Gaining as much elevation as possible before the inevitable descent

#1
Not much of a blogger but figured now that I'm retired I'd give it a shot. Thought I'd chronicle my riding post-working life - which hopefully will be different (and more of it) from the last 3 years. For those that don't know me, I started riding Dec 2012 when I got my first mountain bike, a salsa spearfish, from Jay at Halters. Previous to riding, I was doing mostly trail running, but after several minor knee/ankle/achilles problems, thought I'd be better off long-term concentrating on cycling. Having done most of my trail running at the sourlands, I foolishly did my first mountain bike "ride" there - and quickly realized it was much harder than it looked. I couldn't hop over all those rocks like I did when running! I live equi-distant between the sourlands and six mile run, so spent most of my first year riding six mile and mercer county park to gain some semblance of ability to ride my bike on dirt. Also rode it on the road as I didn't have any other bike. A 40+ road ride in the spring of 2013 convinced me to buy a road bike, so bought a canondale supersix.

Anywho, to skip through the boring next few years, I just retired at the end of september. One of my riding goals for this year was to try to hit every park listed on mtbnj that I haven't been to yet. I made a spreadsheet, Xed off the parks I've been to, and started to ticking off the others. Living in central NJ, I had hit more parks there than north or south, so they have been the focus. I also rate the parks on my spreadsheet - strictly a personal rating based on the trails, proximity - ease of getting there. I rate A or B places I'd like to go back and ride more, D or F for places that were "meh" and/or to hard to get to. For example, I gave Wayway an "A", even though it's a pretty far drive, because the trails were awesome and there is so much more to see. Lewis-Morris I gave a "D", the trails were OK in my opinion, but the big negative was driving thru Morristown to get there - I hate sitting in traffic so that's a big negative for me. Also, I like the adventure of picking a park, maybe glancing at a strava file or two, but otherwise just getting the gps address for a parking spot, and going for it - alone. Just riding, maybe getting lost a few times, but finding my way back to the car is part of the fun. Sure I miss some good trail sections, and ride some the sub-optimal direction, but who cares. If it's a great park I'll go back and hit some more.

So average riding time - I just checked strava and oddly enough my riding time for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was within a few hours of each other - I basically averaged a little less than 6 hrs riding/week for the year while working full time. This was my first full riding week post-retirement, and I think I'm off to a good start: 11 hrs, 18 min riding time, 100.3 miles, only one road ride, and four new parks. From my spreadsheet, I have 8 parks left in north jersey, 8 in central jersey, and 11 in south jersey - 27 in total. Three months to get them in - let's see if I can get 'em all.
 

fidodie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#3
are you willing to get out of bed before 8:00? we can get those north jersey park in!

looking forward to this - don't forget pictures.
 

pearl

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
Team MTBNJ Halter's
#4
If all of us could only be so lucky to retire!

Have you been to Water Co? I would try and get a tour down that way. I think you'd like it.
 
#9
OK forgot some pics. Will plan to add updates as I hit new parks. @fidodie I'll try but as you know I likes to sleep in. @pearl yes been to water co - only once tho - will be back. @JimN sounds great - I should be in the area another year before heading south. @thegock - yes!

So last week. First new park was Dickerson Mine which I hit on friday. Had something to do with wifey in the morning so didn't get an early start - which came into play for the second park. Anywho, left home about 1:45 and headed north - note to self, don't take 206 north around this time - there was a huge line of school buses coming out before dukes gardens that was ridiculous and held up traffic. Finally got to the lot and took off around 2:50. Started with a double track climb with some smallish rocks, kept following this in search of single track. Found a trail marked white and took that. Surprisingly there were very few rocks or roots - flowy - reminded me of 6mr. Followed this trail around a loop - could see through the trees after awhile and saw a clearing - thought there might be a spectacular view but was disappointed to see a huge business parking lot. Pretty much more of the same all around this park. At one point the trail popped out on a road - I thought it might continue on the other side but no luck. Saw some kids practicing parking with driving instructors at the end of the road - apparently there's a dmv there. I asked one of the instructors if he knew the area and if I was even still in dickerson mine - he had no idea. Back-tracked and found another trail that headed down towards water. Was really surprised down there as I popped out into a sand pit between two lakes - really did feel more like Allaire then a north jersey park (@stb222 loves my selfies):



