Flee Fest

DateJuly 12, 2008
HostsBarb Flint and Neil McPhee
WhereTeam Flee home, Califon area
Who (else) Deb and Al Cudworth, Brenda and Larry Isherwood, Renee Mayeux and Bud MacIlvain, Lisa and Jim Osborne, Dave Snope, Linda and George Wells

Early Saturday morning, George was in the garage singing along with the Mary Chapin Carpenter's song "I Feel Lucky!", as he prepared the tandem and Team Wells' cycling gear to head out for a day of riding with our fellow DOGS . This was a good choice of song for what was about to happen to Team Wells on today's DOGS ride.

We all gathered at the home of our genial hosts--Team Flint/McPhee (Barbara & Neil) to participate in what was rated as a mostly hilly to hilly ride. The DOGS Team who joined us for this ride were: Osborne (Lisa & Jim), Treble (Imogene & Steve)--our newest DOGS members, Isherwood (Brenda and Larry), Mayeux/MacIlvain (Renee & Bud), Cudworth (Deb & Al), our hosts, Barb and Neil, Wells (Linda & George), and Dave Snope aboard his single bike because Susan was away on a family trip (visiting her brother in Maryland). Missing was Team Cook/Prudhomme (Mark and Cheryl) who had planned to ride with us today. As each team arrived for bagels, coffee, etc., before our ride began (approximately (9:55 AM), Barbara told us that Cheryl had called her -- from the Emergency Room at Morristown Memorial Hospital where she had taken Mark a little earlier in the morning! (Take care of yourself Mark. We all missed you!)

Following the traditional pre-ride picture (the first of many for Team Treble), we all headed down, Barbara and Neil's steep driveway and a left on to Vernoy Road. For a short while, the pack was not too strung out but the first volley of climbs, with cold legs, did start to separate the riders. A mere four miles into the route, Team Wells got their first reason to sing "I Feel Lucky!" When slowing for a right hand turn, we caught some gravel under the rear wheel and it skidded out. (Linda felt the skid and didn't move and, for once, didn't say a peep. (She was praying.) Visions of road rash flashed through George's mind as he managed to straighten up the tandem and negotiate a left hand turn. Team Osborne was behind us and saw what was happening. They were sure that we were going down. Our legs were shaking, so we stopped at the same time two girls in a car pulled up beside us. (They hadn't seen what almost happened.) All they could see was this long bike with two people on it. They were very interested in our tandem and hear a little about tandeming. That changed our focus (from the almost fall), and we went into "sales mode." We gave them one of Mel's business cards as well as one of the DOGS cards. (Perhaps they will visit Mel, get themselves a tandem and join the DOGS.)

Back on route, we continued to find the right spots to shift down into the 26-tooth chain ring as we climbed many of the steep and most of the long grades that comprised the route of Saturday's ride. We got a small bonus of a nice downhill run along Mountain Top Road down to Musconetcong River Road, where we made a fortuitous mistake. We missed the right hand turn on to Shoddy Mill Road (and yet more climbing) and, in so doing, cut off a little less than half of the total planned 43 mile route. This was a blessing for Team Wells because, while we only missed a few hundred feet of the day's total climbing of around 3500 vertical feet, we had slightly fresher legs for the long climbs yet to come. We got lucky again!

We called Neil and Barbara when we realized that we were "off route" only to find that our mistake actually resulted in our actually being back on the route, only missing some miles in-between. We found the appropriate cue -- 30.5--Main Street -- that had a long, gradual climb that we did in our 26-tooth chain ring, then a sharp left (SL) onto Bell Avenue, after which we had a long uphill on Red Mill Road (also completed in our 26-tooth chain ring, shifting among the 26-, 30-, and 34-tooth cogs as the grade shifted between nine and 15%.) Fearing that we had missed the turn onto West Hill Road, we actually stopped at what turned out to be the last house on Red Mill Road, to double-check our directions. We were told that the turn on to West Hill Road, was less than a tenth of a mile from the crest and the eventual drive down to Route 513 that would bring us back to Califon. We mounted the tandem and made the final ascent.

The prize for all that climbing was a nice downhill on Rocky Run that took us to Route 513, where we were treated to smooth pavement and more downhill riding where we could coast at speeds approaching 40 MPH. We then made a right onto Hoffman Crossing Road that took us into downtown Califon, where we crossed Main Street onto Mill, then familiar Bank Street, past Califon Island Park, onto Vernoy and back to the final climb of the day -- Team Flint/McPhee's driveway! We finished the ride at right around 26 miles logged. Dave Snope who had ridden the alternate 21 mile loop was there waiting for the return of the pack. The time was 12:35 PM on Linda's watch.

Overall, the ride was scenic and most of the roads shaded so it was nowhere near as hot as it could have been. Yes, the climbs were challenging and the downhills exciting. It was good for us to have finished with less than the programmed 43 miles because we think we would have been wiped out if we had gone the full distance. While we waited for the return of the rest of the teams, Dave got a call on his cell phone. It was Mark, calling to let everybody know that he was due to be released from the hospital sometime Saturday afternoon.

It was after Mark's call that the Pelethon started to arrive, with Team Isherwood first, followed, shortly thereafter, by the rest of the riders. Then we had a marvelous picnic with shared goodies, along with burgers and dogs and different kinds of Klondike Ice Cream Bars (yum!) provided by our hosts. Team Treble had to leave early but promised to see us at another DOGS ride. There was also talk among the picnic participants of an upcoming, although not yet scheduled, "Dirty DOGS" ride on dirt roads and trails for all those with fat tires.

If climbing all day is not your idea of a perfect day of tandeming, then maybe next Saturday might be your "cup-of-tea." Team Sklarow/Nesbitt (Pete and Laura) are hosting their initial DOGS Ride. They promise flat roads with barely a ripple. And there are more offerings on the web-site. We are anxiously anticipating seeing all of our DOGS friends at the next ride.

Linda & George Wells
Leaders -- Doubles Of the Garden State (DOGS)

PS: For the feline fanciers, Mr. Muggles is doing very well and managed our prolonged absence without incident.

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