Metal Bike Commuter

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.


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