Jon cruises en-route to Holland Township and Adamic Hill Road
And so the season begins with the first of the SR series, the Princeton 200k. I remember struggling to make it around this fairly challenging route last year aboard the recumbent. Hopefully, things will be different now as I'm riding the Salsa Casserol upright, and, I've been riding 200k's all winter. Out of a sense of obligation to my local group, the New Jersery Randonneurs, I offer to hold the volunteer ride, aka pre-ride, which is the weekend prior to the event. Thereby making myself available to help out on the actual date of the ride. The pre-ride was set for Sunday April 4th.....Easter Sunday. Three other volunteers join me on the ride. A few days prior while stocking up on the obligatory Easter food........."Peeps"......... I pick up a few extra packages for my co-riders. They actually have some potential as a bike food in that they are super light and consist of mostly sugar. Given the fact that many places to purchase food along the route will be closed, they may come in handy.
I meet my fellow volunteer riders, Janice, Paul and Jon at the Princeton Forrestal Shopping center for a 7:00am start. Jon has brought with him multiple bags of M&M's, another worthy bike food. After getting our brevet cards signed at the hotel in the shopping center, which was the only business open, we get underway. Janice prefered to ride at her own pace. Opting not to stay together with us. We exchanged cell phone numbers for emergency purposes before starting out. The 50F starting temperature feels a little cool, but easily manageable after the tough winter we've just come out of. The day is forecasted to warm significantly so we will not have to tolerate feeling cold for long.
Paul enjoys the scenery and the weather on the first leg of the ride
Princeton to Frenchtown 36 Miles
This section starts out with an easy flat ride to the center of Princeton and then uses some very pleasant roads to the quaint little town of Hopewell. Here we experience our first climb of the day heading up the north side of the Soutland Ridge on Rileyville Road. It's a pleasant climb with a nice fast descent on the other side, interrupted by an abrupt left turn. We then use some nice rolling county roads to pass trough Ringoes, Seargentsville and Kingwood. The traffic, normally light on these roads, is non-existent today. With the brilliant sun and the thermometer rising it is a great day to be on a bike. After passing though Ringoes, while climbing a steep little kicker on Horseshoe Bend Road, one of Paul's crank arms loosens and slips. It takes a little while to figure out how to get it lined up again and re-tightened, but with the three of us working on it we manage to get it secure. At least for the time being. We then arrive at Frenchtown utilizing the Citgo Mart store as our control. The actual ride will have a full service, volunteer manned control at the Legion hall, but today we will have to make do. After a quick snack and the removal of a few layers we head out for the next leg.
Frenchtown to Asbury 26 Miles
We start out gently heading north towards Milford. I'm noticing the wind is picking up a bit, but mostly on my mind is the steep climb up Adamic Hill Road that is not far away. Last year I almost fell over on the recumbent trying to make it up this very climb. I ended up walking almost the entire hill. Hopefully, things will be different this time. For now, I push Adamic from my mind and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the Deleware river. The view clear to the Pennsylvania side is striking. This stretch of nicely paved roads has no shortage of scenic vistas. I snap a couple of photos of my companions while riding alongside. Inevitably, the turn to Mount Joy road comes up, the foothill to Adamic Hill. Upon reaching Adamic I stop at the bottom to snap a photo of Paul and Jon on the start of the climb. It takes me a minute to get the shot and get started up the climb. The hill gets pretty steep quickly and stays that way for awhile. Using the granny gear on the Salsa it's quite managable. The climb, being less than a mile in length, doesn't last terribly long. Soon I'm at the top joining my friends and looking at the historic Voledam Windmill, a local scenic attraction. Appropriately so as we are in Holland Township. Moving on we encounter more climbing, nothing as steep as Adamic but all take its toll. The wind is actually relentless at this point and is becoming annoying. After a screaming descent we start up another uphill entering Warren County and Paul's crank becomes lose again. We are all thinking this could be big trouble, but fortunately this time we are able to effect a better repair. Tightening it more securely than we did with the prior fix. It looks like it could go the distance now. We resume the hill and soon arrive at the Asbury Deli, the half way point control. It is closed up tight. Anticipating in advance that the control might not be open we make up an information control question to serve as proof of passage. We ride on hoping to come across an open deli or general store to re-stock water and get some food.
