Autumn in the Delaware Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ride Your Bike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tour de Force – Day 4

Let me start by saying that riding with and doing support for so many fantastic people for the last 16 years has been a blessing. At the banquet, the previous night, I was honored as the founder of the ride. I was given a plaque and a mtb wheel with a plaque on the inset, expertly fabricated by Eric Swanson of Adventure Cycling in Aurora, CO. I accept these, knowing that Mike and Mike have carried me for many years.

IMG_0512With that said, let’s get to the ride. We started from the Sheraton in Melville, NY and rode down Rt. 25 through urban Nassau County for 22 miles to the Floral Park Municipal Field, where lunch was served (The Nassau County Police Department expertly blocked all intersections to Floral Park). Seems like a short distance for lunch, but the rest of he day’s events were going to be slow as we were escorted as a group to the finish.

IMG_0507From Floral Park, the NYPD took over the escort and wow, were we treated like dignitaries. Eight motorcycles blocked every intersection, through Queens, over the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan. Then the challenging part came when the streets of lower Manhattan, so congested at 1:30pm on a Tuesday, were turned into the Tour de Force Expressway. Motorcycles roared, helicopters soared and every rider and support team member, were cheered on by the thousands watching and  patiently waiting to go about their day.

IMG_0524We paused briefly in front of the still boarded and fenced Ground Zero for a moment of silence. The Freedom Tower, although not a replacement for the Twin Towers, looked glorious in the September sky.

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Arriving at Wagner Park, in Battery Park, we were treated to numerous Mounted Poilce Officers, guarding the mezzanine aboard their loyal steeds.

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In the Hudson, just behind the park were the NYPD Harbour Patrol boats as Police helicopters hovered overhead. A welcome home for some,  a hero’s send off for others. You see, many of our riders and support team come from all over the country.

IMG_0525These were and are an amazing 4 days of cycling. We cannot forget the victims of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey. You are all in our prayers. We cannot wait until next year when we welcome back all our riders that had to back out because of the recent storms. Your presence was sorely missed.

I leave you with some more photos of this incredible 4 day journey.

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 3

The day started with a ferry ride from New London, Ct to Orient Point, NY. After unloading bikes and some last minute prep, riders pedaled through the amazing Long Island wine country, with a first rest stop at the Greenport Harbour Brewing Company and although not recommended, I’m sure more than a few riders indulged.

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With about 65 miles left, the ride winded down Rt. 25 through some of the most beautiful fishing towns on the island. Lunch was served at Fink’s Farm in Calverton, NY by John Carro and owners, Dave and Michelle. who served up hero’s reminiscent of John’s former deli, the Steer Seller.

Every day’s ride on the Tour de Force ends with a story. Each rider finishes day 3 with a medal and the memories of a ride with friends and family that will last a lifetime. Two survivors, Mimi and Mikayla, were at the finish line, handing out medals.  At our banquet that night, we honored them, and recognized their truly beautiful efforts to pay it forward.

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You see, nine years ago, we made a donation to Mimi to honor her husband, Perth Amboy, NJ Police Officer Thomas Raji, who was killed in the line of duty. She was pregnant with Mikayla. A few months ago, while eating in a restaurant, Mikayla noticed a Police Officer eating alone. She struck up a conversation with him and asked her mom to pay for his dinner. Mimi did just that and asked the owner not to tell him. The Officer found out that Mimi and Mikayla paid for his dinner. He arranged for MiKayla to throw out the 1st pitch at a NY Yankee game. Seeing this, we knew that Mikayla had to be honored in front of our riders. Speaking with Mimi, she explained that we were the first organization to come to her aid and she purchased her husbands headstone with funds from our donation. This is truly a family that suffered a tradgedy, received a few random acts of kindness and paid it forward.

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Mikayla with her best friend Sydney

 

We had two more special guests. You can read about their amazing story on Facebook at the Tour de Force 911 Memorial Bike Ride page.

Some more photos from an incredible day of cycling:

 

 

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TDF day 2

Life is great on the Tour de Force. Let me explain: First, there is no better group of people than those that put others before themselves. Second, every TDF rider and Support team member, quickly become family. You can’t avoid it. Once you put on the TDF garb ( jersey), it just happens.

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Today, started in Warwick, RI and took us 75 miles through the heart of New England. Today was my day to ride. As I have explained before, the logistics just do not allow the organizers to get on a bike and forget absolutely everything else in our lives for four days. Days 2 and 3 allow riders to wear what ever jerseys they wish. Some form teams and represent with custom jersey designs. I choose to wear TDF jerseys from years past.

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Me, loving life!

The route carried riders through some as of the most gorgeous landscape that  New England has to offer. Narragansett and Watch Hill are two of the nicest beach front communities on the east coast.

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Fueling up!

All photos during the 4 day ride are taken by Diane, our photographer. She has made life easy for us. Diane always seems to be there to get the important shots. She uploads to Facebook on the tourdeforce 9/11 Memorial Ride page. The weather was pretty good today, minus the wind. All 247 riders made it safely to the finishing line.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Tour de Force – Day 1

Last year, I had the pleasure to detail the events that led to the creation of the Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Ride, which raised money for first responders killed in the 9/11 attacks and ultimately led to raising money for the families of Police Officers killed in he line of duty, nationwide. IMG_6041

This year, the tour will go from Boston to NYC. This morning, it started at the Boston Marathon finish line in the city’s Copley Square district. After an expertly executed escort by the Boston Police Department’s Motorcycle unit, riders made their way to the Denham, MA American Legion for the first of 3 rest stops. From there, they were released at their own pace. Support vehicles made their way to the front, along the route and a trail vehicle followed the last rider.

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With near perfect weather, the day was something the riders would not soon forget. The miles clicked by rapidly as the terrain was as flat as any day pedaling out of Boston can be.

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Milford cyclists, Andrew and Joe pedaling out of rest stop 1

Most of the route went through urban areas, saving the beautiful scenery of New England for tomorrow and traveled through numerous traffic circles, eventually finishing in an undisclosed location, 60ish miles from the start.

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John and Gonzo Support Team veterans

All riders finished safely, with the help of our amazing support team. 42 men and women from around the country, filled coolers, setup rest stops, directed traffic, fixed flats and kept this ride moving forward for the 16th consecutive year.

Stay tuned tomorrow as I detail my one day on the bike through the incredible Rhode Island and Connecticut countryside.

 

 

 

 

 

Marking the Course

On Monday, Mike H. and I traveled to Boston to nail down a few last details, with a week to go before the Tour de Force. Last September, I detailed this 4 day journey that took us from Washington, DC to NYC.

Most of the logistics and planning are done from my home office here in Milford, giving me the notion that it’s ok to tell you all about it. This year’s ride will take 300 riders from Boston to NYC.

Although the event is completely supported, riders, at their own pace, follow the route, each day to the host hotel. With that in mind, as we left Boston on Tuesday, we drove the first two days of the route, painting arrows leading up to and through each turn.

This is one of the most important tasks when planning an organized group ride. It’s the best way to mark the course.  The paint adheres to the pavement and last for about 3 months. Most cyclists will see a painted arrow. Signs have a tendency to be removed or blow away in the wind. We pre-ride the course each morning to double check the arrows and repaint if necessary.

This is the 16th year that my brother Mike, my friend Mike and myself have organized this ride. I get just as excited leading up to the event as I did in 2002. You can check out our website at WWW.tourdeforceny.com. I will detail each days ride, starting on September 9th.

 

Geezer Ride

On Sunday, the old men set out at for what ended up being an 80 mile ride. Mike, Steve, Joe, Kevin and myself (maybe, not so old men) left Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6:25am, amidst the fog and humidity.

We pedaled down Rt 209/6, hung a left on Mountain Avenue and right at the river, crossed the Port Jervis Bridge and rode through the West End neighborhood on our way to Rt. 97. Turning right, we navigated early morning Port Jervis. A left hand turn on Rt. 6 put us on the first of many climbs for the day.

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Rt. 6, from Port Jervis to Greenville is a 3.5 mile climb that gently rolls uphill for about 3 miles, then gets steep for the last half mile. Going over the top, we continued on Rt. 6 and hung a right on Rt. 1, heading into Westtown then Pine Island, the famous “Black Dirt region”. The onion aroma was delightful!

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We cruised through to Warwick, NY. Warwick is a very Milford esq type of village, just a little larger.  On the outskirts, we found a gas station to refill supplies.

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We left Warwick and circled through Florida and Goshen before making our way past Soons Orchard and back to Rt. 6 and the rolling hills of Orange County. After fueling up at the Firehouse Deli in Greenville, we climbed up to the top of Rt. 6 (this time, from the back end) and were rewarded with a 3.5 mile descent! No matter how hilly a ride is, that drop always cures my aching legs. We traveled up River Road and crossed over the Milford Bridge for a quiet cool down through Milford.

By the way, the climb up Rt. 6 was the 7th hill this month for me in the climbing challenge. Just Guymard Turnpike, High Point and Sunrise Mountain to go. I’m told one rider finished all 10 hills in 11 days. Congrats, Bill!

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Monkees – Listen to the Band

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First Climb

One down, nine to go. The climbing challenge has begun! On Monday, Eric, Steve, Mike and myself, set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor at 8am to tackle any one of the 10 climbs. With High Point closed, due to New Jersey’s budget impasse that closed more than 50 state parks, historic sites and recreational areas, we settled on Greenville Turnpike.

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We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. At 64 degrees, the humidity was low as we pedaled out of the shop and headed for the Milford Bridge. Crossing the bridge, we climbed Deckertown Turnpike and hung a left on Clove Road for a roller coaster type ride all the way to Montague. A short descent on Rt. 23 and a right onto Greenville Turnpike had us out of the saddle and climbing for 2.5 miles. The graph below shows just how steep that hill can get.

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A left on Mountain Road for a scenic drop down to Rt. 6. The climb to the top of Rt. 6, although steep, is only a half mile and the next 3.5 miles are all downhill. The descent is fast and drops you right back to Rt. 23. A right hand turn puts you into Port Jervis with a lot of traffic for a short ride over to River Road.

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River Road connects back to the Milford Bridge through a few quiet neighborhoods and rolling farmland. An easy stroll over the bridge and back into Milford. I won’t bore you with stories on all 10 climbs, just wanted to let you know that the challenge is on!

