Marty’s D&R&R Bikepacking Weekend!

2018-06-17 13.14.44

Upper Black Eddy views by Doug Palen

Last weekend our group set forth on a bikepacking backroads and railtrail adventure from Hackettstown to Washington Crossing State Park. We had a blast!

IMG_5389[1]

Wheelfine Imports pro stop!

I was excited to put my recently built up Trek Checkpoint ALR to work as a touring rig, as it already proven an excellent companion on commutes and long dirt road rides. I used a rear rack with Bontrager panniers and some soft bags with sleeping bag and camp pillow attached on top and on the bars. One water bottle cage was swapped out for the Blackburn Outpost Cargo cage to accommodate a big Nalgene bottle for extra water. SKS Raceblade XL clip-on fenders were a super light way to protect against the relentless dust of the trail. On the other end of the spectrum Adam was riding the Checkpoint’s much older cousin, the canti-equipped steel Trek 520, Doug P. was on his custom Rodeo Labs Flaanimal with handbuilt 650 carbon wheels.

2018-06-16 11.53.03

Columbia Trail stretch by Doug Palen

We set out at a good clip on the rolling roads out of Hackettstown, finding a nice rhythm as we settled in to the extra weight of the gear. Our first climb out of the Musconetcong Valley brought us up the moderate grade of Hollow Road – the gentler of the many challenging ascents up the Point Mountain ridge. “The easiest way up this hill,” I kept repeating as the switchback led us to a few hundred more feet of steady grade. (I should generally keep most thoughts to myself while climbing). The quick descent down Hickory Run to our first bit of gravel on the Columbia Trail was worth it though! We enjoyed the shady stretch of gravel path to High Bridge and on to Clinton, where a stop for Italian ice led to a stop for a burrito, as one thing tends to lead to another.

2018-06-16 12.29.37 HDR

JJ Scoops refuel by Doug Palen

After an obligatory photo-op at the Red Mill, we made our way into rural Hunterdon County on the Landsdown Trail. This short railtrail leads out to pleasant rolling backroads and our next gravel section on the Capoolong Creek Trail. Not more than a ribbon of dirt in spots, the trail runs tantalizingly close to nice cool wading spots in the stream, but it was a bit too early in the day to stop for a swim.

IMG_5829

Everyone kept mentioning the pointy, menacing looking spike in the elevation map, and indeed a 10% grade was lurking around the turn off of the trail. (Sorry, guys). It was a steady climb in the now-abundant afternoon sun. Once we hit the plateau an incredible network of quiet backroads and gravel wound through the woods and endless farm fields, past covered bridges and historic stone structures. Exactly the kind of terrain that makes for a perfect summer day on a bike.

2018-06-16 13.24.09

Capoolong Creek Trail by Doug Palen

Eventually we were unceremoniously let out on to the Lambertville Pike, right across from the gem of a bike shop that is Wheelfime Imports. The owner Michael entertained us with his wealth of historical cycling knowledge, as we admired the beauty inherent in the elegant steel frames and Campy-equipped road bikes throughout the shop. Hydraulic disc brakes, Di2, and tubeless gravel tires are some of the most useful innovations of modern cycling, but it’s hard to argue the appeal and classic simplicity of a handmade metal road machine.

IMG_5825

We headed downhill into Lambertville and hit the D&R trail. We cruised along the canal to our final turn into Washington’s Crossing State Park, some refreshments at Patriot’s Tavern, and onto our camp for the night. Our site was a nice shaded grove in the woods, surprisingly free of mosquitoes and other unpleasant creatures. We all found a corner of the clearing to set up our tents and hammock, and headed out on our much faster, unburdened bikes to get water a few miles into town…The sign wasn’t kidding when it said “rustic” camping.

2018-06-16 20.29.51

An efficient bikepacker’s setup! by Doug Palen

A very peaceful nights sleep left us refreshed and ready for another 65+ mile day. Not quite fresh, as there were no showers onsite, but with a high of 85 degrees we were guaranteed to get pretty sweaty again anyway. We cooked oatmeal and made French-press coffee over alcohol stoves and started packing up gear and loading our racks and frame bags and hit the D&R.

