Taking What’s Given

Sometimes, you just have to fit your rides in where you can. Being away so much, I look for any opportunity to spend time with my family. On Thursday, I had about a 2 hour window. So, I rolled out of the driveway and into the Delaware State Forest. Everything seemed to be clicking. I felt like I could ride forever.

But, a 22 mile gravel sampler would have to do. There would be other opportunities to squeeze some miles in before the end of the week.

With the beautiful weekend weather upon us, I knew my pedal time would be limited. I got up early this morning and headed out for a short spin through the overgrown hiking trails near my house. The ungroomed trails were covered with leaves and fallen branches were scattered throughout. I took it slow and decided to enjoy the quiet time spent in the woods.

Riding slowly, breathing in that crisp autumn air, really takes you far away from all the stress of daily life. It’s a great way to get you in the perfect mood to start the day.

So, give it a try. Splash some water on your face, go out for a morning spin and see how you feel. I promise you, it will be a positive experience.

Binghamton, NY

As I sit here, I try to imagine what it must’ve been like to live here 60 years ago. Binghamton, the little known city in New York’s Southern Tier and once home to thousands of manufacturing and defense oriented jobs, is now the picture of poverty. IBM was founded here. Ansco Cameras, Endicott-Johnson Shoes and General Electric all called the Triple Cities (Binghamton, Endicott and Johnson City) home. The Flight Simulator was invented in Binghamton and the area was the second largest manufacturer of cigars in the United States, giving it the moniker, the “Valley of Opportunity”.

As the Cold War ended, the region lost thousands of manufacturing jobs. These days, industry is all but gone and abandoned buildings dot the landscape of an extremely depressed urban theater.

I was able to manage a few rides throughout the city and around the outlying areas. A dawn patrol pedal through the quiet streets took me over the South Washington Street Bridge and up Vestal Parkway to Vestal Avenue and into Endicott. The return trip pushed me the opposite way around the city.

The Chenango and Susquehanna Rivers flow through a downtown area littered with cafe’s, pizza parlors and quaint shops. It has an old world charm reminiscent of better days. Binghamton University, has a downtown campus and a lot of student housing for the main campus in Vestal have moved here, creating a shift for businesses to cater to student life.

A few days later, I crossed the Exchange Street Bridge and ascended Pennsylvania Avenue to Hawleyton Turnpike. The 4 mile climb above the tree tops, made for an exciting descent over pot holed, chopped up pavement. My return to downtown led me through some residential areas and back into the city center.

I’m not an urban renewal expert, but I’m pretty sure that a few coffee houses and trendy shops, although well intentioned, won’t bring this once thriving center of industry back to prosperity. The floods of 2006 and 2011 have halted progress. That said, this area needs some big companies to take a chance and re-locate here.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Looking Glass – Brandy

Maple Run Trails

Working from home the last three months has found me riding all too often, the same roads and trails. While I was traveling, I couldn’t wait to get back to my little piece of heaven. Now don’t get me wrong, for this mid 50’s pedal pusher, this is cycling nirvana. But every now and then, I like to spread my wings and venture out a bit farther.
EB3F94DD-6EF5-42F9-AB4C-CE3DC9750757
I’ve parked in the gravel lot at the trailhead for the Maple Run ATV/Snowmobile trails, before heading up to the High Knob on occasion. Today, I decided to venture in. To my surprise, the trail, a loosely packed dirt and gravel road was pristine. I experienced a small sample of this trail system, taking in 11 miles of thick hard woods, a pine forest and steep steep hills under the power lines.
80C1E435-E7B9-4ED9-A23B-B4BBB3C88EDB
While there are many more trails here to explore, I jumped across Rt. 402 to climb to the High Knob. It seems the PA DCNR has covered the road with fresh gravel, making the climb a little more difficult than usual. The views at the top never disappoint, neither does the descent. I cruised back to the parking area, excited to add this new wrinkle into an all day gravel ride.

B36B0DFE-F3EE-4C8D-9883-82A6C9941835
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Pretenders – My City Was Gone

C94917F3-A59A-4765-96B5-B863F2B965F8

 

Pedaling Through a Pandemic: The Final Chapter

I thought I’d moved on from outlining my observations about this pandemic. I was wrong. I’ve told you about my fears and explained the precautions I’ve taken. For three months now, I like many other people have been consumed with everything that is this pandemic. However, being an observant person has caused me to see the real change here. Just like after 9/11, people struggled for a time then eventually, they adapted to the new normal and thrived.
What I noticed today was breathtaking. People were outside, at barbecues, in parks, running, walking and cycling. They were eating outside at restaurants, towing boats to the lakes and going about their lives. Of course, most were wearing masks, but regardless of the situation, people are finding a way to thrive. With all the other shit going on in the world, this is still here. But, we are winning the war with this invisible killer, because we are not lying down.
809E699A-0BEC-45CC-8E4F-E8D75EFF42DB

That said, on the most beautiful of days, I was able to score two rides. First, I got out this morning for a 45 mile solo spin from my house, out to Rt. 739, down Log Tavern Road. I jumped into the Pocono Mountain Woodlands ( the gate was open) and pedaled over to Raymondskill Road. A left on Frenchtown Road took me up to Rt. 6. Turning left, I fought the wind a little, but managed to make it to Costas Family Fun Park. This seemed like a good place to turn around and head home.

C5758C32-797A-404A-8808-7DF49589A19A
Flying down Rt. 6, I took Rt. 739 up past Pike County Blvd, navigated the weekend traffic as I slithered through Lords Valley and into Hemlock Farms for a short loop, before returning to Rt. 739 and subsequently into my community to hit 2 more hills before arriving home. 

FBDDEFF7-73C3-4221-9989-4A231AF004D2
After a little lunch and a few hours of stacking firewood, my son suggested a ride in the Port Jervis Watershed. We loaded the bikes on the car and headed out. By 7pm, we were ripping through the woods. Maybe I overdid it today as the force of every rock was reverberating through my upper body. Maybe I’m just old. Either way, it was nice to be out there and I did not want this incredible day to end. But all good things come to an end. I will savor the memory of this day for a long time. 

8734528E-42AF-49CB-8992-38202E2836B6
Stay tuned for some more product reviews.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Electric Light Orchestra – “The way life’s meant to be”

71C87713-B4BE-4B41-B031-4A350F80B767

Pedaling Through a Pandemic: Finding New Trails part 2

My last post summarized my ride through a section of Irish Swamp Trail. Part 2 could and should bring the navigation of this byway to some sort of a conclusion. It does not. My routes have all but eliminated that area for now. Fortunately, I decided that I would ride to the beginning of Five Mile Meadow Road and across Rt. 739. This gravel roadway goes another mile past the State Route, all the way to I84.
178AFD85-C069-412B-8DF6-1300BE50AAC1
About a half mile from the end, a new road appeared. On the left hand side, I noticed a road cut out along the power lines. It was extremely hilly, chopped up and looked like it went for miles. I took the left and made my way up the heavily traveled roadway. Most of the road was large, 4-6 inch stone. This makes it difficult to glide over. Both sides of the road appeared to be recently logged.
76B01CC3-BBB1-4F05-B33D-E472C08824AB
That section of Five Mile Meadow Road has been off limits to bikes for a couple of years now. I’ve stayed off the road since, but Friday was different. I looked but did not see the sign, so I guess I took advantage and pedaled down to check out an old haunt. This is also accessible from the mountain bike trails that sit between Sunrise Lakes and I84, near Rattlesnake Creek. A mtb would be a little more suitable as there is some technical singletrack that connects these two gems.
7B58D1C5-D70F-442D-BB98-9C98E45A3E8A
After riding back into the center of the forest, I ventured up Silver Lake Road and to my surprise, a white horse stood where 2  dogs normally alert the entire county that I’m climbing up that hill. It was a malnourished looking beast, appearing like it was content being nursed back to health. A quick rip up Standing Stone Trail and back through the deer path to my community, left me satisfied that I hit a good portion of this magical natural beauty without touching the Northeast section or Irish Swamp. More fun to be had….

