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!

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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!

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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.

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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

Jesse Fat Bikes the Shenandoah 100 MTB Race!

 

A few weeks ago an anonymous friend and I headed down to the Stokesville Campground in Stokesville VA for the Shenandoah Mountain 100. For those who are unfamiliar, the SM100 is a 100 mile MTN bike race with about 12,000 feet of climbing through the Shenandoah mountain range in VA.

The race took place on the Sunday over Labor Day. My companion and I arrived on Saturday evening in the college town of Harrisonburg VA dropped our stuff off at the hotel and hit the local Outback Steakhouse.  We want to bed early for our 4:30am wake up call and dreamed of climbing mountains all night.

In the darkness of the morning we were greeted with a surprisingly warm temperature which was encouraging for the day to come. On the 30 min drive to the campground we witnessed what legend has told. Jeremiah Bishop, an endurance MTN bike pro who is training for an event called “The Munga” in South Africa (look it up) was riding to the SM100 from Harrisonburg.  I yelled some encouraging words out the window to him, he was running front and rear lights as it was complete darkness out on the countryside. Jeremiah is a bad mofo.
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Back to the race: My buddy and I were riding our matching Borealis Yampa fat bikes decked out with HED carbon wheels and weighing in at an incredible 23 lbs!  We didn’t see any other fat bikes out there, but I heard that there were at least 2 others. The others could not have been as cool as ours 🙂

We lined up according to where we believed we would finish which was at the 11 hour mark. This was a bit of a mistake as after about 25 minutes into the race we hit the first section of single track and BAMM, there was a huge traffic jam. With 600 racers out on the course and most of them in front of us we had a long walk ahead of us which caused a big delay in our overall time.  I wasn’t too concerned because for me this was just a long day of training, but it was very boring walking through stuff I knew I could ride. On the bright side I met some nice people.

After I was able to get back on the bike, I pedaled at a very steady pace and didn’t stop this practice all day long. I passed people all day long, kept my rest stops simple and quick (with the awesome volunteers this was made much easier), and had a really really awesome race!

The course is absolutely beautiful, the volunteers amazing, and the scene is just plain old fun. I wound up finishing in 11 hours and 3 seconds or something like that. I feel as though without the traffic jams I would have had about a 10:15 finish time. I was extremely excited to finish in my predicted time, and after I finished I got to take an old school bath in the creek by the campground.

My companion and I both have small children at home so we decided to drive straight home after the race despite being very tired. We got some food, at a disgusting all you can eat Buffett which really hit the spot as at this point the owners of the buffet lost some money on us for sure.

It was a bit crazy for us to attempt this drive, but we’re tough dudes so we went for it. We basically drove for an hour and slept for an hour all night long and arrived in NJ at 5 am the next morning. It was a long haul after another long haul on the bike but as afore mentioned, we are a couple of bad ass dudes so it was not a big deal.

Preparing for your First Race (Or Big Event)

So your friends have egged you on and you begrudgingly registered for your first bike race, triathlon, or  charity ride.  Well it’s months away so you don’t have to worry about anything other than getting in shape right?  Yes, but…

Aside from getting into shape, riding miles, possibly running and swimming, you’ll want to make sure that you and your gear are ready to go for race day.  This means more than just putting your bike on the car rack and going.

The first priority is making sure your bike is in good shape, is clean, and fits properly.  We can help you with this.  If you aren’t sure, bring it in!  We offer an exceptional fitting service and can tune your bike up so it rides like new.  If your equipment isn’t working properly it can completely ruin your race or event.

The next priority is you.  You are important!  Spend the appropriate time planning for the event, and ask questions like:  What will the weather be like?  How long (not distance but hours) do you expect to be riding?  Do your existing accessories offer everything you might need for that day?  How much do you need to eat/drink during the event?

If you find you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can always ask the race promoter, or even come in to your local bike shop for advice.  The most important thing to do when it comes to preparation is experimentation!  Try a few different nutritional products during your training and figure out which products work the best for you.    The same goes for clothing. Remember you go the fastest when you’re comfortable.

So you’ve prepared, and you know your stuff.  Your Salted Caramel Gu’s are ready to go into the back pocket of your favorite jersey and your bottles filled with Lemon Lime Hammer Heed are chilling in the refrigerator for tomorrow morning.

Make a list of everything you need to bring and check it while you’re packing up the car.  The feeling is pretty awful when you get there and realize you’ve forgotten your bike! (Believe me, it’s happened.)

When you’re lined up at the starting line, feeling good about yourself and your bike, just remember to relax.  Even experienced racers often forget this.  It’s just cycling, and all about the fun.

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Register here!

Thule Round Trip Transition

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The Round Trip Transition travel box is great new product from Thule. The hard shell case will keep your bike protected from any unruly baggage handlers and is super easy to open for any random inspections.

The case comes with a tripod work stand for getting the bike back together. The stand also locks into the case keeping the frame secure inside the case.

We got Marty’s Trek Domane in case without taking the seatpost off, but larger frames will most likely need it removed. Thule also recommends wrapping the frame in bubble wrap and removing the rear derailleur.

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Thule does not recommend putting your local bike shop mechanic inside.

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Take your bike wherever  you want to go and have it get there in one piece with the Thule Round Trip Transition travel case.

Marty’s Aeolus Upgrade!

Roll fast, climb hard, even on snow banks...

Roll fast, climb hard, even on snow banks…

The Bontrager D3 Aeouls wheels are some of the most aerodynamic wheels on the market.  Their shallowest rims (Aeolus 3) actually beat the competition’s deeper rims at any yaw  or crosswind angle.  

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Marty will be rolling fast on these babies this season.  The Bontrager Aeolus wheels use the highest quality OCLV carbon, and are hand-built in the United States.

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With Bontrager Aeolus wheels, not only do they offer the stiffest and most efficient, yet comfortable ride out there, but they also look super cool on any bike.  Rumor has it that we will get some demos in soon.  We will keep you posted!