IMG_5822 (1)

We refueled on coffee in Lambertville for the long unbroken stretch of trail ahead. The pleasant morning found us sharing the path with walkers, runners, strollers, kids on bikes, trailers, cyclists on cruisers and hybrids, riders on cross and mountain bikes, and every shape and size of dog with a few territorial flicks of geese along the way. It’s always empowering to see so many people enjoying off-road infrastructure in so many ways, and really validates the efforts invested into railtrail conversions and greenways, even in more rural areas.

IMG_5406[1]

(almost) endless railtrail

Mile 23  found us crossing the bridge from Frenchtown, NJ into Pennsylvania onto the D&L canal trail, as the New Jersey side of trailway ends south of Milford near the Curtis Paper Superfund site (insert NJ pollution joke here). I find the PA side of the Delaware Canal Trail an even more pleasant experience than NJ, with more unobstructed views of the river, some covered bridge crossings, and slightly less people. A swath of wildflowers – yellow wild parsnip, white fleabane, and purple milkweed – painted a colorful backdrop against the red rock of the trial and clear blue sky. Another perfect landscape to experience on two wheels.

2018-06-17 13.05.32

Crossing the Delaware by Doug Palen

The heat was beginning to slow us a bit when we got off the trail in Reigelsville and stopped for food and water at the always accommodating Fig Tree Market. Even though we made it in just before closing time, the friendly staff made sandwiches for us and we picked up plenty of cold drinks for the long stretch of rolling backroads into Asbury.

IMG_5390[1]

Asbury Valley views

The section of roads from Reigelsville to West Portal was scenic, but soon every pastoral field and barn began to blur together as the full heat of the afternoon set in. The day’s total route was only 2200 feet of total elevation gain, but we definitely felt it all in those last 25 miles of steady gain from the Delaware to the Musconetcong River. Finally we hit the last short climb of Watters Road and the home stretch of Rockport back to the shop in Hackettstown for a successful 135 mile total Bikepacking trip.

IMG_5858

Last hill to Hackettstown!

We couldn’t have asked for a better group of riders, nicer weather, or way to start a summer of cycling – exploring the winding backroads and railtrails under an endless blue sky.

Advertisements

We Got Stoked! on Bikepacking

 

October 14th and 15th Marty’s Bikepack Recap:

Last weekend, over 20 riders outfitted their bikes with bags, tents, and gear to adventure their way from Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Hackettstown to Stokes State Forest. We took a 36 mile route following the Sussex Branch Railtrail, gravel, and backroads to reach our group campsite in the woods of Northwest New Jersey.

   

We gathered at the shop Saturday morning, and spent way more time than we should have comparing gear setups on the diverse array of bikes everyone had chosen: the new Trek 1120, gravel, cyclocross, fatbikes, 29er’s, and disc road bikes – the whole spectrum from 5″ to 1″ tires! Some of us packed panniers on rear racks, while other riders set up their bikes rack-free with front handlebar roll bags, framepacks, and saddle-mounted dry bags and even a trailer.

 

The dirt road bypass of Waterloo Valley took us through Stephens State Park out of Hackettstown and onto the start of the Sussex Branch railtrail. Unlike the smoother paved trails like Columbia or the D&R Canal, the Sussex Branch threw a mix of dirt, gravel, chunkier gravel, mud, cinder, and hidden roots at the intrepid bikepackers. There was some stopping and adjusting of gear after some of the rougher spots. But some diverse terrain was no match for what amounted to a rolling party on bikes! Passing through forest, fields, and bogs we made decent time despite an unplanned stop at Angry Erik’s Brewing  in Lafayette at noon (luckily they had just opened), and everyone enjoyed some Viking style refreshments.

 

After the Sussex Branch railtrail winds its way past Kittatinny State Park, Warbasse Junction, and Augusta Valley it ends somewhat unceremoniously in Branchville, NJ. The roads got a bit hilly around Culver Lake and the long woods road into Stokes, so we all arrived at different times and started wrangling gear off of bikes and into our sleeping areas for the night.