What’s Playing, (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Ike and Tina Turner- Proud Mary

B6BC5DB2-8049-4C64-A4EA-CDB5AAD0F91A

Pandemic Photo Contest

We have not done a contest in quite some time. With a lot of people sheltering in place and working from home, Riding Milford has been getting plenty of views and a lot more followers. I think we have people who are putting in an enormous amount of miles and on the opposite side of the spectrum, people who used to ride regularly, but during this new environment, are getting outside to pedal for a little exercise and vitamin D.
FFDF8847-630D-48A9-8C02-7DEE1E3C4301
This has been a crazy time in history and it’s far from over. To keep everyone interested, I thought it would be a good idea to get more people out there with a distance or climbing challenge. On second thought, if anyone gets hurt, this is not a time you want to end up in the emergency room. So, I think a photo contest is in order. The weather is starting to get warm and the days are getting longer,  providing ample riding opportunities.
2ED10DCB-766B-4541-BB7F-410E1D392E3A
The winner gets a pair of Tifosi Optics Crit sunglasses in Matte Gunmetal with Polarized Fototec Light Changing Lenses. A $100 value.

261235F8-025E-4645-A4A4-2547E9D71081
From Tifosi:
Made of Grilamid TR-90, a homopolyamide nylon characterized by an extremely high alternative bending strength, low density, and high resistance to chemical and UV damage. Hydrophilic rubber ear and nose pieces for a no-slip fit. Adjustable ear and nose pieces for a customizable, comfortable fit. Vented lenses improve air circulation, prevent fogging.

8919B177-0023-4F69-B278-7B2743B9CAA8

So, all I need from you are some fabulous pics of your bike in nature. The only twist that makes this different from previous photo contests is you. The pic has to be a selfie with your bike and you wearing a face covering or mask. Have fun with it. I’d like to see what everyone is wearing. You can send me your photo to tdf911@ptd.net. Include your first name and where your photo was taken. We will run this through May.

I will then post the photos and ask you, the readers, to vote by leaving a comment. I can’t wait to see your pics!

What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now

84F1D9CD-A520-4231-A49A-8FDC13F8B9EF

 

 

 

Pedaling Through a Pandemic: What Next?

Are you wondering when this will end? Do you dream about getting outside and riding through the woods? Is riding a stationary bike or trainer getting to you? For most people who read this, the answer is yes. But, unless you live in the few areas that strictly prohibit outdoor activities, it’s healthy to get outside, just do it alone or with someone you co-habituate with.

07718BD0-0802-443A-9356-30B0C450B9C3

It seems now that each state is going to decide when business can open and which businesses can open. The medical profession thinks it’s too soon. Some say this is not going away and getting back to business, sort of speak, will hopefully help the herd build an immunity. I do not know what the answer is.
59401126-FFA0-4DB6-A76A-06214AAE7B2A

What I do know is that sitting home, whether you’re working from home or not working at all and not getting any exercise in, is not good. A sedentary lifestyle breeds depression. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to figure that out. Staying inside all the time is not good for the mind or the body.
9BFF470A-A135-48E1-8436-31D26283C6DF
So, escape to the woods. Ride that patch of trail you’ve always seen but didn’t have the time to explore. Hike up that mountain near your hideaway and take a stroll around the neighborhood, just to get some sunlight and see where you live from a different perspective. Make sure you wear a face mask or cover, don some light gloves and cover the top of your water bottles.

IMG_6199

In hope you like my throwback photos

A few days ago, I was pedaling through the incredible state forest that I’m lucky enough to live less that a mile from. I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be sheltering in place, yet able to do the one activity that I love. I am riding way more now than this time in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, I wish this had never happened and I hope it ends very soon. But until it does, get out there and grab some vitamin D.

BD2B262C-D58F-432A-8D25-55F57B01F35A

Please remember to thank any employees in the medical field, first responders, delivery men, supermarket and pharmacy employees, restaurant employees, utility workers, plumbers, electricians and anyone that keeps showing up for work, so the rest of the world can self isolate. Do your part. Wear your mask and gloves when you must leave the house. Do not ride in groups or hang out with anyone that you do not live with. If everyone cooperates, we can slowly integrate back into society in the near future.

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 – The Waiting

500DD139-9897-4835-B80F-BA45EC86E0B1

 

Pedaling Through a Pandemic: Digging in For the Long Haul

If your anything like me, for the most part, your avoiding the daily news  like the plague. I’ve found that constant exposure to the negative, can be quite depressing. Although, living in the northeast with my roots in New York, I hear everyday about people I know that have the virus or who have passed away due to the virus.
I am, however, adjusting to the way we have to live, during these uncertain times. I’m having my food delivered from the supermarket, sanitize everything before bringing it in the house, wash my hands constantly and keeping away from anyone that does not live under the same roof.

A36CFC59-AD92-4307-8269-2277F0CDA599
I usually work until the late afternoons, sneaking some yard work in at lunchtime, then outside for a ride or long walk, complete with face mask and gloves. At night, I’ve been working on a few projects, to keep from watching too much television.
0AC9C77B-2CE3-4F14-AF84-0C7518660846
I stripped my Kona Honky Tonk down to the frame, to build up my Ritchey Breakaway.  All parts were switched over, except for handlebar, stem, seat post, brakes and headset. This frame received a 9 speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheelset and a new Brooks B17 Cambium saddle. Of course all new cables, housing and bar tape rounded out the build. I kept the Continental Grand Prix 23mm tires that were on the wheels for now.
027F2D07-916C-4390-ADAD-3E4DA1792A2F
My rides have been a real uplifting experience. I’ve been reading that the trails and parks are full (the ones that are still open), but my little slice of heaven seems to be completely void of people. I can ride gravel roads and not worry about passing cars or trucks. Road rides are a little trickier, but I can get creative and pedal along an 8 mile loop a few times, without hitting the main roads.

10C85BB7-741C-4F23-AB31-2F24E218CF11
Please remember to thank any employees in the medical field, first responders, delivery men, supermarket and pharmacy employees, restaurant employees, utility workers, plumbers, electricians and anyone that keeps showing up for work, so the rest of the world can self isolate. Do your part. Wear your mask and gloves when you must leave the house. Do not ride in groups or hang out with anyone that you do not live with. Hopefully, if everyone cooperates, we can slowly integrate back into society in the near future.

BBDB5919-F62F-424E-AA5F-AA1A22186C9DWhat’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

E9FE7BC0-A090-47B9-952B-3935E7A83469

 

Pedaling Through a Pandemic: What We’ve Learned So Far

Ok, I have not been able to update this piece every week. Not because I cannot ride, but because my family lost our beloved Mom. Social distancing has made mourning difficult to say the least. Not being able to mourn with my siblings, was hard. But, I’ve learned just how strong my brothers and sister really are. All 3 are my heroes!
Everyone is suffering right now. The world has changed and will continue to change as we navigate through this. 
Sitting at home, I’ve been able to spend quality time with my family. I’ve even video chatted with my daughter, whose staying with my brother and her cousins each and every day. I’m taken aback by the generosity that is all around us. 
F8C51B55-D1F7-4B3D-BD97-44D290D81A5F
Being fortunate enough to still be working (from home for the time being), I am able to get outside and turn the pedals a little. I prefer riding from my house to the gravel roads,  but an occasional road ride is in order as well. 
3986C331-96CD-4244-B44E-F78F60F45688
In my last post, I mentioned riding with a friend. That has not happened since and won’t happen again until it is safe. Nasal droplets coming from a rider or runner can travel 4 times as far in the wind or slipstream compared with a person that is standing still. Besides, it sends a negative message to other people that cyclists are not practicing social distancing. Unless you live under the same roof, you should not ride together. I realize I might catch some negative comments to that statement, but if you really stop and thing about it, it makes sense. 

349C78F2-D930-43AF-B1F8-6373C53CE5AF
What I have been happy to see is that people are still getting out there. As a matter of fact, IMBA has been reporting that trail systems across the country have been getting a lot more use. I think this is where I should say that riding with a mask is a good idea. Anytime your outside your home is a good time to wear a face covering, especially when your on a bike or on the trails. 


I thought about creating some sort of virtual challenge on strava to help pass the time and keep people riding, but decided against it, as this is not a good time to crash and go to the hospital. So, ride on, but be careful, they’ll be plenty of time to set PR’s and race your friends when life returns to the new normal. Stay healthy!

