NJ Mountain Bike

Mountain biking in NJ and beyond.
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Care Plus Foundation Bike Ride for Wellness

September 26, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Events

Calling all cyclists for a worthy cause.

Care Plus Ride for Wellness brings together all levels of cyclists for a fun day of bike riding, celebration and fund raising in support of those suffering from mental illnesses and to help them build a better life for themselves and their families.

Whatever your skill level and interest, we invite you to enjoying a beautiful autumn day in the scenic hills in support of a very worthy cause.  Join us on October 19th to ride for your own health and to help others on their road to wellness.

Fun for all ages

It’s a day of fun for all ages, no one is left behind!  There are 3 different routes to choose from ~ 50 miles, 25 miles and our 10 mile Family Fun ride.

For the smaller set, we have a “Training Wheels & Trikes” Ride, face painting, pumpkin decorating and kids’ activities a plenty.

Not a cyclist?  No worries!  Join us for an afternoon of music and good food at the picnic.

Catch the Team Spirit

It’s always more fun as a group.  Organize your friends, scouting troops or youth group to join you for a fun day of riding and raising money for those in need within your community!

Where and When:

October 19, 2008

Darlington Park

600 Darlington Avenue, Mahwah, NJ

For More Information:

Please read the event brochure.

Call the Care Plus Foundation 201-986-5070 or visit us on the web @ www.CarePlusFoundation.org

Trail Review: Hartshorne Woods County Park

September 15, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Trails

My half day spent at Hartshorne was unexpected. What started out as a poorly planned day at Holmdel Park turned into a wonderful experience at Hartshorne that left me craving more. I convinced my riding partner Doug (against his better judgment mind you) that we should go check out Holmdel Park. Well it turns out that the park has nothing to offer an eager mountain biker. To make matters worse we got to the park at bit early and had to wait for the park to open to find this out. Oh well, you live and you learn.

After chatting briefly with a park ranger he suggested we take a short drive over to Hartshorne. Determined to make a day out of it we headed right over. Our mountain biking fortunes changed quickly because Hartshorne is a mountain biking utopia.

The park is located in Middletown along the banks of the Navesink River. The park is home to a 17-mile trail system within its glorious 786 acres which also includes 3 miles of paved paths and incredible views. The views of the Navesink and Shewsberry Rivers are fantastic.

The trails are a mix of dirt, sand, small to medium rocks, roots and pavement with something to offer every skill set. I found the trails challenging as well as rewarding with beautiful views offered. I really only scratched the surface of the trails and need a few more days in the park to really get to know it better.

I can easily see Hartshorne Park being a frequent destination.

Overall: 9 of 10

Aerobic: 8 of 10

Technical: 9 of 10

Best wishes,

Howie

Trail Review: Shark River Park

September 02, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Trails

I had no ideas about what to expect from Shark River Park when I set out early on Labor Day. I left a little later than usual (around 6:00) to get to the park about 6:45 only to find all entrances locked for an 8:00am opening. This was a first for me but a lesson learned. In the future, I will always check for park opening times. Fortunately, the Ranger opened the park a bit early and I was able to get the early start I like.

The park is beautiful, which is how I have described all of the parks in Monmouth County I have already visited. The Park is slightly over 93 acres along Shark River in Neptune and Wall Townships with over 8 miles of trails. The Park is immaculate. There is a stocked lake, a really nice playground with shuffleboard and horseshoes, a picnic area that has plenty of grills for a family outing.

Most of the main trails offer little challenge but the switchbacks are full of fun. The main trails are wide and rolling hard packed sand, dirt, and grass. There are a few patches of fine same but the trails were in great shape with one exception. I would recommend skipping The River’s Edge Trail which is better suited as a hiking trail. I wound up off my bike most of the trail climbing up stairs besides the fact it is extremely narrow and overgrown.

I definitely had a great time at Shark River and will make another trip back soon. Next time I want to explore all of the smaller unmarked trails which were so much fun.

Overall: 6 of 10

Aerobic: 6 of 10

Technical: 5 of 10

Best wishes,

Howie

Trail Review: Clayton Park

August 27, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Trails

Clayton Park

Clayton Park has quickly become one of my favorite places to ride. It is a pristine park. The trails are well maintained and in great condition. It is nothing but really fast single track and leg blasting climbs that attempt to beat you into submission. Over the past weekend we went to Clayton twice, and it was awesome.

Clayton is located in Upper Freehold on 421 acres. There are 8 miles across several trails for biking, hiking, or horses. I really enjoyed all of the trails. Did I say it was fast? Clayton sports several long rolling descents that are bliss. If you have a need for speed you can achieve insane bike speeds on the down. The rolling hills also provide a challenge with two spots that resemble a giant winding half-pipe.

