"German Diver Sets Breath-Holding Record: 22 Minutes, 22 Seconds"
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.
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 pour...so 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.