Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life thoughts for June

June Thoughts
Reinout Visiting The USA from Belgium, Pictured at the George Washington Bridge 

So as June comes to a close its a good time to reflect a little.  As far as life I am relatively at this point.  Think back at last super and other prior summers this one is kinda dull.  Im not hiking the Appalachian trail with my best friend, or exploring Australia, or Biking the USA, or even working for the NJ fish and wildlife as an endanger beach birder.  No this year I am focused on training and working.  Trying my best not to spend money and stay focused has been tough.  Everyone always seems to want to be going out and doing things.  Truth be told I don't mind going out that much.  However, I do miss being social with friends, I feel like I have not seen that many people.  Thankfully I have had some nice visits here and there the highlight being seeing my Belgium friend Reinout stay at my house for a week.  We had some adventures like his first visit to NYC, first Baseball game (even though it was the Mets), Biking adventures, and a Hoboken crazy night.     Even harder than not seeing my friends is having a long distance relationship.  I take this to a whole new level by finding the perfect girl who is not even a citizen of the same country.  At least Canada isn't that far away, but still I miss her.  It nice to at least find inspiration in each other as we are both focusing on very different tasks in life.  I just can't wait till time brings us together again.  It will be interesting to see where life takes us, and as both of us go with the wind on many things it should be an interesting adventure to say the least.  I could possibly see a sail boat in our future.  Ive been reading up on a blog from the PCT because hopefully this time next summer we will be hiking the PCT together.  Check out the blog;  
Speaking of the future, a friend of mine posted an article entitled "25 Things to Do Before You Turn 25"; I found the article to be incredibly true and simple.  I have some on my list to do still an others that I will skip but nevertheless its an awesome list and something everyone my age should think about.  Enjoy Youth while its hear! 
View from the Bottom of the George Washington Bridge with Reinout and the Little Red Lighthouse
At Citifield to see the Mets Game with Sam and reinout plus my mom and her Friends

Getting to the topic of training which is constantly on my mind these days.  I am still uncertain on how I will fair in my Ironman.  My head cannot comprehend 2.6 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running straight in less than 17 hours still.  I am headstrong in my decision to compete and give it my best, I am confident in myself but am still at the same time still doubtful of my ability.  I guess time will tell.  I am excited to say I bought a bike....may not have been the best decision for the Ironman as it is a cyclocross bike.  It has the droped handle bars like a road bike, but has y brakes, thinker tires, and a less aggressively geared double front cog.   I won't be setting any speed record on it as other people will have crazy expensive carbon Tri bikes but I am planning ahead for future trips.  I am more of a distance multiday touring fan.  I put 100 miles on the bike in 2 days.  One day I spent riding thought NYC with Reinout and then the second I took my usual commute to work.  You could say I am getting more confident in my riding.  over the month of may I rode a lot as it was bike to work month at work.  I tallied up almost 600 miles on my commute, another 400+ training on off days, and on a 4 and a half day tour I did 500 miles to round out my month plus a day or two with 1500 miles.  After that I figured it would be a good idea to focus on one event less and balance out the last two months of training.  I have started to swim more and am slowly gaining confidence in the pool and my swimming abilities but I will say that trying to swim/train at the bally's pool is pretty miserable.  Maybe some of you will disagree with me because you have seen me running recently but in my opinion I fell off on my running.  March and April I felt super strong on my runs and I was headed in the right direction for building up to a marathon but somewhere along the way I lost focus ans my runs have become shorter and more dispersed, I honestly have not been able to get a longer run in a while let a lone a long run.  I think I can pick it up though.  This week I am trying to get some triple session in, biking to work, running to the gym, swimming, and then running home.  I guess they are little mock Tri's just spread out throughout the day and mixed in with my work schedule.