Followed a sandy trail around one of the lakes towards a beach, and found more singletrack heading up the ridge. This turned out to be the best/most challenging trail (purple markings?) - switchback with lots of rocks. Funny how different some of the trails were there. Got back on the white trail again from the top, then ended up down by the lake again. Tried to ride around the second one, but came to a dead-end, and a trampoline in the water right on the edge. If it was really hot I would've bounced in to cool off. One more little climb on double track, then back to the lot.

Next park on the list was Black River wildlife preserve. I had passed an entrance on the way to Dickerson, so headed back that way. Turned out to be a shooting range, and no signs of a trail. Found directions on a jorba description and followed them to a trailhead that was basically Patriots path. Is this it? By now it was a little after 5pm and the sun was getting low in the sky. Made it appear darker than it was. A sign about a recent bear sighting didn't help. But flat and straight so just rode fast, looking for off shoot trails. Saw one after a mile or so but it looked like an old road, and there was a huge tree down blocking it further up the ridge so kept going. Finally found a trail heading up a ridge after a few more miles so took that. Some singletrack with a few rocks wound up the ridge to a power line crossing - kept going to a clearing/field on top. Saw the trail continuing but there was bright orange on it - hunters. Took a turn around a field looking for more singletrack either along or down the ridge but found nothing. Turned around and when I got to the clearing again, the hunters were right there - a father with his son, both with shotguns. They smiled and waved, so did I and went back down the ridge the way I came, then back on patriots path to the lot. Stopped for a pic along the "river", which seems more like a swamp, unless the river is further in - never saw it:



Day two was yesterday - jorba jungle jam @ jungle habitat. Another new park - the original plan was to go there in the morning, hang out, get a ride in, then leave in the afternoon and hit another park on the way home. But rain in the morning threw a monkey wrench into the plans to I made a last minute change. From radar it appeared there was no rain further west - and two new parks - High Point and Stokes forest. Basically flipped a coin, stokes it is. Found the address for the parking lot and took off around 10 am. Raining hard and windy as I left but gradually cleared as I drove north and then west - even saw some blue sky on the horizon. Got to stokes and had no idea where to start so asked the ranger in the office - she gave me a map and said mountain bikers usually park at the lot near the lake further down the road and do a loop from there. Found a loop marked with blue and brown dots and started riding. Right off the bat there were some ridiculous rock steps dropping down to a creek - not wanted to break my neck I hike-a-bike those. Once by the water, pretty challenging singletrack with lots of rock gardens. As I followed the loop, was hoping to see some clearing with great views but no luck on this fairly short loop - stopped for a pic:



Surprisingly easy to navigate here, did the loop back to the lot in a little over an hour. Only scratched the surface here, will def go back and hit High point as well. From stokes, headed to jungle jam. Took almost an hour drive to get there but made it. Colder than I expected and I was starving so wolfed down half a pizza (very good btw) and a not very hot burrito, but still good. By now I was freezing - had no riding clothes other than a shirt and shorts - so went for a ride. Started on warthog - thought I was going in the right direction (counter-clockwise) but kept running into riders going the other way. Popped out on the parking lot and thought the marker said to not continue but realized that's the only trail, back in and continued following to otter slide. A fun, challenging rocky climb to the top, again more riders coming down (thought I saw @David Taylor). At the top, saw markers for red and blue rides, so followed blue. Took me on Rhino, which was pretty challenging as well, lots of rocky ridges to go up and down. At the end it was getting late and I wanted to catch the Lenosky show and raffle, luckily I ran into @BiknBen and @Robin, they showed me the way back to the lot, which was basically back down otter slide, then some old roads to the lot. Got there just in time for half of the Lenosky show - wow - had no idea you could do things like that on a bike. Anywho, forgot to take a pic but Jungle Jam was great and Habitat is another place to go back for more.
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
#10
Back-tracked and found another trail that headed down towards water. Was really surprised down there as I popped out into a sand pit between two lakes - really did feel more like Allaire then a north jersey park (@stb222 loves my selfies):

Good luck on your adventure, how are there so many parks in South Jersey?