I’ll Do Anything to Ride/Whatever it Takes

Recently, I found out just how important riding a bike is to me. For many years, I’ve been able ride on a fairly regular basis. My family has been very understanding of my need to get outside and pedal for a few hours on most days and work has always allowed me to get enough miles in to satisfy my urge.
You see, the last few years have been about getting out on a bike as much to clear my head as it was to purely ride for the fun of it. There may be better ways to relieve stress, but I sure can’t think of any.
7E642F20-10A0-43AC-A124-0AAE5B4F22B7
About four months ago, I took a job that requires a good deal of traveling. It took about 4 trips of about 2 weeks each, for me to learn my craft and get comfortable in my new environment. Now I had to figure out how I was going to be able to squeeze in some miles while on the road.
652710F6-B93F-4BDF-B512-1A5016EE1FD2
Since the stationary bikes at the hotel gyms were completely out of the question, I investigated the breakaway frames from Ritchey and Surly. Both would do the trick but would prove rather costly to check with the airlines.
51298758-DD77-4C6C-A852-53840F66F413
A recent trip to a midwestern bike shop, revealed that most big city shops have been refraining from road bike rentals due to the growing “City Bike” market in just about every urban environment. While in that shop, I noticed a folding bike. I even took it for a test ride.
4FF192C0-C6BC-4E8E-921F-444BCCBC8807
I purchased one for my daughter when she was in college. A simple phone call revealed that she hadn’t used it in a couple of years. All I had to do was pick it up.
E932DC3B-51E2-4773-9D4F-3F9A66DF91E8
My first trip to the airport was Golden. The airline checked the bike for free. In it’s case, the bike weighed only 30 pounds and was under the oversized bag limits. Feeling like I’d solved the transportation issue, I was free to explore Kansas City on two wheels.
E08D7C67-A726-459C-9679-8EE60170DFDB
I won’t go into details or outline my routes, but I will say that I was able to set it up to fit my long, lanky frame and managed four rides in 12 days on a recent trip to Missouri. Not ideal, but better than an indoor suffer fest on a spin bike.
D71ACE5C-46CA-4639-BA50-1EC036EF4672
A few weeks later, I managed a few rides in the Dallas area with a few more in the San Bernadino, CA area. I really think I’m in love with the mountains on the west coast.
63607F2C-1128-4183-9107-B9E36D3A8B8E
Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside was the highlight of my trip. Climbing on a folding bike proved no easy task, but riding in the shadows of Big Bear and Baldy was an incredible experience. Big Bear sits above 7,000 feet and Mt. Baldy is the iconic climb used in the Tour of California. Both were snow capped, just adding to their stunning beauty!
E7A3530A-7BB3-4502-880F-F25613BBFFFE
Stay tuned for a year in review post, coming up in early January. In the meantime, check out some more pics.

New Roads: Cherry Ridge & Beyond

On Saturday, I met up with Brian and Nate for a guided tour of Eastern Wayne County. It was the first cold day of the year. 25 degrees at our 10:30am start. Gearing up for a mixed surface ride, I brought the Van Dessel WTF.
786AA5DD-F612-4104-956A-1895E1E4B77E
We pushed off from Whitney Lake, a beautiful, private lake community, just west of Lake Wallenpaupack. The gravel surface led us through several segments of pavement, well maintained gravel and dirt.
743E32E8-49C9-47E8-B86D-9B067DBC3383
Brian mapped out an excellent course that was certainly not lacking in hills. 35 miles and about 3,300 feet of elevation was enough to satisfy my urge to climb. The short but steep ascents took me by surprise. It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve really had to bear down. For the first half of the ride, I simply hung on to Nate’s wheel on the way up. Once I settled in (and it took me a while), I was fine. The descents were fun, although the biting cold air made you want to go uphill more than down. Although, it did warm up to about 33 degrees in the sun by the time we finished.

CA2520C0-B2B8-42C2-A342-4A7A987458FC

Wayne County is rural and ruggedly beautiful. It seems that every road leads to creeks, lakes and bridges with barns and rustic buildings as far as the eye can see. Most gravel roads, roll right through communities and you will not find an open business on the entire route. Cell service was a bit scant as well. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about the Maple City Century, you better bring plenty of food and water and a few spare tubes if you plan to ride here.
D9AD0DBE-1835-439B-8B07-26022D3E9A1A

I plan on coming back in the spring to ride this course without the extra layers. I’m sure it will be a lot more green and every bit as beautiful. Here’s a few more pics from this gorgeous area:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today, Led Zeppelin – Black Dog

98738178-E33F-4388-A8BA-CD239D323477

 

Surly Karate Monkey: Reviewed

A few months ago, I decided to sell one of my hardtails. I have been considering a Surly dirt road touring bike for some time. I just did not have enough room in the garage. I really liked the Ogre and the ECR for their ability to carry a heavy load over a big distance on rough terrain. But, I decided to go with the Karate Monkey which allows you to instal a suspension fork if you really want to hit some technical singletrack.

D7A1A7FA-9AB6-4236-8ED8-003ED31A8E23

Surly frames are made of 4130 CroMoly Steel. This is especially dear to my heart. You can find lighter bikes for sure, but nothing rides like steel. The fork is also 4130 CroMoly steel and has enough bosses for all types of touring and bikepacking. The frame has ample bosses for 3 bottle cages or oversized gear cages. The Karate Monkey has rack and fender mounts, making it a more than worthy commuter. Modern touches, like thru axles and hydraulic disc brakes, really round out this solid offering. 

B177760A-D14F-42F4-9A05-1E8BD2D14AFA

After more than a handful of rides, I think I can supply opinion. First, as you know, I’m fond of steel bikes. Not in the way of vintage, but modern steel with a classic look. I’ve owned plenty of carbon and aluminum bikes. They are stiff, light and fast, but I prefer the plush ride of quality steel. I’ve pedaled through some rough, technical singletrack, gravel roads and Jeep trails. The ride quality is there. It’s pretty quick when it needs to be and smooth over rough terrain. The only drawback might be the weight. Loaded up for a weekend excursion, it probably wouldn’t be first up any hill. But that’s not why you buy this bike. You buy it because it’s versatile. It can be set up as a 29er, 27.5, single speed, geared or as Surly says in about 487 different configurations.
0B3274C5-9C11-473E-9711-0094571992BF
I was between sizes, so I decided on an XL frame. I did not want to be cramped on longer excursions. Because of the larger frame, I needed to shorten the stem, so I opted for an 80mm Salsa Guide. SRAM NX 11 speed shifters, 30t crankset and rear derailleur, paired with Sunrace’s 11-42t cassette make for a more than capable drivetrain, however, the SRAM Level brakes could probably be upgraded. The 27.5 X 3” Surly Dirt Wizard tires are up to the task. After a few rides, I purchased and installed a Surly Moloko handlebar. It offers multiple hand positions and handles just about any bag you throw on it. To spice it up a little, I slapped on a set of Kona Wah Wah pedals and Van’s Grips, both in purple.
749DADC0-D2B7-47DC-9101-BF780C6DB090
If you want a rig that can handle singletrack, touring, bikepacking, gravel roads or Jeep trails, the Karate Monkey is your next bike!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today: The Animals – It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue

FCD1F2D2-2907-41F7-A170-B1ACE86AE8FE

 

 

unPAved by Eric

Occasionally, We have a guest write a product review or share their experience at an event. This time around, we are treated to Eric M’s fun description of the unPAved gravel race:

Commonly referred to by it’s shorter alias, the unPAved is indeed “Hard on the Legs, Easy on the Eyes,” a sentiment as accurately descriptive as its name. In only its second year, the unPAved has become an event that has riders asking when registration opens for next year as they wander around the finishers area in a haze of dust and happiness. The unPAved mastermind, chief cook, and bottle washer, Dave Pryor, along with his main cohort Mike Kuhn and a legion of amazing volunteers, friends, and mischief makers have produced a top tier event that drew nearly 1,000 registrants from 3 dozen states. This year’s event spanned the entire Columbus Day weekend with social rides, the Lewisburg Fall Festival, and even a Wooly Worm petting zoo. The Susquehanna River Valley should be near the top of everyone’s list as a destination for fun in the great outdoors.

A few notes on the 90 mile distance Plenty unPAved–

Last year I opted for the 50 mile category, now called the Proper, and vowed with a fellow cyclist that we would return for the 90 mile version thinking more climbing and descending hills, gravel and dirt roads, and chowing down on the highly sought after finishers whoopie pie was a great way to celebrate this cycling pursuit called gravel grinding. The Plenty unPAved category was all we hoped for and so much more. Dave Pryor, event brain-child, and his band of cohorts designed a course that rewarded all riders who toed the start line at 8:00AM on a foggy and chilly Sunday morning. Riders started the adventure along the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail for a few miles to get the blood to extremities and conduct some idle chat.