I guess for a month June was pretty good if I think about it, just different.  Training is less satisfying then my past adventures but hopefully will pay off in another 6 weeks!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you 

must keep moving ~ Albert Einstein

John F. Kennedy bicycle quote

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
~ Queen Bicycle Race, Fat Bottomed Girls

How To Plan A Bike Tour:

The 5 simple steps to Making your tour happen
1). Make The Decision
2). Create A Plan Of Action
3). Do Your Research
4). Create A Budget
5). Plan Out Your Route

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway

Check out this blog for some more advice for touring.

Wilderness First Aid

How to help someone who can be saved

So June 9th and 10th I decided to take a wilderness first aid class.  I had a few motivating factors for this class since it did cost a little bit of money.  First off if you know me you should agree there was a need for me to take this class due to the fact that I am always trying to be outside and on some adventure that can take me anywhere in the world including some of the most remote wilderness areas, so its a good idea to be at least prepared.  My second reason was that I am thinking of guiding or teaching outdoor skills and it will be a necessary addition to my resume to give me a chance for some of those wonderful jobs out there.  My third reason is probably my most important reason to me; its just over one year from when I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail and the thought of my friend Buffalo Bobby is still fresh in my mind.  I don't know if situation will ever fully depart from my mind.  RIP Robert Yerike aka Buffalo Bobby.
Buffalo Bobby pictured before I met him- He is wearing the same outfit I last saw him in but was quite a bit lighter when I met him.