I also learned that I really enjoy the challenge of the climb. Clayton Park has some nice long climbs and my Hoo Koo E Koo ate it up. My riding partner Doug called me “Superman” as I blasted through all of the climbs. My strength and cross (running/swimming) training have really improved my riding and I feel like I am starting to get my stride.

Clayton Park has a lot of fun obstacles throughout the trails. This is where Doug’s 29er had a serious advantage. Those extra large tires power though anything in its way. Doug demonstrated this by going over a mountainous log and challenged me to do the same. Of course I didn’t make it but at least I didn’t fall which was a bigger personal accomplishment. I am actually getting much better getting out of the pedals.

The bottom line is that Clayton Park is fun and will look forward to coming back.

Overall: 8 of 10

Aerobic: 8 of 10

Technical: 6 of 10

Best wishes,

Howie

1st Annual JORBA Bike Festival

August 20, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Events

1st Annual JORBA Bike FestivalA Celebration of New Jersey Mountain Biking

The goal of the “fest” is to promote responsible trail stewardship and cycling advocacy and awareness in New Jersey. The festival will feature events and activities for all ages and all cycling disciplines; mountain, road, cyclocross, cruiser, BMX, unicycles, you name it; all are encouraged to visit and enjoy this fun filled day, for the whole family.

Volunteers:

JORBA is going to need a boatload of volunteers to assist with all sorts of things. Why volunteer? Its fun! However, if you’re not convinced of that, perhaps we can tempt you with free admission (ok the event is free), free on-site camping with the JORBA and a special post-fest-party then you’re not reachable. So, if you’d like to assist for part of the day helping run the Fest, please contact bikefest@jorba.org.

Scheduled events

  • Guided trail rides in Allamuchy, Deer Park and Stephens State Park for all skill levels, including womens only rides and a kids ride
  • A Poker Run sponsored by Cycle Craft with a $500 Gift Card as Grand Prize
  • A massive raffle, your local Bike Shops have outdone themselves! Grand Prize: Giant XTC hardtail, others prizes TBA.
  • Pro demonstration by trials legend and local NJ rider Jeff Lenosky
  • A guided Mountain Bike Night Ride
  • Trail maintenance and trail building demonstrations by a certified JORBA Trail Wookie
  • “Skinny” contest!
  • Skills clinics for all ages by Cycle Works’ own John Nichols
  • Demo trailers from Giant, Specialized (more TBA). Ride it before you buy it!
  • Shop vendors with lots of great deals
  • Meet and greet State and County Park representatives
  • Kids events including bike decorating contest and kids race

For all other details please visit the JORBA Bike Festival website.

Trail Review: Allaire State Park

August 16, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Trails

Allaire Park is a great place to ride a mountain bike. A picturesque landscape and a mix of trails with varied skill levels, and there is more, not only is Allaire a great biking destination but it is also rich in history. The Historic Village at Allaire is a living museum of a 19th Century bog iron producing community. In addition to the Village there is also The Pine Creek Railroad which dates back to 1951 and is among one of the oldest continually operating narrow gauge steam preservation railway exhibits in the country.

There are four marked trails for over 22 miles of single track but there is so much more in unmarked trails. I have now made three trips to the park and have not even come anywhere close to seeing it all. The orange trail is a great ride once you clear the sand. It is deep forest trail that circles to the back of the lot. It is beautiful at the lowest point of the trail where it follows a quaint stream.

I admit I did not have it in me to do some of the steeper drops but I absolutely expanded my perceived limits. I got a great adrenaline rush even though I dabbed a number of times on some long steep down hills lined with giant roots and sand that tested me. I did wipe out for the first time during a large rooted down-hill in the back of the park like a champ. I went right over the bars and into quick face-plant in some soft sand after my front tire mired down in sand and root. I was definitely a bit timid with the clips but went after the rest of the trail inspired.

The one downside in my opinion is the sand that makes west of the parking lot really annoying and varies from hard packed to beach-like. If you go north there is miles and miles of unmarked trails some of which are simple insane for my skill level.

I think Allaire has something for everyone. I had a great time there and have now made several trips back to the park. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to get back.

Overall: 6 of 10

Aerobic: 6 of 10

Technical: 8 of 10

Best wishes,

Howie

Going Clipless

August 10, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: MTB Gear

Since my bike came with Shimano PD-M505 clipless peddles I did not see any reason to change them. I had toe-clips on my old road bike and did not foresee any issues going clipless. Ater getting my bike I ran out to get a pair of new bike shoes to go with my peddles. My shop did not have my size in stock so I went to another great local shop SC Action Sports in Howell. They hooked me up with a great pair of Spiuk mountain biking shoes and were kind enough to offer to put the clips on for me. That was the easy part.

