Sunday, June 5, 2011

NJ Transit 200k Permanent - Introducing Mellow Yellow II

For who haven't read my blog from it's inception in the winter of 2009 I should explain how it came to be called Mellow Yellow.  Due to an injury late in 2008 I converted to riding a recumbent for the 2009 season.  The change from riding uprights to recumbent was dramatic and difficult. I decided to document my progress by creating an online blog of my experiences with the new bike (see blog reports from 2009).  The bike itself is a Bachetta Giro with bright yellow paint.  I immediately began calling it Mellow Yellow. I would ride it for 9,000 miles in that single year completing an SR Series.  Although, I wasn't particularly fond of the color at first it gradually grew on me.

Riding the original Mellow Yellow on the 2009 PA Fleche
When I returned to riding uprights the following season I had a yearning to get a another bright yellow bike.  Though it couldn't be just a regular run of the mill bike.  It had to be special.  Something not everyone would ride.  It took me a full year to make the right choice, but finally here it is.  Out for its first 200k, the new Mellow Yellow, my intended ride for Paris-Brest.

Mellow Yellow II - Bike Friday Pocket Rocket - Triple Chainring in Canary Yellow
The bike was delivered to me just prior to the MS Ride.  With not enough time to ready it for the upcoming 170 mile weekend, it would have to wait for the following week to be ridden.  I would spend a full day setting up, test riding, and making adjustments.  I then did two 100k hilly rides with it that first week.  I was pleased, but wanted to try it on a longer ride.  The New Jersey Transit, the hilliest 200k permanent in New Jersey, would be ideal.  

Given it was time for the June R-12 ride.  My friend Al, who is working on his 2nd consecutive R-12, would join me for the 7am start in Hillsborough.  On the chilliest morning we've had in awhile (52F) we take out from the Mountain View Plaza. 

After a 13 mile flat warm up the Watchung Ridge is ascended via Morning Glory Road.  Some miles later we climb to the top of the ridge on Sky Top Drive, which leads us to the control in Summit.  The next segment is the hardest with continuous big rollers for the 34 miles to Budd Lake.  After which, the terrain softens until the Changewater information control.  Which is immediately followed by a knee breaking climb up Forge Hill Road.  A few climbs of lesser difficulty appear before arriving at the Hampton Control.  Soon after departing Hampton we encounter the "Twins".  The name I've come to call the back to back climbing of Wilson Avenue and Herman Thou Road.  Although, Wilson is the tougher of the two, they both take their toll on ones energy reserves.  Haytown Road and Cokesbury Road follow right after with Cokesbury ranking pretty high in the difficulty factor.  At the top of Cokesbury the turn is made onto Bissell Road.  With that the profile of the route changes dramatically.  The twenty-five remaining miles are on mostly flat to downhill terrain.  It sets the stage for a fast finish.  We take full advantage as we cruise to the Burger King in Bedminster.  Limiting our stop to about 7 minutes we continue our brisk pace to the finish besting our prior year's fastest time by 40 minutes with a finishing time of 10 hours 40 minutes.  An enjoyable day on the new bike.

Al Climbs by Jockey Hollow Historic Park

Lion on guard in Califon

Al starting the climb up Forge Hill Road in Changewater
The Bike Friday proved to be a competent climber taking all the major hills in stride.  It's a bit harder to control on fast descents having a tendency to to wander some.  None the less it did not hamper my speed at any point.  The bike also plays well with others.  Given the rider's position is the same as any upright it works fine riding in a pace line, or close to other riders.   I'm extremely optimistic about using it for PBP.  I'll know better after the 600k this coming weekend. 

Mellow Yellow II complete with Detours High Tail rear pack

It's funny how what I used to think was silly I now think is cool.  Twenty years ago I would have snickered at the thought of riding a folding bike.  Now it makes so much sense.  The Pocket Rocket can be folded into a regular size suitcase for travel purposes.  It is also allowed on trains most anywhere at any time.  I love using bikes for transportation.  Combining the use of a bike with public transportation opens up endless possibilities for car free travel.  

The Bike Friday manufactured in Eugene, Oregon is a wonderful piece of engineering.  It rides as well as any other bike I own.  There is little difference in feel, and so far I notice no disadvantage in using the folding bike on any ride.  I expect to be logging a lot of miles on it in the next couple of months.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.



  1. PBP on a folder! Exciting stuff. Look forward to checking it out at the 600K and reading the upcoming reports.

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