So some of you may not know the story behind Buffalo Bobby.  He was a hiker who I briefly met on the Appalachian trail 3 days from the end.  It was his third thru hike of the famous AT and my first.   When we first ran into each other we chatted on the beach of a beautiful lake in Maine somewhere.  The weather was perfect and the scenery was even better.  With the end of the trail within our grasps we were both in great moods.  As we talked we found out we had some funny coincidences:  We were both from NJ in fact he was from Howell (my good friend professor Reynolds lives there as well), I went to Monmouth University and so did his daughter, we both love Pizza!  He even had 2 spare slices of pizza saved from his stay at a hostel the night before that he offered to me, one that I would save to share with Luke who was still hiking and catching up to us.  We stood and chatted about how great we were feeling and that we both did not want our experience to end. He was such a happy uplifting guy, just spending those 10 minutes talking with him I felt amped.  He just gave off this Ora and vibe that was contagious.  He said he was behind his 2 friends who were in a rush to finish but he was going to take his time to enjoy the beauty.  He headed off and I waited at the shelter for Luke to catch up for lunch.  After lunch we plodded up one of the last little blips of a mountain left in Maine before Mt Katahdin. We were going to be able to have a great view of the mountain from the top of this little climb.  We never made it though.  Just shy of the top of the climb I saw Bobby, but something seemed off.  He was in the middle of going down.  He must have felt something going down because he seemed to have thrown his stuff down in a hurry.  I just got there in time to catch his head from hitting a rock as he went from a semi sitting position to laying down position as he trembled.  First thing that popped into my head was that he was having a seizure.  I was clearing some of his cluttered gear away from him when Luke came up the trail.  Needless to say he was surprised but jumped into First Aid mode just as fast as I did.  Having the two of us together helped us both I think. We quickly called 911 but as we were in the middle of the 100 mile wilderness (famous really remote section of the AT) we didn't think we would get service since we didn't have any at lunch.  Some how the call made it through because we had service and I thank my lucky stars that it did. Luke gave the dispatcher as much information as we could.  We had a decent idea of where we were thanks to our guide book but for the Rangers who would have to find us it was going to be extremely tough even with coordinates.  Next we called luke's mom who is a nurse for advice as we waited to see or hear from the rangers.  We did our best to make sure Bobby was comfy and taken care of.  We rolled him onto a mat, gave him a pillow, and covered him up when it got colder.  He woke up at one point and I felt a sense of relief.  He was confused and didn't know where he was or who we were but it made me feel better.  I guess it was a false sense of relief and hope though.  After a few minutes of talking about how he was feeling, which was hungry, cold and spliting head ache, we helped him stand up so he could relieve himself with some assistance.  Shortly after he was having another seizure. 3 other hikers came up past during this time although the exact times escape me.  First a lone girl hiker came up who we sent to catch up with Bobby's two friends to tell them what happened so they would not worry. At that time we felt confident we had things under control and help was on the way.  Later the 2 other hikers came up to us and stayed. Rainbow and firestarter were their trail names.  They help us tremendously because as we waited for the ranger we heard back that they were having trouble finding us and a storm was on its way in so they couldn't send a chopper to find us.  They set off back down the trail we had just hiked up to go back to the lake beach to flag down a sea plane that would radio to a boat the exact location they should go to.  After flagging down the plane and waiting for the boat they had to lead the rescuers and all their gear back up the trail an hours walk to us.  As this happened Bobby had woken up a third time, he was complaining about being colder, having a splitting head ache, and lost control of some of his bodily functions.  He was extra confused this time and a lot less responsive.  It wasn't long before he was having another seizure this time he was coughing like he was going to puke so we rolled him on his side just in time.  Soon after the First ranger made his way from over the mountain as we waited for the Rescuers to come up the other. Once we were all there a plan had to be made after the initial checks were made. We had made the call around 1pm and the decision was made we had to go ahead and move him now.  His pupils were uneven which I found out was a sign of a stroke so we put him on a gurney and started carrying him out as he started to snore (a really bad sign- something else new I learned that day).  The carrying out process was brutal, it was to dangerous to carry him out the way we had come so we decided to carry him up and over the Mt to hopefully find and old lumber trail road down to a new lumber road.  It was getting dark, the trails we steep and wide enough for one person so it was a miserable beginning to a rapidly downwardly spiraling carry out. The four hikers were all carrying our packs plus bobby's, the EMT's had their equipment, not to mention the Gurney with a mans weight on it.  On the other side of the mountain we left trail with the guide of a local guy down what looked like thick forest but somehow he was saying was an old logging trail.  We rotated spots on and off the gurney as we made our was down through brush dodging trees and rocks, plus the occasional water or mud spot that was ankle to thigh deep at parts.  The whole ordeal took about 8 or 9 hours from the start to the end when we reached an isolated logging road and were greeted by a huge group of rescue workers and ambulance crew.  I watched as they loaded up Buffalo Bobby in the Ambulance and I am glad I was able to stop them from throwing out my sleeping bag that we used to keep him warm on the adventure down.  Its the first time I have written this down to share openly.  In the next few days the Newspapers had tried to contact us but I felt uncomfortable talking to them without talking with the family out of respect.  
So back to my weekend of Wilderness First Aid.  I took a class at REI in East Hanover that was taught by  NOLS instructors.  It was an intense 2 day course with lots of class room lectures with a mix of lots of acted out scenarios.  We learned a guide of what to do in any first aid situation.  It starts with a simple five finger process of assessment.  Followed by addressing the distressed and doing a more thorough assessment to see what the ailments are.  During the Initial assessment it is important to hold the patients head still until you can determine if there is a need to continue doing so.  Something that I really never thought about before.  Followed by finding out the patient history and checking vitals.  Overall I learned that without any training Luke and I had managed to do a pretty awesome job with our previous situation.  I now know how to do a proper roll and maneuvering of a patient that is safe, but thinking back when we did move Bobby we did it very similarly in a safe fashion.  One thing that our instructors pointed out which gave me some relief was that complications usual make rescues really hard and all the ailments Bobby had were quite serious even if he had been in a city five minutes from a hospital.  Seizures, brain aneurysm and strokes are hard to relieve.  Some of the Highlights of our class were making splints out of random camping gear and clothing.  I had a ton of fun thinking of new ways to use gear and it was a nice break from the seriousness of most of the lectures.  Its one of those things that will be fun to practice so that I keep my skills up.  With all the information we learned I know I will have to refresh myself with my notes quite frequently.  I think the best part of the class we leaving with a thirst for knowledge and me thinking about joining the local EMT squad. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm Singing in the Rain

