Tip to Tip
For a TBT, I figured why not write about last week's epic ride across my home state of New Jersey. This ride actually started 2 years ago when I first attempted to ride with a group from Marty's reliable Cycle and the Central Jersey Bicycle Club - the same groups that organize the NJ Gran Fondo and Hillier Than Thou - the hardest and hilliest 100 miles in the state. In 2008, I was the champion of Hillier than Thou. 2014 however was not to be my year. I had built up my Custom Elite Carbon Razor funny bike the night before the race, and the Longest Day was to be the maiden voyage. The bike felt pretty good and I was riding well but after several flat tyres I had to abandon the journey about halfway down and only had 126 miles.
In training the longest I have ever ridden were 150 miles with the only other NJ base pro triathlete James Chesson. This season, the only Century I had ridden was the Father's Day Century last month. I was also able to get some good mileage (160 over 2 days) when I did the 2 day Fast Freddie Fondo with former us pro champ Freddie Rodriguez and Legendary Cycling Commentator and former team 7-11 Bob Roll
The plan was to start riding before sunrise, but again with a delayed start I started climbing high point after 6am.
Just climbing steady, I was surprised that my effort still had a top 10 on strava
Now, it was all downhill to cape may....well not really. The first miles of the ride were fun. Of course a super fast decent down high point, followed by rolling hills through the north jersey countryside passing mostly farmland. But as the sun was rising so was the temperature and I started to feel it taking my first break around the 40 mile mark. I ate a bagel with cream cheese as my breakfast and was sipping my bottle of UCAN with Hydrate and drinking Gatorade and Powerade at from the convenience stores.
As I passed through Bedminster and Chester towards Bridgewater, I passed the site of my first flat tire from the 2014 ride. I breathed a slight sigh of relief that there were no incidences so far. I was also riding my trusty Shimano ultegra road tubeless tire on the rear. In 2014 I rode a clincher. As we made it down rt 206 down towards canal road the temps were getting close to 90s and took another break to lower my saddle and adjust my rear derailleur which is a slightly longer process with di2. I also forgot to charge my battery but it was fully charged before ironman Arizona last year, so I was hoping it would last the day.
On Canal Road I was lucky to cross Paths with Tom Dunn, one of the co-Owners of Hilltop Bikes, Tom is a strong rider who did a lot of the pulling during the Father's Day Century last month. I was also nice to have company even if it was just for a few miles
At the halfway point around mile 100 it was time to eat lunch. I took a fairly long break. I ate a Philly cheesesteak had some more Gatorade and took a liquid magnesium supplement - BIG MISTAKE. After taking a hose shower and changing my kit, I started riding again, but something wasn't right. I started to get really bad stomach cramps and then had to take another bathroom break. I think I needed to get the liquid magnesium out of my system. So after about 30 minutes in the John, I felt much better! But now it was starting to rain. The next 50 or so miles were a bit of a blur, but eventually I made it into the pine barrens the site the of the NJ state time trial. A few years ago I averaged over 27mph for 25 miles on this strip but on this ride I wasn't even able to hold above 20mph as the headwinds picked up and the rainstorms started coming down with thunder and lighting.
This stretch was definitely the hardest mentally. You are riding more miles on the flat road which seemed like a false flat uphill because of the headwind. There were times when I actually thought I would fall asleep on the bike! I realized the reason why CJBC scheduled their ride on June 4th (even though the summer solstice happened later in the month) was because the wind changes direction also the weather is cooler in early June. So I really didn't help myself by choosing this date.
After riding through almost 1 foot deep puddles, almost wiping out on grated bridges and a few close calls with cars, I finally saw the Golden Arches - McDonalds! I had some French fries and pizza next door and guzzled down half of a monster energy drink. So now I was back and the rain had stopped (more or less) and I hit the 200 mile mark! This is also the point where my feet started to hurt. But remembering the pedal the PowerCranks way helped a lot to take the pressure off my forefoot.
Now the finally homestretch to the lighthouse! It was now getting dark and the bugs were coming out. I never put on my clear glasses and these little critters were getting stuck in my eyes and my helmet vents. There was a bike path for most of the trip to lighthouse and then finally a few more roads and turns and then finally the sight for sore eyes and body:
So at the end of the day ironically it was not my legs or my butt (I also forgot the pack chamois cream!) that hurt but it was more my upper back. I think using the TT bike was good choice but I should have probably lifted myself another 2cm. I should have packed and vest for the rain. I should have gotten some sleep. I should not have taken that liquid magnesium. But all in all I was satisfied with my effort and glad I was finally able to check this off my bucket list after 2 years. For a brief moment I did contemplate riding back since I would have tailwind most of the way but figured driving back would be the most prudent decision.
It was pretty cool to be a the southernmost tip of NJ and last April at the southernmost top of the continental US in Key West, FL
Thanks for reading. Until the next adventure.....