 

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Foreigner – Cold as Ice

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Tri State Cup of Joe

What better way to get people riding more, than a climbing challenge! Now that summer is right around the corner, ridingmilford.com along with Action Bikes & Outdoor are challenging you to get outside and ride your bike skyward to the top of some of the area’s most iconic climbs. Complete the challenge and get this ultra cool coffee mug:

Here’s how the challenge will work. Go to http://www.strava.com/clubs/ridingmilfordclimbingchallenge, join and ride to the top of the following hills:

High Point (to monument) (NJ)

Point Peter (NY)

Cummins Hill (PA)

Sunrise Mountain (NJ)

Skyline Drive (off Old Milford Rd) (PA)

Rt. 6 (Port Jervis to Greenville) (NY)

Foster Hill (7th St. to Malibu Dude Ranch) (PA)

Guymard Turnpike (NY)

Greenville Turnpike (NY)

Rt. 6 (Milford to Frenchtown Rd.) (PA)

Complete all climbs in any one calendar month.

Each ride must consist of at least 25 miles.

You may do as many climbs in one day as you like by adding 10 miles for each climb (1 climb  = 25 miles, 2 climbs = 35 miles, 3 climbs = 45 miles etc…).

Do all 10 climbs in one Ride of at least 100 miles and qualify.

Remember, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

We will run this challenge July through December, 2017.

Now get out and ride!!🚴🚴‍♀️

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion for Pedaling

Everything is green, rivers and creeks are flowing and flowers are blooming. When pedaling in the late spring or early summer, everything seems right in the world.

I keep a bike in the car, on the off chance that I’ll get that unexpected ride in. Yesterday presented me with just that opportunity. Eric inquired about the possibility of a 5pm road ride from Dingmans Falls. Finally being able to get out of work on time, I jumped at it. We met up at the parking lot at the top of Johnny Bee Road at the base of the falls.

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The weather was perfect, 79 degrees with a slight breeze. We rode out and over the Dingman Bridge. Over the Old Mine Road/Peter’s Valley climb, Eric decided a no hands descent was in order. We pedaled through the Walpack area and into the Walpack loop. Spinning around, we jetted back through Peter’s Valley Craft Center, and headed over to Layton for an alternate climb and a speedy descent back to the Dingman Bridge. When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to ride the wooden path and Check out both sets of falls. Here’s some pics of these incredible, natural works of art:

The Great Thaw?

For someone that lives to ride the trails and back roads, snow can be a real problem. You might have noticed from some of my more recent posts, that I have been riding my gravel bikes on the pave. There are two reasons for this. First, I wanted to hit some longer hills and by this time of year, I’m usually able to get out on the road bike enough to satisfy the urge to climb. Second, I’d rather ride a heavier bike that’s used to getting covered in all sorts of debris and muck.

That said, last week, we got hit with 25-30 inches of snow. With the wind drifts and plow trucks piling it up, visibility around turns has been pretty minimal. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures were forecast to hit above 45 degrees. I made it my business to ride at least twice before Wednesday’s cold snap comes in.

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On Sunday, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and decided to climb Foster Hill to the dude ranch, descended and climbed up Skyline Drive around the cell tower and back down. You feel every fiber of muscle working, pulling up a beefy steel bike with 29X2.1 knobby tires. It’s just the opposite on the descent. The weight of a well made steel bike, grounds you and gives you a ton of confidence while barreling down from one of the highest points of elevation in the area.

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On Tuesday, I did another road ride on the Van Dessel WTF, but this time, from Dingmans Falls. I left the parking area and headed directly uphill on Rt. 739, a road that goes skyward immediately. After 4 miles, you gain more than 800 feet of elevation. That hill would probably get included in a lot of rides, be it not for the lack of shoulder.

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A right on Milford Road, sends you on a roller coaster ride for a few miles, before dropping quickly into Milford. After navigating the only traffic light in town, Rt. 209 winds its way along the Delaware River, all the way back to Dingmans Falls. You know, the snow can be quite beautiful when the sun shines, even if you only have a slight path to ride.

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue.

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Cummins Hill- Front Side

Another last-minute ride before a storm system comes in. Hopefully, the last one of the season. If not, We’ll just have to ride it out until sunnier sky’s prevail.

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to climb Cummins Hill from the front side with a little trail diversion before descending to Mill Rift. Now, normally, I would ride into Matamoras and take Delaware Drive all the way up from the river and down to Mill Rift before climbing Bluestone Blvd and over Cummins Hill.

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Starting from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, I simply went the opposite way. The front side is far more difficult. The first climb took around 27 minutes. It can be pretty steep in sections. I took a small diversion on Lost Camp Trail. After a mile, I turned around, not wanting to get caught out in the woods again.You realize how far you climbed when you hit the downhill spin into Mill Rift. You roll through the quiet little river town, across the railroad tracks and begin to ascend. Delaware Drive is not quite as long as Cummins Hill, but every bit as steep.

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I reached the top and dropped quickly to the Delaware River. There are some really nice views of the river from the top of both climbs. I cut across Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras and pedaled down Rt. 209 and back to the shop. Next week, I’ll review the Kona Rove Steel version.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)’94 R-556198-1338494496-8396.jpeg

 

 

Winter Legs, Hawks Nest and Windervals

I guess Punxsutawney Phil was wrong. A couple weeks ago, the world’s most famous rodent saw his shadow, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. This weekend and the weather for the next 10 days indicate otherwise. With temperatures reaching the 60’s the last two days, I had to fit in a couple rides. Saturday was an off road, gravel and slush adventure. For Sunday, Eric and I planned a road ride on gravel bikes with knobby tires, to compensate for all the dirt and gravel on the roadway as well as the melting ice and snow.

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Port Jervis Bridge

 

We pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, towards Matamoras on Rt. 209/6. Once through Westfall Township, we turned left on Mountain Avenue to Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Turning left into the West End neighborhood, we rode along the river and up to Rt. 97. We turned right and rode up to Skyline Drive. As we attempted to climb up to Point Peter, we were stopped about 3/4 of the way up by a gate that was blocking the unplowed, snow filled road.

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Looking to get some more climbing in, we adjusted our route and descended back to Rt. 97 and headed up to the Hawks Nest. You can’t beat the view from any of the roadside pull offs. However, there was a bit more traffic than expected and a lot more motorcycles than cars. The motor bikes were riding up and over the hills and turning around and doing it all over again, while their buddies took video of them popping wheelies.

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Not sure this is the smartest thing on a road with so many blind corners and hills. We rode over and down to the other side. After another mile or so, we pedaled up a Shortell Road (a hard packed dirt surface) for half a mile until we were again turned around by a pile of snow this time, blocking off the unplowed road.

We decided to ride back over the Hawks Nest, also known as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. We stopped at the very . . top for a Clif bar and a photo op. To escape the Evil Knievels of the world, we sped down Rt. 97 and back into the West End neighborhood. The ride on Mountain Avenue and back up Rt. 209/6 were met with a horrendous head wind. Gusts were almost blowing us backward.

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If this were simply a spring teaser, I’ll take it. But, if this is a sign of things to come, I’ll take it and run or pedal. Either way, I’ll welcome it!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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The Climb Before the Storm

What a beautiful day. 51 degrees in February. With the impending snow storm on the horizon, today was one of those days that if you have a window, you had to go out and ride. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I took the Van Dessel WTF on a stroll over Cummins Hill. A 28 pound bike with 29X 2.1 inch tires should provide quite a challenge on  the same hills that I normally climb on my sub 17 pound road bike.

I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and pedaled down Rt. 209/6 towards Matamoras. Once I navigated the school traffic and lights, I veered left onto Mountain Avenue and cut across to Delaware Drive for a windy stint along the river.

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A brief stop to take a photo of a garage that was painted to look like a farm scene, then back down Delaware Drive, cautiously to prepare for the climb.  The first set of hills take you off the river and away from the commercial river companies’ launch sites. The initial climb, although not very long, gives the rider a little insight of what’s about to come. The roadway twists, turns and goes skyward for about 3.5 miles. Once you summit this section, you drop down pretty quickly. Be sure to feather the brakes and glance to the right, as you do not want to miss the incredible views of the Delaware River from about mid way down the hill.

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At the bottom, you cross the train tracks and arrive in the tiny town of Mill Rift, PA. This little berg has so many cool nooks and crannies. Check out the frozen water wheel and covered bridge that are among the amazing things to see.

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After site seeing in Mill Rift, the longer section of hills comes up on you without notice. Incline after leg burning incline, the road seems to never stop going upward. Every time you think you’ve crested the top of a hill, you look up to see the road go higher. When you finally reach the top, you really have to be careful, as the descent is steep and dangerous. This is one paved road that requires your full attention. Although the road is lightly travelled, cars and pickup trucks can come up on you in a hurry.

At the bottom, a right hand turn puts you back on Rt. 209/6 and the cool down into Milford is just what the doctor ordered!

This is a difficult route that should be done on a road bike. Helmets should always be worn, especially when you plan on descending a hill like this.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket

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Not Giving In

As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, opportunities for road rides begin to dwindle. It’s either early morning rides and that means layering up for the 35-45 degree tempatures or after work rides that finish in the dark.

I knew that I wanted to get a ride in yesterday or today. I tried yesterday and suffered through a mechanical incident that saw me abandon after 3 miles. Today, with renewed vigor, I hoped on my bike at Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed towards Port Jervis. I was aiming for a climb up Point Peter and a loop around River Road, but just as I hit Matamoras, I rode right into a pothole.

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Tire Sidewall Puncture

As soon as I heard the loud pop, I knew I had a flat and pulled over to assess the damage. Realizing that the sidewall of my tire was ripped, I had to figure out a way to repair the tire enough to get me back to the shop. After pulling out the old tube, I took a piece of cardboard out of my seat bag and placed it inside the tire, over the tear. I replaced the tube and blew up the tire to about 50lbs of pressure. I did not want to blow the tire up to capacity as I was afraid the tube would come through. It was just enough to pedal the 5.5 miles back to Milford. Once at the shop, I immediately changed the tire and headed back out to finish what I started.

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With daylight at a premium, I decided that quantity was not as important as quality. I rode through Milford and made a right on Foster Hill Road for a 2+ mile climb. Foster Hill starts out rather steep, levels off in sections, gets steeper in other sections and continually climbs right up to the Malibu Dude Ranch, an 800 acre resort that offers old west style vacations, horse back rides on scenic trails and a rustic restaurant and tavern.

