Six Mile Run – a Watershed Day…

For those who ride the trails, carve the paths to follow…

The rocks and roots, the twists and turns, the ebb and flow…
The dirt, the trees, shrubs and streams- all immersed in nature.
Riding into the unknown. The Mountain bike. Simple yet evoking.

The local meetup group, njmountainbiking posted a 15 mile ride
through Six Mile Run for Saturday, the 18th. So, wanting to get some
dirt miles in and do a bit of different type riding, I decided to break
out my Iron Horse hard tail and hit the trails at the Central Jersey
state park. Six Mile Run Reservoir, has a myriad of trails for mtb
riding, hiking and horseback riding alike.

six mile lot

https://i0.wp.com/ridewithgps.com/turer/1330962/full.png

While I am passionate about road cycling, mountain biking offers
a somewhat completely different experience. Typically nestled
amongst the vegetation and brush and streams, you are as close
to nature as possible. Not that I am a ‘nature lover’ per-say, but I
do appreciate the wondrous cascade of water over rocks, or the
majestic heights of tall trees. The quietness of the hectic world,
resides here.

six mile trail

The trails are a place to forget all of your thoughts and worries.
A place to reconnect and exploit the pure physical nature of the
human mind and body. Although skill and speed are not relevant,
it seems passion and desire are what drive most off-road riders.
Of course skill-levels vary like in any other sport or activity, but the
great thing about mtb’ing is the comradery and friendly
atmosphere among the riders.

This was my first mtb outing of the year and I wasn’t sure of what to expect.
Besides not knowing the trails, I was not sure of my fitness level. So I opted to
hang about half-way in the group of 15 as we started out and get a feel for the
pace and the paths. Our ride leader Gary, was very experienced and knew the trails well. At first the pace was a bit stop and go, as we made sure the group stayed close for the first mile or so. By the third mile, there were stragglers starting to fall off to the back.

At this time, I moved up a bit as I felt I could ride the pace easily.
Also, this was the point where the trail began a 2 mile stretch of twisty
switchbacks and turns. I was excited to encounter this section to see what I could do. Happily, I moved up even further, now riding with the top 4 riders. The trail did not
disappoint, as the sweeping, twisty sections had us carving through narrow passages of trees, over some roots and the occasional patch of rocks. Our speed picked up for
moments, as I leaned left, leaned right and then left over and over again.

six mile bridge

Seated or out of the saddle, pushing on the bars, clipping the apexes… it was bliss for someone like me, someone who appreciates the twists and turns, whether they are paved or dirt. Cornering is the crux of riding any two-wheeled machine. When you lean and turn in and feel the earth beneath your wheels, almost relenting, but not.
The rush of flowing through a corner, the absolute surge of excitement it brings.

It was by far the best day of mountain bike riding I have ever had.
Not that I have a lot of mtb miles logged anyway. But I was focused,
yet relaxed and able to ride well, without really trying too much. Something unusual for me on the trails. And for the last 2 miles I lead the best 4-5 guys back to the lot at a fairly high-pace. I felt strong and confident, which again was a bit unusual for me. All in all, a great day of riding and comradery. I was still grinning on the drive home…

Rapha – A Throw Of The Dice

Something of an off-beat short by Ridley Scott.
This short film was inspired by Johann Museeuw’s
Paris-Roubaix wins, as well as the war-torn history of Roubaix

“Shell-holes one after the other, with no gaps, outlines of trenches, barbed wire cut into one thousand pieces; unexploded shells on the roadside, here and there, graves. Crosses bearing a jaunty tricolour are the only light relief.”

“From Doullens onwards the countryside was nothing but desolation. The shattered trees looked vaguely like skeletons, the paths had collapsed and been potholed or torn away by shells. The vegetation, rare, had been replaced by military vehicles in a pitiful state. The houses of villages were no more than bare walls. At their foot, heaps of rubble. Eugène Christophe exclaimed: ‘Here, this really is the hell of the North.”

Harmony Falls into the Descent of Bliss…

48 miles, 3800 feet up

Today’s stage 20, in the “Tour of 2013” had me rolling through
some familiar roads and a couple of which I had never ridden.

Hitting an old favorite, the Mt Harmony Ascent at mile 7, I set a
PR again, now ranked 3rd on RwGPS. I continued meandering
through the low hills of Bernardsville on my way towards the
farm lands of Bedminster.

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Mile 24, I hit the dirt and gravel for about 2 miles on Old Dutch
and Lager Cross Rd’s. Passing historic Rheinland Farms.
The Sunday scenery was subdued and quiet, as I stayed near
the crown of the road.

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Back on a long stretch of rollers of “Loamatong” heading into
the outskirts of Bridgewater towards Rattlesnake Bridge. I kept
a steady pace pedaling into a stiff headwind. Then it was on to
the false flats of Burnt Mills, heading up Washington Valley Road.

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One of the last climbs of the day would be the short, but tough
hill, Hunter-Somerville and homeward bound up Liberty Corner.
Once more I would set a PR on Hunter, ranking 3rd as well.

In between all the climbs, there are of course, always descents.
Typically, I try to push hard on the familiar downhills…in an
effort to keep my cornering skills sharp. I bombed the very short
right-left esses of Bliss and the last left-right of Old Chester.
I love bending the bike in to corner, lean, counter-steer and
flow right through. It’s pure magic when you get it right!

So far, my climbing has improved nearly 20% from 2012. I
hope to keep this trend up through the rest of the year…

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1314899/elevation_profile

The Edge of Valley Green

40 miles, climbing 3320′ up

Today’s Stage climbed up familiar Mt Harmony and then
Hardscrabble Pass. As I wound through the Small Valley
of Bernardsville along Roxiticus, my thoughts wandered
like the rolling wheels beneath me…

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From scenic Ravine Lake to the border of Mendham, it was
lush green fields and rolling farms full of foliage that paved
the way. My legs pumped like pistons, my lungs not-too-fade
carried me strong, to the 4th best time up Hardscrabble.

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http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1295699/elevation_profile

The ascent beckons, like a siren song, as I am lured by her
tempting curves, by her majestic heights. Though I know
of the suffering she will put me through, I labor upward, still-
Inspired by such landscapes of beauty, oh her seductive reward
of enchanting views…

Fore the climbs are romantic in their own epic way, with the
promise of love and absolute pain, all wrapped in a rapturous
dream of her rising allure…