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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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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Stewart State Forest

About a 40 minute drive from Milford, sits Stewart State Forest, known to many as the Stewart Buffer Land. Matt and I decided to make the trip east on Rt. 84 yesterday (with a pit stop at Arlene and Tom’s Restaurant in Port Jervis to fuel up) for what proved to be a really nice day out on the trails.

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There are a few designated parking areas. We decided to make Weed Road our base camp. We started out on the Orchard Trail and did not see a rock or root all the way to Giles Road. We jumped over to Rock Wall Trail and found out quickly how it got it’s name. In the first half mile, you traverse 4 rock walls, and yeah, the rocks and roots appeared.

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We followed Rock Wall to Mid Earth to New Road. We made a left on White Cloud Trail, climbed a few hundred feet and dropped back down through the wetlands and back up to Bypass Trail and over to Windsor Trail. Looping back to Weed Road we pedaled up the gravel hill and back to the parking area for lunch.

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After a couple of pb&j sandwiches, we headed back down Weed Road, hungry for more singletrack. We found a jewel! Causeway Trail to Shields Trail to Drakes Trail is like a deep forest pump track. Hoping over to Mid Earth, we crossed New Road and took Senior to Waterfall.

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Waterfall really tests you. It’s a little bit technical singletrack and a little bit hike a bike, up rock formations that appear like waterfalls. We followed Waterfall to Prime to Sara’s Way to Windsor Trail and back to New Road. New Road becomes Weed Road as we pedaled into the parking area. At a high of 74 degrees, we were treated to a beautiful day for what turned out to be a wonderful ride.

What’s  playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Santana – Evil Ways IMG_0405

 

 

Crushing Snow

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

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

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

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

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

 

Erie 80

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

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

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

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

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

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A birdseye view of what rocks can do to a tire

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

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

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

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

Watershed Trails

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

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

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Big John capping the hill

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

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

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Holding on for dear life!

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

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

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

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The Knob

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

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Another view from The Knob

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

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

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

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

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