Spring Bicycle Ride on the Columbia Trail by Barbara Dexter
Well I set out for my inaugural bicycle ride down the Columbia Trail from Long Valley to Highbridge. I wanted to test out my new bicycle seat. It was said to be very comfortable and not hit the backs of my legs when I stand up. Yes there is a split down the middle, which does seem unnerving to me. I assure you not part of me was trapped inside. It is surprisingly comfortable. I was able to go for about ten miles before my soup bones let me know it was there. This is not bad since I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. That means I had no additional padding from special spandex shorts for comfort. I will see how long it takes for me to become completely used to it.
This is one of the first views on the trail. I thought it to be very picturesque. It shows the beautiful and rural nature of living in the area.
The first bridge spanning the Raritan River is not very dramatic, but it is fully functional.
While biking on the trail don’t be surprised if you encounter an extra large horse or two. They have use of the trail as well. They generally ride to one side and allow you to pass. They are very grand and beautiful creatures.
The second bridge spans a section of Ken Lockwood Gorge. There are beautiful views of the river. Do pull your bicycle off to the side when you stop so that others may pass. This trail is wonderful because every so often there are benches to rest or simply enjoy your snack.
This old building looks like it should be in a scene from a movie. At first glance it looks like there is a ghost inhabiting the vacant structure. I will let you be the judge of that.
I took the long way and enjoyed the day. I took pictures as I traveled. I bicycled about 25 miles. You don’t need to do the whole trail at once. there are different parking areas along the route or simply start at one end of the Columbia Trail in Highbridge one day and maybe the other end on the next visit. Many people walk, run, or bicycle on this trail. If you bicycle it is best to have wide tires because it is mostly a crushed, compacted rock surface that is typical of a converted rail road bed. The Columbia trail is also open for cross country skiing in the winter time.
It was nice day. The sun was shining. The temperature was in the nineties. There I was stuck in the house. I thought this just could not be. I must get out. I ventured onto the front porch and there it was, the scratched up, yellow, ten speed bicycle. I know it was supposed to have ten speeds, but you could not prove it by me. Half the speeds I attempted to shift into never made it into gear. It was there. I wanted out. My decision was made. I would take the bike to the local swimming hole, “Sunburn Beach.” As I mounted the bike, I had to lean it on its side so my short leg could swing over the frame. As long as I didn’t have to stop too fast, I would be all right.
I was off, riding down the sidewalk to Water Street. I continued to Main Street and followed it down until it turned into Colrain Road. Colrain Road was narrow. I did not concern myself about that. In one place the road was even narrower because it passed under a stone railroad bridge. I had no problem with that and did not even think about it. I passed by some small houses and a couple of farms. Then I arrived at my destination. It was just at an intersection of another road, through the cattle fencing, and down an embankment. Here the Deerfield River passed over many boulders that created rapids. The rapids were cold and soothing on a hot day. The water was only a couple of feet deep on most days. It became deeper slightly upstream, but only for a small section. It was perfect to float around and bask in the sun. When my skin finally turned prune-like, I could climb up the embankment and lay on my favorite boulder.
The only challenge with leaving the swimming hole was drying off enough for the trip home. My legs would rub against the seat and frame of the bike. It would be worse if they were wet. This day I did not manage to dry off enough. My legs were chafed by the time I arrived back home, but it was so worth it. I arrived home just before my brother noticed his bike had been “borrowed” and before my mother arrived home to tell me that I could not go. I was so relaxed that I had no trouble sleeping in the hot bedroom I shared with my two sisters.
My Bike Trip on the Heritage Rail Trail from Monroe to Goshen, NY and Back by Barbara Dexter
This was a twenty mile trip from Monroe to Goshen, NY. It was about a 50 mile drive for me to get to the trail. So once there I was determined to enjoy myself. The first rest stop was at an old cemetary that is said to haunted. The dates on the stones were from the 1800’s. It is just set off the trail a short distance, but if you were not looking you would never see it. That is due to its small size. It is here that i crashed my bike to avoid hitting the person that stopped without warning in front of me. Yes it is only a mile or two from the start of the trail. After “licking my wounds for a short time”, I got back on my bike and continued the trip.
The trip continued through some trees and not far from civilization to the farmers market at the town of Chester, NY. I am told there is ice cream available nearby, though I didn’t personally partake in any. Chester has a lovely old train station where the farmers market is held.
The bike trip continued onward to Goshen, NY. Where the rest stop was the Harness Racing Museum, located only a short distance from the trail. Here was the lunch or snack stop at the benches located near the track. There was a horse and carriage out practicing while we lunched. The museum is free of charge. They do have a donation bucket, if you are so inclined. Inside is the harness racing simulator, a must try at least once.
I surprised myself by making the full twenty mile journey after having crashed near the start. The trail is fairly flat and well maintained. It is good for beginners and advanced cyclists. I hope you get out and enjoy.
My Bicycle Ride at Duke’s Farm in Sussex County by Barbara Dexter
As the rain continues to come down, I am remembering the bicycle tour I had at Duke’s Farm in Sussex County yesterday. The farm encompasses about 2700 acres of land. It has it’s own power that is generated from a “sun farm”. A system of photovoltaic cells that harness power from the sun. They offer many environmentally friendly or green educational programs. The vehicles the farm uses are all powered by electricity.