  

My dad met us at the campsite and had set up a pretty awesome fire in which a lot of marshmallows were melted. Jesse, his brother Jonathan, and Jesse’s kids had also met us there and we all had a great time sharing stories about bikes, bears, and everything else you talk about under a sky filled with millions of stars on a perfect October night. Experienced Tour Divide rider and composer Payton Mcdonald even gave an amazing performance of bike-based percussion!

The next morning we all made various types of oatmeal (only the Boy Scouts in the next camp over had thought to bring bacon) and had a leisurely time packing up our slightly damp gear. A porcupine had made a midnight visit to gnaw a little hole in a mountain bike tire sidewall (true story), but we patched it right up with some Bikepacker’s Mac and Cheese wrapper and headed out.

 

The forecast did a 180 and went from 78, dry and sunny to 78, misty and very humid. The group split up into who was getting coffee where en route, and we all made our way up the woods road and back around the scenic descent to Branchville.

 

Jesse rode a Trek Conduit ebike with Jonah and Julianna on a Weehoo pedal trailer, and Jonathan captained a tandem with Jesse’s daughter Jodie on the back! The kids had a blast on the return route, checking a lot of wildlife, waterfalls, and rocks off of their list of Cool Things to See alongside the trail. The weather remained warm and overcast, but we didn’t have to contend with any rain and made quick time retracing our path back to Hackettstown.

Our adventure was soon over and the reality of Monday starting to set in, but we couldn’t have a had a more fun and successful bikepacking weekend. We’re looking forward to many more, and hope you can join us for the next expedition!

Team Marty’s Racing

Team Marty’s Racing had a great weekend out on the trail and road.

Matt Tyler scooped a 3rd in the Pro/Cat1 race at the Orchard Hill Assault in Amherst, MA on Saturday.

matttyler

Ed King

“Saturday’s H2H race at the very technical Wawayanda course things went well. First top podium spot of the season !
With the support of all the great mechanics at Marty’s and a special thanks to Frank Ku my new Trek Top Fuel
is dialed in and performing excellent in all condition’s.”

20170501_103000

Ryan Singer

“Met up with Matt Tyler and we head up to Amherst Mass. to race Orchard Hill Assault. The course was flowy with a ton hills! I was stoked to take 6th place in the Pro/Cat 1 open and proud to represent Team Marty’s Reliable Cycle and Clif for the race nutrition! Looking forward to the TSEpic and Bulldog Rump on my Yeti ASRc!”

 

Elana Iaciofano got second at the High Point Hill Climb on Saturday and then was able to rip the Tour de Lake Hopatcong 40 miler and was the second woman to finish the course!

elanagreg

Greg Whitman got 9th place at the High Point Hill Climb. He finished strong despite a small mechanical problem…

 

It was a great weekend for riding and racing. Thanks you everyone for the support and good luck out there!

Race reports (and pics) can be sent to eric@martysreliable.com to be published on the blog.

Team Marty’s Wins the Highlands Gran Fondo

This past weekend Team Marty’s competed in the Giordana Gran Fondo
National Series in Butler NJ with hopes of a team win as well as putting
one of us on the top step of the podium for the overall.  The team
roster included Joe Petillo, Stefan Tessoun, Dan Montgomery and  Victor
Schepisi. Despite some nasty weather the plan was executed perfectly. Team Marty’s
was awarded first place in the Team Category, Dan Montgomery second place in the
Men’s Category and Victor Schepisi as the 2016 Highlands Gran Fondo
Champion

 

Next stop Gran Fondo NJ Sept 11 2016.

30 Days on the new Trek Madone

30 Days on the New Madone

   I’m going to come right out and say this is the best bike I have ever owned!   Before you say yeah yeah let me tell you why.

