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…

Valley of the Saxons

94.95 km – 8714 meters

This ’37th’ round of 2013 took me through historic German Valley on a beautiful warm Spring day. The roads go up, the roads go down in these parts, but it seems like one spends more time pedaling ‘up’ rather than down!

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This part of Morris County, NJ was originally settled mainly by the Germans of Saxony, though much immigrated from all parts of Deutschland as well. The area is dotted with churches and farms from the early 1700’s. Lutheran, Presbyterian, Moravian, Reformed and Episcopalian to name but some. Today, many churches from the 1700’s still stand and many farms still operate in German Valley.

Many of the streets, landmarks and farms in the area still retain their German ancestry and namesakes. Ort Farms is one of my favorite places to stop and grab some fresh
produce and a bottle of water along the way…a friendly staff (mostly the ort family) and great views of the Valley floor are the standard fare.

Of course one of the most famous landmarks is Schooley’s Mountain, which I have
ascended many times, but today I was plunging down the mountain. Only to be slowed by a trio of inept das auto drivers! Though I did ascend two big climbs today, within the
Valley. First up was N 4 Bridges Road. It may only be .72 in length and 370′ up, but it has an average grade of 10.5%!

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From there I wound my around to Naughright, 1.2 miles long, with a 7.5% mean gradient, rising up 495′. While not ‘euro’ tough stuff, still pretty decent climbs as far as gradient goes…

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I did hit two other fairly significant climbs as well, one prior to rolling into German Valley, which was the 3.5 mile long Old Chester Rd and one on the way home, Mt Paul. And of course, Liberty Corner to close out the day. Unfortunately, I found myself struggling mightily up all of the climbs except Mt Paul today. I was barley able to keep going up
N 4 Bridges and was sucking every breath for precious oxygen…Then going up Naughright, the sun was beating down, heating things up just that extra bit more.

Even though I was grinding it out, I had to remind myself how great the day was at that moment. The blue skies, layered with the images of story-book clouds. The passing landscapes lined with greenery and flowers, the sounds of Spring…morphing into Summer.

But for some reason, my fitness level has degenerated at bit. I was climbing fairly well during April and May, but a few weeks ago I started to notice my ability to wane…and, I have no real solid answer as to why- yet.

All in all it was another great day in the saddle, enjoying life and the bike. The struggle, the scenery, the risk and the reward…

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1411274/elevation_profile

Auf Wiedersehen!

Moving Mountains…

Start Date: June 1, 2013/12:59 pm
Ride Time:  4 hours, 4 mins (total time 5:06)
Temperature: 90°
Prototype: 47 years, 8.44 month old rider
Distance/Ascent: 55 miles – 4600′

-It was the 3rd day in succession of riding this week, with plus 90° temps-
each of the 3 days. Thankfully, it hadn’t really bothered my riding so far…

Today, the Antagonists of hills lay ahead. I rolled out, making my way up the
slight, steady grade of Meeker then down to Harmony Falls and then
onward to the climb of St John on the Mountain.

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Hardscrabble, bumpy and broken throws her all at me, 3 miles,
long, 675′ up at about a 4.6% avg grade. I keep the pedals turning,
fighting for every second. Off along the edges of the road, lay
the remnants of the 7th Brigade, as Revolutionary rocks form
the hardscape, while the streams run their course.

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The top of Talmage- with the heights of Randolph in the distance

The miles are rolling by and the scenery has me smiling today.
I approach the 3.5 mile Cold Hill-Woodland Climb that takes me
past Potts Reservoir– The rays of sun dance and glean off the still water.
She rises up 547 feet, with a slight reprieve and dip in the middle.

I’m struggling to keep a steady pace. Shoulders rocking, labored
breathing, The sun is pounding my head like a 10lb hammer sledge.
The cars of passers by, look into my suffering eyes…I’d ask them-
tell me what do you see- someone real? yea this is for real, as real
as it gets… At the summit of Mt Freedom, I stop for a respite, water
and food to fuel the second half of the journey.

I roll down South Road- peeling off onto Ironia. This is the big, fast
descent of the day. I was thinking to just coast and roll down her wicked
esses- but just then, the ‘racer’ got the better of me…

Carbon wrapped in Flesh and Bone, plunging down steep Ironia-
Riding into sweeping Fury…
( I scorched the downhill- 1:37 and shattered the record of 1:49-
Now I covet the #1 spot…but for how long?)

The road bends right-left-right-left, with a decreasing radius in the
2nd right-hander. Here is where I nearly met my fate… I made a rare mistake of
turning in just a second or two early, I was in way too hot…and had to just feather the rear brake. The tire locked for a brief moment, my eyes-wide with fear…I immediately
released the lever and the rear tire hooked back up.

I stomp the pedals and the gears once more gathering  precious speed down
Snake Hill- as my heart rate slowly comes back down. Oh, I got lucky today, no doubt.
straining the limits of machine and man…laughing out loud with fear
and hope I had a desperate plan…”

Three more climbs were still in front of me before I made it back
home, Campbell, Clark and the finish up old familiar Liberty Corner.
The 90° heat was beginning to takes it toll…as I could feel my face radiating,
the sweat pouring off my arms and legs. Thankfully, there was
a little shade on the Clark and Liberty Corner climbs for a bit of cover.

I am taking on a steady flow of water and now at mile 50 I was empty.
So one last water stop at Dunham Park, just 4 miles from home…
It’s 5:37 pm now and the sun shine is unrelenting, but Sol is a welcome friend, always.

My hands, back and neck are all aching, as I head for the solace and
comfort of the house door. I’m thinking about the big post-ride meal,
as I look to bright, blue sky with thanks and remember the sights
and sounds on this first day of June…

Cogito – Ergo – Zoom…

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1370222/elevation_profile