Biking through a Thunderstorm

So today on my way home from work I could see even before getting out the door just through the window that an epic storm was on its way.  It was dark and gloomy out, with winds gusting through the tops of the trees.  It was also ridiculously hot out still. As I said goodbye to my co-workers I joked about my zero percent chance of beating the storm.  They all said "be careful and good luck" as they always do.  Don't worry I know they think I am crazy for my super long commute and now extra crazy for leave as a storm approached.  Honestly I never look at the weather and weather usually does not bother me at all.  As I made my turn onto the street I saw the edge of the storm just to the East of me and it gave me a hope that I could be it after all. However as I hauled as fast as I could to race to leading edge of the storm I came to the sad realization that I was not going to beat it.  It started to drizzle as I zipped past all the stand still traffic. Sometimes its amazing the feeling you get when you ride your bike.  Beating traffic is one of those great feelings. That small drizzle turned quickly into a light rain and then into a heavy down pour just in time for the hill climb to start.  It was so bad that as I was biking uphill there was a river of water flowing down hill that extended into the lane so that as cars passed me I was getting wet from the wave my tires were creating as well as the massive splashing wave the passing cars were making.  In a little kid adventure way it was amazingly fun.  Instead of finding it hard I was have such a good time that I didn't even really notice the climb.  I guess it mush have been coming down really hard because 3 different cars slowed down on the hills and rolled down their windows to ask if I was ok and if I wanted to throw my bike in their cars for a ride.  I politely declined because in my head and sometimes out loud I was singing as loud as I could the lyrics to "Singing in the Rain" I gave up trying to beat the storm and just made the best out of being in the storm.  It seemed to make climbing a lot easier for me, I found myself climbing harder and faster then I usually do.  After I settled into my ride when I finished my climbs and braking for death down the hills I kept up my pace as best I could to avoid getting cold.  Eventually it stopped raining fully after almost and hour and then I just road home like a wet dog for the last hour.  It was a great way to brake in the new bike: 100 miles in 2 days and a hell of a thunderstorm to add some dirt and grime to my too perfect toy, my cyclocross bike the Scott CX team.  Equipment is supposed to get used and I intend to!

Get out and ride

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Bear Mountain Bike Adventure- Cramp central

The Bear Mountain Bike Adventure-
Cramp central
So this adventure starts like ever good one does.  With a simple day off of work.  Since I need to balance my training and fun I decided to take a long day trek up to Bear Mt. New York from Fort Lee New Jersey.  The route was the beautiful 9w which follows along the palisades through some nice quiet towns, some busy streets, and as you get further north some mountain roads.  As I started out in the morning I was happy an maybe a little over excited.  I had no plans for the day but to head up 9w.  I felt great as I left my house and zipped up to the Palisades from my house.  I had a backpack with some minor gear and some water, plus a few snacks.  I blasted through the first section of 9W up to the alpine area like I always do then pushed a little further up until I passed the New York State border.  After that It felt like relatively new area to me as I had only biked up to Nyack a few times before.  Mile after mile I kept up pedaling along.  After Nyack It was all new to me as I had never been on those roads before.  Passed through a town with a big hospital and some small towns along the way until everything started to get more spread out, less cars, less buildings, and less people in general.  I was nearing Bear mountain as the mostly hill terrain changed to some decent climbs with some nice views along the river.  I recognized where I was as soon as I saw the Bear Mt Lake which was shimmering a very deep blue on that beautiful sunny summer day. 

Bear Mt lodge

Bear Mt Lake

Bear Mt Lake

Four army helicopters flying over head.  Only got three in the Picture though.

View from my resting view point on 202.  Just down stream of the bridge.

Bear Mt Bridge.

View from Bear Mt Bridge.