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Getting up the hill is the work, stopping at the ranch is the reward. Horses come right up to the fence, like they’re greeting you as you enter. I took a quick photo op and zipped up for the descent. At the bottom of the hill, I took Pear Alley back to the shop. I almost gave in and called it a day when I flatted. I’m so glad I regrouped and made it happen.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner

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Lazy Weekend Spin

Rain, rain go away. After five straight days of rain, enough already! Anyway, I got a small window today to get out and get the blood flowing through my legs again. I had more than the required recovery period, following last weekend’s monster ride.

I decided to do a road ride and stay out of the mud and puddles that cover the gravel roads and trails.

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Matt at Action Bikes and Outdoor, suggested a route that covered some familiar roads and some new ones. I headed out under the dark grey skies at around 3:30pm. After navigating Milford, I pedaled across the bridge into Montague, NJ and up Deckertown Turnpike. Deckertown gets vertical immediately. You climb for just about 2 miles. A right on New Road and nice spin through the quiet Autum landscape. As you get to Rt. 206, Flatbrook Farm is on the left with their farm stand on the right side of the road, serving up fruits and veggies, fresh off the farm. It seems that this time of year, farm stands pop up all over the place, one of the perks of The Autum season.

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One of the many farm stands along Rt. 206

A short ride on 206 and a left on Hotalen Road. Hotalen is a shaded street with very little traffic. It comes to a fork at the top. I missed the turn and went up the hill. At the top, I checked the map on my phone and spun around. I should have veered right at the fork and descended Back down to Rt. 206. I wanted to get off the main drag, so I turned left on Bridges Way and right on Layton Hainsville Road.

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After a flat mile, I hung a left on Jager Road and climbed up the backside and dropped down, making a sharp right on Old Mine Road. You can reach speeds of over 45mph on Jager, just be careful as Old Mine comes up rather quickly.

Old Mine Road is the quintessential country Road. The only problem this time of day is that the shadows on the road surface make it extremely difficult to see all the pot holes, even on this overcast day. So, I soft pedaled all the way to the Milford Bridge. As luck would have it, I got to ride about 10 mph, right next to a deer that was trotting along side of me for about 1000 feet. Not spooked, she just eased her way back into the woods. Crossing the bridge, I caught a glimpse of the early fall foliage on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. I hope the weather cooperates and allows me a few rides a week this month as I have signed up for the Erie 80, a 50 Mile Mountain bike race in the Port Jervis  Watershed trail system, on October 29th. My lack of Mtb skills it are making me think I might have gotten over my head a bit on this one. We’ll see. I’ll detail that race very soon in another post.

What’s playing: (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Argent – Hold you head up

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Tour de Force – Day 4

The final day of the TDF is always bittersweet. I’m happy to get home and get back to my daily routine, but I’m also sad that it will be another year before I get to see all the awesome people that I have the privelage to be associated with for the last 15 years.

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We started with a transport over to Liberty State Park in Jersey City. After a few wrenches were turned and photos were snapped, we were led out by a multitude of New Jersey Police agencies with a fantastic escort through Jersey City, Hoboken, Fort Lee and all the wonderful cities and towns along the Jersey side of the Hudson River. What came next was unusual. The Port Authority Police Department along with the Fort Lee Police Department and the NYPD, shut down the George Washington Bridge to escort us into the greatest city on the world.

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The riders were given the entire right lane of the bridge. Most charity tours are relegated to the bike path along side the bridge. We snaked into Manhattan and eventually onto Riverside Drive for a cool ride above the river and down the west side. We hit the Henry Hudson Parkway and again had a lane shut down for us. For 15 years, we have been treated well by our own department, but never to this extent.

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Dropping down to 12th Avenue, we were given free passage all the way to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial. After a moment of silence to remember all victims of that horrible day, we pedaled over to Battery Park, where we were treated to a ceremony, honoring our efforts. 14322434_773391086155118_6003259236222251780_n

As the TDF came to a close, we said our goodbyes and expressed our hope to see everyone next year. Our year end meeting is in October, where we will vote on how all monies raised will be donated. We will also finalize our route for next year and immediately start planning for the 2017 event. You can check out what we do and how we do it by dropping by our web page at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. I leave you with yet, a few more photos:

 

Tour de Force – Day 3

This may have been the best weather we have ever had for the Tour de Force. Low 80’s and absolutely no wind. The road was flat as can be for most of the way. Really, things could not have gone better today.

Normally, I would take this 1 day that I ride to hammer as hard as I can and finish as fast as possible. But, today, I decided to ride with my pal and ex-partner, Mike and his son Sean. Mike is a unique rider. He is the only person to have ridden every mile of every year for the first 15 years of the Tour de Force.

We pedaled out of Island Beach State Park in Tom’s River, NJ and rode along the coast for the first 35 miles. When we reached Belmar, we rode up on the Boardwalk for a few hundered feet. From mile 38 to mile 49, the route took us onto the Atlantic Highlands Rail Trail. A scenic fitness path, it kept the riders off the busy Jersey Shore streets.

A few miles after coming off the trail, we were treated to a series of hills, that to be honest were just about the only inclines on the route. At the top of one of the hills, a 9/11 memorial sat in a garden, overlooking Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Highlands.

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We cruised along the rest of the course together and enjoyed the sea air, all thanks to the incredible effort of our support team. The sag support and rest stops are second to none. These volunteers, are what make this well oiled machine run so smoothly. The local Police Departments took care of the busy intersections, allowing our riders to pass through saftely.

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Pulling into the beach in Old Bridge, NJ, where the riders grouped up to be escorted over the Liberty Bridge, I was happy to have had the opportunity to ride today. I jumped into a car and headed to the hotel in Woodbridge, our finish line for the day, to get ready to greet the riders with medals to commerate their amazing efforts. Now, I leave you with a few more pics of this amazing day:

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Tour de Force – Day 2

What a beautiful day. Low 80’s and sunny with just a little wind. The day started with a ferry ride from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, NJ. Getting everyone on the ferry was a challenge with all the support vehicles, but the ferry crew was more than up to the task. The Cape May Ferry is always a nice trip. It gives everyone a chance to talk. Night time is filled with food, spirits and tired bodies. So, a little diversion in the morning, never hurts.

The ride was short, only 54 miles. Out to Rt. 9 with a tour of historic Cape May.  The riders pedaled through the fantastic sea air for the better part of 3-4 hours, ending in a parking lot near the Tropicanana Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ.

Days 1 and 4, riders wear the current year’s jersey. Day’s 2 ans 3, custom jerseys from hometowns and various teams the have been created for the ride, rule the day.

A short day callls for a short post. Here are a few photos from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 1

Well, day 1 is upon us. This is the day that first time riders, will find out if they trained hard enough, prepared properly and packed everything they will need for this 4 day event. Each rider, raises a minimum amount to gain entry into the ride. Even the support staff have to meet a fundraising goal. Riders and support staff, come from all corners of the country.

In 2002, our original starting point was the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and we rode to the World Trade Center in New York City. We have done that ride as well as the reverse route several times. We have also ridden from New York to Boston (Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park) and Boston to New York. This year we decided to start at RFK Stadium in Washington and ride to the NYC Police Memorial, around the corner from the World Trade Center. img_3817

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The Metropolitan Police Department escorted the ride out from RFK to the Capitol and around the District and handed us off to the Pince Georges County Police as we crossed the Maryland line. I drive a support vehicle for 3 out of 4 days, as the logistics of the tour have not allowed myself or my colleagues the opportunity to ride the entire way for several years now. I plan to ride day 3 as that appears to be the lightest traffic day with little to no problems all the way to the finish.

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Once we hit the first rest stop at mile 22, we led the riders out 8 more miles and released them at their own pace. Immediately, the pack went from a long sea of blue to a spread out group with each rider finding his or her cadence. We keep cars with the front of the pack as well as a sweep vehicle to trail the last rider. Several support vehicles, buses and trucks are along the route to lend support to riders in need. Mechanics ride back and forth along the route to assist with any issues (mostly tube punctures).

Mile 40 at the Maryland Transportation Authority was the lunch stop. (The tour provides breakfast and lunch each day as well as 4 nights lodging in superior hotels and a banquet on the 3rd night). After crossing the Bay Bridge, riders head over to Rt. 404 to complete the last 60 miles to Rehoboth Beach, our destination for day 1.

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Rt. 404 is a long, flat section of road that winds through corn fields in rural Maryland and Delaware. Farms stands are everywhere, offering local fruit and vegetables, giving us the freshest supplies for our remaining rest stops. When the last rider reached the hotel, the party began. The entire parking lot is lined with TDF trailers, with just the right amount of beverages to rehydrate our weary riders.

A few more pics from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Registration

In a prior post, I mentioned a ride called the Tour de Force. This is a 4 day ride from Washington, DC to NYC on or about September 11th. All money raised is donated directly to the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty. I, along with my brother Mike and my partner Mike founded the tour in 2002. Tomorrow, we will embark on our 15th annual version of this incredibly fullfilling journey.

In 2001, I was a NYC Police Detective, assigned to the Bronx Robbery Squad. Immediatly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, we were mobilized. My squad commandeered a city bus, cleaned out a Bronx supermarket and we rushed to the scene. I won’t even try to explain the horror that was Ground Zero. We were there for the better part of 2 weeks. In 20+ years in the NYPD, I learned a lot about people. But nothing could have prepared me for how this cowardly act could have such a profound affect on my life and how this amazing country that I have the privelage to live in, would change forever.

Anyway, last night, I arrived here in Falls Church, Virginia to prepare for today’s registration process. At 3pm, the buses from New York are scheduled to arrive at the hotel, carrying the bulk of our 300 riders. Tomorrow we start our first leg of the tour with a 107 mile ride. But, today, I was able to get out at 9am for a 30 mile pedal around the W&OD Trail, a paved rail trail the runs through Washington and the surrounding suburbs.

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A couple miles in, I got turned around as the trail ended and went into downtown Falls Church before picking back up again a few blocks away. A woman named Jennifer, who runs a trade association in the Washington, DC area, was kind enough to show me a loop that went around Reagan National Airport, through Arlington, Virginia and back around to Falls Church.

