• Category Archives the sporting life
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  • A Ride Up The Trail

    We did our semi-official, annual Fall Bike Camping Trip last weekend: up to Jim Thorpe via the D&L on Friday, exploring the Lehigh Gorge on Saturday, and home on Sunday. We had a pretty big crowd, and had three campsites reserved at Mauch Chunk Lake, and since some of us drove to Jim Thorpe we were able to have much of our camping gear carted up rather than bikepacking all of it — sweet! Except for some early morning sprinkles on Friday, we enjoyed perfect fall weather the whole trip. Here is our story in words, pictures and maps.

    Day One


    We started from Sand Island a little after 9:00 AM: Anne & me, Ed, Scott & Kellyn, and Julie, and picked up Rick and Shari at the prearranged location just north of Allentown. The day started with showers, but (as the weatherman had predicted) the rain stopped just as we got going, and the sky was clear by noon. We moved at a leisurely pace, with many stops along the way including a lunch break in Slatington. We got into town around 3:00, and were at the campsite by about 4:30. (We also bumped into Anne’s Aunt Kay at the supermarket, which was a pleasant surprise.)

    Day Two


    We didn’t exactly get up early on Saturday, but we managed to eat breakfast and hit the road by about 9:00. We met Rick & Shari in town — they’d stayed at the hotel — and picked up the day-tripper contingent of our crew at the Glen Onoko trailhead. After that it was north up into the Gorge.

    The day was really beautiful, though the leaves were only just starting to change. It was another perfect day, and we had plenty of company on the trail. We had a snack break (which turned into lunch) at Penn Haven Junction, then another feed stop at the Rockport trailhead. Most turned around there, but a few of us went just a little further, to check out Buttermilk Falls, another half mile or so up the trail.

    Day Three

    I didn’t take any pictures on Sunday, and since I forgot to stop the GPS before the ride’s end I managed to record some location data I don’t feel like sharing, so this section is a little sparse…

    We managed to have another great day on the trail, though it started a bit overcast compared to Saturday. We were a bit tired though, and maybe a bit sore in the nether regions, and our pace was definitely set at “mosey.” Still, before we knew it we were back in Slatington where I got the scrapple & egg sandwich — I got chili dogs from the same food truck on Friday, only to spot the breakfast sandwich menu immediately afterward, and I vowed to return someday…

    We had another nice surprise: I saw Chain Gangster Greg M at Slatington; he was doing a gravel bike ride and we all spotted the old team jersey he was wearing: bright yellow and still in good shape though it must be about 30 years old… I caught his attention and we had a nice chat before he continued on his way.

    Another few hours and we were home.


  • This Side Of The Mountain

    Well, we did it — Anne and I rode the century ride we’ve been working towards. We started with our friend Julie and her brother Peter, who were riding to their family cabin in NY just past the Poconos, but for COVID and logistical reasons we only went about halfway — we left them at Delaware Water Gap and continued from there on our own route, returning along Cherry Valley Road (one of our recent favorites) and picking up Mountain Road, an old favorite, just north of Wind Gap. This was a beautiful section, but it meant that we had to go over Blue Mountain at Little Gap. Luckily, the ice cream place was open at the bottom of the downhill side…

    We got home with about 98 miles and had to circle around the neighborhood a few times, but we finished with 100.1 miles. It seems funny, I used to do century rides on a fairly regular basis back in the day, but Garmin Connect tells me that this was my longest recorded ride. I’ve been using Garmin Connect since 2009, so that means that this was my first century in more than a decade.

    Reading

    I just finished David Mitchell’s latest, Utopia Avenue. I really liked it, which was good because I’d been thinking lately that I no longer had the patience or attention span to read a book under the current stressful circumstances. (I finally finished The Mirror and the Light, and was sorry to leave it behind, but in the moment the process seemed such a chore.)

    The story follows a British 60’s-era band, blues/folk/psychedelic amalgamation Utopia Avenue through its formative days, with plenty of references to the London music scene and cameos from all sorts of British musicians, but there were also connections to some of Mitchell’s other books like Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas, and the books in the Bone Clocks universe. Apart from a few (relatively drama-free) supernatural passages, and a jarring ending, it just passed by in a smooth and pleasant flow, like a sort of “Forrest Gump of British Rock.”

    I just picked up where I left off in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, since it apparently is a bit of a prequel to Utopia Avenue.