 As I got to the circle I decided to bike across the Bear Mt. Bridge and turn to the right for one last climb I remembered doing years earlier and bike and build.  Funny how it goes that, that night I would chat with my friend Dustin Wall who was also on my cross country trip (he is currently traveling in Australia) and it just so happened to be the exact day 4 year later that we had biked down that very same hill and right across the Bear Mt Bridge.  Of course I realized this later that night.  
I took my first break to rest for lunch at the small view point on 202.  Had a snack and some water and sat in the shade while I watched all the cars and motorcycles stop by for the view.  All did the same touristy stop for pictures, stretch and then straight back in the car.  I on the other hand Layed on the floor and stretched for a while as I could feel my right leg starting to cramp up.  A cramp or should I say pull in my leg that I think is my IT band.  Needless to say I had over worked my legs probably from the combination of biking to work, biking to Cape May and biking to Bear Mt. with a combination of being super dehydrated because I never stopped to refill water.  I think I learned my lesson that biking 2-3 straight without drinking or eating is not a sustainable method to riding long days even if your in really good shape.  The body just does not react well to that kind of stress.  
So after a long break I jumped back on my bike and because it was getting a little later in the day I headed back with the intentions of going for a swim and my local gym that night.  However my Legs had other plans for me. As soon as I started heading south I felt a slight tingle on the inside of my right quad near the inside of my right knee where the IT band connects.  Ignoring the beginning of an injury is something I am know for and something that is terrible.  After 5 or 10 more minutes of riding my leg started to cramp heavily.  Every time my right leg tried to complete a single circular pedal I would get a sharp pull pain through my leg so bad that I had to flop off the bike to the side.  I took this first heavy pull to be a sign that I needed to stop so I rested and drank some more and decided it was a great time for lunch.  A few blocks down the road I stopped for a slice of pizza which is my favorite treat in the world.  The girl at the counter gave me the funniest look when I came in.  I think she felt bad for me because it looked like I was torturing myself.  I was really sweaty and dirty looking with salt stains covering my whole jersey.  I grabbed 3 slices of pizza and 2 big Arizona ice tea drinks and relaxed for a while.  
After a quick refill of water I was back on the road but not for long.  10 minutes down the road my leg was cramping up again.  This time I almost dove off my bike into traffic the pull was so painfully severe.  I plopped down on the side gravel next to a gas station and waited before pushing on, on my bike.   I felt good for maybe 15 minutes before having to pull over again. this time on the sloped grass of an old person home.  Maybe I made their day by giving them something to look at.  I stretched it out and rubbed my legs down for a while before deciding to take a nap.  I have never struggled so hard on a bike ride before.  The rest of the ride home which was probably a good 20 miles I felt a slight tinge a few times but I changed up my sitting position and my pedal stroke a little to avoid the some pain.  I forget how many hills 9W has.  Coming back into Fort Lee from Englewood cliffs was the best feeling.  I can honestly saw it was one of my best showers I have taken in a long time, especially since I sat in a chair. A good end to a good adventure.  My important lesson is to make sure I'm hydrated and when I am not I should just rest instead.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Records are just practice coming to fruition

If you have not heard the Guinness World Record for Breath-holding was broken recently, and its amazing and inspiring!  I guess anything is possible after all.  Even had a friend comment asking if he was a mermaid.  Closest thing to it I guess.
"German Diver Sets Breath-Holding Record: 22 Minutes, 22 Seconds"
Read more:
 Suzy Spieldenner / Bongarts / Getty Images

So while I am no where as cool as this German diver, I hope that I have earned some cool points this past week with a bike ride from Fort Lee, New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge all the way down to the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May.  I did it over 4 days that I had off of work, 5 if you count the day I biked to work.   This was my first long voyage with my new Bob Yak trailer, and it was fully loaded with stuff, including: a tent, sleeping bag, change of clothing, change of cycling gear, bathing suit, towel, wet suit, lifeguard buoy, stove, fuel, and food.  Photo: My sweet ass ride on the way to south jersey