106E4716-8C6E-4D76-8154-3A39DD98E161

An early morning start in this area of Pennsylvania rewards the visitor with the sights and sounds of the local faithful clip-clopping their way to Sunday observances. All riders gave a wide berth to the trotting horses and no pictures were taken; we were all focused on our respective tasks at hand. For the riders, the first test begins about 14 miles in with the significant climb up Jones Mountain, a combination that proves to be steep with some elevation sections measured greater than 12%. This was an unrelenting climb and longer than I remembered from last year. Most riders take the time to regroup and refuel at the summit before beginning the downhill section followed by minor rollers that lead to “The Ranch.” This first aid station located at mile 27 was a true party atmosphere where riders were greeted by cowbell ringing volunteers in all manner of hoedown garb including inflatable horse and ostrich costumes. Somehow I missed the espresso guy but not the vast array of snacks, hydration offerings, a perfectly overcooked-to-order hot dog, and a bio-break. The next 18 miles was a grinning descent through the Bald Eagle State Forest. Eighteen miles of blue skies and a full palette of autumn colors greeted the riders as we headed past a couple of small hamlets towards the base of the second of the day’s four signature climbs.
2A6B77D9-A823-49DE-989F-2A2193FB38FA

Siglerville Millheim Pikeounds innocent enough when the sun is shining and the thought of the second aid station called the GU Energy Oasis is just a 10 mile click away. Well, easier said than done, but do it we did, and what lay waiting for us at Poe Paddy State Park was perhaps the best rest stop I’ve ever encountered. Drop Bags were neatly set out in rows for riders to pillage through their belongings, or leave items behind to then be delivered at the finish. I propped my bike, a Lynskey GR250 with a newly installed Lauf Grit SL fork, against a handsome hemlock and took my water bottles for a stroll to get refilled. What I encountered changed my whole perception on mid-ride food possibilities. There in the middle of the forest was gentleman decked in overalls creating culinary wonders from a cauldron and a skillet. Most people know him as Evan from Nittany Mountain Works fame, a local company making some seriously great bags for your cycling life. I called him a magician, for how else did he know at that moment that I would most definitely be resuscitated by perogies, bacon, fried potato wedges, and fresh pour-over coffee? I was so distracted by a second and third perogy that I nearly forgot to refill my water bottles. On the way back to my bike, after some sincere high-fives to Evan, I spotted the bottle of TUMS. Who else but a magician would think to have TUMS on hand?
62A28080-A3BD-4E69-A2F8-F508D0AA94DD
Having checked off a few boxes at the aid station it was time to saddle up and ride on, so off we went to face the second half of the day with two climbs yet to go. The event’s elevation profile depicts Cherry Run Road as a pyramid followed immediately by “the molar” which starts with Sheesley Run Road and incorporates a few more smaller undulating roads before a swift downhill on Old Shingle Road for a final test of wits and braking acumen.

AC900BBF-504B-494B-A317-46AC37FB418C

For the riders on the 90 and 120 mile courses there was a chance to have a brief respite from the bike saddle in the form of the now infamous Salsa Cycles Chaise from their #chasethechaise campaign which began at the Dirty Kanza event years ago. It was nice to take a quick sit on something soft (finally), smile for the camera, remount the bike, and head down the mountain towards the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.

B510E4FB-331A-47CC-B57C-890D124031AE

There was a final pitstop available and I’m still stumped why I did not stop at the Rusty Rail Brewing Company aid station in Mifflinburg, where tasty beverages, snacks, laughs, and restrooms were on offer before the last 9 miles leading to the Miller Center for Recreation & Fitness where we all began our respective rides.

2019 Tour de Force

As I write this, I’m watching news clips of that unforgettable day in our country’s history. I, like many was present on 9/11 to witness the horror that was unleashed on us by the lowest form of scum this world has to offer.  They’re not humans, they’re scum! Humans would not cause so much pain to so many innocent people. That’s all I have to say about that.

In 2002, my brother Michael, our friend Mike and I, founded the Tour de Force, a 4 day bicycle ride that originally raised money for the families of the Police Officers killed on 9/11. In 2003, we shifted focus to raise money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide.

370DE1FB-CE36-4EB5-AE99-66D4928683DC

Since 2006, I have lived in my adopted home of Milford. I’ve pedaled all over this beautiful region and written about the many adventures the Delaware Valley, Tri-State area and the Poconos have to offer. But each September, I give you my experience at the Tour de Force. These days, with over 300 riders and 40 support staff, logistics dictate that I see the Tour from a car.

580B5744-5C37-410E-9969-3FBF55FFB22F
One of a group of local Milford riders

 

We ride from New York City to Washington, DC, Washington, DC to NYC, NYC to Boston and Boston to NYC. This year, we rode from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Fenway Park in Boston. Each rider received a ticket to the Yankee, Red Sox game played only a few hours after we finished.

C27410E3-79A2-4FC6-BE03-43FD4D103240

Since then, we’ve added two more Board members, Jim and John, to help with logistics. The board may do all the work leading up to the ride and handle the day to day tasks involved in making this ride glide along like a well oiled machine, but it’s the riders and support team that really shine. Each rider and support team member have fund raising goals that enable them to participate. Most raise a lot more than their share.

AD0CD951-AC1F-488B-AC11-16E09E0FDB39

This year, we had 76 people who have completed the TDF a total of 10 times. More than half our riders and support staff have been with the TDF for more than 5 years. 2019 was our 18th annual ride. We have teams from all over the country, that show up with trailers, stocked with food and drink to share with the masses. At night, most riders and support staff mingle in hotel parking lots in what can only be explained as the best feel good after ride party you can imagine!

C47D1E8D-39FB-49D6-B941-18B7314F5635

All year long, TDF members support each other in every way you can think of. This has become a wonderful family and once you’ve been a part of the ride, your family. Through this endeavor, we’ve supported numerous other charities.

D3A9B636-CCD4-4AC6-9624-83AA937C6980

Each rider gets 4 nights in premium hotels, breakfast and lunch each day as well as a banquet on the 3rd night, a TDF Jersey, water bottle and lots of other swag.

EFABFFB6-1878-44CD-AEF9-15AF4E608ED6
Mike gives some last minute encouragement as the riders depart Yankee Stadium

 

Members help the board . Families from all over the United States and Puerto Rico receive donations. When a member lives close to a family receiving a donation, they personaly deliver the check.

E3B06ED9-A2EB-414E-8049-1D3A3F0B4803

I want to thank all the support team, riders and my fellow board members for allowing me to be a part of this for all these years. You are the Tour de Force. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this incredible cause.

9337DC2E-1EF4-4667-9653-B5AF950C7C44

You can Check us out at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. On Facebook: Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Ride – where you can check out these and the thousands of other photos taken by Diane and Tom.

 

 

 

Getting On

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been dealing with a curve ball that life from time to time can throw at you.

That being said, I did spend some time off the bike. This has been time spent with family and friends and it’s also been time spent overthinking things. I could go into this in greater detail, but this is a cycling blog and I miss taking long adventurous rides and capturing cool pics of bikes in nature.

F381AAE8-E063-4012-A6A2-6CCFD19F7A2E

 This past week, I threw caution to the wind and hopped on my gravel rig for a spin through the woods. Pedaling from the house, I figured the Delaware State Forest would do. And, oh, it did nicely. I hit some old haunts and found some new corners of this incredible natural wonderland.

25D4D5BD-3A4A-4B5D-851E-5F4D4C45747E

The next day, I did a relaxing paddle around the local pond. Felt good to be out in the sun. The paddleboard is great cross training for cycling. Give it a try, your core will thank you!

7AFBEB59-1958-473B-99FD-DA0856730596

I took a couple days off and yesterday, I decided a road  ride was in order.  I left Milford at 4:30pm and flew down Rt. 209 to Mountain Ave. in Matamoras. Crossing the Delaware (George Washington, I’m not), I cruised through the West End neighborhood of Port Jervis and up to Rt. 97.  I wanted to do go uphill a bit, so I climbed up Skyline Drive to Point Peter. I’m not sure what I like more, the climb or the furious descent. 