I’ve ridden many bikes including road, cross and mountain but the new 2017 Madone has been a true game changer.  My impressions after my initial ride was how easily it glides along the road.  When I say glide I mean fast, quiet and comfortable  This is due to advanced aerodynamics and the IsoSpeed decoupler.   This is the kind of bike you don’t mind pushing on being every pedal stroke moves you forward and rewards you with speed.  Even while climbing you can feel the aero advantage which some claim is more important then weight.  Braking is very powerful due to the new dedicated center pull brakes.  Big descents and cornering on rough roads are impressive due to a degree of compliance felt in the front end.  Another nice feature is the integration of a Garmin mount built in to the bars as well as dedicated light mounts front and rear.   I ended up doing my first century on this bike which proved that this bike can do it all from crit racing, group rides, centuries and yes even a recovery ride.    Bottom line if you are in the market for a new bike or want that one bike that does it all the new Madone should be on your short list.

By Victor Schepisi March 2016

The Future is Here – Electric Bicycles!

e-bike

Electric bicycles (E-Bikes) offer the same awesome benefits as traditional pedal only bicycles. This includes cost savings if used for transportation, improved health and an ability to connect with your local community easily.

The extra benefit is improved efficiency in climbing hills or fighting the wind and a combined ability to increase the range of riding.

The cost of running an electric bicycle is significantly less in fuel costs than a car. E-bikes also do not increase localized pollution like cars and motorcycles. E-bikes can help solve environmental issues. They will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and traffic congestion.

E-Bikes will also enable more people to exercise which reduce the obesity issues in America. E-Bikes enable people who are unsure of their abilities to make the hills and the distance to have the confidence that they can finish their rides.

Bosh System

The electric bikes currently being offered by Trek Bicycles are a new, advanced generation of bikes. The motors, battery technology and design are industry leading. Trek e-bikes are equipped with either Shimano Steps or Bosch mid motor driven power sources. The bikes are all pedal assist. As you pedal, the assist comes into play depending upon the level that have chosen.  There are no throttles. Shifting and e-bike controls  are easily used and you never have to let go of the handlebars. There is a very easily read control gauge on the handlebars which tells you all the information needed to know about your speed and other riding functions as well as the e-bike specific functions.  Pedal assist enables the rider to have more fun on their bikes and gives the rider an assist when needed.

The wheels are light weight yet strong with durable tires. The braking is hydraulic disc brakes which are very powerful and reliable.

Battery technology has increased dramatically in the past few years. They batteries are lithion ion batteries with 400 watts of power. The range is dependent upon how much effort  is used but the range of one charge can be over 50 miles. The charging takes on 4 hours. Battery charging can be done by plugging into an ordinary household outlet. The speed of a Trek e-bike, because it is pedal assisted, various but it can reach speeds upward of 20 MPH. The total weight of the bikes has also greatly decreased and the bike looks, rides and feels like an regular bicycle.

FeatureAsset_315393_mid_motor_placement (1) FeatureAsset_315394_intuitive_controls

The use of bicycles and e-bikes is somewhat dependent upon existence of safer, more easily accessible and destination driven and friendly bicycles lanes and dedicated paths.

The US Congress just authorized the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) which will dedicate $4 Billion to be spent in the US on bicycle and pedestrian projects. The best part of this act is that is authorized for 5 years will funds being available each year. This will enable cities and municipalities to plan and execute projects. The net result will be that there will be many more safer and appealing opportunities for people to ride and commute on their e-bikes and bicycles.

In an urban and suburban  setting, the more dedicated bicycle lanes that exist, the more people will feel safer and compelled to use alternative means of transportation for short term commuting. This is the future for many of the upcoming generations of people in the US. Couple this new infrastructure with the desire for a higher level of fitness, the future of the E-bike is bright.

Marty Epstein – Owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle

Hackettstown Goes Campin’

513

What’s the 4th of July without fireworks, the great outdoors, and some good old fashioned bikecamping?! Nick, Megan and Adam headed out this past weekend to experience Independence Day on the open road – and trail.

