Let’s Ride!

ImageWith the encouragement of several friends, I have decided to start a blog. I do a lot of bicycling, and I think my friends are getting tired of my lengthy Facebook posts about bikes, so I’m going to put stuff out in the blogosphere.

Most of my cycling is commuting these days. I ride 6 miles each way from my home in East Windsor, NJ to the Princeton Junction train station. I then stash my bike in its locker, change my clothes, and hop on a train for the ride to my office in Manhattan. In addition to commuting though, I do a fair amount of bicycle touring, fast rides (solo and group) and I especially enjoy sharing my love of the sport with my wife and three children.

I’ve been commuting by bike for about 15 years now. The ride has varied quite a bit. I used to live in Michigan, then Indiana, and moved around a bit in each place. My daily commute has ranged from about three blocks to close to 15 miles one way. I’ve always enjoyed riding year round, but I’ve been most consistent since moving to New Jersey in August of 2012.

I’m not entirely sure what this blog will contain, so we’ll enjoy this journey together. If there is anything in particular you’d like to read about, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do!



2016 Tour GPS Uploads

For those who are interested, I’ll post the links below to the data from my gps. I use a Garmin Edge 705. I’ve had it since 2008 and really like it, although it’s about time to get something more current. Garmin doesn’t really support it anymore, and it has always been a little…quirky.

So, day by day, here are the links to the rides:

Day 1: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196693

Day 2: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196708

Day 3 (Pt. 1): https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196695

Day 3 (Pt. 2): https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196697

Day 4: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196698

Day 5: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/10196701


Day 5: Woodlands Camping Resort to Media, PA

I woke up a bit chilly this morning! The temps were in the low 70’s and I woke up refreshed and ready to tackle the final day. My plan B was to have my wife Abbi pick me up in Wilmington, DE after riding about 30 miles. But after eating some oatmeal and packing up my site, it was only 8:30. Yesterday was an easy biking day, and I wanted to tackle the entire 50 miles to Media, PA.

Today I rode a good chunk of the East Coast Greenway. The ECG is a great concept, and on its way to being a truly remarkable network of bike lanes, routes, and paths spanning the entire Atlantic coast. However, much of this area is anything but rural and picturesque. The ECG took me through some very busy and high traffic areas in DE, and some really rough neighborhoods in Wilmington. I highly recommend doing good research, as well as knowing your own limits and comfort level of riding amongst busy traffic and such. I’m pretty comfortable with these conditions on my own, but I’m glad I was not on the tandem with my 13 year old daughter. Hopefully, though, with continued advocacy, the ECG can be a catalyst in urban renewal and economic development in these struggling areas of our country.

The route up to Wilmington and the Media is pretty straight forward. It’s very urban, lots of industrial areas, and flat. It’s not real picturesque, but that’s okay. So, midway into the day I stopped in Wilmington for a long, big lunch, and texted Abbi that I did not need to cut the day short.

After lunch, I headed out of downtown Wilmington. It was still quite hot, and I had to take a couple AC & water breaks. The skies started to look a bit foreboding, but it looked like I had dodged the storm.

But, guess again. Once I reached Chester, PA, I had to make a left turn to head west and climb up to Media. It’s about 10 miles from that turn to the end, and the skies completely opened up. It was a torrential downpour like I haven’t ridden in for a very long time. Good thing I’m waterproof!

So I rode the last 10 in the rain, most of it uphill, and found my way to Abbi’s aunt’s house in Media. It was a pleasant and uneventful day in the saddle, a relief to be done, but also seemed to somehow be done too soon. 

I’ll do a follow up post with some thoughts on gear and routing. Thanks for following my little journey and for all your thoughts and concern as I suffered in the heat. Just remember, I call this a vacation!

A clean bike is a happy bike.

Keep the rubber-side down.

Ride hard, ride safe.

Woodlands Resort to Media, PA: 50 miles


Day 4: Susquehanna SP to Woodlands Camping Resort

I’d been looking forward to this day for a while. Easy mileage, beautiful scenery, a stop over in a town along the water, and a pool at the end. 

There was virtually no one in the Susquehanna State Park while I was there. I’m sure part of this was due to the heat and humidity. It was warm, but especially sticky. There was absolutely breeze, so the air just covered everything like a warm, moist blanket. It took me awhile to get up and moving since it was so hot, and I was still trying to be a bit careful. Since I was shuttled to the campground, I really didn’t have a good feel for how my body was going to respond to another day of riding, however short. 

Once I got up and going, I rolled out, taking Carl’s advice for the reroute. Departing the campground, I was faced with about a mile-long stair step climb. It was a 15% in several spots, and leveled out, then kicked again. I could hear Phil and Paul commenting in my head. But, after this somewhat rude awakening, it was mostly downhill all the way into Havre de Grace, thanks in part to the route adjustment from Carl. 