0D4581E3-C1CB-4EC1-81F4-581F9C743A69

Back on Rt. 97, I navigated Port Jervis and passed into Montague, NJ, making a right on Clove Road. Passing some cool farms, I hammered the roller coaster like pavement, all the way to the Milford Bridge.

5636B23F-B999-4BC8-966B-B61275147907

After riding back to Milford, I wanted to climb some more, so I hit the other Skyline Drive. From Old Milford Road, this alpine like skyway, puts you up above the trees for a beautiful view of the entire valley. It’s good to be back!!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around my head while riding), today – Train – Drops of Jupiter

33C13B57-A393-40B2-935C-5C36C8D64569

 

 

The S24O

June is what I like to call the start of adventure season! The temperatures really start to warm up and being as far from civilization as your circumstances will allow, makes you feel invigorated when you get back to the daily grind. With the threat of thunderstorms, it was not looking good for a Friday night bikepacking adventure. But, once the bike is packed, you go and hope for the best.

Steve and Rob G. joined me for the overnight excursion through the Delaware State Forest. Fortunately, the storms held out and after a few hours of humidity, the tempature dropped into the 60’s, making for a really comfortable evening.

DE57BF2A-A34C-4C51-BEE0-EE36A0E8B681

We started out at the Rt. 739 parking area for Five Mile Meadow Road. Rob’s bike was a sight. Loaded with every item you could imagine. He certainly carried what Steve and I forgot. We climbed for a couple of miles and decided to turn right on Standing Stone Trail. Standing Stone gives you a little respite after the climbing endured by Rob on his 75lb plus bike.

C4D461ED-8E11-4CC2-9382-56C3B5038C97

After 3 miles Of a slight descent, we turned left on Silver Lake Road for a 1.5 mile climb then right onto the Burnt Mills Trail System for a few miles. We veered over to Flat Ridge Road for 3 miles, then jumped back on Burnt Mills to connect up to the northwestern side of the forest. The double track trail is made up of a loose gravel surface with sections of 3 to 4 inch rip rap. The first half is downhill to the wooden bridge, then up hill to the parking lot on Rt. 402.

25AA3DB8-1B00-4799-B9BB-C09043F693D5

The paved descent, brought us to Pine Flats Road, a pot holed, gravel roller coaster, that drops you sharply to a beautiful creek.

70DC8026-B915-4C76-9E5B-CA137F5326BD

Steve wasted no time removing shoes and socks and hopped into the water. From there, we pedaled a few easy miles to our reserved camp site. The Forest Service simply requires a phone call to the local forestry office to reserve one of 39 camp sites spread throughout the forest.

EC1AD3C5-1F1B-4790-86F1-C6FFA4FFE725

After setting up camp, we opened a few well deserved beers and made dinner. Bikes, beer, fire and food, only the essentials. The Forest Service provides pic nic tables and fire rings at each site making it an easy destination.

CE88FD8B-EB33-4A5F-9B5F-EF7431CA4661

The crackling of a camp fire, taste of dehydrated food, smell of tent material and symphony of crickets, let you really get the outdoor experience. This may sound a bit off, but if you’ve gotten out there, you know what I mean.

D7D14017-7E5E-4F2D-B26C-7205200713A1

We slept in before stoking the fire, making coffee and cooking breakfast. I chose a Bannana, Raisin, Oats and Quinoa cereal. Rob actually made pancakes for him and Steve. So, we were well fed before getting back in the saddle.

C25C5DA4-B589-4E5A-9298-25DA017F37A8

We decided to take a slightly shorter route back, eliminating the Burnt Mills Trails, taking out a little bit of the rough stuff. The trip back to cars, gave me time to think: what is a S24O. Well a Sub 24 hour overnighter is the best way you can get into bikepacking or the outdoors, with little time commitment. It’s a great way to shake out those bugs if your planning a longer trip or simply to try out new gear.  Here’s a few more pics:

 

 

S24O Re-Scheduled

As with the meeting, the S24O Bikepacking trip has been re-scheduled for Friday, June 28th due to the extreme weather conditions. If you wish to join in, call Action Bikes and Outdoor to allow us to get a head count.

Get out and get a rain ride in, have coffee in the woods or just do something outside!

Stillwater Natural Area

On Tuesday, I had a window to go out and get a few miles in. I really wanted to check out some new trails, just off Flat Ridge Road. Jamie, tipped me off last week and I’ve been eager to check them out.

f66aa0d1-4c7c-45ec-8b9a-d0de73c4330d

The mid-teen tempts jumped to 25 degrees by noon, so I jumped in the car and parked At the end of Five Mile Meadow, just off Silver Lake. I planned on entering at the Flat Ridge Cabin, across from Little Mud Pond, so I climbed up the back end of Five Mile and hopped on Little Mud Pond Trail (another trail I’ve waited to ride). This is an old snow mobile trail with a 2-3” rip rap surface. The climb was moderate, but the descent to Silver Lake was fun.

7209994d-9419-4e27-8801-09d9310ac3ba

I rode across to the Flat Ridge Cabin (one of hundreds of hunting cabins scattered throughout the Delaware State Forest). This is a great place to enter the trails, as this is one of the state owned cabins.

1f438539-d11f-4a2d-844e-da841397f911

The narrow singletrack, wraps around for a little over a mile, before intersecting with the yellow trail. This trail, which is mostly singletrack, winds through the thick woods and ends at Coon Swamp Trail.

539abf29-36c6-4dbb-bb72-f03e5163c4cb

I headed down to Big Bear Swamp. On the way, I noticed an animal carcass. It appeared to be a deer. Who says bears are in hibernation. Coming to a narrow stretch of singletrack, I realized that I better head back. The sun was going down soon, and it’s too cold to get caught out this time of year.

e4db63b8-822e-4dbf-9ed4-148b80794c80
Hidden cabin off Little Mud Pond Trail

What I did notice is that there are a few more trails off Coon Swamp that I will need to investigate. Can’t wait, this seems to be a nice area of the forest. Spinning around, I headed out to Flat Ridge, veered onto Silver Lake and took the Little Mud Pond Trail back to Five Mile.

 

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) – today -Men at Work – Be Good Johnny

84b38169-5cca-4587-aba5-39043adbfe90

 

 

 

 

Bontrager OMW Jacket: Reviewed

The last few winters, I’ve been entrenched in a never-ending quest for the perfect winter jacket.  Let me explain. I own a few winter riding jackets. All keep me warm or dry in a number of conditions. Yet, I still feel, each time out on a winter ride, I’m missing something. It could be 30 degrees and raining or 20 and snowing. I have jackets that are warm but not waterproof, winter shells that are windproof, but not very insulated and extremely warm jackets that just do not provide enough ventilation.

As I’ve said in the past, I don’t work for any of the companies I review.  I do not get paid to review a product. I purchase each product for my personal use, wear it or ride it, enjoy it or not.


This year, I took a chance on Bontrager’s Old Man Winter Jacket. As you know, I tend to overdress when the temps get low. This leads to shedding layers midway down the trail. Fortunately the OMW provides plenty of ventilation, via two large zippered chest vents that are hydration pack compatible. I need to have a jacket that will keep me warm in a multitude of conditions. But the ability to fully ventilate, makes this jacket killer!

a02de267-bc06-4620-b0f4-59cb1ab35bcf

 When your out on a ride and the skies open up, rain, snow and sleet tend to fall. Having a hood helps, but having a hood with a Boa Dial that cinches down around your helmet, makes a cold, wet ride seem like a cold, wet ride where you stay warm and dry.

6f9c53ed-a5b0-4128-afb7-ad42e9c4ac90

 Bontrager’s  Profila softshell fabric, powered by 37.5 active particle technology provides what I believe is the warmest softshell on the market. There are warmer jackets, but at this weight, you’d be hard pressed to find something warmer. Storage is provided by two spacious zippered hand pockets and two zippered chest pockets. There are also two internal drop pockets. The semi fitted cut, with double cord adjustment at the waist, keeps water and other liquids from hitting your body.  The radioactive orange color makes this jacket a bright choice for riding through hunting season or any season.

18965313-5bd5-4d1a-a081-fa8db117299e

Bottom Line: Finally, I have a jacket that checks all the boxes. If you want a winter jacket, that’s light, warm, waterproof and well ventilated with a Boa Dial hood, this is definitely the jacket for you! Bontrager calls it a MTB jacket. I call it an anything jacket. Get it, you won’t be sorry!

