Metal Bike Commuter


Critical Mass

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 28, 2009

Last Friday I rode in company with about 70 zombies. Luckily, my brains are still intact. Pete showed up in his motorcycle gear. I’ll try to refrain from any Village People jokes from here on out.

My thoughts on the Critical Mass

1.  Fun.  Honestly, I really enjoy riding by myself, which is probably why I waited almost a year to join in with the Critical Mass.  I’m glad I did it.  This seems like a nice way to meet other people enjoying creation.  In fact, my wife can vouch to the fact that I had a good time, as this is all I talked about over the weekend.

2.  Organized.  The two words “Critical” and “Mass” sound chaotic.  You would think it would be an unorganized mass of cyclists cutting in and out of traffic reeking havic on the streets.  You would think wrong.  People were assigned to direct traffic, it started on time, and nobody harrased pedestrians or drivers.

3.  Short.  Understandbly, the route was very short, but when you have children along, it is best to make it easy for the youngsters.  Later on, while I was riding home up long hills, I was happy with that fact.  Besides, it seems that part of the ride is to take in the sights.  I felt like I was in a parade, so it was interesting to see the bystanders reactions as this huge mass of body and bikes rambled by.  Morristown is a perfect town for such a ride.

Ride Home

After the CM, Pete and I decided to head home.  I was feeling a little under the weather, was broke, and foolishly thought it would take me 30 minutes to get home.  Pete, ever the glutton for punishment, took me on the “easy” hills through Morris Twp, Parsippany, and Denville.  I think with the combined riding of the morning, afternoon, and the evening, I was just plumb tired.

I thank Pete for keeping it at a slow pace, or else I fear I would have just stopped near Graystone Park and checked into one of their empty rooms.  Also, I forgot to bring a blinky, so he wisely offered one of his spares.  This I was very thankful for when the night grew dark after parting our ways.

The Tourne

I took Saturday off from riding, keeping myself busy in the yard, and throwing a BBQ with some friends.  However, by Sunday, I was itching to try the Red Trail at the Tourne again.  I brought a bottle of water with me because the weather was in the 90s (according to my cyclometer, it was 95 when I rode).

I reversed the trail from last time.  I seriously think it was easier, but the fact that I was tired and it was so hot, I had to stop more times, and the actually bailed once!  No scratches or bruises, just my pride was hurt.  I tried to make a boulder, but instead of pulling up, I went head over handlebars as my bike fell to the ground.  I had room to run so as not to let the bike crash on me, but I’ve read that some advise to hold onto the bike while it is falling.  This is why I’m a newbie when it comes to MTB’ing.

Legal?

There’s some doubts as to whether it is permissable to ride this trail.  Why?  Because a few years back most trails were closed to bicycle traffic.  I found only one sign that prohibited bikes, but this was on a trail in Mtn. Lakes, not the Tourne trail.  While I headed towards the Red Trail from the parking lot, I spotted a cop, he noticed me, but went on with his conversation.

So, I will have to find out for sure where I can ride, because there are inconsistencies when it comes to signage.

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Review: Red Trail at The Tourne

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 23, 2009

Truth be told, my mountain biking experience is rather limited. Other than the occasional off-road excursions, and my experiences at the Patriot Path, I have, well, no experience. I have ridden the Tourne a few times before, but I never rode the Red Trail. At least, not on purpose. I once got lost in the Tourne trying to find easier downhill access that proved fruitless after bonking out.

So it is established. I am a complete novice, n00b, and for surfers, a barney (except not in the water). Well, I’m a barney in the water too, because I surf maybe once every five years. Anyway, my wife unleashed me from the homestead for a few hours on Sunday. This means I didn’t have to haul dirt around in her garden, and no smelly diapers for me to change.

Knowing that I live in the shadows of the Tourne (really, the Tourne is a small hill, but in this part of NJ, anything higher than a three story building can cast a shadow for miles), I decided to research online the trail system of the park. The reviews were mixed, but everyone seemed to state that the Red Trail was a good ride for both beginners and experts. This trail loops the entire park, running about 4.5 miles, I believe.

There are multiple entries with parking access to the trail, but I chose to enter on the Mountain Lake sides. You ride past a small lake (looked full with derby fishers). Eventually you’ll enter the Red Trail (why is it called the Red Trail?). For the first few yards, it was easy for this totally inexperienced MTB’er. I thought this would be no sweat. About 10 minutes in, I hit a dramatic hill littered with huge boulders (dramatic to me). For me, being as out of shape I am in, I had to dismount and walk it. I was losing traction on my rear tire as a I tried to climb while standing (which I think proves my technique is off), and grew weary real quickly.