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The W&OD is an urban rail trail for sure. However, it runs along the Potomac River in spots and encompasses just enough local park land with beautiful wooden bridges to give it a lively feel. After about 30 miles, I veered off the trail a headed back to the hotel, ready to tackle the day’s events.

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Tomorrrow, I’ll have some great photos of the start and I’ll provide some more details about the Tour de Force.

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Pike County Loop

The other day, I did a really cool ride, that tested my climbing legs, with a few long but gradual hills. I wanted to try something a little different, with pieces of other routes mixed in to a form a loop that started off really slow, leveling out in the middle, it got pretty fast for the last 10 miles, thanks to a few leg loving descents.

Although, the weather was near perfect, and I was completely rested and ready for an epic ride, I hit a few bumps in the road that derailed me a bit, but not enough to spoil this awesome experience.

I departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, and made my way over to Rt. 6. Just before Apple Valley Restaurant, I made a left on Owega Turnpike and eased past some well manicured properties and up to Grey Towers.Grey Towers was the home of Gifford Picnchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service and Pennsylvania’s Governor for 2 terms. Built in 1886, Grey Towers is a historic site that was donated by Gifford’s son to the US Forest Service in 1963 along with the 102 acres that it sits on. As I pulled my phone from my jersey pocket, to take a photo, I hit my first bump. My phone was dead. A miscalculation that does not happen often. So any photos here were taken from the internet. I pedaled back onto Owega Turnpike and back to Rt. 6. and labored uphill for about 4 miles.

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I turned left on Frenchtown Road and cruised past some nicely situated farm homes. Frenchtown connects Rt. 6 to Raymonskill Road. Turning right on Raymonskill, the road drops for a little less than a mile as I made the sharp turn onto Nelson Road. A short climb and a left on Aspen Drive took me through the Woodlands, a gated but accessible lake community. I made a right on Log Tavern Road and climbed up past the Pike County Library, the new Dingmans Park and another left on busy Rt. 739, the main thoroufare through Dingman Township and Dingmans Ferry. This is where the road drops down all the way across Milford Road, Rt. 209 and the Dingmans Bridge. A left on Old Mine Road and I cruised through the scenic by way that connects the Dingmans Bridge and the Milford Bridge. About halfway, I hit my other bump in the road in the form of a flat rear tire.

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After a quick tube change, I was on my way back to Milford. As I crossed the Milford Bridge, I realized that sometimes the best rides are the ones you do not plan. Just see where the road takes you!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Police – Message in a Bottle

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MillBrook Village

Today was not an ideal day to ride a bike. It was hot, it was humid and it rained hard. I planned to go out at 7am with Eric, but, allergies kept me awake late, so I put it off for after work. I wanted to get a little climbing in today, so I thought a Walpack loop with an extra hill or two, would do the trick. I parked at Dingman Falls and rode out over the Dingman Bridge. Turning right on Old Mine Road for a Peter’s Valley climb, got my legs burning early on. I felt real good as I capped the hill and descended into and through the Peter’s Valley School of Craft. I winded my down the Walpack Road and hugged the right side of the road as traffic through this usually desolate area was heavier than usual. As I passed the Walpack Center and capped the next hill, I could see where all the cars were headed, The Walpack Inn. I should have realized it was dinner time.

Pedaling into the loop, I beared right and clawed my way up and over the only significant climb in the loop. From here on in, it was a roller coaster ride for about 6 more miles until I turned right on a small bridge over the Flatbrook Creek. Immediately, the chopped up, pot hole filled road goes skyward.

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Millbrook Village School House

I navigated around the pot holes as the hill never seemed to end. As I approached the top, it got dark and I could hear thinder from somewhere in the distance. I dropped down the other side and cruised into Millbrook Village, a rustic looking 19th Century hamlet that’s part of the  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. As soon as I dismounted, the rains came (I was only able to snap off a couple of pictures as the rain fell hard). As hard as it rained, it felt good. I climbed back up and rode my brakes back down to the loop as I wanted to avoid slipping on the wet tarmac and rolling into one of the craters disguised as pot holes.

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Back on the loop, I pedaled past the Flatbrook Creek and back around towards the Delaware. As I came out of the loop and passed the Walpack Inn again, the rain stopped and the sun came out. The rain cooled things off a bit and the sun helped dry up my soaked jersey and shorts. I by-passed the Peter’s Valley hill and rode into Layton to tackle the much easier Tuttles Corner Road. The descent to the Dingmans Bridge is the highlight of that stretch of roadway. You can easily hit 40-45 MPH on the 1.5 mile drop.

I rolled into the Dingman Falls parking lot grateful to get a ride in but eager to back over to Millbrook to explore that area a little more.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Toto – Hold the Line

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VBC Century Ride

This past weekend, Mike H, Steve and I, traveled up to Plattsburgh, NY to do a Century ride through the Adirondacks. A ride that is near and dear to my heart. This ride is put on by the Adirondack Garda. All proceeds are donated to the Tour de Force, a charity ride that raises money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide. I’ll detail the Tour de Force in a later post.

This is the 3rd annual Valcour Brewing Company Century Ride. It was previously called the Dry Dock 100. I rode in the 2014 event and I was extremely excited to be able to have a chance to be a part of it again. The inaugural ride was a 103 miles. A figure eight that started in Plattsburgh, came back into town at mile 50 for a fantastic lunch stop and looped out and back for another beautiful 50+ miles.

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The 2016 event featured 4 rides. 25, 50, 78 and 103 miles through the beautiful Adirondack Park and alongside Lake Champlain. Each ride featured perfect roads, absolutely stunning scenery, a quality lunch stop, well stocked rest areas and 2 awesome post ride parties. All riders, received an Adirondack Garda t-shirt, Valcour Brewing Company/VBC Century pint glass and some first rate swag. The gun went off at 8:30am for the 50/78/103 mile rides. The 25 miler, was an out and back, that started after lunch.

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For the 103 miler, it was a tale of two different types of weather. First, the rest stops were at miles 25, 50, 75 and 94. For the first 25 miles, there was a strong head wind. You sort of forgot about the wind as you came to the top of a hill and were hit with an incredible mountain top view. As you made the turn and looped back into Plattsburgh from the 1st rest stop to lunch, the wind changed directions and the road grade cooperated. That might have been the fastest 25 miles I have ever ridden.

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We were treated to a nice lunch on Lake Champlain. Darcy, Ann and a bunch of other volunteers, really did a wonderful job. From the sign in to the aid stations(which were top notch), everything was done to make sure the riders slipped through the course with ease. The Plattsburgh Police Department and the New York State Police did a fantastic job with the lead out and traffic control at the intersections.

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After lunch, about a mile in, you hit the only big hill on the course. It twists and turns as you climb for approximately 1.5 miles. You drop back down into farmland and fight the wind for another 20 or so miles. Along the way, we passed over 100 cyclist from Canada that were pedaling through one of the best cycling regions in the country. At mile 75 we rolled into the 3rd rest stop just off the border of Quebec on Lake Shore Drive. Across the lake, you could see Vermont. The wind turned to our backs again as we made our way into Plattsburgh along the lake.

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The last 2 miles are on a bike path, along Lake Champlain, that leads you right into the VBC parking lot and through the finishing chute. We were greeted with cheers and directed upstairs for the post ride party. Valcour had several different beers to choose from in a saloon that overlooked the lake. Down the hall, the Adirondack Garda provided a delicious recovery feast. We went back to our rooms to shower up and headed over to an undisclosed location for  a pool party, complete with margarita machine, beer, BBQ, hot tub and great people to sit around with, relax and reminisce about a great day.

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The following day, Bob and Bruce took any willing riders on a 50+ mile recovery ride up through the Lake Placid area, with a ferry ride across the lake to Vermont for lunch. We were sorry to miss this excursion as we opted to head home in the morning, but heard it was a good time!  Just a few more pics of this fantastic event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunrise Mountain

Thursday afternoon was what some would call a perfect day. 85 degrees and sunny with just a bit of wind. I could have cut the lawn and gotten started on a few weekend projects. Nah, it was way too nice out. This day had climbing written all over it. I got out of work on time at 4:30pm and drove to Dingmans Falls to meet Eric for a ride into New Jersey and up Sunrise Mountain.

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We rolled out at 5:00pm and headed over the Dingmans Bridge. Turning right on Old Mine Road, we climbed the Peter’s Valley hill and over into the small Artist commune. We hung a sharp left on Bevans Road and pedaled out to Layton and across to Rt. 560 and eventually veered right on Rt. 206, which is a dangerous road at best. Not a lot of shoulder and way too many cars. The roadway goes uphill for about 1.5 miles before leveling out. A left hand turn on Upper North Shore Road in Stokes State Forest, and a left at the fork on Sunrise Mountain Road.

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Sunrise Mountain Pavilion

Sunrise climbs for about 6 miles before coming to another fork in the road. You will want to stay right to get to the overlook. The grade steepens for 3/4 of a mile, but you are treated to a beautiful view of the Kittatinny Mountains. Rolling back down, you take a right at the fork on Crigger Road, where you now descend for a few miles before coming to a refreshing sight on the left hand side of the road. It’s a natural spring. The water is ice cold and tastes great. A perfect place to refill your bottles and maybe cool off a bit.

Continuing down Crigger Road, you go up and down and finally reach Deckertown Turnpike, where you turn left (you can turn right if you want to extend the ride over to High Point). Deckertown Turnpike is a road that goes up and down, but a fast descent will carry you up and over most of the hills. After a few miles, it drops down for a stretch until you make a left on New Road. A flat and fast section, New Road becomes Cemetary Road. Just before Rt.206, you turn left on Degroat Road and wind around a few farms before coming back to and making a right on Rt. 206. a Quick left on an unnamed road and another left on Layton Hainsville Road.

Another fast section, Layton Hainsville drops you back into Layton. A right hand turn at the Layton General Store on Rt. 560 and you climb just a little bit more, before descending down to the Dingmans Bridge and back across to Pennsylvania.

This was a beautiful ride, one that I would like to connect with High Point on another adventure and make it a day trip. With a lot of climbing, this is an intermediate to hard ride, but the reward is it’s beauty.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The late, great Harry Chapin – A Better Place to Be

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Stretching it Out

Summer is officially in full swing. That means the sun is shining and thoughts of long days in the saddle are here. Usually, 25-30 miles through the state forests, around the tri-state area and along the Delaware River, makes for a good enough ride, but Sunday presented an opportunity to stretch things out a bit.

