Wiesenthal Velo…

A recent leisurely ride through Basel and Lorrach across the old Zoll…The sun was shining, the river flowing and the wheels were slowly rolling.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/3025220

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Schweiz-Deutschland Zoll…

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Laura pedaling steady…

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My borrowed Felt…heavy and solid.

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Beware the Ides of Mud…

A short Saturday ride, with lots of drama and action…

Base Miles sure don’t come easy…as this was a ride to forget.
The roads were in bad shape, salt and water everywhere.  Then I sank my
right foot in the mud up to my ankle. Oh nice… (in my best Brit accent)

Then while at the local airport for a quick pit-stop….I was chased by an angry Rottweiler.
My quick thinking and memory of reading about how to fend off the pooches had me
fencing the 4-legged chap with my carbon steed. At first, I just tried to discourage him,
but he kept coming at me. So then, I attacked him, using the pedal to try and hit him in
the snout. But he was relentless.

Finally what seemed much longer but probably after about two minutes, an
elderly gent thankfully came running over and restrained the stout mongrel. Whew,
that dog Wanted a piece of me in the worst way…I remounted, bid farewell to the man
and the ambitious dog then sprinted out of the airport lot!

Another stop for a scenery pic and the bike fell over. Result? Scratched the carbon fork,
the rear stays and broke both bottle cages and that were not bad enough, I was almost T-boned a block from home. Aye, bugger me…


A T-6 Texan…(trainer) on display and ready for guest rides at George Walker Field
in Bedminster NJ

Stonewell-on-Den Brook (Shongum Lake)

Since I’m a big proponent of truth…truth be told, August has mostly been a Shit Show… A few mechanical’s, 3 punctured tubes, 2 gouged tires and nearly being hit twice…really put a damper on things. And it had, until today. A bit of reprieve I suppose. In fact, when I compare last Summer to this Summer, hands down, 2012 was far more enjoyable.

I had such high expectations, after becoming a ‘climber’ in 2012, I was determined to set off and ascend to new heights as it were. I would climb even higher and further than last year, that was the plan. Only thing is, I ignored the all-too important base-miles early on. As I headed out in March and April, I was setting PR’s on most of my favorite climbs, thinking man, this great. I must be getting stronger, fitter. Completely forgoing mostly flat to rolling miles in those early days and now I am paying the price.

What I didn’t realize at the time, was the ‘damage’ I was doing to my body. As June and July went down, I went up, way, up…climbing more than I had ever done. Which on one hand was great, but, as a result I have progressively become slower, due to the constant and unrelenting ascents I have taken on. No recovery rides, no rest periods in June and July.

2013

From June 1st to July 31st, I had ridden 1,245 miles and climbed 104,000 feet in a mere 36 rides. And, I started to notice that in the last week of July, my body was beginning to suffer. I had little power and stamina. So, for this month, I decided to take it easy, with August half over, I only have ridden 6 times for 236 miles and ascended 21,691 feet. But I’m still knackered. Cannot seem to recover.

At this stage, there is little point to stop or take any sotr of extened break. I usually only ride until October anyway, so I will continue to push onward- at this very slow pace and recoup for next year. Lesson learned.

As I had mentioned earlier, today’s ride was tops. The weather was brilliant, I had no close calls with the cowards in their cages, beautiful scenery and landmarks and there were plenty of food/water stops along the way.

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Heading North West, the roads unfolded, gently curving left and right, right and left, as I laboured upwards. Clouds, still and layered in the remarkably blue sky, defined the horizon. As I pedaled steady, I passesd through the hills and plains of Morris, then it was up Schoolhouse Lane, (1.3 miles, rising 430′ at an average grade of 6.2%) then Mt Pleasant, and on to Raynor…to the private shores of Shongum.

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From Shongum, I headed South, then East to Mount Freedom, back into Mendham. From there it was up Oak Knoll/North Gate for the last significant climb of the day. The last 15 or so miles passed by without much notice, as the brilliant day faded into the rural-suburban evening. 57 miles down and 4,900 feet up, it was a good day in the saddle indeed.

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As I headed for home, it struck me that the cooler August temps, (not so welcome with me) are a stark reminder that Summer is surely winding down. As I bandied these thoughts and past rides to myself, I was hopeful they would be etched in my memory, come those those long, cold and dark Winter days…

Tour de German Valley

Somewhere in and around miles 5 to 6, the skies opened and the deluge began. But just as quick as it came down, it soon began to relent and then stopped, all within about a 20 minute period.

