Next up on the New Jersey Rando calendar is the classic Princeton 200k. For the last several years a 120k Populaire has been offered for those riders looking for something a tad less challenging than the full ride.
|The streets of Princeton are quiet on Saturday morning|
Three riders start out from Princeton Forestall Village at the appointed 7am start time. I'm riding with the organizer, Jud, and fellow volunteer rider, Shane. It is a cool 41 degrees with a strong wind coming from the east. The wind is predicted to reach about 20mph by late morning. Also, torrential rains are expected for the afternoon. We are hoping to be done by then.
|Organizer Jud climbing in Princeton Township|
|Volunteer rider Shane|
We wind our way from the shopping village to the small town of Kingston, just two miles away, then turn towards Princeton. For most of the ride to Frenchtown we have the wind at our back. Of course, the down side to this is the reverse will be true on the return. For the moment the route is flat and the roads are peaceful on this early Saturday morning. We go through the downtown section of Princeton and turn onto the Great Road which is a gradual climb up through Princeton Township. We wind our way through some quiet country roads ending up in the town of Hopewell. Here we work through a detour by-passing a bridge under repair. Fortunately, the detour is well marked and we have no trouble getting onto North Greenwood Ave for the long, but gentle climb up to the Sourland Ridge. After hitting the crest of the hill we immediately descend the other side via Rileyville Road and Runyon Mill Road. We ride the rolling terrain of Wertsville Road into the tiny downtown area of Ringoes, which appears just after the crossing of US 202/31. So far the roads have been scenic and void of traffic. We use Rosemont Ringoes Road to Seargentsville passing by the deli that is a favorite stop for cyclists. The sign out front states that "bikers are welcome". Shortly after we arrive at the covered bridge, which is the only surviving one in the state. We follow more country lanes with some good sized rolling hills, which serve to prepare our legs for the bigger climbs yet to come. We go through Kingwood Township on Route 519, before finding our way to Horseshoe Bend Road. This road is an up and down affair for the next three miles, with one particularly steep kicker that can easily catch one off guard. The road surface is a bit chewed up in places so the downhill sections require some restraint. Soon enough, at the other end of Horseshoe Bend, we reach Route 12, which quickly delivers us to Frechtown. The Legion Hall on 6th St is the control. It is somewhat quiet here today, with just a few workers milling about. However, it will be buzzing with activity next weekend as riders from both the 120k and 200k share the control. Volunteers will have food and beverages at the ready. As for our small group today we just eat an energy bar, wash it down with some water and head back out for the return.
|The store at Seargentsville|
|The sole surviving covered bridge in New Jersey|
|Shane at Frenchtown|
Return to Princeton
Immediately, upon leaving the Legion Hall we feel the wind. It is a strong steady force with occasional gusts. The open sections of the return route, which there are many, will be difficult. We retrace to Route 12, leaving Frenchtown. We quickly turn off onto Ridge Road which begins the first climb. It starts out steep then tapers off to be fairly gentle. It's the strong cross wind that puts the hurting on me here. Judd and Shane are doing a bit better as they put a bit of a gap on me. We re-group before the turn onto Route 519, which also has a bit of a climb. I manage to stay with them this time, although it's clear to me they are both stronger climbers. They are probably holding back a bit to give me a break. Soon after we turn off onto Oak Grove Road, which we will follow for the better part of eight miles. The wind is quite bothersome, but there are sections that have some protection. None the less it is a long grind. We take turns at the front which helps. The road ends with a short somewhat steep climb up to Route 619 which features a big long drop into Flemington. The wind takes some of the fun out of the descent, hampering our speed a bit, but the view of the valley to the left is breath taking. We turn away from the downtown Flemington area crossing Route 31. We parallel the river to the crossing of Route 202 and climb up Dory Dilts Road to Old York Road in Three Bridges. The climbing is fairly mild in this section with our only real adversary being the ever increasing wind. We also feel a few raindrops and a mild sprinkle every now and then. It's certain that heavier rain will be coming sometime soon. Hopefully, we can cover the remaining 20 miles before it does. The next challenge to present itself is Manners Road which we ride from Route 514 to its end at Wertsville Road. There are four good sized rollers on it. The road is also quite exposed, so the crosswind is a factor as well. It goes a little better than I thought it would with Jud and Shane just slightly ahead at the Wertsville Road turn. We then quickly turn right onto Lindbergh Road, which will be the final big climb of the day, but, arguably the toughest. Jud stops at the Country Store just before the hill to eat an energy bar. Shane and I continue gently up the hill knowing that he will likely catch us before the top. Just as the hill starts to get serious Jud appears. He passes by and continues his pace to the top. Shane picks it up a bit and I lag behind, content to grind my way up. We re-group at the turn to Long Hill Road. From here it is a flat to downhill run across the Ridge to the gentle descent on Hollow Road. The wind is not a factor up here as the roads are surrounded by dense woods. The long, but bumpy, descent on Hollow Road delivers us to Route 518, which we take east for about four miles. We make the turn which puts us nose into the wind. I'm now in my element. I don't climb particularly well, but I can pull steadily, into the wind, for long distances. I take the front and stay there for the full run to the US 206 crossing. Strangely, it feels good. After crossing the highway we enter the small town of Rocky Hill, just a few turns and two small hills to the finish. The final steep, but short hill brings us to Kingston and the turn towards the Shopping Village. We arrive before 1pm with a total time of 5 hours, 50 minutes for the 75 miles. We have just enough time to load up our bikes before the rain hits.
