Mahlon Suprise

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Hell of a surprise!

General Information

A unique and nearly impossible route from Graveyardman's house to Mahlon Dickerson Reservation. 25 to 30 miles of something resembling trails. Downhills can be a bit tricky.
Hosted by Bills wunder rides


Rockaway, NJ


2009 November 15 Sunday

Google Map

Planned Ride

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="40.984825" lon="-74.487907" type="terrain" zoom="12"> </googlemap>

Actual Ride

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="40.984825" lon="-74.487907" type="terrain" zoom="12"> </googlemap>


Norm "promote this bitch" Zurawski


The name "Mahlon Suprise" comes from the combination of a sneak (aka surprise) attack on the southern flank of Mahlon Dickerson and BillC's failure to use a spell-checker when submitting this page. This is one in the long serious of potentially rewarding and likely painful fall/winter exploratory rides in which we attempt to connect every northern park in New Jersey via dirt and in the process create new ways of defining the term Death March.
The requirements for the 2009 Mahlon Suprise are that all competitors are required to brine themselves for 24-48 hours before the ride so that in the event that they keel over and die, they are juicy when roasted and eaten. A water & food drop will be placed somewhere near either Green Pond Road or Notch Road. A Jeopardy-style game will determine who gets to eat and drink and who suffers the cruel fate of dehydration and starvation.

Race Course

Planned kml
Planned gpx
Actual Garmin Link



<videoflash type="vholdr">52119</videoflash> <videoflash type="vholdr">52621</videoflash>


Ambulance Dispatch 1
Ambulance Dispatch 2


TimmyD (bad back)
TJ (late flight)
Dave (late scratch due to cold)
Utah Joe (exhaustion, had thrown in the towel before the descent)
Norm (knocked out by bad bike handling skills)
The Standings When the Race Came to a Screeching Halt
1. BillC
2. Mike
3. Woody
4. Chris26er

The Stories


I've had a few people text me and ask, "What happened?" Frankly, I'm not the best person to give details. All I can say is that when I came to, I really had no idea where I was, or where we were going.
I'll let Woody, Bill, Mike, Utah Joe, and Chris fill in the details from the perspective of the people who were awake.
We were actually still on dirt, with a lot of rocks on top, going down steeply. I was following Bill's lines, more or less. That was probably my mistake. Somewhere in there I went ass over elbows, and the world went dark.
Next thing I know I'm coming out of a haze, and Woody is asking me questions. We got off the hill and I sat in the ambulance, let the guy do some stuff, answered questions, and signed something which said I could go. They didn't really seem too concerned, though one woman kept saying to someone else that I should go to the hospital. I don't know if she ever said it to me though.
We took the road back to Timmy's and drove back to Bill's.
My helmet cracked, so I took some of it there, though my eye and jaw also took it so it was a side impact more than head-on. I have scratches from my mid-chest up to my forehead. After I face planted I presumably face-slid my way down the hill. Those guys said I got lucky in that I seem to have landed on a small piece of dirt among rocks. I probably got a little lucky with this one.


Good to hear your OK, was a lil scary to see you laying face first, lifeless for almost a minute. Then the slurred speech at first sounded like you had a stroke. A couple of minutes of a dazed look, only knowing your name. I didnt see the fall so hopefully woody or mike can give the details of that. Rest up


Have you ever descended a slope that you didn’t have enough brakes for? That was the type of slope that we were descending today. I was riding along side Norm. He was on the inside line (very tech). I was on the outside line. I saw Norm approaching a nasty rock garden followed by a drop. He had some speed (maybe a bit too much). He cleared the rock garden, but carried too much momentum over the drop and performed one of the most classic examples of OTB. I actually was able to see him sailing through the air 4 ft. off the ground and land in the only soft loom on the trail. He landed totally square on his “grill”. I think it happened so quickly that he wasn’t able to fight the fall. If he fought the fall, though, I think it may have led to more serious injuries. Upon impact we all stopped and rushed to his aid and when we got to him, his mouth was half full of Jefferson Twp. dirt and the left side of his face was swollen and not looking good. Woody quickly assessed the situation and called 911 because Norm was basically unconscious at this point. I rushed ahead to catch up to Bill who was unaware of what had happened. I found myself at the base of the trail on a two -lane road. Shortly thereafter, crossed paths with the local police. The EMT’s weren’t far behind. By the time we figured out the best way to get back up to Norm, Woody and the gang were able to assist him down the trail. When I met up with everyone, Norm was already being attended to by the EMT’s. They patched him up. In the meantime, the local police slapped Bill with numerous trespassing violations. I suck at conclusions. Needless to say, it was an awesome day and thanks to Norm, Bill, Woody, Chris, Utah, and Fogerson for making this an epic adventure.