Steve and I are getting ready for a long ride in upstate New York next month and Mike is preparing for a full Ironman Triathlon in October. So, we ventured out at 6:30am.

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For Mike, this was no ordinary training ride. This was his first ride in over a month after suffering a concussion, separated shoulder and various other injuries in a serious crash. With not being able to train for most of the month, Mike is determined to get back to his pre-crash form. With that in mind, we pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor early enough to be almost completely void of traffic. We headed down to Matamoras via Rt. 209/Rt. 6 and made a left on Mountain Avenue.

Apparently enamored by the river today, we rode along Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge, hanging an immediate left into West End, and rode along the New York side of the river. We came out on Rt. 97 (took a photo opportunity at the Conservatory) and rode through Port Jervis to River Road. We pace lined down River Road to work on our fitness and connected it to Old Mine Road at the Milford Bridge. Old Mine is full of potholes for the first 3 miles, so we took it easy until we reached the new pavement.

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We then picked up the pace a bit until we rolled over the Dingmans Bridge. Turning right on Rt. 209, we roller coastered over the last 8 miles back into Milford. Mike finished safely and reported no pain at the end of the ride. We were just honored to be a part of his recovery.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Dire Straits – Walk of Life

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New York State of Mind

With Milford being located in the Tri-State area, rides in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are all within reach. Some days, all 3 states are incorporated in local rides, like Sunday, when we rode through each state with a Point Peter climb. But Tuesday was all about New York. Western Orange County has many beautiful roads. The roadway is well paved, the homes are stately, and the scenery is second to none.

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I met up with Kyle at Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and we pedaled down Rt.209/ Rt. 6 towards Matamoras. We veered left onto Mountain Avenue, hammered down to the Delaware River, and continued over the Port Jervis Bridge. Once in New York, we rode through the small river city, over to Port Jervis High School, and out onto Rt. 209 towards Middletown. This section of 209 is flat and fast. There is a narrow shoulder, but it’s enough to ride safely. As soon as you pass the horse farm on the right and Neversink Drive, go another mile and Peenpack Trail is on the left.

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Peenpack is a nicely paved road that snakes up and around some well groomed country homes. You climb up Peenpack for about 4 miles, before dropping down across Rt. 42 and back up to a left hand turn on Old Forestburg Road. You basically just fly down until you reach Rt. 42 again, and make a right, pedaling another half mile you hang a sharp right onto Wilson Road.

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Wilson immediately sends you back uphill, steeply at first but leveling out before capping the hill and flying down to Rt. 97. There, you make a right, and start the climb up to the Hawk’s Nest. Every 1/4 of a mile or so, there is a pull off that allows you some of the most breathtaking views of the Delaware River Valley. The road twists and turns for a few miles with a long descent back into Sparrowbush, NY. A right hand turn onto Sleepy Hollow Rd. puts you along the river and through Port Jervis’s West End neighborhood.

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We cruised over the Port Jervis Bridge and back into Matamoras, PA. While pedaling along the PA side of the river, I realized how lucky we are to be able to ride in so many cool places and over such diverse terrain. After left a onto Mountain Avenue, we cooled down as we rode back into Milford.

Although the elevation gain is not terribly high, this is a difficult ride as it requires extremely good bike handling skills. The downhill sections are steep, and wind around corners before coming to sudden stops. Use caution whenever riding on Rt. 97.  A blinking red taillight alerts drivers that your sharing the road.

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One last picture of the Delaware River

 

 

 

Father’s Day Ride

The last few days, I have been away, scouting out hotels and rest stops for a 4 day charity ride that I organize with my brother, a friend, and a dedicated volunteer staff. I’ll post some details as the event draws closer. For that reason, I have not been able to ride in 5 days, so I contacted Eric and we planned a morning Father’s Day ride, finishing up early enough to get home and spend some quality time with our families.

We really lucked out at 7am with blue skies and almost perfect weather. We met up at the parking area at Dingmans Falls, and headed out on Rt. 209 towards Milford. Eric did a long ride with a lot of climbing the previous day, so we decided that only 1 big hill would be appropriate for the day.

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We reached Milford, where we took 3rd Street, and hung a left onto George Street. Next, we made a right onto 4th Street, and followed it around and out to Rt. 209/ Rt. 6. Pedaling downhill towards Matamoras, the roads were empty. Every traffic light was green, and turning left on Mountain Avenue, we cruised toward the Delaware River and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Moving under the train trestle and up Pike Street, we made a left onto Rt, 97, over the first hill by the observatory, and turned right onto Skyline Drive. That’s where the climbing began. It’s 2.5 miles of switchbacks until the road summits, and then drops back down a little to Point Peter. As I’ve written in an earlier post, Point Peter offers panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument.

We did the Skyline Drive loop, and descended back into Port Jervis. Then we navigated through town, and headed over to River Road. Wanting to get back home, we rode in a mini paceline all the way to the Milford Bridge, and took Old Mine Road back to the Dingmans Bridge, passing a few cyclists and runners who were enjoying the beautiful morning.

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Crossing over the old wooden bridge, we pedaled our way back to Rt. 209, and cooled down on the Dingmans Falls Road to the welcome center. At 40+ miles and 1 climb, this is an intermediate ride with the reward at the halfway point.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Bruce Hornby and the Range – The Show Goes On

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After Work Spin

Finishing work on Wednesday at 4:30PM instead of 6:00pm, afforded me the opportunity to get the ride in that I’ve been wanting to do. I’ve been planning on a 40 miler with over 4,000 feet of climbing. I wanted to incorporate Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. When I left work, I headed straight for Milford.

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I headed out of Action Bikes and Outdoor at 5:00pm under blue skys and temperatures in the mid 70’s with not much humidity, near perfect conditions  for a bike ride. I shot down Rt. 209 and Rt. 6 through Milford, Westfall Township and into Matamoras. Traffic was a little thick at this time, so I turned left on Mountain Avenue and avoided Matamoras Boro. I hit the river and turned right on Delaware Drive and then left over the Port Jervis Bridge and into New York. I went under the train trestle and buzzed through the river town, over the Neversink River and turned left on Rt.6 (also known as Slate Hill Road). Rt.6 climbs gradually for about 3 1/2 miles until it caps at the Greenville exit for Rt. 84.

IMG_3071Descending down about a 1/2 mile, I turned right on Mountain Road and then another mile, right on Greenville Turnpike. Greenville goes steeply up for about 1 1/2 miles, then drops down for 2 1/2 miles, just at about where the Rt. 6 climb began. A careful left on Rt. 23, brought me through the Montague, NJ traffic and up past Clove Road. Rt. 23 climbs for about 7 miles, but never really gets too steep. I followed it up to the High Point State Park entrance and hung a left into the park.

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From  there, it’s straight up to the monument. Short, steep climbs on narrow park roads with little to no traffic. I quickly turned around at the monument in an effort to get back to town before the sun went down. The descent is fast and furious, through the park and back down Rt. 23 for a 1/2 mile to a left hand turn on Saw Mill Road. Saw Mill is a road I’ve previously mentioned. The grade is a bit downhill from Rt. 23 and through it’s many twists and turns, it eventually makes it’s way over to Deckertown Turnpike after about 4 miles.IMG_3096

A right on Deckertown and I’m ready to pedal up and down the many little hills that make up this roller coaster stretch of road that leads all the way back to the Milford Bridge. After a half mile on Deckertown, I got up out of the saddle for a push up the hill and pop, my chain breaks. This should normally not be a problem, because I usually have a spare link in my seat pack. Today, I decided to carry a new tool and tube in my back pocket and took my seat pack off the bike, forgetting about the chain link, and as luck would have it, well…………..So, as I walked my bike up the hills and glided down, I called around and thanks to TC of Action Bikes and Outdoor, who dispatched his lovely and pregnant wife Meghan(who was on her way home from work) over to pick me up. I was so grateful as the mosquitoes were eating me alive. A lesson learned in preparedness and for all of the activity trackers, I certainly got my steps in for that day.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Counting Crows – Rain Kingaugust-and-everything-after-4dcfda1791f21

 

 

Memorial Day Rides

Humidity, Humidity! Memorial Day weekend was hot and sticky! Not exactly ideal weather to ride, but I would rather ride than complain about the weather. The sun was out for most of the weekend, so regardless of the humidity, a lot of people were outdoors to kickoff the summer season.

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I led 2 of the 5 rides that went out this weekend. Both were hot and humid, but a few brave souls pedaled on. Dave’s trail ride had great attendance, as did Becky’s beginner road ride on Sunday. Kyle’s MTB ride in Port Jervis went off without a hitch.

All and all, it was a great weekend of events at Action Bikes and Outdoor.TC Crawford, the owner of the shop, really kicked things up a notch this year. The band, Fantasia Project was fantastic and played to enthusiastic fans all day long. The drive in movie, (The Great Outdoors) under the stars was awesome and also well attended.

Here are a few photos from the weekend:

 

Hopefully, the next ride I post will be the overnight bike packing trip. As long as the rain holds out, one night this week could prove to be my night in the great outdoors!

 

Bashakill Vinyards – Almost

Sunday was the day, the day we were to ride to the Bashakill Vinyards. We almost made it. Well, there was an incident or should I say, an accident. The ride did start out fairly well. At 31 miles in, things went sour quickly.

First, let me say that we had near perfect weather. 60 degrees and cloudy. Eric, Steve, Deb, TC and myself,  headed out of Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, at just after 10am. We cruised at a moderate pace through Milford Borough, down past the Metz Ice House and over the Milford/Montague Bridge.

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We turned right onto Old Mine Road and rolled through the trafficless, quiet landscape for just about 7 miles. Reaching Dingmans Turnpike, we hung a left and rode up Tuttles Corner Hill. After climbing over to Layton, NJ, we turned left onto Layton Hainsville Road and zipped through the farms and quaint homes to Degroat and across Rt. 206 to Cemetary Road. Cemetary Road becomes New Road and winds through a residental neighborhoood while we save for the impending climb.

