Photo Below: Me and Mellow Yellow at The American Hero Deli, Allentown, NJ
I've been intending to ride this permanent since its approval. I just never seemed to find the open weekend to get it in. My friend Jon called and suggested we ride it together on Sunday, July 26th. I needed a brevet, or permanent, for July if I want to achieve the R12, so the timing of Jon's call could not have been better. I was definitely in.
We decided to start the ride at 6:30am meeting at the Dunkin Donuts in , where the ride begins. The train station is only a quarter mile away and has twenty-four hour parking available for a fee of $4.00. After some initial confusion I finish the automated parking procedure and unload the recumbent from the van to ride over to the start. Jon was suffering some parking confusion as well. It would turn out that after getting receipts in order to verify the start we would get underway at 6:50am, twenty minutes past our scheduled start time. The weather prediction was for a hot, humid day with the potential for strong thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Jon and I agreed to keep the ride brisk and the stops short in the hopes of finishing ahead of the bad weather.
Princeton Junction to
The first leg, which heads to the southeast to the Jersey shore is almost entirely flat. We start out at a moderate pace and enjoy conversing about other rando exploits. Although Princeton Junction is a busy area there is almost no traffic at this hour. After a nice leisurly warm up we pick up the pace a bit. Soon we are on very quiet rural country roads looking at fields of corn and soy beans. The day is warming up quickly, but there is a light wind at our backs allowing us to exert minimal energy. The miles tick off quickly, but we do miss a couple of turns gaining about four bonus miles on this leg. Despite the navigational errors, soon we are in the slightly more congested area of Wall Township heading due east to the ocean. The traffic is lighter than I would have expected for a summer day at the shore. We negotiate our way through the traffic lights and busy cross streets arriving at Ocean Blvd and the control at Dunkin Donuts. The place is very busy. I grab a Gatorade from the cooler and wait on a long line, that fortunately moves quite quickly. Back outside I down the Gatorade and a peanut butter sandwich that was in m y pack. Jon makes quick work of the stop as well and we are back on the road headed west to New Egypt.
Belmar to New Egypt
After a short ride up Ocean Blvd we turn away from the ocean and dead on into the wind. Which is not devastating, but has picked up a bit. This segment heads west to Wawa in time for lunch. I eat my second Peanut Butter sandwich along with some fresh cherries purchased at the store. We take less than a half hour for the lunch stop. Pleased with the effieciency of the stop we head out for the next leg to .and then southwest to New Egypt. The approach to Allaire has one of the few hills on the route. The sun is fairly intense at this point heating us up to the point that the headwind feels refreshing. The climb up to Allaire comes up quickly with legs still fresh we are quickly to the top headed towards I-295 at Oak Glen. This turns up briefly to the north and away from the head wind for a brief time. Right after 295 we turn back the the southeast, into the wind, and pass through Jackson. The traffic remains remarkably light, the rural scenery is pleasant, and despite the ever increasing temperature I am enjoying the ride immensely. We arrive at the New Egypt
New Egypt to Pemberton
This rather short section goes directly south through the middle of the Fort Dix military facility and McGuire AFB. Just north of the New Jersey Pine Barrens we turn east skirting the lower portion of the military installation. The wind which continues to come from the south is gaining strength making this rather short stretch the most difficult. Given the lack of building structures, or anything else to provide wind block even traveling to the east is difficult with the strong side wind. The town of Pemberton is a welcome sight as that begins our turn to the north putting the wind direction in our favor. The Wawa comes up shortly after the turn. We refill water bottles, get brevet cards verified and get our way within 15 minutes. Another efficient stop.
Pemberton to Cranbury
This section heads almost totally to the north. We pass through the small towns of Gerogetown, Chesterfield, and Crosswicks. Upon reaching Allentown Jon announces he is almost out of water. We begin looking for a convenience store, or deli, but see nothing in the town itself. Just beyond the town as we approach the overpass of I-195, which we will cross for the third time, we spot the American Hero Deli. Jon refills water bottles and I down a Gatorade. I'm noticing how hot it has become, my guess is about 90 degrees and humid. The predicted thunderstorms have yet to show themselves, but the conditions are certainly ripe for such things. After a quick photo opportunity in front of the American Hero sign we continue our northerly trek towards Hightstown. I'm feeling quite energetic from the infusion of Gatorade. The pedals on Mellow Yellow are spinning quite easily at 18mph, which I interpret to mean that it's time for a strong pull. I push into the pedals and pass by Jon, he's been on the front since the deli. He looks over and says; “feeling it are you?” At the front I ramp it up to about 24mph, which actually feels quite good for the moment. Jon is right on my wheel. I keep the pace for the next several miles until the town of Hightstown is reached and we must slow for traffic. We are riding through the town looking for our turn on Old Cranbury Road which will take us into the quaint little town of Cranbury. We ride for a mile or so and I am sure we must have passed it. I tell Jon we should turn around and go back. We do so and again come up empty. Turning back to the original direction we ride a little further past our turn around point and – Voila – there it is. I feel like an idiot for convincing Jon that we needed to go back. We have now accumulated 7 bonus miles. Fortunatley the rest of the way to the finish is on roads I'm familiar with so our navigation troubles are hopefully over, Our final control before the finish is the Cranbury Pizza. It is a mere seven miles from the end. We both grab a water, get our cards stamped, and get on the road. So far we have stayed ahead of the impending thunderstorms, it would be good to keep it that way. The remaining miles to the finish go by smoothly. We get our brevet cards signed at the Dunkin Donuts. Our finish time was 10 hours on the nose. I'm pleased with that given we started late and made some navigation errors. The actual route mileage is 129, my computer showed 136 miles. I enjoyed every one of the seven bonus miles. We make it to our respective vehicles and leave prior to any rainfall. However, strong storms would hit the area some time later, some areas received large hail stones. I felt very fortunate to make it home, dry as a bone, with a good day on the bike under my belt. Unfortunately, Jon had to pull off the road to wait out heavy downpours on his way back to the Bronx. He did eventually make it home safely.
Thanks to my firend Paul for developing this fine permanent. Paul was away on another ride in Boston and could not join us. However, upon his return he rode the route as a solo night ride and finished in 9hrs 30minutes. Hopefully, the opportunity will come again to repeat this ride, maybe even at night.
In the meantime I'm planning on attempting my 200k hilly permanent this coming Sunday. It's never been done on a recumbent. StayTuned!