It went something like this...
Bombing down a steep, rocky washed-out old fireroad, Bill leading at a ridiculous pace and the rest of us doing our best to keep up. Norm right behind Bill. Me about 50 yards behind them, about 50 ft higher than them, around a curve. Trees are bare, so I've got a good squirrels-eye view of them down there at my 10 o'clock. Suddenly I see Norm flying through the air with his back tire headed skyward, Norm still on the bike in riding position. (maybe he still thinks he can ride it out? or has it been so long since he's crashed that he's forgotten how to do it?!) Looks to me like his hands are still on the bars when his front tire and then his face hits the ground, and then he slides down face first and comes to a stop with his bike on top of his legs. He doesn't get up right away which is the first Bad Sign. By the time I catch up with him and ditch my bike, he's still not budged. I try talking to him and asking him what hurts and there's nobody home. At first, it looks like any part of his upper body could be broken. Arms are both pinned under his body at awkward, busted-looking angles. Face is pushed into the dirt.
We are on a pretty steep descent, and while he is on a relatively smooth boulder-free patch of dirt, it is still pitched at a pretty steep angle, so his head is about about 12" lower in elevation than his feet. Very uncomfortable looking. But as we all know, you're not supposed to move an injured person, and it is clear at this point that he is in that category. I pick his bike up off his legs and set it at the side of the trail. And then he starts to mumble and move his head a tiny bit. And I try to talk to him again and I hear him mumble something like "never gonna bluh again". Never gonna ride again? Is he telling me he's paralyzed?! So I get out the phone and dial 911. While I'm waiting for an answer, Norm starts to wake up, it's clear that he's uncomfortable, and slowly trying to reposition himself, but his arms are still pinned under him and he only manages to turn a little onto his side, which he evidently decides is even more uncomfortable, so he returns to his original flat-on-his-belly postion. Then he starts pushing dirt out of his mouth with his tongue. (Norm, where are your manners!?) Nobody's picking up my call, so I look down at my phone and I see that I didn't press send. Then Norm really starts to come to and decides he wants to sit up, which I discourage him from doing, but he starts to do it anyway, so I close the phone and Chris & I steady him while he slowly rolls over and up onto his ass under his own power. Good Sign. There's a very pronounced bump on his temple, like a super ball lodged under the skin. I ask him his name. "Norm" (slurred). A few other questions followed by slow, slurred responses and spitting dirt out of his mouth. I ask him what hurts. "Nothin...but I can't see out uh my left eye." Bad Sign. I dial 911 again, and this time I get thru. I give the guy the low-down and attempt to tell him where we are using Joe's Garmin. That in itself is a project because the guy doesn't understand the format that I'm giving him the coordinates in and he keeps cutting me off as I get two or three digits into it. "Is that a plus or a minus?" "Is that decimal format?" So I tell him to just write it down the way I'm saying it and then go figure out what format its in. Apparently he is able to do something with that information because he figures out which local emergency dispatcher he needs to transfer me to, which he does.
After getting up to speed on the situation, this lady tells me that Norm should be laying on his back with his head supported, in case he has a neck injury. So I tell Norm that he should lay down, which he either doesn't understand or doesn't want to do because he doesn't do it. She asks us where we are, and again with the GPS coordinates. Perhaps this lady doesn't realize that I have just given her our exact pin-point location, or she can't figure out what to do with that info, because she proceed to ask lots of other questions about our location like "where did you park your cars?", to which I answer "nowhere near here!".
Finally, with Joe's thorough knowledge of the area, we are able to give them the names of the road and the lake down below us, along with the information that we had somebody down at the road to flag them down. Now we can finally get back to the matter at hand...Norm. She asks me if he's laying down with his neck supported. I tell her "No." She tells me that he should be. "Tell him that youself." And I hand the phone to Norm. She apparently asked him his age, because he responded "uhhhh...38". I'm not sure what else she says to him, but he pulls the phone away from his mouth and says to me "The paramedics are coming?" To which I respond "If you didn't gather that by now, it's a good thing they're coming." All the while, he keeps rolling his head around checking range of motion and I'm cringing because I imagine that's that last thing he should be doing if he's got a potential neck injury. She must have a pretty convincing arguement for him, because he eventually hands the phone back to me and he lays down on his back with his head on a Camelback. The lady tells me that the police have located our guys down at the road (Bill and Mike), and presumably that we are now in good hands, so we don't need to stay on the line, and we hang up.
And Norm promptly sits back up. "The gound is too cold." "The fog is starting to clear." And he must be feeling considerably better because he slowly stands up and starts walking around unsteadily. And then sits back down. And then back up a few minutes later. This time he is pretty steady on his feet. I ask him if his left eye is doing any better. To which he responds: "Yeah, I can see out of my left eye now, but I gotta be honest...I have no idea where we started or where we're going." I'm fascinated by this, and I proceed to ask him all sorts of questions in an attempt to figure out exactly where his memory has crapped out. He doesn't remember going to Tim's house to meet with Chris. He doesn't remember meeting at Bills house to start the ride. He does remember going to bed last night, and he remembers getting up at 4:44 this morning. So he's missing somewhere around 3-5 hours of his short-term memory. That's just wild to me! And a little scary.
Norm walks over to his bike and declares that we should start heading down...on foot. As we're walking down, Norm's memory starts to return, first recalling that Dave had called out sick on this ride. Then going to Tim's place first thing this morning. And on forward in time. Eventually, we get down to somebody's back yard and we cut through to the street where the ambulance and police and fire department are waiting. After some questioning and icing his face down and cleaning his wounds (and photo session), I'm surprised to find out that he wants to pedal a few miles down the road to Tim's place, and that the EMS folks were not trying to talk him out of it. And we pedal away.
I think I finally figured out what "never gonna bluh again" means..."Never gonna follow Bill again!"