Getting used to the clips seemed a lot more challenging. The first time I slipped on my new shoes and hoped on my bike and clipped in as I began to pedal away. After a quick circle I fell over like a dead weight right on my lawn. The neighborhood kids got a great laugh and I looked like an idiot. Oh well, you live and you learn.

After a few trail runs I got better but the clips were very tight. Once I adjusted the clips a bit I was far better off. Unfortunately before I learned the fine art of tweaking the tension on the pedal I had several other novice flops including one for the amusement of our local police. My buddy Doug thought that was quote amusing, especially since he went for the traditional BMX style peddle.

While I am still a bit nervous about my ability to unclip I am becoming used to them, but it took several weeks. This weekends run in Clayton Park was my best run. Clipless is not for everyone but I think once you get used to them they are a great advantage, especially on climbs and bumpy terrain where pedal slippage is possible. While my pride was a bit tarnished I am glad I stuck with it.

Best wishes,

Howie

Trail Review: Monmouth Battlefield State Park

August 05, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Trails

Battlefield State Park

Monmouth Battlefield State Park is a beautiful and well maintained grounds. The fields, orchards, and woods are surrounded by a beautiful farm which makes for wonderful scenery. The history and historic landmarks make the park more interesting than just an average trail ride.

The full trail is approximately an 11 mile straight run. While there are a few loops it can be fully explored by bike in about a day. The trail is a easy cruise through woods and around the main field. I would categorize this as an easy run with a few of the switchbacks in the smaller loops being slightly more challenging but for the most part the trail is fairly tame.

If you are looking to hammer it down some twisted hills this is not the park for you. However, I think it is worth the trip just to get a history lesson and gave a great day in a beautiful park. Don’t forget to stop by Battleground Orchids for some apple cider donuts and a pie. These were the first trails I rode when I first got my bike and quickly out grew it. While not technically challenging I did have a lot of fun here and still ride here occasionally because it is so close to my home.

Overall: 4 of 10

Aerobic: 3 of 10

Technical: 3 of 10

Best wishes,

Howie

Buying a Mountain Bike

August 04, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Bike

I bought my mountain bike almost two months ago and have now had some time on the trails. I quickly extended some of my limits and looked down with exhilaration on trails that exceeded them. Mountain biking is healthy fun and if you are lucky is great time with friends outdoors. While patience is not my best quality I surely tested it through this purchase. I wanted a bike but needed to make sure I got the right one for me.

I am always one to do research online whenever I make a purchase and this was no time for an exception. I read several forums for suggestions on a starter bike. My budget $900 and based on what I read I was looking for a hard tail. My first thought (on recommendation) was a Gary Fisher Tassajara. I set out to find one locally and was unsuccessful to locate one by telephone. Since there was not really any available I thought it would be best just to go to a few of the many local retailers and see what is available.

I planned several visits to a few local shops hoping to get a education, ride a few bikes, and find a good match. After going to a few shops I really like the guys and gals as Beacon Bikes in Freehold. Really a bunch of nice people who were really patient, knowledgeable, and humored all of my newbie questions. After riding a few bikes keeping my budget in mind I wasn’t happy. If the bike felt comfortable most were disqualified because of what I felt was unsmooth shifting or other issues with components. That’s when he suggested I ride the Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo. A step up from the Tassajara and also nice jump in price. I loved it but didn’t buy it that day. I came back next week took it for another spin then took it home.

I already have a few stories since I bought the bike including some falls, bumps, scrapes, and one unscheduled flight (over the bars). I feel like I am about two months behind in blog posts (ahem, that’s because I am). I can’t wait to get all of my thoughts and posts down (stay tuned this may take a while). Now that I am on the dirt and got the blog going I hope to catch up quickly.

The moral of the story is I blew my budget (again), but I also found a bike I really liked. Having put over 150 miles on the bike and some fairly aggressive riding for a newbie I think I made the right choice. I admit I am still not sure I made the right pedal choice (Shimano M505, clipless) but that is fuel for another post. Shortly after my purchase I helped my buddy Doug purchase his Felt Nine Solo a 29er which is also a awesome piece of equipment. Not only do I have a new bike but a great friend who has been a great bike partner. What is better than that?

Welcome to NJMTB

July 20, 2008 By: IMNJ Category: Announcement

Welcome to New Jersey Mountain Bike! I look forward to sharing tails from the trails, information about bike gear, and my quest to lead a healthy lifestyle. One of the best things I find about a blog is all the wonderful like-mind people a blog helps connect you to. I am looking forward to connect with other local bikers in NJ and beyond.

Best wishes,
Howie

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