by Michael Gorman
Speeding from opposite ends of Manhattan to Penn station on Easter Sunday – Will Sherman and myself tried for a 6:13 am train that would have had us in Princeton Junction by 7:27. The train was cancelled. After considering our options, we decided the next train an hour later would be the best way to go. We wound up meeting with Gil Lebron at the station – and after piling 3 bikes into his Pilot – had a fairly late start of 9:30 out of Village Park. Any remains of colder early morning weather, until we got to the shore, were dissipated – and we were able to take in the Cranbury at its best: as the rite of passage for new(er) and experienced randos alike to welcome in another season - just as Spring is truly kicking in. The meandering of different neighborhoods – from Monroe to Sea Girt – let you know winter is finally over.
We had some wind to the first control in Union Beach – but kept up a moderate pace. Trees from cherry blossoms to Japanese maples – in front of houses that were everything from ranch to McMansion – were in almost full bloom. The pollen was so thick in places it seemed you could see it in the wind.
Mt. Mitchell was the second info control and an old friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years (from the direction we approached). It represented the first and most challenging climb of the day – one of a few sustained climbs for a relatively flat course. Picture opp at the overlook along with info control. Heading to the shore from there the head winds increased and temperature dropped – slowing our pace. We wound up taking turns leading a pace line.
Control # 4 in Belmar, at the half way point, allowed for a preview of things to come for the summer season with the boardwalk eateries still in the process of getting started. Some of the shops had limited menus and weren’t equipped to take credit cards as of yet. But….we had a great view of the ocean and beach from the picnic tables outside; families and couples were everywhere. However, the cold crept in pretty quickly – so after a quick meal of pizza and french fries it was time to go.
As we headed inland the temps warmed up again; the strong headwinds changed to tail winds – and our speed increased. Finally. These tail winds (or lack of headwinds) would stay with us the rest of the ride – and after a quick bite at the penultimate Wawa control in Jerseyville, the miles peeled away as we raced to finish before dark – getting back to Village Park around 8:30pm. We saw the return to more congested roads we’d managed to dodge the bulk of the ride. But overall traffic had been unnaturally light – and we’d felt comfortable taking the lane when necessary for a good part of the day.
One final note: the ‘joy’ factor of this ride increased as it progressed. As we headed to the sea and back inland through different towns the sense of re-birth continued to build – and I found myself pushing forward trying to take in everything. Other clubs have started offering their brevets – but none I’ve experienced offer the sheer joy of this one.
by Bob Torres, Pre-Rider
Started my ride at 8:20am into foggy conditions...around 14 miles in, the fog lifted and it started to get warmer really fast. The cue sheet is still correct noting pot holes for mile 19.5, 21.8 and 22.2...but between miles 20 and 21 the road has been repaved...but leave the notes as stated.
At mile 35.7, where Laurel Ave becomes Beachway Ave, getting close to Keansburg waterpark/arcades, the road—for about 200 yards—is in the process of being resurfaced....I was able to ride through with no problem...
The ride up to Mt Mitchell was nice; same with the views.
Getting onto Ocean Ave brought the fog back and had to deal with the SE winds...this was the hardest part of the ride.
The winds became my friend as I continued to Control #4. This part of the ride was uneventful and very enjoyable.
Controle #4, Wawa, the usual: I had a pretzel and coke. But while drinking my coke, looking west, I see the skies were not looking happy; it was getting really dark, like rain was going to happen soon....
Final leg to the finish, most of the time the winds were helping me and the skies did calm down. I rode on some wet roads from the rain that has occurred earlier but I missed it all.
Again, another very enjoyable section to ride on. The traffic was very light on the last two legs.
by Paul Kramer, RBA
Cars carrying the steeds of 70 brave riders made their way through the dark in a cold, wet fog to a boat yard on the Mullica River in Egg Harbor City, NJ. Despite the last-minute change in parking venue, Bill Reagan and Mark Reilly deftly directed traffic as each rider registered will the help of Dawn Engstrom and Len Zawodniak, then pedaled their way to the Lower Bank Tavern to hear last-minute instructions by ride organizer Rick Lentz. Soon all 70 were on the course, and soon after that, the cold and fog gave way to rising temperatures and brightening skies.
All 70 riders enjoyed a perfect day—blue, warm, and relatively still, given the normal winds for that area—all the way to Mile 92, the penultimate controle at the Franklinville Wawa. Five riders chose to find motorized transportation from there back to their cars, with 65 riders pressing on to a successful finish and a welcome meal.
Congratulations to all starters—and a big Rando Bravo to all finishers! (Results will be posted as soon as tabulated.)
Thank you to our pre-riders who tested the course:
Thank you to Bill Reagan for hosting the finish at the tavern.
And a huge thanks to volunteers Dawn Engstrom and Len Zawodniak and Joseph Hoffman for manning the controles, helping the riders, and keeping spirits high
And a tremendous thanks to ride organizer Rick Lentz for a terrific job pulling it together, staying on top of it all, and keeping it running smooth.
On to Cranbury!