|Riding in the wind|
|Not an everyday sight in New Jersey|
|Horses staying warm|
Princeton 200k (North West Loop)
|The town of Milford on the Delaware River|
In keeping with my commitment to ride organizer, Jud. Two days later I would ride the section of the 200k from the Frenchtown control and back. The control is used twice by the 200k riders. Once on the outbound to Asbury and again on the return to Princeton. I drove to the Legion Hall and set out from there on the bike to test the cue sheet and roads for the 51 mile loop. Details of the ride are below.
Ride to Asbury
Monday morning at 10am I depart the Frenchtown Legion Hall on my Salsa Caseroll. I'm riding solo on a beautiful sunny 55 degree morning. I enjoy a nice warm up on Route 619 which is a flat three mile stretch to Milford. I turn off onto bridge street into the small riverside town. It is eerily quiet as the bridge to the Pennsylvania side is closed for repair. After a couple of quick turns, accurately depicted on the cue sheet, I am on Route 627 riding parallel to the Delaware River. It is a euphoric experience as the spring weather has transformed the area with colors of green and yellow everywhere. The run along the river is about six miles, which begins as flat, then becomes mildly rolling. It is an enjoyable section only hampered by the knowledge that at the turn off will be the most challenging climb on the 200k, Adamic Hill Road. Riders departing the Frenchtown control have 10 miles to allow their food to settle in before hitting one of the steepest climbs in the area.
|Waterfall by Delaware River on Route 627|
|A sign of things to come|
|Climb to the top|
|The historic windmill at the top of the climb|
|Say, is that one of them new fangled steel frames?|
|Asbury Deli and control|
|In the best of country tradition|
Return to Frenchtown
After a short coffee break and the removal of my arm warmers I'm back on the road. The temperature is now in the mid-sixties with mild winds. Just after the Asbury control there is a two phased climb that I've always found challenging. Mostly, because I always feel pretty stiff after a control. Hitting a good sized climb right away doesn't help. Today I've only ridden 30 miles to get here (it will be 60 for the 200k riders) and I only took a short break at the deli. I feel good on both hills. I fly down the back side of the second hill remembering to get on the brakes in time for the turn off before the bottom. Safely on Good Springs Road I notice the clouds moving in. It's plenty warm and no rain has fallen so I just enjoy the beautiful views, taking photos while rolling through the countryside. For the next ten miles of countryside there is minimal climbing, mostly just some rollers with an occasional small kicker thrown in. I come across a river crossing where I stop to photo the surroundings. After which I hit a small but steep climb. There is a succession of turns which leads me to Route 627 which is a pleasant rolling four miles to the Riegelsville Road turn. This leads one back past Mt Joy Road retracing the route along the Delaware back to Milford. The rolling hills are a bit easier in this direction, which is down river. The rock cliff is on my left. In places water is flowing from the mountain top down the rock face of the cliff. It is a quick six miles to the town of Milford and Bridge Street. After an easy three mile run, retracing the same route as the morning, I am back at the Legion Hall in Frechtown. It took me a total of four hours and fifteen minutes, which included some stopping to take photos, and notes on the cue sheet. The total distance of this section is 52 miles. The weather conditions were ideal. It was by far my most enjoyable solo ride of the season.
|A view from Good Springs Road|
|Bridge on Still Valley Road|
|Me, having more fun than should be allowed on a Monday|
It is easy to see why the Princeton 200k is a classic event. The route delivers a hearty challenge with as nice a scenery as the state has to offer. This year the date has been moved a bit later into the month of April making a cold weather day much less likely. This is not one to miss out on. The 200k is the best pick if one has the time and the conditioning. If not the 120k is a great option. You wont find a ride in the region that will surpass the quality of this one. The control at Frechtown is fully supported and staffed with experienced randonneurs. The Asbury Deli is a pleasant country restaurant with a friendly staff and plenty of tables offering riders a comfortable spot to rest.
I'll be working the start and finish this year for the third time. I look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces alike.
|I hope to see you. Boo-Ya!|