I didnt get to see the actual crash as I tried to hang back since it was getting a little hard to control the speed on that hill. But when I came around the corner, you looked like a rag doll. Glad that you only got a bump on your head. That could have been much worse. Way to tough it out and finish the ride.


I just made bail... Where did you guys go?
There were no tickets, but it did cross my mind after Normseemed to be ok. I have no idea what happened. I was descending one of those spots that causes pause and reflection, "how the f*&@ did I get down that?" I got down waited, waited, waited and thought I missed a turn. Checked the GPS and I looked good. I noticed a couple of other intersections so I proceded back along the base. I came up to a gate and saw Johnny Law, being from Paterson my first instict was to drop everything and run (COPS humor). He appeared to be looking for ME. I rolled over and he asked where is the guy thats hurt. I'm like "huh, hurt, oh shit, on the hill (pointing - way up there). The officer is receiving constant radio updates. I'm looking at the GPS and we figure they have to be above the east shore. He can't get there due to the heavily reinforced gate. He takes off back towards the road I go back thru woods. Find him again on the other side and then Mike comes rolling in. At this point, I know its Mike who is NOT injured. Now we are trying to find a way up the hill, er mountain. I start trying to find a reasonable slope and then I see Joe and Joe (aka Norm). I'm like who's hurt. Norm "Me". Of course I respond with "ahh your walking you'll be fine." Fortunately Norm is dazed and confused. I say fortunately because it all could have been worse. Other than that it was a good, tough ride thus far, no doubt we would have approached the 5 hour mark trekking thru Berkshire Valley WMA.
Now you know Ned!


I was standing in the driveway after sending a few Den Mother's away with some cub scout fund raising popcorn.
As the gang rolled into my driveway, I exclaimed "Holy sh!t! You're all alive" not knowing that Norm had planted himself into Jefferson's best terra-firma. Bill said, something to the affect, "What? You have a scanner?"
Huh? A few seconds of confusion on my part, then I saw Norm. He looked like he'd been eaten by a coyote and sh!t off a cliff. Really.
I think the next words out of my mouth were "Holy sh!t, man! You okay? Ya' wanna' beer?!". The man *really* looked like he could use a beer. If I looked like him, I'd want a beer...and I don't drink and it'd f*ck up my guts for a couple months if I drank one.
At that point I sent Maggie into the house to get a wash cloth, towel, etc. and showed Norm to a sink and a bathroom.
Headed back outside to see if any of the rest of the crew needed anything, showed 'em my new road bike to distract them from the days trauma, and chatted, and chatted, and chatted until somebody said "Hey, Norm sure has been in there a long time...'better go check!". "Oh sh!t!", back inside I went. Fortunately, he hadn't passed out or anything and I could only guess he'd been spending all that time admiring the damage to his face.


Brief mention of the plans here.
The Ned Overrend aftermath.