After reaching the top of that hill, I was met with some nice coasting down a thickly forested part of the trail. I was holding onto my brakes though, as I still didn’t build up the nerve to bomb out on single track. Eventually I had to climb more trails (and more dismounting), but finally started to gain some confidence in my skills. I already knew about picking your path and riding it out. I now know that sitting down while hopping rocks makes the ride seem more unstable then if you raise your back up a couple inches above the seat.

There were some logs to climb, which I had no problem rolling. I think my experience riding curbs and such as a youngster helped the transition to the trail for log rolling. Some of the rocks were scary, though. I’m sure plenty people who ride this trail would laugh at my foolish baby steps, but I found the trail to be challenging, technical, and fun! Fun is the key, because this is what I set out for last Sunday.

Oh yeah, I did get lost. As I was on the final leg of the trail, I couldn’t find the trail back to that little lake in Mountain Lakes. So I continued to follow the Red Trail feeling as if some things were familiar. When I had to dismount, I seriously began to wonder if I was on my second loop. After an hour of what for me is intense riding, I was not ready for a second loop. I reached the top, and when I spotted the random bench, I knew my bike had tracked this section over an hour ago. So I turned around and bombed the descent! Whew, this is what riding is all about!

I found the lake, and rested on a grassy hillside overlooking another lake for a few minutes relishing my first MTB ride of the year.

In short, I definitely suggest anyone who has an hour or two to spare, to come out and enjoy the Red Trail at the Tourne. If you haven’t been to the Tourne, then first check out the gravel road that goes to the top. At the top, you have a nice almost 360 degree view of Morris County, and on clear days you can see the NYC skyline.

I have a feeling that I’ll be paying this trail many visits this year.

Bonus: Later that afternoon, my two year old finally figured out how to pedal her tricycle on the paved path that runs along Boulevard in Mountain Lakes! If she’s like her papa, she’ll be bunny hopping skateboards in a few years.

Spring is here

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 17, 2009

Yes, it is official. Warm weather is finally upon us.

I’m back in the habit, out of hibernation. Yesterday I rode into work, even though I had a client visit in Montclair at 1:30. Remember, we have one working vehicle, and technically, the car I’ve been driving everyday is my wife’s. She normally works from home, but had a meeting in the morning. To work around this, I met her at home during lunch. Riding a bike during lunch is an excellent option for me, because most of my client visits are in the afternoon. I had enough time to ride home, take a shower, and scarf down a burrito.

I found the Morris Plains “Borough Walking Trail” a few months back.

This connects Route 53 to a residential neighborhood a few blocks from route 202. You’ll recognize the high tension wires that run parallel to the trail. I’m not sure if bikes are permitted on the trail, but I’ve yet to see anyone hiking on it.

My odometer (now reading in miles, instead of KMs) had me at 30 miles per hour bouncing down the steep hill! What a thrill this was for me first thing in the morning. My grin was plastered on my face the entire minute and thirty seconds it took me to fly down. (Normally a walk down would take about 10 minutes). I don’t think I’ll be using the trail on my commute home.

I think I’ll take a nice long detour today. The weather is so nice, that it is actually energizing me for a ride.

Bummer

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 11, 2009

Yehuda Moon is done.

BK Run!

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 6, 2009

Friday, my wife and I were both in the mood for some junk food. BK! As I headed towards my car, I realized this could be done on foot. Or…I could ride my bike!

I think this was my first official errand completed with the utilization of my bicycle as my transportation of choice.

So while I did not accomplish reducing my caloric intake, I did accomplish the great discovery of realizing that bike riding can be used for errand runs.

Good ride recently.

Posted in Uncategorized by metaljaybird on April 3, 2009
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Yes. I’ve been a slacker. I chickened out as the winter set in. I had to meet my wife for lunch, because only one out of two cars are working.

The dead car is another story, and entirely frustrating.

Anyway, I put the bike on the roof rack (after a decidedly frustrating attempt at repairing some things, which they’re fixed now, but I was still angry), and she dropped me off at work.

I rode home on the bicycle with my new saddle bag I received for my 30th birthday. Wow, that thing can carry a ton of stuff! The weight was off of my shoulders, and on the rear rack. The first few yards, I had to get used to the balance redistribution, but after that, I was golden. I think I imagined I was able to ride faster, but that was probably my imagination.

I hope to jump into it next week, but I really can’t ride too often until I get my piece of junk car back on the road. Because my job requires jump and run client visits, I need a car. Last year I left the thing in the parking lot the entire season, while I made use of my more enjoyable mode of transportation.

Hopefully this weekend allows for sometime to do some rec riding around the area. I need the exercise and the respite from the madness that is my busy life!

So now that the season is in full bloom, I should be updating here more often. Any of you readers who are still hanging with the metalcommuter have any stories to tell regarding your daily commute?