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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Stay tuned for a year in review post, coming up in early January. In the meantime, check out some more pics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The paved descent, brought us to Pine Flats Road, a pot holed, gravel roller coaster, that drops you sharply to a beautiful creek.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Next September, alert your friends and come up to Honesdale and experience the ride you’ll never forget!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The following is a guest spot from Brian with some gorgeous pics to help get us through the winter!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 email@example.com. 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!
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.
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.
To 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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.