Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Montauk Century 2008

This year I attempted the 145 miles route of the Montauk Century, Penn Station to Montauk, with my new Habanero Ti touring bike. As you see in this photo, I put a Brooks B17 leather saddle on it. I really hadn't had a chance to break it in much before the Montauk Century ride but it still was pretty good. The picture at left is of me at the Babylon rest area, 45 miles out on the route from Penn Station.

I wish I could say the same for the bike, the left crankshaft came off twice. First time, I found the fasteners and used my Alien II minitool's hex wrench to fasten it back on. It came off again out in Shirley and I couldn't find the piece. I was stuck, called SAG to come get me.

As I was on the phone with the SAG dispatcher, a couple in an SUV pulled up and offered their assistance. These kind, kind souls rescued me and drove me to a bike shop further up the route who found a replacement fastener and fixed me up and sent me on my way. I rode as best I could. At Westhampton Beach rest stop, I had to put on a jacket and leg warmers because of the falling temperature. SAG tried to persuade me to bail but I refused and pedaled my way at 17 mph down Dune Road. They caught up with me again as I was climbing Ponquogue Bridge at 12 mph and informed me that there was a rainstorm about 15 minutes away and would I bail in lieu of riding 2-1/2 hrs in cold driving rain. I accepted, 110 miles into my ride.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

East Coast Greenway / D&R Canal

The East Coast Greenway includes the D&R Canal Trail, a 35 mile off-road segment listed as a "green" route, "suitable for touring bicycles" in New Jersey between New Brunswick and Trenton. This route is the former towpath of the Raritan River portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, now a state park.

I took my new touring bicycle on a NJ Transit train, they have a "Bikes Aboard" policy, to New Brunswick. rode over to Johnson Park, which has a nice paved 2.5 mile bike path that takes one to the "."East Jersey Olde Towne

After exploring Johnson Park, I circled back to Landing Stage Bridge and entered the towpath. The dirt road you see in the pictures is the way the towpath looks for most of the trip to Griggstown, at which point I left the towpath and went to a local country store / farmstand to get more water etc.
The towpath is interrupted at irregular intervals for spillways, most of which are the original rock slabs. They function to let overflow from the canal spill over into the Raritan River. I stopped at each and walked my bike across.

The very first spillway I encountered after the one at Landing Street Bridge had the bypass onto the banks of the Raritan River as you see in these pictures, left and below.

Bridge Tender's house and booth, D&R canal

While the road was rough, indeed in one spot I was riding through a sea of pebbles, it was quiet and pretty; I hardly saw anyone else for most of the ride other than 2 or 3 cyclists and maybe 6 pedestrians the entire 17-odd miles I rode on the towpath. I'm planning to go back -- with my hybrid equipped with knobby 40mm tires suitable for the dirt riding that is this towpath. I don't know why the Greenway people think this route is "suitable for touring bicycles"; while I was able to ride my touring bike, I was not happy about it and indeed had quite a lot of cleaning to do afterward.
After Griggstown I didn't like the way the weather looked so I rode up the road next to the towpath, which is a nice paved country road, and then over to various other roads as I made my way to Princeton Junction Station and the train home.