Stoked DOGS Camp and Ride 2007

DateJune 29 - July 1, 2007
HostsCheryl Prudhomme and Mark Cook; and Brenda and Larry Isherwood
WhereStokes State Forest; Sussex County
Who (else) (C = camp only, R = ride only) Friday: Helen and Bob Bird (C), Jane and Paul Fialcowitz (C), Ed and Pat Gifford (R), Barbara Flint and Neil McPhee (C), Julie and Phil Latzgo, Renee Mayeux and Bud MacIlvain (C); Saturday: Helen and Bob Bird, Michelle and Rich Dittmar, Jane and Paul Fialcowitz, Barbara Flint and Neil McPhee, Ed and Pat Gifford, Julie and Phil Latzgo, Renee Mayeux and Bud MacIlvain, Tiffany Snow-Smith and Scott Smith, Linda and George Wells, Karen and Cam Witt; Sunday: Helen and Bob Bird (C), Jane and Paul Fialcowitz (C), Ed and Pat Gifford (R), Barbara Flint and Neil McPhee (C), Julie and Phil Latzgo, Renee Mayeux and Bud MacIlvain (C); Sunday: Helen and Bob Bird, Michelle and Rich Dittmar, Jane and Paul Fialcowitz, Barbara Flint and Neil McPhee, Julie and Phil Latzgo, Renee Mayeux and Bud MacIlvain. Honorable Mention: Deb and Al Cudworth: Al was ill.

This year's Camp & Ride was a rousing success. The rides from last year were so interesting and enjoyable that we once again returned to Stokes State Forest. However, for 2007 Brenda performed some great research and arranged for a group site. This precluded the necessity for each couple to reserve their own site -- a fabulous improvement over 2006.

The group site was replete with tables, barbeque grills, and a fire ring. Ample room to set up all of our tents. Tables were arranged so that we could prepare and consume food -- something at which we all seem to excel. After setting up camp, procuring a van full of firewood from the woods outside the park and grabbing a quick PB&J, we donned our cycling clothes for the infamous ride up to Sunrise Mountain Lookout. Four tandems slowly proceeded out of the park for a quick stint onto fast moving Route 206. Very soon, however, we were onto the typical "off-the-beaten-path" rural roads enjoying the beautiful countryside scenery. It was a slow climb to the top of Sunrise Mountain within the park. Eventually, we entered the parking lot at the top, dismounted, and headed up the path to the observation pavilion. From there we could view the valleys below in all directions. Takes one's breath away. We encountered a backpacker who was hiking the Appalachian Trail from Virginia to Maine. He stopped for a rest and a chat with us at the lookout. Back on the bikes we now headed back down the mountain at "tandem descent speeds" -- made it well worth the climb.

Back in camp, we all cleaned up in the showers that were at the bottom of our camp site -- very nice! The group, now expanding with the late day campers, got back into our cars to head to dinner just outside the park. Lots of good conversation ensued -- a precursor of the weekend events to follow. After dinner, now back in camp, we started a "little fire," sang some songs, toasted marshmallows and then crawled off into our tents for a well deserved rest.

The sun rose early as the campsite slowly came to life. I breathed life back into the fire and made a pot of coffee to take a bite from the morning chill. Bud and Renee hosted a fabulous breakfast of custom pancakes (M&M, banana and blueberry), juice, fruit salad, and toast. Much needed calories for today's ride. Eventually, we did get ready to exercise. The group assembled for Saturday's ride numbered 12 teams! It was quite encouraging to see that many couples ready to take on the hills of Sussex County. Today's ride was slated to go to the top of the High Point Monument -- the highest elevation in New Jersey! Unfortunately, the Birds and the Wells experienced some mechanical problems and decided to take the safe option, heading back home. We also received a call from one of the "regulars" -- Team Cudworth -- indicating that they were going to take a "sick day."

The weather was fabulous -- cool and breezy. The train of tandems headed up the other side of Sunrise Mtn. this morning, making its way towards High Point. The uphills were challenging but it was the descents that sent chills up one's spine. Several teams followed the route to the base of the monument. Cheryl, Cam and Karen were the only ones to walk over 200 steps to the top of the monument. Congrats! The ride down from the monument produced speeds of nearly 50 mph for most teams -- even with the brakes on! Once back at camp, these teams were hungry -- not a new concept to this group! Snacks, drinks, grilling on the open fire, "catching-up" conversation with old and new friends, s'mores, music and more ensued for the remainder of the day. As the sun set and the cool, moist air set in, we encircled the campfire once again to complete a very fine day of superb recreation.

Arose again to a glorious morning, already time to break camp -- a sign that our weekend of fun was quickly waning. For some of us who have WAY TOO MUCH stuff, the task is more challenging. Once cleaned up and filled with breakfast energy food, we left camp for our remote start at the Sandyston Middle School. This day's route would take us through a corner of the state where we briefly entered the states of New York and Pennsylvania. The ride had an option to go to Bushkill Falls which we all decided to skip. Eventually the group re-assembled in the parking lot at the school, exchanged hugs and bid each other warm "good-byes," promising to do it again next year. If you missed it this season, think about setting aside the date next year. The venue is quite accommodating, the ride routes are beautiful and the camaraderie is second to none. We indeed have a club filled with warm and interesting people. This is a fine way to get to share yourself with them.

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Copyright © 2007, Mark Cook (text), Brenda Isherwood (photos)