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  1. #1
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Follies on Ice tour, this weekend in NJ

    Folks, I need a reality check. Temperatures are going to be in the single digits tomorrow, with some decent crosswinds.

    Here's the plan. Subject to change, depending on how nasty the wind will be:

    Friday: I took the afternoon off work. Catch the 12:39 train out of Union, NJ to Port Jervis, NY. I have a reservation at the High Point Country Inn in Wantage, just down the road from High Point State Park. The train schedule is pretty annoying. I have to make three connections, and it'll take me 4 hours, putting me 5 hilly miles from the inn. (It's called High Point for a good reason.)

    If for some reason I miss the connection in Middletown, that puts me into rush hour. I then get to Port Jervis at 10:06 pm.

    I was considering getting off at Middletown and biking the 25 miles to the inn, but the ride is mostly in the middle of nowhere, with lots of hills. Not a problem if the weather is nice, but if I have a breakdown I'm fixing the bike at the side of the road in sub-freezing temperatures.

    Saturday: Wantage to Stanhope. Start riding the Cape May to High Point bike route. (Here's a PDF of the route, dialup users beware.) Inn at milepost 41.

    Sunday: Stanhope to Bridgewater. Continue on the CM/HP route. Around mile 75, I peel off the route. I have another 12 miles to go until I get to my sister's house. I have a route that takes me by my company's Liberty Corner site. (Why not? I'll probably never have a reason to go there, and I hear it's a pretty campus.) (Bikely route for those last 12 miles.)

    I was planning to get to my sister's around noon and then ride the 16 miles home using a route that takes me on the Delaware and Raritan towpath. My sister can't be home until later afternoon, though. There's no point in my doing this in the dark, since the park closes then. (I also want to see the condition of the trail, it was pretty abysmal last summer.) So I'll probably take the train home from there.
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  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    As much as I admire your spunk, Neil, I advise against this ride. Or at least, if you are determined to do it, keep the mileage as low as possible. Remember how cold and worn out we both felt after riding in sub 40 degree temperatures in Bethlehem, PA, on December 24, 2007? Well, the cold will suck the life right out of you. 25 miles can feel like a heck of a lot more in extreme weather.

  3. #3
    Senior Member john bono's Avatar
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    Well the temperature is going to be brutally cold, but the distance won't be too bad, so long as you have a warm bed to sleep in every night. My big concern would be gloves and footwear. You will need gloves that are not just warm, but stop windchill, so avoid wool/knit gloves, and go for ski gloves instead. Bike shoes are notoriously cold, so get the neoprene booties, plus wool socks, and maybe even one of those thermal chemical footbeds. Get something that covers your ears to take care of frostbite, and layer up. I'd watch out for icy patches up in the high point area, and I'm not sure if they clear the Delaware and Raritan trail of snow.
    Ride a bike. It makes your legs stringy, and less tasty to our Kanamit friends.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
    rhm
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    Oh, go for it! How can you not? I rode to work this morning... two pairs of socks, lobster claw gloves, balaclava... plenty toasty! Of course it'll be colder over the weekend, but... unless you die, you'll be living!

    Seriously, I think you can do it. Keep the extremities warm with the right clothing, keep the core temp up by spinning a low gear. Don't let your legs get tired; don't go too fast on the downhills; and watch out for the black ice. I wish I could get away and join you!

    --Rudi

  5. #5
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhm View Post
    Oh, go for it! How can you not? I rode to work this morning... two pairs of socks, lobster claw gloves, balaclava... plenty toasty! Of course it'll be colder over the weekend, but... unless you die, you'll be living!

    Seriously, I think you can do it. Keep the extremities warm with the right clothing, keep the core temp up by spinning a low gear. Don't let your legs get tired; don't go too fast on the downhills; and watch out for the black ice. I wish I could get away and join you!

    --Rudi
    You'd certianly be welcome. Call my cell if things change. (Check your PMs.)
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  6. #6
    Neil_B
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    Anyone hear from Neil F.?

  7. #7
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    I'm in Stanhope. I've stuck to my itninerary so far. The first day was by far the most difficult, Port Jervis to Wantage through High Point State Park. Only 8 miles but most of it was relentless hills. (I've seen steeper, but these never let up!)

    Today was fun, Wantage to Stanhope. I'd be extremely happy if my toes weren't freezing so much! Walking the nastier hills actually helps circluate blood in my feet, and gets my 10 little piggies out of the freezing wind. Must come up with some sort of wind shield for the next time.