 

90c6c31c-c6e3-4293-a5f3-d2a2c1d80b88

First Snowfall

Thursday evening blessed us with the first snowfall of the winter season or should I say fall season. With about 5 weeks to go, before winter officially starts, we were blanketed with anywhere from 8-12 inches of wet snow.

8E74F099-CDE2-492F-BFB7-A2C9B4E8ADD4

On Friday, I attempted to take the Cannondale Beast of the East into the Delaware State Forest. It did not go well. I spent more time on my feet than on my bike. The snow was extremely sticky, the hard packing type of snow that gets stuck and caught in every part of a bike.

CBFC93A2-7CF6-445D-A104-487E5463C71B

Entering Five Mile Meadow Road from the deer trail connecting my community with the forest, I pedaled in quad tracks to Ben Bush Road. That was about as fas I could get. The quad tracks went off the road and into the woods. I decided to head back, as forward progress was completely stalled.

CE5D0BC9-7E12-4A28-AF96-46FCE5A7A56D
45 North Wolvhammer boot print

Walking back up Five Mile, I realized that snow shoes would have been more appropriate. Anyway, the shadows from the trees, the quiet and deer running through the snow really changed my outlook on the day.  I was able to get a good upper body workout in, shoveling the driveway, when I got home.

D32B8105-FA27-49DA-AA8B-EC8DCF89DAFE

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 – Hi-De-Ho

13C9C420-FC10-4B95-8340-F5188DF02A48

 

Cruise de Milford

On Sunday, a group of about 20 riders, met at Action Bikes and Outdoor to embark on the first of many casual rides through this beautiful town.

15C5AAD3-2402-4D6D-B873-4221446820DC

At 10am, it was brisk, but sunny. Perfect weather for a town ride. I wanted to plan a route that followed through the many alley ways, from which Milford, looks a bit like a small European village. It really brings you back a few years.

8B53C57C-4448-43DE-BAA3-D431EFEC6A35

The crunch of leaves as we rolled through the lower part of town coupled by the incredible fall colors, added to the charm, as we stopped to gaze at the Delaware River from the overlook at the end of High Street. Crossing Harford Street, we slipped back to Water Street and after briefly checking out the water fall, we pedaled past the Waterwheel, across Milford Road and onto James Street. From there we turned into Pine Alley and again on Owega Road.

42AE7367-AFCC-4B52-A434-CBDD82EB1625

Entering Grey Towers. The group gracefully climbed the hill through the beautifully landscaped property to the former home of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. At the top, we stopped for a photo op.

D814BB6B-BE4D-48B0-AE10-11F86CB860E2

Cindy told the story of the Pinchot family and the significance of the home and property. We then cruised up through the parking area and started the long descent out of Grey Towers, onto Owega Road and back into town.

13228922-D9FC-4C04-AA3E-D3FED572F402

This time, we rode in the upper alley ways heading east and eventually snaking down Cherry Alley alongside the Columns Museum to Broad Street, in front of the bike shop. Inside TC and Jeremiah had hot apple cider waiting for us.

5FF02710-0B8C-4826-9E83-38CB3B0B08C2

This is definitely the type of riding I enjoy the most. A group of people casually pedaling, chatting and enjoying the scenery. Can’t wait for the next one! I’m taking suggestions for December’s cruise. Here’s a few more pics.

 

 

 

Tour de Milford

On Sunday, we are hosting a casual, fun, slow, group ride from Action Bikes and Outdoor. Pace will be slow, to take in all that Milford has to offer. We will cruise down the alley ways and see some cool stuff. Any bike will be perfect for this ride. No need to don the spandex. Street clothes will be the order of the day. Hope to see you there!

Cafe Ride

On November 11th at 10 a.m. we are hosting a casual bicycle ride around Milford PA. Our host, “Rob” will be taking all participants through the alleys of Milford, pointing out all points of interest and historic landmarks. Any bike is welcome and casual warm athletic clothing is recommended. You will view beautiful gardens, fall foliage, a waterfall, and Grey Towers during this relaxed bike ride. The total distance will be 9 miles and it will take approximately 2 hours with several stops. When you are finished, enjoy a warm complimentary cider back at Action Bikes and Outdoor. This is a free event!

 

Photo Contest-2018

It’s that time of year again. Autumn brings beautiful colors to almost every region in the northeast. That’s why pictures in nature are so popular during fall foliage. Instagram, Facebook and other types of social media are a great source for sharing photos. I love seeing any nature shots, especially when a bicycle, the most simplistic mode of transportation, is featured.

1C4B2697-9A62-49C2-A9C2-7FA3B80799C1

Cycling is a beautiful sport, we record our rides with Strava, Map My Ride and Ride with GPS. Most entries include a picture. A picture, because average speed, heart rate and elevation gain do not say enough about the ride and less about the experience.

FC73909D-0287-4741-9B48-8046B3108809

So, I want your photos. Send me a pic of your bike in nature, by Friday, November 16th at 5pm, for a chance to win a pair of Tifosi Tyrant 2.0/Carbon/Polarized Fototec sunglasses. Send photos to tdf911@ptd.net.

A09A386C-ECCA-4090-B086-87FCEBC47157

If we get:

25 photos, we’ll have 2 winners

50 photos, 3 winners

8C366D8F-7BD3-4607-8A62-AEAADE71B833

Can’t  wait to see your submissions!

 

 

 

2018 Maple City Century

The previous 3 years, I traveled up to Honesdale, PA for the Maple City Century, an off road/gravel/adventure ride. This year, I was joined by Eric, Darrin, Joe and Andrew. If you haven’t heard about this incredible event or read one of my previous reviews, by the end of this post, you’ll be eager to take on the back roads of Wayne County, PA.

1887E2DA-31A4-4BBD-A349-363303E3C274

Honesdale is the Maple City. However, this year’s start and finish, took place just outside of Honesdale at the Bluestone Bar and Grill on Rt. 191. With a plus size parking lot and clean bathrooms, the Bluestone was a perfect host. This year’s edition, offered a 62 mile(metric century) and the full 100 mile “shabang”. Doing the 100 the previous 3 years and finishing the last 2, we geared up for the metric and were not let down.

EAFB61CD-978E-48CE-8D8E-29242587D5AC

First, it was 46 degrees at the start. Last year, 90 degrees and humid, made for a long day. This year, real autumn temperatures prevailed as it really made a difference.

422CEFB8-E2C0-4159-B273-9F9B499B2BAB

This is the one event I do each year that is completely grass roots. Zach and Stacey Wentzel are the faces at the sign in, they are there to give pre-ride instructions, they are all over the course, they are there at the finish and at the post ride party. Stacey even baked the incredible oatmeal raisin cookies found at the rest stops. Sure, other rides are bigger, but this is the what you’ve been waiting for.

DD62CE4C-E857-481E-A77E-63D73878709E

As far as the ride goes, if you want dirt, gravel, long climbs and the most beautiful scenery Northeastern Pennsylvania has to offer, then this is definitely the ride you’ve been waiting for. Loads of farms, stream crossings, waterfalls and even some singletrack is thrown in for good measure. And did I mention the hills? Yes, your climbing needs will be met!

DB934A66-E837-415C-A4EC-46FDA092946F
“a much needed rest”

The rest stops, as always we’re stocked with water, drink mix, cookies, trail mix, gels, fruit and sandwiches. The volunteers are second to none. They do not just serve you, they evaluate you as they are checking you in to see how your doing. 4CB320E3-DCE4-41BC-A8E2-B64FB89BCE2D

Starting at the Bluestone really made for a nice loop as riders were able to get right onto the back roads. I’ll say this, when you think it’s over, remember, there’s at least a few more climbs.

B7D85D2C-298D-4E75-86EB-43E62759CEE9

Next September, alert your friends and come up to Honesdale and experience the ride you’ll never forget!

Rasputitsa Gravel Race

This past weekend, Jason and I took the long drive up to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to sample the Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race, a 40 mile trek over some of the toughest roads the Green Mountains have to offer. With over 4500 feet of elevation gain, the course challenges the most adventurous of riders.

DC7D26B0-AC74-4AFA-ABB9-DAD82516A15F

The event was everything they said it would be and more.  Themed after David Bowie’s “We Could Be Hero’s”, it was a world class cycling event, complete with top notch pre and post ride festivities, including a Bowie cover band that was spot on!