I guess this adventure starts on Tuesday when I left to bike to work. my usual commute by bike to work is roughly 65 miles back and fourth but today was different.  I was towing my trailer and ready for some adventure...just had to make it through a day of work first.  The most important part about this trip is that is not well planned, I was going for the spirit of adventure so I only glanced at a map and set a general South east heading out of work...that being said it was semi cloudy for a lot of the trip so I based my directions on signs and gut feelings.  The first day after work I didn't make it all that far because I was getting use to the trailer and getting lost in the maze of northern jersey roads much of which are not so suitable for biking on.  After taking a break to eat diner at a Pizza place I was told to take shelter soon because a major storm was moving it.  As it looked pretty bad out I took this advice and called a friend in New Brunswick and decided to make a visit.  As soon as I parked my bike it started to down poor so I started watching a movie and decide to crash.
Day 1- semi officially the start of this trip.  I woke up a little later than I wanted around 8 and got out the door by 9.  This was the tone for the day. The ride started smoothly with taking an old route I had biked between New Brunswick and Long Branch before, But I veered off this path to explore some new roads which was exciting.  Found some new scenery and passed through some towns I had never heard of and some that rang a bell in the back of my head. After riding for a little over 2 hours I noticed a strange noise coming out of my back tire. Not my normal back tire, but instead from my trailer tire, It was going flat just as it was starting to drizzle.  I never thought about buying a spare tube for my trailer, in fact I only had one spare tube for this hole trip and thankfully a patch kit that was in a bag of goodies I won a few weeks earlier.      The task of patching a flat in the rain teaches me an important lesson...the glue does not like to dry in wet conditions...I consider myself very lucky that the center of the patch worked  as all the sides we sticking up. Whatever works right?  The patch lasted the hole trip and still holding.  I guess this is a good time to complain about my chain skipping all day...which it usually does not do but with the added weight of the trailer almost all my middle gears are popping.  Laziness keeps me riding with out bothering to try and make a simple adjustment to my sifter tension. I make it to Asbury Park for lunch where I meet my friend Yunmi, we eat and kill way more time then I planned on.  Its good conversation and nice chance for my body to rest.   At 3 I hit the road again and bike down to Point Pleasant where I try and meet up with my cousin Vinny but I miss him as he is heading down to AC so i just grab some more food and some hydration and continue heading south. I guess i should mention that during my break I debated calling at day/trip thinking it was to far and I was kinda lonely.  Thankfully I pushed through, the unknown really made me happy as I bike through Toms River and down Rt 9 to new territory for me.   The highlight of my night was finding a Dairy Queen and eating a Oreo Brownie treat, delicious.

  I bike all the way until the sun started to get low and stopped at a Wawa in an unknown town to me to re hydrate.  Taking the joking advice on a co-worker I decided to make camp near the Wawa in a little wooded area.  the Idea behind this was I would have food, drink, and a restroom all close by.  Regrettably the area I camped in was full of Mosquito's that harrased me as I rushed to set up my tent and jump in it.   I should have at least set up the new tent once before this trip but of course I didn't so as I was getting eaten alive I had to learn the new setup of my REI quarter done T1 tent.  As soon as it was set up all my stuff and I were in safely in the protection of the bug net and soon after I was asleep.
Day 2- This morning also started a little late but I guess I am just not an early bird.  However my legs were working.  Even towing the trailer I was averaging 19.8 miles per hour for the first 2 hours.  However that pace didn't last that much longer as the trip went further and further south.  As I got down to Tuckerton, NJ I found out that Rt 9 merges with the Garden State Parkway and does not allow bikes as the road has no shoulder while it crossed over the river.  At this intersection there is a strange statue of a wine bottle that has random advertisement on it.

  This meant a 15 mile detour that lead me to find some more unwanted friends...the green horse fly!  As soon as I passed of the bridge for the river I was greeted by a swarm of Green flies, thankfully I recognized them and turned on the juice and was flying down the road at 20 miles per hour....the hole time I could see the swarm flying around me keeping up like it was nothing.  They kept trying to land on my heels but as I was pedaling I was just constantly kicking them.  So glad they were not smart enough to land somewhere on my body.  I remember how bad their bites hurt so it was nice to go bit free.  As soon as I got out of the marsh and into the woods I was in the clear...or should I say the back country.  The road felt super isolated, it was very empty of anything except for pine forests, kinda eerie.   I even got to pass the road for Atlantic City where my cousin Vinny was, it was almost like I was chasing him.