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A right on Deckertown Turnpike and we begin climbing. As soon as you turn, the grade of the road immediately steepens. Up we went for 4 miles until descending sharply to Saw Mill Road. A left and we are pedaling through High point State Park. Saw Mill is a cool roller coaster road that swoops you up and down for 4 miles to the end at Rt. 23. After a left hand turn, we bombed down Rt. 23 for a few miles and into Montague, NJ.  That’s where things went awry.

As we rolled straight through the commercial area of Montague, NJ, where traffic for Rt. 84 was backed up about a half mile, a car made a left, right in front of Deb, causing her to crash into the side of it.

Deb showed incredible bike handling skills to stay upright. She simply ran out of road, before colliding with the vehicle. The NYS State Police, NJ State Police, Montague Fire Department and Blue Ridge Ambulance company all responded to the scene. After a short ride to the hospital and a battery of tests, Deb is home recovering.

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Our ride ended at the accident scene and although we did make it to the winery, we missed Deb and Eric and do not consider the ride complete. A 2nd Bashakill ride is planned for early August and we hope Deb will be fully recovered and ready to ride!

 

Coffee, Rain & Poison Ivy

On a rather chilly Sunday morning, I met up with Steve and Eric at Dingmans Falls for a 7am ride up and down the Delaware River. We parked right on Rt. 209 at the base of the falls, just passed Rt. 739. From the falls, we headed out north on Rt.209 through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

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Dingman Falls

For eight and a half miles, we roller coastered up Rt. 209, past Adams Creek and the Zimmerman Farm. For most of the way, we rode alongside the McDade Trail, just up the hill from the river. We pulled into Milford and hit the Frisky Goat Coffee House (where we should have started) for a chance to warm up, sip a delicious cup of java and take a bathroom brake away from one of Mother Nature’s annoying phenomenoms (more on this later).

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We left town and shot down Rt.209/Rt. 6, a fast, slightly downhill stretch that takes you from Milford, through the box store littered Westfall Township and Matamoras, with little to no traffic at this hour. Over the Bridge, we dropped under the trestle and navigated the city of Port Jervis, NY until we rode over the Neversink River and turned right on River Road and pedaled up past Silver Canoes and up the first hill. River Road has a few short hills but is relatively flat.  About 4 miles in, we noticed an abandoned house in the woods. This seemed like a good time for a photo.

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What I didn’t know was that I leaned my bike, right in the middle of what appeared to be a load of poison ivy. Eric and Steve both pointed out that the recent rain, probably brought about a good share of the dreaded plant. I really had no idea how to spot poison ivy. So, I did a little research to hopefully keep you and me clear of it.

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Poison Ivy

You’ll notice three pointed leaves that change colors with the seasons:

Reddish in the spring, Green in the summer, Yellow, orange, or red in the fall. On some plants, the leaves have notched edges. On others, the leaves’ edges are smooth. Poison ivy can grow as a bush or vine. You may see the vines climbing up the sides of trees or buildings(Look to the left of my bike, growing up the tree). The plants sometimes have white berries, which help it spread. Birds eat the berries and transplant the seeds on new areas along with their droppings. This may be why poison ivy is so common. Steer clear of this and spend less time itching and more time riding!

From River Road, we turned right on Old Mine Road for a quiet 7 mile roll through the woods, when it started raining. I thought great, no yard work today, but by time we hit the Dingmans Bridge and got back to our cars, the rain stopped and the sun was shining.

With about 32 miles and little to no climbing, this is an intermediate ride that can be done on just about any type of bike.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – ELO – Mr. Blue Sky

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Bashakill Ride – Update

Just a reminder:

The Bashakill Vinyards and Winery ride is still on for Sunday, May 22nd. The time has been changed to 10:00am. We will Depart Action Bikes and Outdoor at 611 Broad St. Milford, PA 18337 and ride a scenic route through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, a total of 50 miles, at a moderate pace.

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Example of how to properly ride in a group

Transportation back to the start will be provided. There are a limited number of spots for bikes going back, so please call the shop and confirm that you are riding. There is no cost for the ride, however, Bashakill’s wine tasting is $4 if they have more than 4 wines available to taste. You do get a cool souvenir wine glass with your tasting. There will be food available for purchase at the winery or your welcome to bring your own.

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Local musician, Keith Newman will be playing from 2-6pm.

Keith Newman has been playing the Catskills rock circuit since his teenage years, as part of various bands and in collaboration with other local musicians. As a solo vocalist who accompanies himself on six and twelve string guitar and harmonica, he continues to play a wide variety of acoustic music. His repertoire includes covers by artists including the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, Jackson Brown, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd, The Eagles and more.

Hope to see you there!

 

A New Discovery – Maybe not that New

Finally, a semi dry day. This morning, the weather forecast called for 42 degrees and cloudy skies, but no rain! After near drought conditions and 3 forest fires nearby, the rain was certainly welcomed, but not 8 straight days of it. Well, with a temporary break in the pattern, an early morning ride was beckoning.

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I hooked up with Eric, and departed Action Bikes and Outdoor at 7:30am. It was a little chilly, but some climbing early on would heat things up a bit. We crossed the Milford Bridge, and darted up Deckertown Turnpike. It was immediately apparent that the past weeks rain turned the brown, dreary landscape into the green, mountainous beauty that makes the tri-state area so desirable. We turned right on New Road before Deckertown really got steep. New Road is slightly downhill for 3 miles. Just before we would have crossed over Rt. 206, we hung a left on Degroat Road for what turned out to be a cool detour.

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We came upon Luna Parc, an artistic wonderland, hidden in the woods. Luna Parc is the home of madcap artist Ricky Boscarino. His largest work in progress is his home and the atelier Luna Parc, which began in 1989. While not open to the public, 3 day open house tours are known to occour.

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Luna Parc

Just up the road, we made a right on Meyers Road. For another mile and a half, we cruised through a quiet, serene setting, before coming to Rt. 206. Turning right, we made 2 quick lefts, and dropped onto Layton Hainsville Road. Making our way into Layton, we passed a few runners and walkers, probably itching to get outside. Another right hander, and we went right through Layton and onto Bevans Road.

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We snaked our way to Peter’s Valley, and took respite at the Peter’s Valley store and gallery. IMG_2888

Up the famed Peter’s Valley climb, we plateaued, and descended down across Rt. 560 and onto Old Mine Road. Apparently, it’s turkey season for the local hunters, as cars were parked all along the roadway. Although pot holed for the last 3 miles, Old Mine Road is fast, and dumps you right at the base of the aforementioned Milford Bridge. Once across, we dropped down passed the Metz Ice house and back up into Milford for a recovery spin back to the shop.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink (I don’t know why, but probably because of Luna Parc)

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Sullivan County – Beautiful

There ‘s no other way to describe Sunday’s weather, except stunning, simply stunning! A bright sunny day with flawless blue skies, moderate wind and 52 degrees. An absolute perfect day for a bike ride. Because it was so nice, I had to make sure to get some yard work in as these beautiful spring, weekend days are at a premium. That being said, I woke up extremely early and cleaned out the shed, put out the patio furniture and began my spring assault on the lawn.

Earlier in the week, I pre planned a Sunday ride with a couple of friends. So, I kissed my understanding and awesome wife goodbye and headed out to meet Eric H. and Debbie at Hupka’s Auto Body in Matamoras, PA, just outside Milford.

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We rode out of the auto body shop and onto Mountain Avenue, right on Delaware drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. A left on Water Street to River Road to Ferry Street and a left on West Main Street. We followed West Main out of the West End neighborhood, across Rt. 97 and onto Rt. 42, passing through Sparrowbush, NY. We followed Rt. 42 for about 11 miles up to Forestburgh Road. Rt. 42 , a well paved road with a five foot shoulder, climbs the whole way. By the time we made the left on Forestburgh Road, we amassed over 1,400 feet of elevation with little respite.

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Forestburgh Road dropped us down to the scenic Mongaup Falls Reservoir, a contributory to the Delaware River, and back up a ridiculously steep hill. Compared to the Poconos, the Catskill Mountains are just that, mountainess. A few more miles and a bit more climbing and the road comes to a split. We veered right onto Leers Road and descended until the road ended. A right on Mohican Lake Road for some more climbing through the town of Highland Lake.

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Mohican Lake Road becomes Highland Lake Road and descends down to the small, quiet town of Eldred, NY. Since, Eldred is our turn around point of sorts, we decided take a lunch break at Peck’s Market (they have a nice covered patio with a pic nic table). This seemed like a great time to tell Eric and Deb that although they said this was their first ride of the year, both of them were riding extremely well. Their winter workouts and diet certainly paid off.

Pedaling out of Eldred, we ascended a very steep Proctor Road (I should have had a lighter lunch before a climb like that). Once we reached the top, we rode the ups and downs for about 8 miles to the Upper Mongaup Road, which rolls for a few more miles where we hung a left on Knight Rd, dropped sharply down and made a left on Rio Dam Road. Rio Dam Road is a twisty ascent before dropping you right onto the Rio Dam, a massive structure that sends water to New York City and electricity to surrounding towns.

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A Photo Op on the Rio Dam. We were really excited to be there!

As soon as we rolled off the dam, we immediately climbed another monster incline. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, we grinded up the hill, until we summited and turned right on Rt. 42. The climbing was finished for the day, but the thrill was about to begin as we plummeted back down Rt. 42 for about 7 miles. We turned left on Berme Road and rode back through the small, hauntingly desolate town of Sparrowbush.

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Although renovated, one of many vacant shops in Sparrowbush, NY
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Riverside Creamery

Heading out of town, we made a left on Rt. 97 and slithered through the west end of Port Jervis. Just before the bridge, we stopped at the Riverside Creamery for an ice cream cone. The Creamery is located on Water St., right on the Delaware River. An absolute oasis, great food and fantastic ice cream. We crossed the bridge and pedaled along the river, back up Avenue C and onto Mountain Avenue for a short sprint to Hupka’s Auto Body.

I’m not sure what was better, the ride or the incredible weather, maybe both! If you want to challenge yourself, this ride is well worth it. 50+ miles and 4,790 feet of climbing make this ride one of the more rewarding adventures on 2 wheels.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Prince – Purple Rain

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I Love New York-Point Peter

A few mornings ago, I was driving on Rt. 84, and got off on the Port Jervis exit. I noticed the I Love New York circular heliport looking artwork in the grass on the side of the highway. As I have passed this a bunch of times, I’ve often remembered the I Love New York TV commercials from the 1970’s. This got me thinking (I know that’s dangerous).