    Happy Labor Day!


  • Nextpedition

    Patriot Graves

    I did another ground-truthing session along the Delaware Towpath, this time finding (or confirming) the access points between New Hope and Morrisville. I parked (for a fee) at the municipal lot in New Hope and turned around a little past the accessible parts of Morrisville; I was out for just over three hours and rode about 31 miles. This should be the penultimate expedition, since there is now only the last eight-mile section from Morrisville down to Bristol.

    I was not as impressed with this section of towpath, but there were a few highlights: I took the flag photo just north of Washington’s Crossing, where a bunch of unknown Revolutionary War soldiers are buried, and I thought the town of Yardley has potential. (Morrisville was a bit of a disappointment.)

    One other notable event was that I passed the young couple we met over the weekend, when we were doing bike checks at Sand Island. They told us that they were from Philadelphia, had taken the train to Bristol, and were on the outbound leg of a multi-day ride to Jim Thorpe and back. Fast forward a few days and there they were, heading south as I was on my own return leg. I waved but I don’t think they had any idea who I was.

    So that was my day! I’ll leave you with one more photo, a bunch of turtles sunning themselves on a log.

    Turtles on the Delaware

  • More Photo Blogging: Round Valley

    These are from several weekends ago, when we met Joe and Laura for some kayaking at Round Valley. I have not been there in years, and I’d never been on the water — it was always bicycling. Awesome day, and I had fun trying to make correspondences between what I saw from the kayak and where I rode years ago. There were a lot of spotted lanternflies on the water though, which was an unpleasant surprise since we didn’t know they were already in New Jersey (or that they liked water).

    In other photo news, I’ve been doing some more curating of my Flickr photos, and finished uploading the last of them from 2017. Now I am only three years behind.


  • North With Summer

    Anne and I did a pretty long ride yesterday. This has been the trend lately, road rides in the 50-70 mile range, but yesterday was a solid 93 miles: up through Plainfield Township and over Wind Gap, Cherry Valley Road to Water Gap where we met Ben and Candace for some socially distant lunch, then following the more recent Gap Gallop route through Columbia and down to Belvidere, where we picked up Foul Rift Road, re-crossing the Delaware at Phillipsburg and then home. Pretty mellow ride with snack and lunch stops, we were out for just about 12 hours.

    Here are some photos at about our halfway point, crossing the Delaware just south of the Gap:

    This was my first time across the Pedestrian Bridge in Portland, and it led to a quiet and rural corner of North Jersey I’d never seen before. Very pleasant if a bit hilly…


  • Now What?

    One of the pedals on my road bike has developed a squeaky bearing lately, and I thought that maybe it’s time for a new pair. (I’ve used the same clipless pedal system — Speedplay Frogs — for more than 20 years. With pedals on multiple bikes and cleats on my bike shoes, it’s a fairly big investment in the one technology.) I went online to order the new pedals, and found that they have become extremely scarce — like nonexistent, discontinued scarce. Turns out that Speedplay was bought by Wahoo, and they decided to shut Speedplay down while they “reconsider the product line” or whatever they might call it. WTF?

    My immediate options are to see if I can find a new pair on eBay or whatever (no luck yet), or to replace the bearing (which also requires an eBay purchase, but spare parts seem plentiful so far), or just keep re-packing the pedal with grease and hoping for the best — that’s what I did this afternoon. I guess I’ll eventually have to completely replace the Frogs with some new system, and rather sooner than later. Three sets of pedals and two sets of cleats — it’ll be a substantial chunk of change, but I’m not even sure what that replacement system will be yet. It’s a total shame, really, the Frogs are great pedals.


  • More Summer Biking

    Posted on by Don

    I’ve been cycling about 110 miles a week over the last month, a mix of on- and off-road, with mileages running between 15-40 miles a ride — my fitness is starting to build back up, though I do need to build endurance for longer distances. There have been plenty of mellow group road rides with friends, plus my adventure with Doug the other day, and a whole lot of toodling up and down the towpath.