My friend and fellow bike advocate, Jerry, docks his sailboat in HdG, so I took advantage of his offer to stop in at the marina. I used the restroom, plugged my Garmin in for a good charge, and headed out downtown on foot to explore. I found a great little restaurant on the water and sat down for a lllloooooonnnnng, delicious, air conditioned lunch break. After lunch I poked around a bit more, then reclaimed my bike and headed out.

At this point it was the heat of the day, but I only had about 20 miles left to ride. These were easy miles too, mostly, and I was feeling MUCH better. I made my way to the campground by about 3:00. This is pretty early, but there was a swimming pool beckoning.

I should note that part of the route this day is where I joined the East Coast Greenway. Several of my friends have shared the FB post about a 3000 mile bike trail on the Atlantic coast. This is it, and was a goal of this ride. A key component in this network is the crossing over the Susquehanna River. This has been a long fight, and in June the Route 40 bridge was outfitted with a special push button signal. Bikers are now permitted, and the lights flash to alert drivers to the presence of cyclists on the bridge. It worked!

In my experience, any campground labeled a “resort” with lots of amenities for RVs is not terribly bike or tent friendly. I was pleasantly surprised that Woodlands had full-shade sites away from the RVs, and even the big motor homes had plenty of tree cover. The pool was amazing, and the people were very friendly. 

Life got a bit interesting about 9 pm, when the sun had gone down and a helicopter appeared overhead with a search light aiming down at the campground. Seriously. It was low and slow, obviously looking for someone or something. It made several passes, and since we were right on the edge of Elk Neck State Forest, I decided to call it a night, put out the fire, and hope that the boogie man wouldn’t come out of the woods and steal my oatmeal in the middle of the night!

I don’t know if they ever found him, or it, but I had a great nights sleep and woke up quite early, even a bit chilly. I decided to head out early. Plan A was 50 miles to Media, PA. Plan B was for Abbi to drive to Wilmington and pick me up after only 30 miles. 

Day 4: Susquehanna State Park to Woodlads Camping Resort: 28 miles


Day 3: Patapsco SP to Susquehanna SP 

After yesterday’s awful day on the bike and in camp, my number one priority was just recovery and survival. I originally had a 60 mile day planned, but I knew that would be nearly impossible. By 9:00 am it was already close to 90 degrees and very humid. It took a long time just to eat breakfast (beef stroganoff – for calories and sodium) and pack up my site. Fortunately I was pretty close to Baltimore. I decided to bike the 15 miles into the city and start seeking transportation alternatives. 

I made my way to Baltimore Penn Station, and learned that the MARC commuter train goes to Aberdeen – about 8 miles from my destination for the evening. I bought a ticket. Then, of course, bikes NOT allowed, and there was absolutely no sympathy from the conductor.  Non-negotiable. So, back to the drawing board. By now it was 1:30 pm. It was the heat of the day and I still had a very long way to go. 

With a bit more research, I found a city bus that would get another 15 miles or so knocked off. So I biked to the stop and loaded up. Hooray!

At the end of the line I got off and assessed where I was. I still had over 30 miles to get where I needed to go. The clock was ticking, so I pedaled. I went maybe another 10 miles before I realized there was just no way my legs could do the whole thing. I found a CVS where I decided to stop, get in the AC, buy some ice cold water, and try to figure something out. As a last resort, I threw in the towel. I called a local bike shop and pleaded for a shuttle for even part of the distance. 

Without hesitation, the owner of The Bike Shop of Bel Air, Carl, said he’d help me out. It was WAY out of the way for him! He drove 1/2 hour south to get me, and took me all the way to my campsite. I never would have made it. He was so nice, and he refused to take any money. He even pointed out a new route option for the morning to cut out a major climb. Pay it forward, my cycling friends. It’s this kind of generosity that makes cycling such a wonderful community!

Susquehanna State Park is incredibly beautiful. Very hilly though, and I couldn’t explore much because of the heat. But I enjoyed a very quiet night with just a touch of rain at about 4 am. 

Trying day! Patapsco SP to Susquehanna SP, multi-modal: 25 or so miles pedaled. 


Day 2: Indian Flats to Patapsco SP

I knew that this was going to be one of the hottest days from the forecast. What I didn’t truly grasp was how it would affect my body. 

I rolled out about 9:30 in an attempt to beat the heat. Within a 1/2 hour or so I knew this was going to be a tough day. Within an hour I was already questioning whether or not I’d make it. 

But, first a short recap of the night at Indian Flats! I had the hiker biker site all to myself. At about 8:30 pm some pretty intense storms popped up, so I decided not to have a fire and instead retreated to the tent. There wasn’t much rain, so the wind actually was quite nice. I was able to keep the tent uncovered for a while. Monday morning was beautiful, and I enjoyed my oatmeal by the campfire. 
So, once I packed up, I was off the C&O Towpath and onto the very rolling hills of Maryland. I always underestimate both the beauty and the hilly terrain of this part of the country.