After my appointment, I would drive back to Milford, get on my bike, ride through Montague, NJ, onto the highway, and take a picture with my bike, on the I Love NY sign. As luck would have it, Eric called, wanting to ride. So we met at Action Bikes and Outdoor, and off we went.IMG_2753

We left the shop, traversed Milford, and made our way over the Milford Bridge. We rode up Deckertown Turnpike, made a left onto New Road, and rode over to Clove Road. Turning right on Clove, we roller coastered for about 4.5 miles to Montague, and hung a left on Rt. 23. A mile down the road, we rode on the exit ramp against traffic to get up to the highway. After taking a few photos, I realized that this was a remarkably stupid idea. Not very well thought out. Will never do it again!

From there, we pedaled through the city of Port Jervis and up Rt. 97, made a right on Skyline Drive, and began the climb up to Point Peter. Skyline Drive is a steep climb for about 2.5 miles. Switchback after switchback, we kept ascending until we capped the mountain, and rode back down the other side for about a half mile to Point Peter.

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The Port Jervis Bridge from Point Peter

Point Peter offers incredible panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument in New Jersey. After a few photos, we carefully slipped back down Skyline Drive. If you ever want to feel like the road was built especially for you, ride down Skyline Drive sometime. You’ll want to to ride back up just to descend it again!

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American & P.O.W. Flags atop Point Peter

Hang a right on Rt. 97, a mile later  make a sharp left on Sleepy Hollow Road for a recovery spin along the river and through the west end of Port Jervis. A right on Ferry Street and a quick left on River Road, along the Port Jervis Fitness Path, and back on the the Bridge. Once back in Pennsylvania, we hung a right off the bridge onto Delaware Drive, for a spin on the other side of the river.

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Eric hammers on the the fitness path

A left on Avenue C and over to Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras, and a right hand turn on Rt. 209/Rt. 6. Navigating a busy shopping district, we slid through and made our way back to Milford. Although the ride began very recklessly, the ride up and down Point Peter and the ride through west end made for a fantastic ride on a beautiful day!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Harry Chapin – Greatest Stories Live71jJCu8fbZL._SX425_

Bashakill Vinyards and Winery Ride

On Sunday, May 22, 2016, we will be riding from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford to the Bashakill Vinyards and Winery in Wurtsboro, NY. We will leave the shop at 9:00am. The route will be about 50 miles. Transportation back to Milford will be provided (spouses and friends are welcome to meet us there to help with transports). Please call the shop ahead of time or leave a comment here if you intend on riding with us, so we can have enough transportation.

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Open Sundays too!

Bashakill is an organic winery that produces about 1200 cases a year. The tasting room is a rustic room attached to the side of the garage. There is no charge to taste four of their wines. If they have more than 4 wines available there is a $4 tasting fee, which includes a souvenir glass. They sell by the glass or you can buy a bottle and share it amongst friends. Feel free to bring your own cheese and crackers or a lunch where you can eat on the outside seating area. glass_closeup_web

The have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. They haven’t posted who’s playing on May 22 yet, but they usually have first class entertainment.

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In 2011, they built the BashaKill Wine Cave! They cut into the mountain and poured a 67-yard concrete cave, which is 40 feet deep and 16 feet wide. Being under ground creates a constant temperature with high humidity. This provides the perfect environment for aging their red wines. They usually give tours of the cave periodically during the day.

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Bashakill Vinyards Wine Cave

So come enjoy a challenging ride with us from Milford to Wurtsboro. It is a no drop ride, so everyone will arrive together. We will pedal through the beautiful tri state area, chow on homemade food, listen to good music and taste some of the finest wines in the Catskills.

 

 

 

2 Rides, Lot’s of Fun & Adventure

Now that the weather seems to have turned for the better, it’s time to hit the road and get some quality miles in. With temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s this weekend, I had to find time to put tires on blacktop.

Riding out of town is always pretty this time of year. Before the trees become green, an array of flowers are in bloom and many store fronts and homes display just enough to get you really excited for the spring and summer seasons.

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A few sights from Milford including the old Milford Theater(home of the Black Bear Film Festival) and the Dimmick Inn

I rode with John on Sunday from Layton Hainesville Road on the New Jersey side. After an easy spin at conversational pace, we traveled through Layton and over to Peter’s Valley. We hung a left on the Walpack Road and went past the Walpack Inn and around the Walpack loop. The loop is about 12 miles. A roller coaster type road that winds you in and around the National Forest, providing scenic views of the Flatbrook Creek.

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John hammering it over the Walpack Loop on his new Trek Emonda

We re-traced the route back to Layton Hainsville Road and back to Milford. On the way back, a black pickup truck with what appeared to be an intoxicated driver, decided it was not willing to share the road. After a few swerves and short stops, the driver sped away and probably figured that it was better to get back to the bar.

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All and all, a really nice ride on what turned out to be the warmest day of the year, so far. It felt good to finally ride in shorts and short sleeves.

Today, I rode with TC and Eric from Action Bikes and Outdoor. We left the shop at about 7:30am on a crisp, slightly windy April morning. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. You couldn’t ask for more. After a slow cruise through Milford’s side streets, we dropped down past the Metz Icehouse and up to Rt. 209 and over the Milford Bridge.

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Metz Icehouse

We climbed up Deckertown Turnpike, across Rt. 206 and made a right on New Road. We followed New Road into Cemetery Road and crossed over Rt. 206 again and made a left on Layton Hainesville Road. Riding with TC and Eric, I knew the pace would be fast. I grabbed onto a wheel and hung on through Layton and chased them over to Peter’s Valley, a scenic artists colony that’s home to a popular climb among local cyclist.

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Pedaling up the back of Old Mine Road(the Peter’s Valley Climb), I took up my usual position behind TC and Eric, spinning at a brisk pace up the steep 1st few hundred feet. As the hill crests, the grade becomes much more manageable. It’s one of those climbs that you have to really push up the 1st part, to enjoy an easy spin for the rest of the hill. Coming over the top, you shoot straight down hill for a little over a mile and cross over Rt. 560.

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Old Mine Road is a quiet country road that spans from the Dingmans Bridge to the Milford Bridge on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. On nice days, you will see scores of cyclists and runners enjoying the serene surroundings. A quick trip back over the Milford bridge and into Milford for some well deserved coffee. Quick tip. Get out early if you can, before the weather has a chance to turn on you.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen the Rain.

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Greenville Turnpike & 3 States

Everything you wanted to know about the wind but were afraid to ask. Yeah, it was windy today! Did I say it was windy? It was windy!

Having an opportunity to get out and squeeze a ride in on what appeared to be a beautifully sunny day, I met up with Steve at Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford. On a whim, we decided on a ride around the Delaware Valley and a climb up Greenville Turnpike.

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Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge

Leaving the shop, we headed east on Rt. 209/Rt 6. Although flat and fast, we had to deal with a lot of evening traffic, oh and did I say, wind? Just as we crossed Rt. 84, we turned left onto Mountain Avenue to avoid busy Matamoras. Turning right on Delaware Drive, we approached the Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge and I couldn’t help but think that as we ride through this area on a daily basis, it’s real easy to take for granted the scenery that is all around us. A perfect example was the ride over the bridge and the view of the incredibly serene Delaware River.

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Pushing through the wind, we made our way through the streets of the old, up and coming small city of Port Jervis, NY. (The once rundown, river city is making a comeback with scores of new businesses and great restaurants). Going under the overpass and up Pike Street, we made a right on E. Main Street and pedaled over the Neversink River Bridge and into Montague, NJ.

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We hung a left on Greenville Turnpike, got out of traffic, back into New York and started to climb. At a little over 3 miles, Greenville Turnpike starts out a mere gradual uphill for the 1st 1.25 miles. As it bears right, the road inclines sharply and continues to climb for about 2 more miles, passing some hillside homes and a parking area for the trailhead to the Shawangunk Trail in the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, before dropping back down to where we made a left on Old Mountain Road. Old Mountain Road is carved into the side of the mountain, providing a road surface that is smooth but slanted down to the low side.

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Old Mountain Road drops down to a sudden stop at Rt. 6 in Greenville in front of the Firehouse Deli. A steep, half mile climb awaits as we turn left on Rt. 6. For some reason, the climb seems fast(just one of those roads that feels like your going faster than you should). As we capped the summit, I zipped up and pulled my gloves on and prepared for the long, descent. Did I say it was windy? It felt like the wind was actually pushing us back uphill. Rt. 6 drops through Deerpark, NY for 3.5 miles to the border of Montague and Port Jervis. Pedaling back through Port Jervis, E. Main Street eventually rolls right into Rt. 97. We climbed up to the Main Street overlook and were treated to an excellent view of the city.

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Descending Rt. 97 to Sleepy Hollow Road, we winded through the quiet West End Neighborhood of Port Jervis and back to the bridge and across to Matamoras. As we traveled through Matamoras and into Milford, we were hit hard by the wind. For 5 plus miles, we crawled back to Action Bikes and Outdoors, happy to have gotten it in.

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

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Cummins Hill Climb

Last evening, I had a chance to get a quick ride in before dark. Not only was it the end of the day, it was also the last chance to get a ride in before unseasonably cold tempatures and snow set in for the next few days. I met up with Mike at Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6pm. Having only about 1.5 hours of light, we decided to hit a short but tough loop that’s known in the area as Cummins Hill.

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Action Bikes and Outdoor & the Frisky Goat Coffee House 611 Broad Street Milford, PA 18337

Leaving the shop, we headed north on Rt. 209/Rt. 6, towards Port Jervis, NY. With alot of traffic at that time of day, we made sure we had our blinkies on to alert cars that we were on the side of the roadway. Rt. 209/Rt. 6 is fast and flat all the way into Matamoras. Passing the box stores and Rt. 84, we went under the overpass and made a left on Mountain Avenue, just before the Firehouse. The scenery immediatley turns from, cars, noise and traffic to quiet, desolate and peaceful. Mountain Avenue is a nice way to connect Rt. 209/Rt.6 with the Delaware River without having to ride through Matamoras (where there is no room for bikes on Pennsylvannia Avenue).