    Today was an afternoon MTB ride at Nox with Renee and Hope. They are both much faster/fitter than I am, but both were on hard-tails and Renee was nursing a sore back from landscaping, so I had a shot at keeping up, especially since it was more a social ride than anything else — I hadn’t see either of them, in real life and on a bike, in quite a while. Here’s our ride, a fairly standard Nox loop:

    The pace wasn’t difficult, but we didn’t dawdle either, and the ride passed fairly quickly. It was nice to catch up with those guys and hear the latest news — Hope is now a grandmother! (The kid is now 5 months old, so I guess this counts as old news to everyone but me.) There were plenty of other people out too, no one I knew but there were a whole lot of parent/child groups, which was pretty cool to see.


  • Sentimental Journey

    Posted on by Don

    Doug and I did a really nice ride yesterday, starting out on the Switchback outside Jim Thorpe, then doing a hike-a-bike up one of the descents and into the strip mine trails on top of Pisgah Mountain. My agenda was to look for and photograph some mountain laurel before the opportunity slipped away, since I was still mad at myself for not going at all last year; Doug I think was just up for a decent ride.

    mountain laurel blossoms
    Mountain Laurel Blossoms

    Neither of us had been in that particular neck of the woods in quite a few years, and though we started out with a vaguely-formed plan to check out “the Blue Ponds” — old quarries, hundreds of feet deep, that had filled with water and were now swimming holes, and I’d guess I hadn’t seen them in maybe 15 years — we eventually were just in “hey this trail looks cool let’s take it” mode. We saw some ponds, but not the ones we started out to find, but we were having too much fun to worry about it.

    bicycle in flowery forest
    The Ridge Top

    Eventually we stopped to look around and realized we were probably lost — everything looked so semi-familiar! Like we’d maybe been there, or someplace just like it, only a few minutes ago, or years, or decades… Actually we were kind of lost, but my GPS had maps that seemed accurate enough, and though we were far off from where we thought we were we could find our way back. We continued on.

    That’s when the rain started, which fogged up my glasses and totally flummoxed my GPS unit’s touch screen; the going was a bit tougher but we were still making progress until we found some more cool trails, which really didn’t go the right way but were awesome… The sun came back out, we rode on, and eventually worked our way back to the Lungbuster and down to the lake. What a great day!

    So anyway, that was our ride in words and pictures, here’s a map of what we did:

    Open that map and you’ll find plenty more photos, which are connected (on the map) to the locations I took them.


  • What Is Your Quest?

    Posted on by Don

    I’ve been moving forward with the additional D&L access and amenities points for my project, but the trail sections south of Riegelsville are terra incognita, especially when it comes to trail access, so I relied on GIS to find access points: I split the road network into “trail” and “not trail” sections, and intersection points (that aren’t at bridges) made for pretty good access candidates; some closer map inspections verified a few obvious trailheads, and weeded out some things like private drives. A lot still needed to be verified via “ground truthing” though, and so the other day I went out for a ride, starting from Riegelsville, south along the towpath to Tinicum Park.

    I had my candidate points loaded in my GPS so I could see on the map when I came upon one; I could add locations I’d missed, and delete false positives as I spotted them, and by the time I was done I should have a pretty good idea of how to get on and off the trail. This method worked really well, and the only real problems were judgement calls at what seemed like private access points. (Things are a little different in Bucks County, there are some wealthy homes between the trail and the river, with their own driveways and footbridges, and while some crossings are obviously marked “Private – No Trespassing,” others were maintained, and painted, as if they were park property.) Judgement calls, and I think I made the right calls, but for the most part it didn’t matter — all these these access points were too far from any amenities to be useful.

    It was easy and pleasant work, and I took pictures on the way back:

    Total distance, out and back, was about 24 miles, and the ride took about two and a half hours. I have the new access points and amenities incorporated into my map.


  • Tired of the Flats

    Posted on by Don

    So I got the Iguana’s rear flat fixed pretty quickly, it seemed like probably just a puncture or pinch from the towpath. I also took the time to do some deferred maintenance; now the bike is looking good and performing well.

    I then took off the Cannondale’s front wheel, removed the tire, and found what I suspected but couldn’t originally spot: there was a tear in the sidewall. Luckily I had a spare tire waiting, so I put that on with the new tube, and — BANG! That tube popped as well. I was done for the day…

    I looked at it a few days later and the most likely cause seemed to be “operator error” when installing the tube, no other problems or defects were visible so I replaced the tube and gingerly pumped the tire, with many stops for bead inspections etc… everything was fine. I let it sit for a few days, but heard no sudden gunshots in the basement, so I took the bike for a short ride Monday. All is good.