Marty’s D&R&R Bikepacking Weekend!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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

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.

Excuses

We’ve all made the excuses on why not to strap the helmet on.

“It looks stupid.”

“It will mess up my hair”

“It smells bad.”

“I’m just going down the street.”

This may seem like a valid excuse at the moment, but we have to recognize them for what they are… Excuses. I will try not to turn the blog into a scared straight program, but here’s a terrible statistic from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute to motivate you to protect yourself:

In 2009, there were 573 cycling fatalities.  Of the 573, 91% were not wearing a helmet.  To me, that’s frightening.  So even if you’re rolling down the street while your toddler wobbles back and forth on his training wheels, consider putting that helmet on.

There are other factors in how well your head is protected while cycling.  It is important to make sure the helmet fits properly.  This means that it’s not sitting on the back of your head, is not too loose, and is buckled correctly.  Refer to this guide if you have questions:

 

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Another issue to keep in mind is the manufacture date of your helmet.  Inside each helmet there should be a small sticker indicating the date that it was manufactured.  Now here’s the controversy. If you were to perform a google search on how often to replace your bike helmet, you will find many opinions about how the Styrofoam in helmets will start to degrade in a certain amount of time.  According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, there is no exact amount of time a helmet is good for, however most manufacturers recommend replacing your helmet every 3-5 years.  If you use your helmet a lot, start looking for a new one a little closer to the 3 year mark, if it sits in a climate controlled environment away from UV light most of the time, the lifespan will be a bit longer.  UV and sweat are factors that add to the Styrofoam breaking down. Make sure you inspect your helmet regularly for cracks caused by accidental drops or storage.

If you’re unsure of how old your helmet is, bring it in and we will help you determine the age and safety.  We can also recommend  specific helmets to you for your riding style.  Here are some examples of differing helmet styles available at  Marty’s Reliable Cycle.

Regular Helmet

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Kask “Mojito” Helmet. A low profile, yet fairly traditional road style helmet. Excellent ventilation and adjustability. Perfect for the well rounded cyclist who likes to ride on the road or trails. This is the helmet I personally use, and I love it. MSRP $199

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Specialized “S3” This can double as an XC mountain bike helmet or a road helmet with a detachable visor. Amazing ventilation on the trail or in the paceline. MSRP $160

Aerodynamic Helmet

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Giro “Air Attack.” This is for the rider interested in saving watts and shaving seconds. The Air Attack is designed to be very aerodynamic and comes with an optional magnetic eye glass shield. MSRP $199

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Marty does some modeling on the side…

 

Mountain Specific Helmet

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Bell “Super” This is an All Mountain style helmet with additional coverage at the back of the head. A large visor will keep the sun and elements out of your face while you fly down the trail. It also comes with a permanent GoPro mount to record gnarly footage. MSRP $125

Whatever your budget, style, or head size is, we can recommend a safe helmet that fits properly.  The rest is up to you.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the Lewis Morris Challenge

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New Jersey State Criterium

I don’t usually write race reports because who wants to hear about how I got 5th.  On Sunday I won the State Criterium Cat 3 race, so here comes a very brief race report.

Epic Aero Beard

Epic Aero Beard

On the start line there was about 80+ guys. All the cat 3 dudes came out of the wood work for this one. I was a little nervous when I heard someone say it was their first race of the season. I did my best to stay away from this one as he wobbled around the course.

So this race was a criterium or crit. Basically a crit is a bike race that consists of many short laps around a city block, or more often a business campus. One lap can be anywhere from a half mile to about a mile and a half.

This particular race was a mile circuit; set for an hour and I think it was 26-27 laps. As the race goes on people that fall off the back of the main group get pulled so they aren’t in the way of the group when it comes around. Getting dropped sucks.

Ok, back to the race. There were some early attacks and people were having some fun. I made a big move up the little hill and through the last left turn. I wanted to see how that turn handled at high speed. My plan was to execute this move if the race stayed together and came down to a sprint. Nobody came with me when I jumped, so I held it for a lap and went back into the fold.

There were countless moves, although no significant breaks developed. I had a feeling somone was going to make a big move in the second half of the race in an attempt to breakaway from the field. Most often people who know they can put in big 20min efforts will attempt to get away at this point. The field will sometimes let something go because they get tired and its kinda far from the end of the race.  Sometimes it sticks, but try it too close to the end of the race and the break is getting chased down.

Anyway, some guys went up the road and the race got strung out. I was happy because when the race goes fast it’s usaly safer. I was holding tight and not too sure if the race would stay together. Without a team working for me I just have to hope the other guys unknowingly help me out. Don’t get me wrong, I like going up the road, but when nobody goes with me and without a team I have to pick and choose my battles, and get lucky.

On the last lap, just in case the riders aren’t paying attention to the lap cards, the officials ring a bell. With one lap to go I was feeling good and riding in 20th position I think. We went around the back side of the course and got to the little hill. The right side of the road was open so I ripped past the field just before the wave of riders crashed to the right side. I ripped through the last hard left turn. I knew that I had gaped the field and the last little chicane was going to have them all searching for a line. I just went straight through with my legs burning and my heart going 200bps. My legs stopped wanting to turn over and they were hot on my tail.

I made to the line just in time. ericstatecritericstatecrit2

It was a good day.