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Delaware Drive

Mountain Avenue winds through some residential areas and comes to an end at Delaware Drive. Making a left on Delaware Drive, we enjoyed a few miles of riding along the Delaware River. With the recent rains, the river was flowing quite quickly, creating a relaxing sound as we approached the climbs.  Right at the end of Delaware Drive, along the river are boat launches for the three major river trip companies in the area.

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View from the Descent into Millrift

Just as Delaware Drive turns into Bluestone Blvd. the road immediately pitches up and the fun starts. Passing a few farms and cool rustic homes, the road climbs up for a few miles before descending down into Millrift, PA. With not much there, except for a bunch of neatly situated, pretty country homes, Millrift gives you some awesome scenery and a chance to refresh your legs before the real climbing begins.

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In Millrift, Bluestone Blvd. becomes Cummins Hill Road. Cummins Hill ascends for about 4 miles. With little respite, the road twist and turns and snakes through the woods, but never stops going up. The slow pace allows you some breathtaking views. Approaching the top, the road turns right and steepens, taking the last bit of strength that I had in my legs.

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The descent is steep and technical. The low light made it an adventure. Mike seemed to rip right down, while I took my time around the turns and made sure that I would need a new set of brake pads soon. Cummins Hill Road dumps you back on Rt.209/Rt.6. Making a right, we cooled down with a nice cruise aroung Old Milford Road and and back into town.

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Strava map

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tuff Enuff

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Farms, Barns & Bikes

Although I have been riding a few times a week throughout the winter, I’m hesitant to bore you with the same old rides, as getting out the back door is pretty convenient this time of year. With an early spring like day, I decided to head out right after work, and meet Steve at Dingmans Falls for a quick jaunt through Northern New Jersey. A 4:30pm start gave us just about enough daylight for a nice loop through Sussex County.

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We headed out of Dingmans Falls and over the Delaware River via the Dingmans Bridge (that awesome wooden bridge, where the toll taker stands in the middle). We turned right on Old Mine Road, and immediately climbed up and over into Peter’s Valley (an Artist’s Colony tucked into the woods). At the bottom, we swung a sharp left onto Bevans Road, an old country lane, dotted with farms, separating Peter’s Valley and Layton, NJ.

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Peter’s Valley Climb

Turning left on Layton Hainsville Road, we cruised passed more farms and a few old houses of worship. Layton Hainsville is a roller coaster that twists and turns for a few miles until crossing over Rt. 206 onto Cemetery Road. Cemetery Road goes right through the heart of one of the largest organic farms in the area, and turns into New Road. New Road is as flat as it gets in the Tri State area, crossing over Deckertown Turnpike and dropping us onto Clove Road. Heading back to Deckertown, a right hand turn dumped us down a steep hill at the foot of the Milford Bridge.

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A little Sussex County History

Turning left on Old Mine Road, we went 7 miles along the Delaware River on one of the most scenic roads in the area. Old Mine is pot hole city for about 4 miles, but you hardly notice it as your eyes are fixated on old barns, trails, vistas, and an array of wild animals (White Tail Deer, Coyote, Black Bear, Red Fox, among others). There are a host of trail networks on either side of Old Mine Road. Just veer off, and explore. You won’t be sorry.

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Old Mine Road Facts and Fables

Turning right from Old Mine Road onto Rt. 560, and heading back over the Dingman Bridge to Pennsylvania, we just about had enough light to make it back to our cars.

If you want to do a road ride that is scenic and quiet (not a lot of traffic!), head down to Dingmans Falls. It only 8 miles from Milford on Rt. 209 in the National Park System.

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GUYMARD TURNPIKE

With the warm weather holding out for a few more days, today presented us with a golden opportunity to ride one of my favorite routes, Guymard Turnpike. A road ride, Guymard is on the New York side and we would have to navigate some traffic to get across the bridge.

I met up with Eric and Mike at Action Bikes and Outdoor (the premeiere bicycle and outdoor store in the tri state area), right in the heart of town. We headed out north on Rt. 209 and dodged some midday traffic, enabling us to make our way over the Port Jervis Bridge.

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Going under the train  tressel, we hung a left on Pike Street and weaved our way through the City of Port Jervis and over to Rt. 209, a secondary highway that connects Port Jervis with eastern Orange County, NY. Passing the Horse farm by Neversink Drive, we continued on Rt. 209 another few miles and turned right on Guymard Turnpike.

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Eric’s very pink socks

Guymard is a quiet back country road. It runs from 209 over to Old Mountain Road. Starting out, Guymard is a false flat for about a mile as it passes the KOA Camp Ground and goes over the bridge turning right and bears left. As it bears left, the hill steepens and twist and turns for 2+ miles. As you cap the hill and head down the backside, you are treated to a spectacular view of the Shawangunk Mountain range.

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Beautiful man made lake, halfway up Guymard Turnpike

After a short descent, we turned right on Old Mountain Road. Old Mountain is another secondary road with not much traffic, but the cars do move pretty fast. Old Mountain Road is a true blacktop rollercoaster. Momentum carries you over hill after hill until you reach Rt. 6, where the steepest part of the ride begins. Turning right on Rt. 6, you are immediately hit with a half mile of uphill pedaling. With our already tired legs, we capped the hill and enjoyed a 3 and 1/2 mile descent, dropping us right at the border of Montague, NJ and Port Jervis, NY.

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Turning right into Port Jervis and Left onto River Road and back into Montague, we made our way toward the Milford Bridge. River Road is another rollercoaster, stretching 6 miles through farmland. It ends right at the intersection of Deckertown Turnpike, Rt. 206, Old Mine Road and the Milford Bridge. The bridge, as I’ve written previously, has a steel bike path 5 feet lower than the vehicle lanes, passing over the Delaware River. Once back in Milford, we relaxed and enjoyed some java at the Frisky Goat Cafe. With 35+ miles and 2,388 feet of elevation, this ride is challenging enough for the fittest riders and scenic enough for the most casual riders.

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Walpack & Back

Is it really December? As I am just getting over a nasty head cold, I thought I would spend the day today just relaxing and watch some football. I woke up early, and checked the weather: 37F at 8am. Looks like it might hit 50F. Change of plans. If I layer up and cover my head, I could take advantage of this incredible late autum warmth and get a ride in.

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Milford Bridge Bike Lane going in to Milford

I decided to do one of the areas most popular rides: Milford to the Walpack Inn. I left from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of town, and headed to the Milford Bridge. Bicycles are only allowed in the bike lane on the side of the bridge, a narrow steel surface about 5 feet below the bridge’s vehicle lanes, giving you an awesome view of the Delaware river. Once over the bridge and into Montague, NJ, I climbed up Deckertown Turnpike for 2 miles and made a right onto New Road. New Road rolls down at about a 1% grade for 3.5 miles through a residental area and a couple of horse farms.

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A nice refurbished barn with an old style billboard advertisment

Crossing over Rt. 206, I went left onto Layton Hainesville Road. Littered with farms, churches, and old homes, Layton Hainesville Road drops you right into the small berg of Layton, NJ. A General Store turned Greek restaurant, an old hotel turned pizza parlor and an old mechanic shop are the focal points of a revived town with a reputation for good food. A few more miles and I rolled through Peter’s Valley (an artists’ colony), and made a left on Walpack-Flatbrook Road (Rt.615), a roller coaster type road that rises, descends, and winds throughout the Walpack Recreation Area. At about 16.5 miles, I turned around at the Walpack Inn, a restaurant set in the wooded landscape among every creature the area has to offer.

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The Walpack Inn – A popular weekend eatery.

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Heading back on Walpack-Flatbrook Road, you pass by the Walpack Center, a small former village, consisting of an old US Post Office, a museum, and a few old homes. I went straight at Peter’s Valley and up the backside of the Peter’s Valley Climb. This is the easier direction to climb the hill, but it can get steep, especially right at the beginning. This drops you at Rt. 560, riding straight across on to Old Mine Road, a quiet country road that connects the Dingmans Bridge with the Milford Bridge. Mostly flat, Old Mine Road zig-zags for 7 miles past 2 very old cemetaries in as picturesque a setting as you could imagine, and with almost no traffic.

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Old Mine Road at the switchback

I turned left at the end, and back toward and onto the Milford Bridge for one more view of the Delaware River before returning to Milford. In total, 31 miles, and just over 2,100 feet of climbing. I’ll take a December ride anytime mother nature wants to give it to me!

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Strava map of the Walpack ride

 

 

 

 

 

High Point

As autumn slowly winds down and winter approaches, the weather is getting colder and the days shorter. This leaves way too much time for yard work and holiday decorating, and not enough for riding. As anyone who knows me knows that I generally become full of excuses when it comes to riding in the cold weather (although, I usually do ride sporadically throughout the winter), the long winter certainly gives me plenty of time to reminisce about all the epic rides of the spring, summer and fall.

Milford’s benchmark road ride is from the center of town up to High Point, New Jersey. The ride is simply refered to by the local cycling culture as High Point. IMG_1525Nestled atop High Point State Park in the Kittatinny Mountains, it is the highest point of elevation (1804′) in the state of New Jersey. The beautiful 220 foot high monument was built in 1928 as a war memorial. The base of the monument offers views of the Pocono Mountains to the west and the Catskill Mountains to the north. New York, New Jersey, and Pennsyvainia are all seen in what appears to be a panaramic view.

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Starting from town, there are a number of different routes to take you up to the monument. First, the most common is Rt. 209 from Milford to the Port Jervis, New York bridge and under the overpass, and up Pike St. After turning right on Rt. 6 and taking it through Port Jervis and into Montague, New Jersey, you turn right on Rt. 23 and follow all the way up to the entrance to High Point State Park.

Another popular route is from town to the Milford bridge and take Deckertown Turnpike up and over to Sawmill Rd. Follow Sawmill to Rt. 23, and make a right and climb the last 1/2 mile to the park entrance. 11348216_399866180215174_1728510025_n

The toughest route, at least for a rider of my size, is up the Mashipacongs. From town to the Milford Bridge, make a left on River Rd. and follow to New Mashipacong Rd. Climb for a little over 3/4 of a mile, and descend to Clove Rd. Turn right and a quick left onto Old Mashipacong Rd. Climb for just about 2 miles. At the top, go through the gate and left into the park.

Once inside the park, follow for 1 1/2 miles, make a right, and go up the steep grade to the top of the parking area. Then, go left up another steep hill to the monument where you get rewarded with the aforementioned views.

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