with blinking red tail lights hanging off our bikes, we continued down the trail.

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There are numerous bridges scattered throughout the trail, constructed of some sort of composite material that is extremely slippery in the mornings before the dew has dried off. I completely slow down when approaching each bridge as I learned the hard way on a previous ride (road rash or “gravel rash” on my left hip, knee, and elbow.)

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The 2016 Kona Rove TI (More on that in another post)

With time being a factor, we turned around just short of the Bushkill Access, and headed back. Passing a few more hunters, we came to a beautiful strectch of pine trees that made for a great photo opportunity.

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At the parking lot, we loaded up, and each of us hurried off to work as it is still Friday, knowing that we squeezed that one extra ride in this week. Total distance was 21 miles. Longer rides on the trail are planned for the early spring. Here is a Strava screen shot of the trail.

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Five Mile/Flat Ridge Gravel

On Sunday, I took the Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot for a cruise along Five Mile Meadow Road and Flat Ridge Road with Kyle who was riding his Van Dessel Country Bob. The tempature hit a surprising 50 degrees as we started out in Lords Valley, PA at Rt. 739 and winded down a gravel jeep trail to Rt. 84 and back. The road goes over a wooden bridge and funky looking beaver dam. After heading back and crossing over Rt. 739, we climbed over and past the old Boy Scout Camp into the Pennsyvania State Forest.cropped-img_19077.jpgFive Mile Meadow Road winds along on hard packed gravel for around 6.4 miles(shouldn’t it be Six Mile Meadow Road), climbing and descending all the way to Silver Lake Road in Dingmans Ferry. Along the way are tiny hunting cabins, situated just off the road. The road is never plowed in the winter but is still pretty accessible on a fat bike or snow shoes. cropped-cropped-img_190922.jpgAfter making a right onto the pavement on Silver Lake Road, you climb a steep hill for about a half a mile then turn left onto Flat Ridge Road. Flat Ridge is more hard packed gravel, with the climbs not being as steep as Five Mile, but longer. Flat Ridge ends at about the 6 mile mark and becomes a trail that winds around Minisink Lake in Bushkill.IMG_1912

We opted to turn around and explore some of the off shoot gravel roads that surround the area. The entire region is littered with gravel emergency access roads throughout the Pennsylvania State Forest.IMG_1911Heading back, my legs were shot. Kyle, a stronger rider, pulled back a little so I could keep him in sight. When we hit the last incline on Five Mile Meadow, it started to get cold. We sped down the road and across Rt. 739 to the parking area. The entire ride amounted to 25.5 miles and a little over 2,000 feet of elevation, but adding some of the emergency access roads could yield a nice 50 mile gravel ride.

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Here is the link for the Strava map – https://www.strava.com/activities/433431978.