Enough of that and ow to the pictures. The scenery is incredible.
The plants are incredible considering it is off season.
A beautiful waterfall and lake. The waterfall is turned on twice a day. You can see there is an algae problem in the lake. Well at least something grows there, I guess.
I thought the cat should have at least been given a name. I think I will take it upon myself to call him Tuck. The first three letters stand for the unknown cat.
There are all sorts of animals depicted at the base of the statue. The statue can be seen near the hay barn.
There is a farmer’s market that sells the crops produced at the farm just beyond the banners. I personally like the owl banner.
The farm was fairly easy to access as it is located off route 206. Route 206 connects with Route 202 and then route 287. If you can find your way to route 287, you are almost there.
Well I was tired and my body was still and aching after driving back to Jersey from Virginia. I decided I just needed to get out and enjoy the air and sunshine. I decided to try a trail that I had heard about when I was kayaking at Lake Aeroflex. I mapped out the directions using my google maps app. I had a lovely journey over the hills and through the woods to arrive at gods country. I had no idea where I was, just how to get out of there. Finding the trail was a bit of pulling the map up from the internet via my android phone and seeing which roads came close to a bike trail. I realized I wasn’t too far from the trail, but to get there would take another five miles of driving the back country roads. Well I figured why not. I had never seen this area and usually I pick up something I had see previously, well that was my hope. As it turns out the trail entrance was just a couple of miles from Lake Aeroflex. I did not realize this until I was actually biking the trail that goes near the lake. I ride along and ask some nice people the question-just where is the trail. I feel like a moron for not realizing where I was. I took the lake loop. Part of which was a steep hill, which I may avoid next time. For you advanced bikers, it was flat land. The hill was just enough to sap my limited supply of energy. I made it back to the vehicle and relaxed for a couple of minutes. Then I realized, hey I drove all the was out here I might as well see all that there is to see. So I went about three miles down the Morris and Sussex Trail. I will have to go back when I have more energy. The first hill and the slow incline of the trail along with my stiff and aching body held me back from a longer ride. I was able to do a respectable five mile ride altogether.
Well there I was an evening off in an unfamiliar area. My work was done for the day and it was time for some fun. Luckily I planned a well deserved evening beak. I researched the local bicycle and hiking trails online. Well of course I had to ask the opinion of the local unnamed exercise enthusiasts as well. I found myself heading to the Mount Vernon Trail. It was an adventure just getting to the trail. To quote Mainer’s frequent saying, “you can’t get there from here.” Which I interpret to mean it is going to take forever and a day to get there. Well I had enough time, barely. I tried searching the on board GPS in my vehicle by the name, then by an address, and then by recreation or sport type. I had no success in narrowing down the exceedingly long list of options. I gave up using the GPS. I moved on to the google maps app I have on my cell phone. It found the trail, but in Alexandria, VA. I was hoping to start at the Mount Vernon Estate. But no worries, since I found the trail. After a 40 to 45 minutes drive in rush hour traffic, I manged to see the trail and then had to find a parking space. I pulled in a spot located on the street in the center of town and I’m off. One geeky fat chick in a helmet, on a yellow mountain bike, with the “old lady seat” heading down the main drag toward the trail. What a site to behold, I was-not. The first thing I noticed is that I was afraid of getting run over by one of the expensive cars that were zooming past me. The next thing I noticed was I was on the wrong side of the road. I needed to cross the busy street to be able to ride the trail. Well okay then, I will walk this thing across the street in the cross walk. Well I’m waiting for the walk signal that never occurs and looking a little out of place. I finally decide turns green again. I made it across and I’m riding on the trail, finally. I figured I had about one and a half to two hours before dark. I head in the general direction of the Mount Vernon Estate, thinking it cannot be too far down. I am at the speed of me. Which by the way is not the speed of light. I find it is much better to observe one’s surroundings at a more natural pace. I really appreciated this when a well muscled man in spandex or lycra biking clothes zoomed past me. Some how I didn’t really care about making it all the way to the Mount Vernon Estate. I was seeing the sites as I trudged along. I stopped noticing the distance signs along the tail.
My awesome adventure to discover the entrance or trail head for the Paulinskill Valley Trail began early one Saturday morning in late May. I attempted to obtain directions from the free app on my cell phone. I was hoping to find the part of the trail that ran alongside a lake. I was talking with a fellow biker and had received the recommendation. Now to try and locate the area. I travel along route 280 west. Then route 287 north to route 10 west for a brief period before continuing onto route 46 west. I somehow find my way to route 517 north. Then I follow a string of back country roads until the cell phone apps exclaims,” you have arrived” and “your destination is on the left.” Apparently, according to the app anyway, I should park my vehicle in the middle of the road and cut across some farmer’s field. I made my way down Fredon Marksboro Road and on to Stillwater Station Road. I cfoollowed Stillwater Station Road until It continued into Stillwater Road. From Stillwater Road I turned onto Fredon Road. From there I turned onto Wall Street and then Old Staion Road. I had arrived. Yes, I was a mere 200 feet from my original stopping point.
As I was riding along, avoiding the patties left by horses, and through the mud and muck, I thought of a country song. I believe the lyrics were “I love you and I want to check you for ticks.”