On the first weekend of November, Jay, Patty, Adam and Megan from the Hackettstown store decided to take the usual scenic weekend road ride a little further. OK, a lot further. Why not a 3 day, 190 mile bike tour through the Poconos and Lower Catskills?! I mapped out a route, did some convincing, and we put some slick tires on our cyclocross bikes – Jay bought a fully loaded Jamis Bosanova! – and saddled them up with Bontrager and Thule racks and panniers. The formerly sleek cross racing bikes were transformed into sturdy pack mules, carrying off-the-bike gear, plenty of bars and gels, and enough clothes to prepare for the coldest weekend we’ve had since last winter.
We started our journey on Saturday, north from the Hackettstown shop (our first climb of the day!!), heading northwest through the incredibly scenic rolling hills of Warren and Sussex county. Well, some of the hills weren’t quite so rolling, with 40 pounds of bike and cargo….But the weather was a balmy mid-50’s, and the riding was just perfect.
We stopped for a few photo ops with the locals. They love Hammer bars.
Then we rode through historic Old Mine Rd, ran into a few black bear young’ins, and across the river to Milford, PA. We were headed for Lackawaxen, a tiny river town of 120 people on the forested hills of the Delaware. When our friends in Milford heard we were heading up Rt. 6 out of town, the looks on their faces were enough to almost make us rethink our route. Almost.
After what seemed like a 5 mile climb, we leveled out into the back roads of very rural Twin Lakes, and had only one final road to get to our hotel: German Hill Rd! Just like its name, it was one last angry mountain between us and sleep and food. That was the hill that nearly broke us, as I heard Jay cursing my navigational privileges, I may or may not have walked the last pitch. It all gets a little fuzzy…but the next thing I knew we were on our second round of onion rings and enjoying the “rustic charm” of the Lackawaxen Inn. The locals call it Lack of Action, but it was a great way to end our first day of 70 miles and 6,000+ feet of climbing. I bought Jay a beer to make up for German Hill, and we were still friends.
The next day was cold. Adam is wearing some pretty serious gloves here.
After an awesome breakfast at the outlaw outpost Twin River Junction, we started our route east over the river to NY.
(The waitresses wore cowboy hats, and the coffee was endless. We didn’t want to leave.)
There was a tiny bit of blue sky when we set out (see it in the top left there?) The high temp of the day hovered around 33. Good thing we brought all that extra gear…
The first climb up from the Delaware on Minisink Battleground Rd. was a tough start to the day. We passed through the forested area of Forestburgh (aptly named), winding rural roads through state lands and pine forests. Not much traffic and some amazing views of the fall colors and lakes in this beautiful region of the Catskills. We hit some fun gravel roads through the woods, but no more bear sightings.
Patty’s favorite sign, the Downhill Warning. We had actually just ridden up this one though.
The hills of the day were pretty challenging with the relentless chill in the air and the weight on our bikes, so we were happy to finally end the day at Middletown, NY. We had made our way back to civilization, and after I had a mechanical outside the hotel (!), worked on our route for the next day. 60 miles and over 6,500 feet of climbing had convinced all of us into finding the Path of Least Resistance to get home!
Monday was bright and sunny to start our ride south. Luckily for us, the fields of the Wallkill River valley defined most of the last day. It started out in the 30’s but soon climbed into the upper 40’s, and we had a great tailwind! We crossed into NJ at some point, and wound our way down past Sussex and Hamburg to some more familiar terrain.
By the end of Day 3 the less hilly roads, sunshine, and the fact that we were almost home had made for some happier faces. We ended at Mattar’s Bistro on the top of Hackettstown mountain (the biggest hill of the day, for the record) with about 60 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing, and one last order of onion rings to celebrate.
This was one of the most fun tours I’ve ever done, and it was great way to celebrate the end of the warm weather! We had a blast and all agree that a multi-day tour is one of the most exciting and easy ways to take your riding further, and vacation while you’re at it!