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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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.

Vic Destroys the NJ State Championship MTB Race!

Team Marty’s Victor Schepisi had a great weekend of racing. He won the NJ State Championship Cat 1 title at  The Rumble in the Jungle H2H XC MTB race #3.   Here’s a quick recap.

Jungle Habitat is known for punchy climbs, rocks and roots and with the rain the night before I knew I had a chance to win if I could stay upright.  The start was a bit hectic but once the race settled down I knew I had to attack. I found an opportunity to pass, dropped the hammer and never looked back.  The race was nearly two hours of pure torture with my avg HR reading 175 bpm.   The last 15 minutes was the hardest mentally being so much can go wrong in a race with a flat or mechanical but my Trek Superfly FS didn’t miss a beat.  It took me 2 years of hard work to win one of these races. I was close many times, but this weekend it all came together.

vicracevicpodiumchampNice work Vic!

Nikki’s Rapha Women’s 100k Road Ride

We had wonderful weather and great group of women for the Rapha Women’s 100K. Over a dozen strong female cyclists rolled out from Marty’s in Morristown and rode all the way out through the beautiful roads of Mendham, Peapack, Far Hills and Tewksbury (to name just a few of the towns we passed through on the ride). For many of the women who joined us, this was their longest ride of the year.

On the road

On the road

We had a diverse group of cyclists, including triathletes, endurance cyclists, cyclists who are newer to long distance riding, and even the recently crowned category two national mountain bike champ! The group was very friendly and supportive and we worked diligently to keep our whole group together as well as dealing with a few mechanical issues along the way. 🙂

 

Cookies + Bikes = Smiles

Cookies + Bikes = Smiles

 

 

Marty's Women's 100k Pit Stop

This was a fun, scenic and inspirational ride to all who joined us. Hopefully rides like this will continue to inspire more women to ride and to push their limits.

Awesome Group

Awesome Group

 

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!

Team Marty’s at Tour de Lake Hopatcong

 

Leo, Paul Vic and Nikki receiving their awards at the Tour de Lake Hopatcong

Leo, Paul, Vic and Nikki receiving their awards at the Tour de Lake Hopatcong

We had a great turnout at the Tour de Lake Hopatcong this past Saturday. It was a challenging 40 mile ride with a couple climbs that really hurt.

Leo rode strong and was able to put down a final effort to secure the fastest time on the course.

Paul got 2nd place without much training time, but he did cross-country ski quite often this winter.

Vic got 2nd in the 45+ finishing with the final group.

Nikki was able to grab 4th place and rode strong as she always does.

Great job to everyone who challenged themselves and finished the ride.

 

Ray’s MTB Park Ohio Road Trip

There was vacation time to burn, but terrible, horrible, awful, east coast weather in the way.  (The weather may actually have been nice, I can’t remember.)  Either way, I needed a change, from the monotony of solo road rides and lapping the same mtb trails over and over again.  It was time to get out of town and do something that no man has ever done before.  (In reality many men, women, and children have done this before, but doesn’t it sound more exciting the other way?)

On preparing for a BMX trip, there is an ever evolving list of things to bring with you.  It is as follows:

  1. RedBull– A necessity for any journey.  They say it gives you wings, but the evidence of that comes from a cartoon commercial, so we can’t rule it out, however can’t prove it to be true in a controlled environment either.
  2. Animal Can I Eat? Soundtrack– This got me stoked for riding as a teenager and still does trick now, especially the Stephen Hamilton part.
  3. Malt Liquor–  No BMX trip is complete without a tallboy of Steel Reserve or better yet a Colt 45. Even if you don’t imbibe in the earthly pleasures of alcohol, you can still throw the full, unopened can at aggressive drivers, or rig up your own roller system in the hotel room.
  4. Your Bike–  This is sometimes overlooked, and when it is your day takes a downward spiral fast. (Actually at Ray’s you don’t even have to bring your bike, they have really nice rentals of MTB, BMX, or 26” Dirt Jumpers.)
  5. Tire Tubes– If you have them with you, you won’t get a flat.  This is Newton’s Law of tube poppage.

So I got these things together along with spirit of wonder and adventure, and got into my car and drove to Cleveland, OH.  The drive is very easy.  It’s literally one road for like 600 miles, and then you do some windy, twisty, turns through the manufacturing area of Cleveland and arrive at Ray’s MTB.

After a six hour drive, I dropped my stuff off at a hostel and went straight to the park.  There was no time  to waste on things like dinner or rest.  The park is enormous. I can’t even describe the magnitude.  They have bike trails, pump tracks, skinnies, ramp rooms, street spines, and very very big jumps. Everything looks smaller on the GoPro… Just Sayin.

There are also a great things to do in downtown Cleveland, like going to local breweries and museums. (The Cleveland Art Museum is free by the way.)

In short, whether you ride a mountain bike, a BMX bike, or a road bike, a trip to Ray’s is a must. They have everything to keep beginners and experts shredding the gnar and having fun. So if you get the chance, do it!