82A14506-F757-49EA-9703-FCCDB97416F6

At 45 degrees and sunny, things seemed to be shaping up quite nicely. Starting at Burke Mountain in East Burke, the course dropped into town and after a couple of miles, made its way onto the hard-packed dirt roads.  The first 10 miles seemed to pass by extremely quick. I was starting to think, all the talk about muddy roads and snow covered trails was all hype.

9979A098-DC1A-4F62-A0C1-045C1704BF1D

Then, came Cyberia (why it’s spelled this way, is another Rasputitsa mystery). As we were climbing up the mountain, a volunteer said there was a lot of snow on top. He wasn’t kidding. A half foot of snow turned the joy ride into a hike a bike. If you were able to ride through, you couldn’t, as riders hiked single file down the narrow trail for about 1.5 miles. As advertised, Rasputitsa (Russian for “the mud Season”, when roads become difficult to traverse) was starting to hurt. I don’t know who that young lady was that was giving free hugs at the end of Cyberia, but she certainly brought a smile to many tired souls.

3DBA607B-289B-4DE6-BBAA-3DB032D676D1

As soon as we were out of Cyberia, the bottom fell out as riders shot down the mountain. Jason got away from me rather quickly. His mtb skills were on full display, as was the case for most of the day. Wherever you were on the course, mountains were visible, near and far. The next 25 miles, were more of the same: Beautiful scenery, monster climbs, amazing volunteers and fantastic rest stops. Some might say the maple shots were the best or the Rasputitsa bottles and Clif bars came at a much needed time or the craft beer was cool, but, what did it for me was the little girl that handed me a donut as I chugged up that monster hill past the last rest stop. It believe she knew I was struggling.

2A0F9831-04BE-497C-916C-A0F1D3687755

Coming down the back side, you could see the ski resort. All around me, grimaces turned to smiles, well for only a few minutes. That’s  when we turned left into what seemed like another Cyberia. I couldn’t help but think, why would they do this to me as I kept falling while trying to ride through. Coming out of it, snow became blacktop. Blacktop became snow and the finish line was in sight.

342E0A57-0BF8-4D34-9D10-FC78CB96BF50

What a great feeling as hundreds of finishers hung around to cheer on the riders coming in! We dropped our bikes at the car and joined in the celebration that is Rasputitsa. Tired and fulfilled, I will be back next year, I can’t wait!

876D04B8-AB78-43BC-8F4E-1FD2BE790117

Slovang

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

FB28F62A-CDA2-4A9B-AB4A-87D21F2152E9

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

61EF4AC5-29E5-4D5E-B439-746CB62ECCB7
Summer, 2017….  A childhood friend of mine that I grew up with in southeastern PA is closing in on his 50th birthday at the end of January, 2018.  Jon moved to San Diego nearly 20 years ago because he “hates the cold”.  For fun, we’d been messaging back and forth about a bicycle vacation to Portland, OR, or some such location, but nothing ever gelled.  Then, out of the blue, he sends me an email and invites me to go on a cycling vacation with him to a warm destination and celebrate his milestone birthday with him.  Having visited him several times in San Diego in years past, it wasn’t hard for him to set the hook.  It is beautiful there, which is why so many cyclists choose to train there year round.  We quickly narrowed down our choices to somewhere in Arizona, or maybe try out an all-inclusive 4 day tour with Trek Travel in Solvang, CA.  Since it was his birthday, I let him choose and so we booked our 4 day Ride Camp with Trek Travel to Solvang for the end of January into the beginning of February, 2018.  We figured it would be nicer to just let someone else handle all the details and that way we’d end up spending less time fretting over minutia and more time having fun on 2 wheels.  Jon knows I ride all year in PA, as does he in San Diego and so we knew we’d be fit enough to put in some big mile days together this early in the year.
BDC2334E-7955-46DF-A5E9-FBD8168C7877
 Some background on Solvang…it is a small city in the Santa Ynez Valley of California, known for its Danish style architecture.  The area outside of town is full of hills, vineyards, horse and cattle farms and agriculture.  It definitely has a tourism driven economy, and so it caters to showing out-of-towners a good time.  We stayed at the Hotel Corque, which was very comfortable for our time there.  There are tons of shops and restaurants, a totally awesome motorcycle museum, places to do wine tastings, and Firestone Walker Brewing is only 3 miles down the road in Buellton.  Yes, we went there.  Mmmmm, beer.  Since Trek Travel pretty much handles everything except your transportation to and from Solvang, we just had to drive up from San Diego after I arrived from frigid PA.  The package included lodging, nearly all food, bikes and helmets and a Garmin with all routes pre-loaded, two guide hosts to show you around and ride with you, and a Trek Travel support van to refuel from or drop clothes in as the day warmed up.  The riding was very enjoyable with high temp’s around 80* every day, along with mostly sunny skies.  It was a wonderful mid-winter reprieve for me to go someplace warm, be with my friend, meet some new folks and put in some miles.  We rode 4 consecutive days totaling about 165 miles and then said goodbye to our hosts and Solvang.  I booked a few extra days to spend back in San Diego with Jon and his family, and so a day later we put in a beautiful road ride through Rancho Santa Fe which included some coast time.  My friend Dawn, also formerly from PA drove from Upland, CA to come see me and joined us on the last ride.   A good week indeed, as Jon and I ended at just over 200 miles each.  I landed back in Philadelphia on the eve of the Super Bowl, and as I drove home to Upper Bucks County all I could think about was how much I wasn’t enjoying driving in the ice storm that fell that evening.  It was sunny and warm just a few hours earlier that same day…on the other coast.
 D50B0684-CA96-4ACD-B731-192A17271D75

Winter Bike Washing

When temperatures reach the freezing levels, keeping your bike clean never seems to be easy. This winter in particular has presented riders with sub-zero tempts, throughout the northeast, midwest and abroad.

D1ED1E09-3640-489E-9631-AB5672FBC3A7

In past years, I would fill my wife’s largest pot with water from the kitchen sink, drench my bike out on the driveway, soap it up, brush and rinse. With hose bibs shut off this time of year, we are left with few options to keep the road salt, mud, snow and ice off our steeds.

E8F57464-6004-4041-8C59-80C4C02AB3C6

Recently, a couple of local riders have brought their bikes inside and cleaned them in the shower, which I’m sure is probably very effective. However, I don’t think I’m the only one to say, that would not go over well in my house.

A2168157-A74A-4E8C-96E2-E24DE390389F
Not a great idea!

Another option, which I’ve tried, is the self service car wash. Again, effective, but with two drawbacks. The high pressure hose, if not kept far from bike can damage paint and small parts as well as get into bottom bracket shells, head tubes and hubs. This can cause all sorts of issues that quite frankly, you want to avoid. Also, the hot water at the car wash freezes in colder temps before you can dry your bike off. You need to get at least the salt off your bike, what to do?

Through internet research and trial and error, I’ve found a better way. Not full Proof, but a cleaner, more precise method of cleaning your bike, far from a hose or electricity. Simply fill a 2 gallon pressurized sprayer with warm water, wet bike down, spray on some bike wash, I like Finish Line Super Bike Wash, scrub bike and rinse.

 

The pressure is not high enough to damage your bike, but effective enough to clean it off. You can do this in your garage, basement, driveway or before you leave the trail.

After you fully clean and dry off your bike, don’t forget to lube your chain. Liberally pour on chain lube as you back pedal and run through all your gears. Then, back pedal again, as you hold rag to bottom of chain to get the excess off. Give it a try, it has worked great for me!

 

7 Days/7 Rides

Entertaining the notion that riding outdoors ends in the fall, is sort of giving in to Mother Nature. Well, that’s easy to say, when the temperatures in late November, early December are still in the 40’s. Anyway, I thought that it would be a good time to get in some road rides, mountain bike rides and gravel adventures.

I started on Tuesday with a commute to work. When I left my house, it was 19 degrees. I layered up and dealt with the wind. I was just happy to be on my bike.

0D8CF28D-2821-4637-BFA2-C2364B31AE83

On Wednesday, I did a unique ride, mixing in some gravel, pavement, dirt and grass. It was 50 degrees and I took full advantage, riding in shorts and shortsleeves.  I rode up to Five Mile Meadow Road, grinded through the loose, new gravel until I heard the first gunshot. I thought I’d leave the hunters alone and head back into the community for an unauthorized spin through Seneca Lake Park.

