Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Central Jersey 200k aka The Ron Anderson Special

 I had the pleasure of testing a brand new 200k route on the NJ Randonneurs calendar.  The final NJ brevet of this season is totally due to the efforts of one Ron Anderson, a first time volunteer brevet organizer.  My friend Paul Shapiro and I would pre-ride the course, performing the mandatory check of  the cue sheet, roads, traffic, and establishing information control questions to be used on the calendar day.  We decided in advance we would both ride fixed gears over the modestly rolling route.

Princeton Junction to Englishtown - 19.7 Miles

On Saturday, September 17th, Ron met us at the start in Princeton Junction to see us off promptly at 7:30.  We were headed for the first information control in Englishtown.  Out of the shopping center we headed towards Cranbury.  It was a cool morning with mostly cloudy skies.  I wore a windbreaker and leg warmers to ward off the chill.  We quickly passed through Cranbury using CR 615 to cross Route 130.  We followed the county route for a number of miles turning off on Gravel Hill Road.  On this section most of the roads had modest amounts of traffic, with the one exception being CR 522 which we rode on for awhile with a steady stream of cars. However, there was a shoulder with enough room that neither of us felt at all uncomfortable.  Soon afterward we had covered the 19.7 miles arriving at the Monmouth Battlefield State Park.  We came up with an information control question and pushed off.    

Englishtown to Clarksburg - 10.6 Miles

Almost immediately after turning out of the park the aroma of fresh baked goods permeated the air.  It smelled to me like apple pie.  Paul said he thought it was cider doughnuts.  Whatever it was we were very tempted to stop at that roadside business, which was conveniently  located right on the route at the corner of Rt 33 and Wemrock Road.  Somehow, we managed to restrain ourselves and instead enjoyed the light rolling terrain.  We rode on a number of roads I recognized, all nicely paved with low traffic. And, just hilly enough to make it fun on the fixed gear.  Stagecoach Road lead us into the Clarksburg General Store, which is the control.  A number of riders from other rides were coming and going.  Needing just to top up fluids we were on our way quickly.

Clarksburg to Whiting - 19.2 Miles

This section represented a mixture of quiet country lanes and some busier county roads.  None were unpleasant, just different in nature.  Again, many of the roads were familiar to us (Yellow Meeting House, Red Valley, Emeley's Hill).  They've been used in part by other rides.  Given the late September date the traffic was lighter than what it had been during the summer.  That is until we came to CR 539,  We encountered a serious back up of traffic which we conveniently rolled past on the shoulder. As we got closer to the front of the jam we saw emergency vehicles blocking the road.  There was a phone pole sheered off and the crews were preparing to replace it.  The wires were hanging quite low across the road.  We snaked our way through without being told to stop.  I was a bit surprised at this as the wires were hanging rather precariously,  It may have been that by the time we were noticed by the police we were almost past.  We then had the pleasure of having the entire roadway to ourselves for the eight miles to the Super Wawa control at Rt 70.  What a hoot!
The over the shoulder shot of Paul riding on traffic free Rt 539
Whiting to Chatsworth - 13.4 Miles

After a fairly brief stop refreshing water and eating a half of a PBJ sandwich while Paul refreshed his Sustained Energy Mix we headed for the info control in Chatsworth.  Ron had found some new roads which were virtually void of traffic.  For much of the ride to this point we'd had benefit a slight tail wind.  This would soon change as our direction would be heading back to the north.  Of course, as things generally work out, it would pick up a bit once we were into it.  We arrived at the Volunteer Fire Company information control and established another question.  Our goal was easy one word answers, which so far we accomplished.  With out further delay we departed.

Chatsworth to Tabernacle 9.7 Miles

I recall this section as one of the flattest and also perhaps the nicest.  The roads were butter smooth, with that Pinelands look about them.  Again, traffic was minimal.  The day remained overcast and somewhat cool.  With the wind I needed my arm warmers to feel comfortable.  Paul managed without, but said he was a little chilly at times.  We cruised into the control which is a quaint country store called Nixon's.  It had rocking chairs lined up out front for store customers to sit, relax, eat and drink.  It was quite unique.  We purchased some snack foods and refreshed our water, taking a short break on the rockers.  After about 15 minutes we pushed off into the wind.
Those rocking chairs are inviting after 70 miles

Tabernacle to Columbus -17.2 Miles

We enjoyed more flat terrain with light traffic.  We crossed a number of busier roads, all documented on the cue sheet.  Mostly, the road selection here used country lanes.  We crossed, but did not ride on, the busier thoroughfares.  Paul and I continually commented on the accuracy of the cue sheet.  All the cues were impeccably written to avoid confusion. Both of us had done numerous check out rides.  We could never remember a cue sheet being this problem free. It was another enjoyable section which ended with our arrival at the control.

Columbus to Imlaystown - 19.7 Miles

Our stop at the Wawa control was brief.  We each mixed up fresh powdered beverages.  Other than an info control there would be no other stop until the finish, which was 35 miles away.  The wind still persisted, at times slowing us to about 13 miles per hour.  None the less we were comfortable with our progress and were not suffering in any way.  We found ourselves on some other familiar roads going through Georgetown, Chesterfield, and Crosswicks.  One of the fall century rides I'd done for the last six years uses some of this route.  The road markings were still visible from last years ride.  Once again, the riding was pleasant on this section.  We soon found ourselves at the intersection in Imlaystown, where we would establish an info control and corresponding question.  A quaint country inn located at the intersection had everything we were looking for. We had succeeded in our goal of easy one word answers for all the info questions.

Imlaystown to Finish 14.2 Miles

The final section was on roads a bit more open, which made the wind factor more difficult.  I projected we would finish before 6pm (under10hr 30minutes) which, for me, was a decent time on fixed.  That of course assumed that everything would go smoothly.  We'd not really encountered any kind of trouble.  But,  finally we did hit a snag when the cue sheet directed us to turn on Bresnahan Road, just after crossing over the NJ Turnpike.  The road at that spot was missing the sign.  We made the turn onto it, but at first appearance it seemed to be under construction.  There were orange barrels a few hundred feet ahead.  Thinking this was not the right road we reversed to check further up.  After continuing to the next intersection, over a mile, without finding another Bresnahan Road we took an alternate way to the opposite end of it.  Since there were no closed signs we decided to ride down it.  We found it was indeed open and safe to ride on.  The barrels did not actually block the road it just looked that way from a distance.  We were glad it was open as it is actually a nice road.  A little over three bonus miles where racked up in the process, which is why we test ride the routes before the official date.  We pushed through the final six miles to the finish getting back to the coffee shop at 6:06pm (10hrs 36minutes).


This ride is a fine addition to the New Jersey calendar, and the last offering of the season.  It is a prime opportunity to socialize with folks who are back from riding various1200k's.  The route is friendly for fixed gears, tandems and recumbents.  Or, just cruise it on your geared bike swapping stories with old friends along the way.  I encourage everyone to get out there so all Ron's hard work can be put to good use.  Ron himself will be riding along with you.  If you do see him on the course, piloting the purple Burley tandem, accompanied by stoker and wife Barb, take a minute to thank him for the great job.  Ride organizers receive no compensation, other than the appreciation of their fellow randonneurs.  Enjoy!

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