    Tomorrow is to be around 40 miles. The elevation profile is pretty nasty looking. My plan is to follow the route, then peel off in Bernards Township, making my way to my sister's house in Bridgewater, ending the tour there. It'll be warmer than today, but still below freezing. There's a 60% chance of snow. Wish me luck!
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    Hey NeilF, good on ya for toughing it out.

    I highly recommend neoprene shoe covers, but if those are unavailable, plastic baggies in your shoes. Also, make sure there's plenty of room - too many pairs of socks can lead to too-tight shoes, poor circulation, and colder feet than with less socks.

    Also those little chemical hand and foot warmers for skiing are the bomb - i've been putting them in my cycling shoes and occasionally in my gloves, and they really do help.

    Don't freeze your extremities, frostbite isn't a joke.

    Have fun!!!!
    ...

  9. #9
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    valygrl, thanks for the advice. Booties seem odd since I cycle in boots with toe clips and straps on the pedals. I was thinking along the lines of booties, but putting something of a similar shape (but only the front few inches) on the outside of the clip/strap cage.
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  10. #10
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    Oh, heh, of course I was imagining you wearing cycling shoes. Hope you manage to stay warm (enough) to enjoy riding!
    ...

  11. #11
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Please note that while eggs are an excellent breakfast before riding, it's important to note that a major ingredient in properly made quiche is air. (I had lots of food with me, and supplemented breakfast shortly after leaving.)

    Stanhope got a few inches of snow last night. I left a little late, at 10:30, so the roads would be in better shape. The shoulder of route 206 was pretty bad. What it looked like before they "cleared" it, I can't imagine.

    The least fun of the hills were the roads leading up to Chester. There's plenty of climbing in Mendham, but it's a lot more fun: Going south, there are steep hills going up, followed by (who'd a think) even steeper hills going down. Don't ride here without good brakes.

    I turned on my headlight at 5:00. I was a little late, but not by all that much. At 5:20, 20 minutes after sunset, I turned onto my sister's block. My nephew Breet and my niece Alyssa were on the driveway, retrieving some things from the van. "He's here," Alyssa shouted as I pulled up.

    The next tour I take in weather like this, I'll make certain to make the days shorter. With only so much daylight, 30 miles a day would be about right if I don't want to get up earlier and leave at sunrise.

    I highly recommend this ride to anyone who enjoys climbing. Leddel Jockey Hollow Road and Hardscrabble Road (in Mendham) are particularly hilly and beautiful.
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  12. #12
    Neil_B
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    Neil F, any general advice for folks who want to tour in sub-freezing weather?

  13. #13
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Not trying to be a smartalec but somehow I never envisioned hills in NJ. I guess my experience with NJ was all too close to the ocean. Sounds like a fun ride. Stay warm!

    -R

  14. #14
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Not trying to be a smartalec but somehow I never envisioned hills in NJ. I guess my experience with NJ was all too close to the ocean. Sounds like a fun ride. Stay warm!

    -R
    The northern part of the state can have some interesting climbs.

  15. #15
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    Neil F, any general advice for folks who want to tour in sub-freezing weather?
    Nothing that hasn't been covered on the forums already. Lots of thin wicking layers does the trick. I used safety glasses and two clavas to keep my head warm, sometimes wearing a beanie underneath as well. I still need to fogure out what exactly to do about keeping my toes warm.

    My boots are getting old and scuffed and ratty, and I think Timberland sells windproof boots. But my god, they're expensive!
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  16. #16
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Wish I had seen your thread earlier. You rode through my town (Mt. Olive). I would have given you an escort...in my car. I was XC skiing some local rail trails in Stanhope this morning!

    I'll give you credit for riding 206 and 24 in slush. I won't even ride these roads in fair weather! Their advantage, of course, is their relative 'flatness'. You were riding between and along a couple ridges. I generally ride up and down the ridges into the different river valleys, so yes, that area has its share of tough climbs. You got a taste of it on Pleasant Hill Road (directly after the golf course and idyllic horse farm?) in Chester, though that climb is fairly 'easy' compared to some in the area.

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Congrats NeilF ... you should post your adventure in the Winter Forum: http://www.bikeforums.net/winter-cycling/

    Daylight, or the shortness of it, can be a problem with winter cycling. When I do winter centuries, I end up starting about an hour before daylight and finishing about an hour or two after dark. My Schmidt hub (thanks Rowan! ) has come in very handy for that because, as you would have likely discovered had you used your light for any length of time, batteries don't last in cold weather.

    As for keeping your feet warm, check out my article on Cold Feet:
    http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm something in there might help.

