The Bake boy and I traveled east to the Garden State for a week to visit family, in particular me ailing pa who does not do well right now. But, as fellow Jersey-ite Tony Soprano would say, What'ya'gonna do?
Perhaps to distract myself from the serious nature of our visit, I borrowed a bike from Chris Kunkel, with whom I graduated Hoval some twenty-nine years ago. He's a Cat 3 racer who recently scored an Orbea Orca. (Lucky Bastard.) He leant me his steel Independant Fabrication ride, which was great fun. That's me above posing rather uncomfortably in front of the Musconetcong River. Despite what you may have heard about New Jersey, there are some really beautiful parts as hopefully these photos show. We stayed at my lovely sister Kath's house (that's how she makes us adress her, Lovely Sister Kath) in Port Murray, a bustling hub of about 6 in Warren County. It's New Jersey's Skylands, as they call it, and while maybe that's a bit hyperbolic it is hilly and mucho pretty.
The hills be not big nor is they long but they're relentless if, like me, you look for narrow, off-the-beaten-path roads. Of which there are hundreds. Many with interesting names like Foul Rift Road. (Near Belivdere on the Delaware River). Above is Guinea Hollow Road, near Cokesbury and Califon. These are tiny towns settled in the late 1600s, early 1700s and the roads I rode were probably traveled by Hessians and Revolutionary War types back in the day.
Chris's bike didn't have an odometer but I had my altimeter and as I said (did I?) I looked for hills. I climbed some 11,000 feet in the three rides I took which probably totalled 120 miles. So that's about the same as RAMROD. (Which I found out the day before I left that I got into--Woohoo!) Unlike RAMROD (http://www.redmondcyclingclub.org/), these are short and steep, not at all long and sustained. I'd be cruising along the Musconetcong at an elevation of 400, then take a right up some winding road and in not much more than a mile, I'd be at 1,000. So it was alot of that--steep ups, steep downs. (Perfect training for Western's North Shore race, which was cancelled last month because of snow.) The photo just above is Turkey Top Road near Beattystown. Did I mention that Chris's rear casette was a 12-23?
Lots of these roads are on the Hillier Than Thou Ride, a killer, hilly painfest put on each September by the Central Jersey Bicycle Club (www.cjbc.org/). One of these years I plan on coming back and riding it though I think it's usually the same day as the Mount Baker Hill Climb (http://www.norkarecreation.com/). On our last full day, Baker and I got in an awesome hike to the top of Point Mountain, which overlooks much of the Musconetcong Valley. It required a little bit of rock scrambling but boy, was it fun. To cap it off, later that night I found a deer tick on my back. Fingers be crossed that I don't succumb to the dread Lyme Disease. And of course let's redirect our hailing from Stijn Devolder to Tom Boonen who, last Sunday, took his second Paris-Roubaix! Can't wait to watch it on Sunday on Versus (www.versus.com/cyclysm).