 I kept heading due south until I realized I had to go around another detour of some big park before I could head east to Cape May. I had one quick stop for a lunch and water break and then I banged out the last 20-30 miles after seeing my first sign welcoming me to being close to Cape May!
When I arrived at Cape May I was so tired that I stopped for a drink and snack and then because I was worries about getting back in time for work and because I was excited about finishing my mission that I just turned around and started biking home.  Looking back at this it reminds me of the Forest Gump movie where he runs across country and reaches the beach to just turn back and run the other way.  On the Way home tho I decide to try and avoid the long detours.  My first trip was to take a Paul-cut through Ocean City, NJ.  I took up the hole lane over the little bridge in, which I am sure the cars behind me were not so happy about but it was a really short bridge.  Then I biked north and wanted to go over the second longer bridge back west. However when I got to the road which has a sidewalk I found out the sidewalk was closed.  Not wanting to have wasted all these miles I just went across the street and took the shoulder of the bridge. This was a super ballsy and exciting move which worker out really well because the bridge had a nice sized shoulder.  although after getting over the first hump of the bridge I realized it was a lot longer of a bridge then I thought.  The view was Absolutely amazing though. I continue heading north until I come to the rt 9 merge with the GSP. At this point I decide to take a break and hit the local Wawa.  I am treated with two surprises here.  First a roster and a chicken come out of nowhere and start walking around my bike and the roster even take a brief pose on my bike trailer, right on top of the yellow bag.  Cute little beggars, remind me of me.  The second thing that happens is that a lady stops to offer me a place to crash at her house in Tuckerton!  It was great news until I realize because of the detour it would be a 30 mile ride instead of a straight 15 mile ride.  Since it is late and she has to go to work she gives me her husbands phone number and runs off to the hospital.  Nurses are sweet people, plus her husband has done a cross country ride so he understands what people charity can mean to a rider, especially a shower!  I never did make it to his house though as it was getting dark and I was to tired to ride since I had already done over 100 miles that day.  I saw a cute little house as I biked over a bridge in Port Republic that had a cute old couple sitting out on their porch.  So I pulled in and politely asked if i could have permission to camp on the property.  They looked surprised but said yes without hesitation.  I was so tired I set up camp right away and tried to not to be bothersome any more that I already was.  It was so cute they even called the  neighbor  to let her know and she came out to introduce herself.  It was a second campsite with a lot of mosquito's though, but this time I was set up much quicker and put my rain jacket on to block some bites.  I was out in no time at all.

Day 3-  By the time I woke up the birds were chirping up a storm and the couple whose house I was at was already gone for a doctors appointment.  They were so sweet and so was the neighbor in such a perfect little cute town.  Made the whole trip worth it.  I was up earlier then I thought at 7 and all packed up and on the road before 9. Felt good to be out early as it was cooler and the full heat of the sun was not blasting down on me just yet.  The ride north seemed slow to me, not as fast as the ride down.  I tried to take it slow and enjoys seeing things I had seen a few days before.  I stopped for lunch at a little pizza shop to eat and take a nap.  While napping outside the front of the store I was looking up at the cloud.  When I went to sleep it was sunny with a few clouds and really blue skies but when I woke up it was darker out with clouds covering the sky in a dark menacing fashion.  The cold wind that had woke me up was a sign of the storm that was about to come.  everyone in the Pizza shop told me I needed to hit the road and take some cover as soon as the storm hit because it was a bad one.  So after that I picked up my pace as I passed  back through Toms River I hauled to try and make it up to Howell NJ to meet up with Professor Reynolds. I took rt 9 all the way up and in Lakewood I knew I was close to Howell so I stopped heading north and started head east on county line road.  I worked out perfect because although I had no idea where I was going I popped out on a road I had traveled on many times that was only a few miles from Bills house. By 4pm I was all showered, had eaten and was relaxing at Bills house.  I looked up the weather and decided I was staying put for the day.  Later that night it started raining...when I said rain I mean torrential down glad I was not in my tent.