It was really really hot. I was taking on lots of fluids, and at the 25 mile point I stopped for lunch at Subway. I took a very long break, cooling in the AC, and refilled my bottles.

The next stretch was brutal. I had 20 miles to ride on Frederick Road. There were something like 10 tough climbs, it was a busy road, and it was the hottest part of the day. I took many breaks, but was absolutely crawling. At one point I took a break and laid down by the side of the road. A lovely lady saw me, drove up the 7-11, and brought me an ice cold liter of water and a Gatorade. Amazing! 

It was at this point that I realized I only had 4 miles left to go! Not so fast. Note to self: always…ALWAYS double check GPS directions to campgrounds. The route took me up insanely steep roads (15% or more) until eventually there was NO road, but a rocky trail. It was barely walkable, but I was too far in, and anticipated it being the back entrance to the campground. Sure enough. Eventually I made it and set up camp. 

I laid down for a bit, drank as much water as possible, and set up my tent and such. I wasn’t hungry at all, and within a few minutes was vomiting. So long Subway! Gatorade no more! I tried sipping water but it was no use. All I wanted to do was sleep. So, I just gave up, figuring that my body was trying to tell me what it needed, and by 7:30 I was in my tent dozing off.

That was certainly not my best night of sleep, but I was horizontal for almost 12 hours. I woke up feeling a bit weak, but my stomach was better. I knew I needed calories and salt, so my breakfast consisted of one of my dehydrated meals for dinner (oh the irony). I don’t always eat beef stroganoff for breakfast, but when I do, it’s to load up on calories and sodium.

Day 2: Indian Flats to Patapsco SP. 50 miles.


Day 1 – Opequon Quaker Camp to Indian Flats H/B

On the road! The first day was a success! We dropped Maddi off at her camp just north of Winchester, VA and I rolled out from there. It was a late start – about 3:45 – and right in the peak heat of the day. Temps were in the mid-90’s. 

The first part of the route was on rolling roads with beautiful pavement. After about 15 miles, the road turned into an extremely busy one in Charles Town, WV. Safely through that, I made it to Harper’s Ferry. I love this place, and each time I visit I find more interesting stuff. It’s also pretty cool that the C & O Towpath, which I turned onto here, is part of the Appalachian Trail.

Safely across the pedestrian bridge over the Shenendoah River,  I was on the Towpath for the rest of the trip. It was a pretty easy 20 miles or so to reach my destination for the night. It has been very dry here, so the conditions were MUCH improved over last year! 

I’m staying at the Indian Flats Hiker Biker campsite, just a skosh west of the Monocacin Aqueduct. The hiker biker sites are fantastic. The good folks in our National Park Service have created these free, basic campgrounds about every 7 or 8 miles. They consist of a portojohn, fire ring, picnic table, and pump for water. It’s pretty bare-bones, but it does the trick! I have the place to myself tonight, and the folks before me even left some kindling in the fire pit. I’m about 50 yards from the Potomac, and I’ll drift off listening to the sounds of locusts overhead. 

A great start. 38 miles today!

Packed and Ready

Sometimes it sneaks up on you a bit. While packing today, I realized that this is my first solo tour since my trip up through the Delaware Water Gap three years ago. Time flies, and life gets in the way of bike tours sometimes! I’m looking ahead to the next five days with both excitement and trepidation. It’s been awhile, and I’m out of my touring groove.

With the exception of last minute packing of some perishables in the morning, and loading it on the bike, I’m all packed. I’m a big fan of packing in ziplock bags. My fellow bike tourists may scoff at the amount of bike clothes I’m bringing. The forecast calls for temps in the high 90’s during the day, and lows in the upper 70’s. Riding in dirty bike clothes for five days is just not something I want to do, and I’d rather carry a little extra weight than wear gross clothes.


On-bike clothes, off-bike clothes, camping gear, some basic tools, food, etc. I’m pairing down a bit this year. I’ve eliminated front panniers, so I’m only using rear panniers and a handlebar bag. The tent goes on the rear rack, and I have a little front rack that is perfect for my Therma-rest. I also reduced bulk by leaving behind my sleeping bag. With the warm temps, there is no need for a bulky 20-degree down sleeping bag. I have a nifty Cool-Max sleep sack that works really well. If I get chilled, I am bringing convertible pants and a light fleece.

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As usual, my route selection came about such that it would fit around our family schedule. We are dropping our oldest daughter, Maddi, off at summer camp tomorrow, just north of Winchester, VA. So, after we get her settled in her cabin, I’ll load up the bike and head out. Route details will come in daily posts, but I’ll make my way to Media, PA where my wife’s aunt lives on Thursday. The whole route is about 250 miles, and I will ride some pretty conservative mileage to do it in five days.

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If you recall from last year’s trip with Maddi, the C&O Towpath trail had some nasty mud patches. I’m riding one of the worst sections of it tomorrow, so fingers crossed for better conditions this year!

Stay tuned for more!