    Oh, and from my experience ... anything with the name "Pleasant Hill" is usually anything but.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    Nothing that hasn't been covered on the forums already. Lots of thin wicking layers does the trick. I used safety glasses and two clavas to keep my head warm, sometimes wearing a beanie underneath as well. I still need to fogure out what exactly to do about keeping my toes warm.

    My boots are getting old and scuffed and ratty, and I think Timberland sells windproof boots. But my god, they're expensive!
    There are a number of wind & waterproof sock options, and seriously, those little chemical heating things for skiing are great.
    ...

  19. #19
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike View Post
    Wish I had seen your thread earlier. You rode through my town (Mt. Olive). I would have given you an escort...in my car. I was XC skiing some local rail trails in Stanhope this morning!
    Too bad! PM me if you're ever down my way.

    I'm thinking a long rail trail ride would be just about the ticket; some flat terrain sounds like fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Oh, and from my experience ... anything with the name "Pleasant Hill" is usually anything but.
    As I was riding Pleasant Hill Road, as a new hill would come into view, I kept thinking to myself: "Oh, look, here comes another 'pleasant' hill!" It kept me amused while spinning up (and walking a few of the nastier ones).
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  20. #20
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    I didn't get all that many pictures this time, these are three of my favorites.


    Secaucus Junction waiting room. I spent a few hours here after my train from Newark got here late. The station is very confusing to navigate, but very pretty.


    Dee's Place in Frankford, NJ. From my booth, I could keep an eye on my bike outside. I probably needn't have bothered, it feels like a very quiet and safe town.


    I stopped for lunch in a church driveway a bit down the road from this trailhead. It's for the Black River Greenway. In (or just north of) Chester, NJ.

    a quickr pickr post
    Last edited by neilfein; 01-19-09 at 10:46 PM. Reason: Fixed link to the third photo
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    Folks, I need a reality check. Temperatures are going to be in the single digits tomorrow, with some decent crosswinds.

    If for some reason I miss the connection in Middletown, that puts me into rush hour. I then get to Port Jervis at 10:06 pm.

    I was considering getting off at Middletown and biking the 25 miles to the inn, but the ride is mostly in the middle of nowhere, with lots of hills. Not a problem if the weather is nice, but if I have a breakdown I'm fixing the bike at the side of the road in sub-freezing temperatures.
    WOW! I'm impressed!

    Seriously, I was thinking of taking the train to Port Jervis this summer and riding down to Newark Penn Station. Heck, I do it from Suffern all time but yours was very aggressive considering the weather. I know there are not hills but mountains in that area you were crossing and the weather was dreadful!

    I never knew there was a map from Port Jervis to Cape May! That trip must be over 100 miles long! Anyway, I can't believe anyone would do this in the dead of winter.

    Congradulations.

  22. #22
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    WOW! I'm impressed!

    Seriously, I was thinking of taking the train to Port Jervis this summer and riding down to Newark Penn Station. Heck, I do it from Suffern all time but yours was very aggressive considering the weather. I know there are not hills but mountains in that area you were crossing and the weather was dreadful!

    I never knew there was a map from Port Jervis to Cape May! That trip must be over 100 miles long! Anyway, I can't believe anyone would do this in the dead of winter.

    Congradulations.
    Thanks, Steve. The state bike route actually starts at High Point. It's a great ride; I'd consider going back to Bridgewater and continuing on south at some point. Most of the route from Bound Brook on south is pretty flat. Maybe I can think of a way to do that on a folding bike? It would certainly make it easier to get there and back on the train!

    NJDOT has the route on their site. I'd highly recommend sending away for the printed version. It's on sturdy semi-glossy paper, and is free! It has turn-by-turn directions, but I mostly used the map by itself, eyeballing the distances and using my GPS for when I veered of the route in a few places.



    If you want to get to High Point from Port Jervis, route 23 is really your only choice. It's really rough; I took around 2 hours to travel the 8.5 miles. (Once you get to High Point, it's all downhill. That's another place you need really good brakes.) It's worth it for the view, even at night. When I needed to catch my breath, I'd turn off my headlight and look at the night sky for a few minutes.
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  23. #23
    rhm
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    Good job, Neil!

    I thought of you on Sunday when I left the family safe and warm in our 'beach house' and rode down to the beach (about four miles). I was really cold by the time I got there. But then I rode out to Moriches Inlet --there's a big dredging operation going on out there now, which I wanted to see. So that was another six miles, some of which I rode on the beach, the rest on an unpaved road through the dunes. You can ride right along the strand at low tide, but my timing was off; the tide was pretty high, and getting higher, so most of the sand was too soft; and though there was a nice crust of ice, it had been broken by vehicular traffic in lots of places, so my tires kept digging in. Hard work... but it warms you right up!

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