I know you like your articles, so I found on for selfies.
 

pooriggy

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
#12
I saw you from a distance later in the day at Jungle. I kinda waved and u looked at me like who dat, it was when everything was getting put away.
Good to see you exploring trails, learn by doing. Nice .
 

stb222

Love Drunk
Jerk Squad
#14
Dang forgot strava files - if it's not on strava, it didn't happen, right?

Dickerson:

https://www.strava.com/activities/737573991

Black river:

https://www.strava.com/activities/737574104

Stokes (PS you know a park is obscure/not getting much traffic when I get a top 10 on a segment!):

https://www.strava.com/activities/739911775

Jungle:

https://www.strava.com/activities/739911819
Pro tips for clean posts:
you can edit your posts and add what you forgot
Full links are unsightly, to avoid, type the title of the ride of "ride link here" if you have no title. Highlight the text and and clink the link button, copy path in as usual. Boom, clean links.
 

qclabrat

Well-Known Member
#18
Not much of a blogger but figured now that I'm retired I'd give it a shot. Thought I'd chronicle my riding post-working life - which hopefully will be different (and more of it) from the last 3 years. For those that don't know me, I started riding Dec 2012 when I got my first mountain bike, a salsa spearfish, from Jay at Halters. Previous to riding, I was doing mostly trail running, but after several minor knee/ankle/achilles problems, thought I'd be better off long-term concentrating on cycling. Having done most of my trail running at the sourlands, I foolishly did my first mountain bike "ride" there - and quickly realized it was much harder than it looked. I couldn't hop over all those rocks like I did when running! I live equi-distant between the sourlands and six mile run, so spent most of my first year riding six mile and mercer county park to gain some semblance of ability to ride my bike on dirt. Also rode it on the road as I didn't have any other bike. A 40+ road ride in the spring of 2013 convinced me to buy a road bike, so bought a canondale supersix.

Anywho, to skip through the boring next few years, I just retired at the end of september. One of my riding goals for this year was to try to hit every park listed on mtbnj that I haven't been to yet. I made a spreadsheet, Xed off the parks I've been to, and started to ticking off the others. Living in central NJ, I had hit more parks there than north or south, so they have been the focus. I also rate the parks on my spreadsheet - strictly a personal rating based on the trails, proximity - ease of getting there. I rate A or B places I'd like to go back and ride more, D or F for places that were "meh" and/or to hard to get to. For example, I gave Wayway an "A", even though it's a pretty far drive, because the trails were awesome and there is so much more to see. Lewis-Morris I gave a "D", the trails were OK in my opinion, but the big negative was driving thru Morristown to get there - I hate sitting in traffic so that's a big negative for me. Also, I like the adventure of picking a park, maybe glancing at a strava file or two, but otherwise just getting the gps address for a parking spot, and going for it - alone. Just riding, maybe getting lost a few times, but finding my way back to the car is part of the fun. Sure I miss some good trail sections, and ride some the sub-optimal direction, but who cares. If it's a great park I'll go back and hit some more.

So average riding time - I just checked strava and oddly enough my riding time for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was within a few hours of each other - I basically averaged a little less than 6 hrs riding/week for the year while working full time. This was my first full riding week post-retirement, and I think I'm off to a good start: 11 hrs, 18 min riding time, 100.3 miles, only one road ride, and four new parks. From my spreadsheet, I have 8 parks left in north jersey, 8 in central jersey, and 11 in south jersey - 27 in total. Three months to get them in - let's see if I can get 'em all.
Rick, I'm a spreadsheet and bullets type, would you mind posting your XLS and update along the way?