78E43853-E2BC-4936-B96D-04F3BED4C6E5

I had a few extra hours on Thursday morning, so I looped around my community on the road bike, hitting every hill I could find.

059B3DDC-44D7-498E-AE30-061E9EE00FAD

On Friday, my son joined me for a mtb ride through the Watershed. Another 50 degree day, allowed us to dress down and enjoy a few hours of rocks, roots and beautiful singletrack.

Saturday morning brought some gravel grinding through the Delaware State Forest with Andrew. This time, I opted for a mostly orange getup. Action Bikes and Outdoor, produces an orange jersey each year, making it easy to get out in the wild, during hunting season.

B0968B0E-A131-46CB-BE4A-575232748FAA
Andrew in Safety Orange & Hi-Viz Green

On Sunday evening, my son and I went back into the Delaware State Forest for a spin under the stars, powered by our Bontrager Ion 800 headlights. A full moon helped illuminate the woods. We took a couple of cool new roads that I’ll detail in a later post.

28DEACA4-2798-4254-9072-2971189DACA5

Monday morning was cold. 20 degrees at 6:30am. I grabbed a quick ride on gravel, dirt and grass. The hill I’ve been practicing my grass descents on, was covered with a thin layer of frost, making for a few slippery ups and downs. Easy to deal with, when the fog is burning off the lake at the top of he hill.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – The Greg Kihn Band – The Breakup Song (1981)

C2A95A64-9E91-4E31-A355-CC7FD38F39A0

 

Photo Contest – Finalists

The time has come; no more photos. After sifting through the thousands of submissions (that might be a bit of an exaggeration), we’ve narrowed it down to three finalists.

While all the pics are beautiful, only 3 can be finalists. Now, it’s your job to pick the winner. Please, help me select the winning photo by posting to comments and picking photo 1, 2 or 3.

IMG_20160409_112200007_HDR
1. Snowy Covered Bridge submitted by Brian

IMG_0621
2. Riding Golden, Colorado submitted by Mike

IMG_0622
3. Autumn on the McDade submitted by Eric

Thank you for your votes! A winner will be picked on Friday, November 24th.

 

 

Photo Contest Update

Because I’m a boob, I have not figured out how to upload a photo in comments. So, since I can’t remember how I received photos last year, you can send any photo/submissions to tdf911@ptd.net. Sorry for the confusion, I’ll get it right by next year.

So, get outside and ride. Do not let the weather keep you from turning those pedals and take lots of pictures!

Photo Contest/ Tifosi Sunglasses Giveaway

It’s that time of year again. Riding Milford’s 2nd annual photo contest. To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the blog and to recognize how beautifully cycling and photography go hand in hand.

IMG_0619

You see, there are cyclists who ride to simply go fast, and while there is certainly a place for that, a lot of us are now simply riding for escape and adventure. We slow down to take in the sights, explore new paths and record our rides a different but not unique way, in photographs. We post them on social media for all the world to see. And for that we are lucky. Lucky to get a look at what someone else experienced. Lucky to reach out and let that person know how beautiful their ride was.

IMG_0620To enter the contest, comment to this post, with a photo of your bicycle in nature by 8:00pm on Sunday, December 19th. The winner will receive a pair of Tifosi Crit, Fototec sunglasses in Crystal Black (an $80 value).

If we receive 25 photos, there will be 2 winners!

If we receive 50 photos, there will be 3 winners!

Can’t wait to see your pics!!

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.

IMG_0034

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.

IMG_4191

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.

IMG_0075

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

IMG_0612

 

Getting Outside

Ah, the rains! Between the melting snow and all the rain, it’s shaping up to be an incredible spring season. Usually, when we have this much moisture in the early spring, it leads to green moss on the ground, beautiful trees and pristine lakes, void of silt. While nature takes it’s course, it may be a good time to cultivate your adventures for 2017.

IMG_0274

I think that everyone who rides a bike, kayaks, hikes or does anything outdoors, would love to be able to spend more time in nature. Most people have families and careers.  And while family time is not a chore, work can get overwhelming at times, making even the shortest activities seem like paradise. Getting out weekly is a must, but it really helps to plan your longer outings. When your stuck working on Saturday or putting in an extra 20 hours for the week, looking forward to an epic hike, refreshing paddle down your favorite river or a bike ride that goes so late, you need to turn your head light on, can help to ward off the stresses of the modern weekend adventurer.

You can simply plan local getaways or events that take you out of your backyard. I’m scheduling the following events with many local rides, hikes, paddles and camping trips mixed in:

  • April 23rd – Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo 100 mile gravel ride in Northeastern PA
  • Late June 200 mile/ 2 day ride from Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ
  • July 22nd – VBC Century Road ride in Plattsburgh, NY
  • Late September – Maple City Century 100 mile Gravel Ride in Honesdale, PA
  • Late October – Erie 80 MTB Race in Port Jervis, NY

Planning can take many paths, just don’t let it add additional stress. No need to create a spread sheet here, just lay out what you think you’ll need and as you get closer, shed some weight by getting rid of all but the absolute necessities. Having the right gear can help ease your mind. If you are doing a multi day hike on the Appalachian Trail, make sure you have enough water, food, cooking equipment, good boots and dry clothes. Don’t let the weather keep you inside. On a long bike ride, tubes, a tire and snacks could be all you really need.

IMG_0271

Another thought, keep your gear well maintained. Something as simple as bringing your bike in for a spring tune up will keep you riding all year long and provide for a hassle free adventure. If you do not know, ask. Your local bike shop or outdoor store is your best resource for information on maintenance, gear and routes.

Appalachian Trail Adventure

Winter has hit the northeast. On Thursday, Mother Nature dropped nearly a foot of snow on us. Easily the largest snowfall in the area this winter. A bikepacking trip was planned for this past weekend, but with back roads and trails too deeply covered, TC shifted his focus to an overnight backpacking adventure. With Will and myself enlisted, TC mapped out the trip and made sure we would be rewarded at the end of the day’s hike.

This was to be my first multi day hike and it showed. I started out the day by driving off from home with my hat and gloves on the roof of the car. They ended up on my driveway. Apparently it seems I dramatically over packed. Well, I over dressed as well, but shed some clothes and added them to my bulging backpack.

We departed on Saturday morning from Fairview Lake near Stillwater, NJ and snowshoed up a long hill on the Appalachian Trail. The higher we got, the deeper the snow. When we arrived on top, we were rewarded with a walk along the ridge and treated to astonishing views.

img_0218

We climbed and descended for the better part of 5 1/2 hours. About three-quarters of the way through the eight mile hike, we shed the snowshoes. As we got closer to the cabin, we passed some day hikers, that really packed the snow down enabling us to pick up the pace.

img_0219
Saturday Lunch Break

The last half mile was a downhill hike that took us over countless rocks and snow drifts. We landed on Camp Road and walked about 1000 feet to the Mohican Outdoor Center, our home away from home for the night. Now, we knew we were staying in a cabin. What we did not know was that the Mohican staff were preparing a meal for another group and invited us over to the dining hall for a gourmet feast.img_0220

Stomachs full, we retired to our cabin. We were going to need a good nights sleep as the weather forecast for Sunday was a mix of snow, sleet and rain.

img_0213

We woke about 6:30am, to pellets of ice hitting the cabin. A good breakfast and a pot of coffee and we were fully recharged and ready to take on the weather. With covers over our packs and rain gear on, we headed out the door and onto the trail at 9:30am. Again, the day started out with a climb. We opted to forgo  the snowshoes and make up as much time as possible to get through the storm. img_0211

Getting up the hill was not a problem. We climbed rather quickly. When we reached the higher elevations, the snow came down heavy and the wind was blowing extremely hard, making it difficult to see. Pushing through 18-20 inches of snow slowed us down considerably. I started to fall behind. My shoulders and hips were sore. As I plodded forward, I was lucky that TC and Will kept and eye out for trail markers. We reached Sunfish Pond and took a short rest about halfway through the 9 mile day.

img_0210
Will’s pack was covered in ice

We moved on and navigated the rocky terrain around the lake. After another climb, we descended a few miles down a rather well packed trail, along a beautiful creek, all the way to the parking area along RT. 80.

Although the terrain was a little rough, due to the snow and ice, I’m interested to see how it will be during the spring or summer. I’m sure I will find out, as this may have been my first overnight backpacking adventure, but it certainly will not be my last.