Jon and Paul begin the climb of Adamic Hill Road.
Asbury to Frenchtown 27 Milles
A serious climb presents itself immediatly after the control. Fortunately since the control was closed I didn't eat anything, which makes the climb go a little better. Seven miles later we arrive in the town of Stewartsville where there is a General Store open for business. We phone Janice to let her know it will be open when she arrives. We settle in for a nice lunch break. Upon coming out of the store I notice how warm it has gotten. I would later learn the high temperature was in the upper eightes. We are not really acclimated to heat this early in the season. I've been taking endurolytes all day and am hoping they will keep me from cramping. There are still a few hills to cliimb. We move on towards the Riegelsville cut-off which is designated as an information control. The terrain is gently rolling, although somewhat into the wind, it is quite scenic and enjoyable. As part of our pre-ride duties we come up with a control question at the Riegelsville cut-off to be used by the main field on the day of the event. From here the route uses the same roads to Milford and Frenchtown as the outbound. The ride alongside the river with favorable winds is delightful. We soon find ourselves back in Frenchtown. This time choosing the Frechtown Market as our control. We arrive 10 minutes before the posted 3pm closing time. The door is locked but after some coaxing the manager admits us. We promise to quickly get what we need and exit. We do so and enjoy our snack while sitting on the grassy area in front of the store. Shortly we are underway again for the final leg.
Jon and Paul on the return to Frenchtown
Frenchtown to Princeton 38 Miles
With the wind now in our favor this last section should go smoothly. We start out at a brisk pace, but after a mile or two Paul says he needs to go easy for a bit as he is feeling kind of quesy (maybe peeps and m&m's are not the ideal bike food after all). We back it down a bit. However, in less than a mile we are headed up Ridge Road which has a steep short section at the beginning and then continues up gradualy for about two miles. After completing Ridge we work our way up another climb on 519. Paul is hanging in quite well on the climbs despite not feeling too spiffy. Next we turn on Oak Grove Road for about 5 miles of flat terrain before it ends with a steep little kicker. The wind continues to be beneficial and we make good time here. The hill comes and goes without incident. I was not looking forward to it but when it arrived it wasn't bad. A fast descent on Thatcher Hill Road, with a stunning panoramic view, drops us into the town of Flemington. We wind our way across Rt 31 headed for Ringoes and Manners Road. I remember Manners for having four sizeable rollers on it. With lots of miles in the legs it feels tough, but manageable. With the four knee breakers behind us we make a quick turn onto Lindberg Road, which is the final major climb of the day. This is a two mile ascent up to the Sourland Mountain Ridge. The climb begins gently then, as most worthy climbs do, pitches up steeply for the final quarter mile. The three of us deal with the climb pretty well. Paul is still suffering, but putting on a strong front. From here the route to the finish is flat to downhill. With the wind still in our favor we should make good time. We drop out of the Sourlands via Hollow Road onto Route 518 east eleven miles from the finish. A time check shows us with the potential for a finish around the eleven hour mark. We quickly arrive in the little town of Rocky Hill just a few miles short of the finish. We decide to go hard for the last couple of miles in an attempt to get in just under the eleven hour mark. Our efforts pay off as we arrive with enough time to run into the hotel and get a documented time of 10hrs 58min. Speaking for myself I am very pleased with the result. We would later learn that Janice finished successfully a short time later. I enjoyed the ride, the beautiful route, and the good company.
Paul and yours truly celebrating with Peeps at the finish
Jon and Paul at the finish thinking about trying Peeps as a recovery food