Day 4: Was a hard day to get up and move.  Getting up was the easy part, moving was tough because I was happy where I was.  I was visiting and having a good time will Bill Reynolds.  We spent the morning catching up, hanging out, and doing a little bit of work.  Time flew and it was noon before I even left.  On the way home I continued taking roads I had never taken in a general north direction.  On a back road that had a farm feel I ran into another rider out on a joy ride.  We started talking and riding together and I found out he had just done the hundred mile giro that started at the George Washington Bridge.  We shared some stories and he seemed to be amazed by my antics and my travels.  I think he was really amazed by my simple belief that I could do anything.  After we split off I took some road with another farm feel to it, rt 34 passing through Colts neck, and Holmdel.  It was funny because while I knew sections of the road others made me think I was lost.  I seemed to be traveling so slowly but I guess it was really that I was biking instead of driving.  When I started to get further north I knew I was going to hit the Raritan river area and have to make a decision on which route to take.  My normal detour through New Brunswick or to try my new route over the 35 bridge but I was not sure if it was legal to bike over it. Bill had mentioned he had seen a bike lane on the bridge so I went for it.  Up in northern Jersey the road conditions worsened a lot.  Rt 9 was so busy that I would be crazy to join all the fast moving traffic with no shoulder and the on and exit ramps.    So I tried jumping to Rt 35 because if the bridge had a bike lane so should the road.  While that statement made sense in my head the actuality was that there was no bike lane, or a shoulder, and all the cars where hauling and honked as the passed me.  I really wanted to take the straight and easy route on rt 35 but decided to take back roads which were confusing to say the least all the way to the bridge.  Thankfully the bridge had a bike lane which turned out to be just the shoulder of the bridge.  After that 35 had no shoulder and no bike lane.  Just 2 lanes of heavy traffic on both sides but I was stubborn and a sign said share the road with bikes so I went for it.  I took 35 all the way up through Elizabeth until I started to recognize where I was.  I luckily had remembered a bike route to Rutgers I had made that ran into my normal commute to work route.  It felt good to know I was almost home.  So I picked up the pace.  I was in such a mood to get home that when I went over the 46 bridge by the little ferry circle instead of turning off and taking my local streets detour home I was ballsy as hell and stayed on rt 46.  I pedaled as hard as I could and was pulling at 30 mph.  I felt every little fiber get a cool kick of adrenaline as I hauled to keep up and not hold up traffic especially on the merges.  My little burst of energy lasted just long enough as I pedaled over the last bridge and found my exit at Broad ave in Palisades park.  One last climb up rt 5 into Fort Lee and I was home.  My 4 day exploratory New Jersey adventure was complete and I'll never forget my trip.  Learned some new trips and a lot of new roads.  Can't wait for my next trip.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"People should shape life so that at some point in the future, their reality and dreams meet."
Me in the White Mountains in New Hampshire during my 2011 Appalachian Trail Thru Hike! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome to the Adventure Garage Blog by Paul Mandala


I am excited to say that this is my first blog ever! I really don't know much about blogging but have been thinking about starting one for a while.  The main goal of my blog is to share my thoughts and experiences with those of you who would like to read about the adventures of a a not-so-city-slicker as he grows up.  I guess my main goal will be to write about some of my adventures and travels.   I'll try and offer some advice from experience and advice on gear that I use along the way.

The inspiration behind the title of the blog came from the first time my mom asked me to clean out the garage!  My friends and I rose to the occasion and not only cleaned out the garage but decided to basically make it so we could live out of it in a club house type fashion.  Best decision ever!  Almost 10 years later and the adventures have not stopped and have only grown bigger and better. It started out with Luke and Newton, and since then everyone has joined in; Sam, Doug, Mike, Bubba, Diego etc.  The garage has changed a lot over the years and a whole bunch of people have visited but one thing is for sure; we always find a way to have fun.

Pictured from left to right: Luke Angelini, Newton Bleffe, Paul Mandala