A New Year's Bike Overnight
Bicycle Adventurers: David and riding partner Joe (aka, Ranger Rick)
When: January 2016
Accommodations: Belleplain State Forest campground
Distance: 80 miles, 2 days
Bonus tip for this adventure:
- East Point Light House on the eastern shore of the Delaware Bay.
- We also visited the workshop of WoodyBicycles and saw how wood frame bikes are made. We even took a test ride on a wood frame two-speed cruiser.
- Also found an unusual "Zombie Crossing" sign along the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail.
Keep it frugal, Joe-style!
My riding partner, Joe, is the ultimate frugal rider -- quite possibly the result of having 4 daughters, two with pending weddings and two about to enter college, as well as many years feeding, transporting, and caring for said daughters' horses. Although Joe's daughters recently sold all their horses, Joe finds extreme pleasure in naming every horse we pass on our rides. His favorite names? "Not Mine," "Also Not Mine," "Yours," or "Stupid Horse."
Before purchasing a used Trek 7.3 on Craig's List, he rode a Trek 720 that looked like it was used during Bikecentennial 76. I think he still wears his daughter's Hello Kitty helmet. The best modification to his bike, besides the kickstand I gave him from my Trek 7.4 Disc, is a set of tennis balls on the bull horns. When it's cold he prefers cotton sweatpants from WalMart in lieu of moisture-wicking performance fabric from the local bike shop. He prefers raisins from a ziplock bag to energy bars; he's forever forgetting to bring water; and he can also stuff 3 bikes and 4 days worth of camping gear into the back of his Prius.
Dealing with the cold on our New Year's overnighter.
While daytime temps on our New Year's ride were predicted to be in the low '40s during the day and just below freezing at night, a set of lobster mittens, a balaclava under our helmets, and a pair of booties kept us at a comfortable temperature, even when riding against an offshore breeze along the promenade in Cape May. Joe just wears wool socks. We had also cached firewood at the campsite, along with a couple of t-bone steaks and half a dozen Yuengling lagers.
Belleplain is one of the very few state parks in New Jersey that allows winter camping, a fact lost on the general outdoor population, as nearly every one of the more than 200 sites or yurts was empty. Before stoking the fire and refueling on our steaks, we stretched our road-weary legs with a nice sunset hike around Lake Nummy, a feature of Belleplain State Park that teems with campers, boaters, and swimmers during the summer months.
Our lunch stopover at the East Point Lighthouse, located where the Maurice River empties into the Delaware Bay, was a highlight. We found refuge from the breeze on the leeward side of the 167 year-old lighthouse. Joe busted out his propane camp stove and we enjoyed hot Ramen noodles while watching a stiff ocean breeze buffet the sea boats that surround the lighthouse.
We had a great time and proved to ourselves that with a little extra planning, bike overnight adventures can happen in winter too.
Your favorite local bike shop? Caffeinated Cyclist, Pitman, NJ
Bike overnight tips and tricks? It's January on the east coast. Take warm gloves, a balaclava, and polyprop booties.
HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!