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Ready to roll out…as the skies are darkening

From then on, it remained cloudy and the air heavy, saturated with humidity. Which was especially noticeable on the climbs. Which there were many.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1541710/elevation_profile

The Tour de Long Valley Metric Century wound its way through historic Morris, Warren and Hunterdon Counties of rural NJ. Up and down was the order of the day. With police holding traffic at certain locations and roadside volunteers, the ride was made a bit easier, knowing that the dangerous intersections were covered and SAG were on hand.

The ride itself was fairly uneventful, as I have ridden on most of the roads we were on. Though we did trek on a few I have never been on before. Including two rather arduous climbs. From about mile 11 to mile 16, the pavement just kept going upwards. Hollow, Anthony and Silker roads, were all new climbs for me. I was glad to give them a go!

Aye, then it was the two mile climb up Hollowbrook, that put the sting in me legs…which was followed about 20 miles later in the morning by a gradual 6 mile climb, that rose up over 700 feet. Nothing too heady, but by this point I was starting to tire a bit.

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Along the way I encountered groups of varied riders, most all were faster than me on the rolling and flats (what flats there were) but I would catch them all and pass most of them on the climbs. I managed to hook up with two guys, who seemed to be at or near my pace level. We stayed together for about 30 or so odd miles.

As I had passed a dozen or so people, I had to make a ‘nature’ break…and all that ground was lost! I thought I would not see them again until the end. But to my surprise as the road went up…they appeared in my view. One by one I picked them off. Not that we were racing, but seeing as they would hammer the easy stuff, it left them empty for the ascents.

Unfortunately, the rest stops were not stocked well, which was completely surprising. No bananas, no Gatorade. Just water and bagels. Bugger me. Actually, I said Scheisse, right to the volunteers, but they had no clue what I was saying…anyway, running low on ‘fuel’ there was one more nasty ascent of the day left.

Naughright. 1.3 miles, 499′ at an average gradient of 7.4%. This, coming at mile 60- of mile 63. Needless to say, I was pathetically slow, clawing my way up…

Then it was one more moderate rise up East Springtown and I rolled back into the park to end the day. 63 miles down, 5,500 feet up, in 4:20. Fairly slow at a 14.5mph average, but given the weather and the terrain, not too bad. This old guy is a just tad worn out…

Rivière Noire

54.6 miles/87.87 km – 5,100’/1400m

Today’s ride was my 40th of the year so far. So, “Stage 40” took me around the outskirts of the Black River Park and Environmental Center in Chester. The Black River cuts a swath and meanders through Somerset and Morris counties of NJ. 12 miles long, it twists and turns and flows down along the bucolic towns of Pottersville and Chester.

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Along today’s route, I passed through the quiet, scenic and hilly roads of Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Pottersville, Chester, Califon and Bernardsville. Beginning in Somerset, rolling through Morris and touching the edges of Hunterdon county.

The ride featured one of the biggest climbs of the day, Black River Rd or Rivière Noire as I like to call it- in honor of the Le Tour…it extends for 3.5 miles, ascending 830′ up with a mean rise of approx., 5.75%. A fairly arduous climb, one of those up and down unrelenting hills…that can just take it out of your legs on a 98 degree day!

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As Phil and Paul would say, the roads of Black River are ‘heavy roads’ bumpy, broken and rough pavement for most of the 3.5 mile ascent. Between the brutal heat, oppressive humidity and the craggy roads, I was in damage control mode all the way up…

The highlight of the day wasn’t the long and distant beautiful views of the Allamuchy the Kittatinny Mountains, but rather a stop at the Chester Wendy’s- for an cold Vanilla Frosty! After my creamy smooth frozen treat, I was recharged for the remainder of the ride.

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I still had the local switchback of Mt Harmony and a few smaller climbs ahead of me before the promise of a cold shower and recovery meal back were waiting at home. By days end at 5pm, I was thoroughly done. Hot, tired and hungry! As I hung the bike back up, I took a brief moment to reflect on the miles and the route taken, the roads more or less traveled you might say. Blue skies, bright sun and feeling of being alive…

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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…