20150704_174107_resized

I checked the forecast early Saturday morning – large, green masses plodded across the radar screen. But there’s always a few breaks in the rain, right? Maybe. Nick, Adam and I waited in the garage adjusting our gear for half an hour as the rain became more of a shower than any of us would have liked to embark in, until Danny and his friend showed up to make sure we didn’t back out. Since he had ridden all the way from Stroudsburg in the downpour we decided it was now or never. Danny advised us to keep it in the big ring as we rolled out towards Blairstown and the Delaware Water Gap.

454

As everyone who’s enjoyed a road ride in the rain can attest to, ten miles in will generally find you sweating just as much inside your rain gear as it is wet out, so you begin to accept the squish of cycling shoes and little rivulets streaming through your helmet vents. The rain was also a welcome distraction from our first climb up Millbrook Road. After crossing the Flatbrook and hitting the first section of unpaved Old Mine Road, we stopped for a dry break in the Van Campen Inn and got a free history lesson from the Walpack Historical Society. For a second I felt like a weary traveler along the country’s oldest road in 1750, resting at the inn that sheltered early Americans like John Adams and General Pulsaki, until a vanful of 4th of July partyers showed up to use the Inn’s Port o John. Time to go.

20150704_141700_resized

We rode past more old remnants of New Jersey’s “last frontier” as we headed for the Dingman’s Ferry bridge. As we descended the hill from Layton, the sky cleared and the sun finally appeared. It was amazing.20150704_143436_resized

After crossing the wooden bridge into PA, we met the first climb up the Pocono plateau – moss covered Johnny Bee “Road.” Waterfalls plunged off the roadside in the hemlock ravine, but I was preoccupied with keeping my front wheel down on the 20ish% grade. We stopped to adjust the panniers and bags before heading back to hard road and the rolling hills through scenic Delaware State Forest.
486 

Mile 50 found us at Pickerel Lake General Store where we were tempted to get some fresh crayfish but opted instead for peanut-butter filled donuts. We checked the map for the next turn in ten miles off of Route 402 which had often eluded me in the past – an overgrown woods road with a bridge I hoped was still intact. Our Garmin Touring excitedly told us to turn left into a thicket of ferns and multiflora, and after some bushwacking we found the bridge. And some excellent singletrack. And a porcupine that was actually too fast for a picture!

483471

Five miles of trail were one of the highlights of the ride. Taking care to not rip a pannier off in the dense brush, we crossed a few more streams before we hit Promised Land Lake. And pizza at the Promised Land Inn, where we traded bear and eagle sighting stories with the owners, while a local they called Felix set off a whole bunch of fireworks in the road across from the fire station, and debris landed around us on the patio. Happy Independence Day Pennsylvania.20150704_201502_resized

We headed down the lower lake road to our campsite and used the trusty Bontrager Ion light to set up the tent and hammock in the dark. There were a few failed hammock stringing attempts before we really dialed it in. Nick reported that, while comfortable, sleeping off of the ground also feels like you are at the perfect height for a bear nose. Luckily we would have been too tired to notice anyway.

476 477482

Of course it rained overnight, and we packed up our damp gear that seemed a couple pounds heavier. Most of the morning would be downhill to Canadensis, and it was still cool as we descended for what seemed like an hour. Snow Hill Road was the first climb of the day and I started to feel the combined 35 pounds of bike-and-stuff-strapped-on-to-it when the temperature hit 80 degrees. The roads wound back down through State Forest and endless blueberry and hay fern meadows. Traffic started to pick up as we neared Route 209, and remembered that it was a holiday weekend. Fortunately up the next gravel road climb past Hidden Lake the only traffic we passed was a very surprised looking fox.

505

Zion Church Road let us out across a field to the McDade Trail that follows the Delaware out to the town of Water Gap.

524547

Here we followed Route 611 along the Kittatinny Ridge, crossing the Appalachian Trail for the second time. A few rolling hills reminded us that our journey wasn’t quite over yet. After 130 miles of adventure, we finally crossed the bridge into Belvidere and followed the old Manunka Chunk railbed home for one last stretch of unpaved freedom.

541