Howie Calls An Audible

DateSeptember 16, 2012
HostsNancy Robart and Howie Southall
WhereHewitt, NJ, Harriman State Park, NY
Who (else) Dale and Bill Fisher, Jane and Paul Kimmel, Linda and George Wells

Sunday morning, 16 September, awoke to the promise of another beautiful pre-Autumn day in New Jersey. Three DOGS teams packed up their tandems and headed to Hewitt, New Jersey (very close to Greenwood Lake) for a scheduled 35 mile ride. As usual, Team Wells was there ahead of schedule (George is more than a bit OCD about being on time--don't ask...), so we got to chat with Nancy and Howie before the other teams arrived. While we talked about re-riding the route we did on Saturday, 21 July, Howie announced: "We're not doing that ride, we're going to Harriman State Park." Howie called an audible. No cue sheets, the Garmin on Team Wells's tandem would record the event but not lead us through the various turns. As Teams Fisher and Kimmel arrived, everyone was informed of the change of plans, we got the tandems and tandemists prepared and, at 10:50:42 AM, (Linda checked the clock on their Garmin), we headed out following Howie and Nancy.

As we started, Nancy told us that this ride would be less hilly than the July ride. Technically, she was correct. However, at about 6.5 miles into the ride (just enough to warm up the muscles) the route headed up hill -- for the next two miles. We had already crossed into New York and we're on Sterling Road. (Think Sterling Forest, as that plays into the tale later on.) Ride With GPS informs us that the overall grade of this two-mile climb is only about 6.3% but that includes some plateaus that masks the maximum grade, which we hit at 7.3 miles of nine-percent! In fact, most of the climb consisted of steep grades interrupted by the occasional plateau. Of course this led to the Captains' dilemma in that we Captains could see the plateaus ahead thinking, hoping, and praying that this was "The Crest" -- alas, it wasn’t! Once the slight rest of the plateau was realized, the view ahead showed more climbing.

Sunday morning was chilly with temperatures in the 40's (Linda will tell you it was exactly 48 degrees), when Team Wells left their house, so we were wearing our long-sleeved DOGS jerseys and had leg warmers on in addition to cycling bibs and base layers. We decided that, despite the warming temperatures, we would leave the leg warmers on. We could always stop and take them off, we reasoned. (Back to the ride.) By the middle of the climb, George was wondering if the leg warmers were a good idea but there was nowhere to stop and remove them. Actually, that was a good thing. We finally crested the climb and waited with Team Fisher while Howie and Nancy had doubled back to escort Team Kimmel up to the crest and then we started down the other side. Once we were moving down, those leg warmers were not coming off -- it was pretty chilly at speeds in excess of 30 mph. We knew, from previous DOGS rides, that Team Kimmel are fast descenders and they passed us quickly after we started down. Team Wells no longer takes full advantage of fast descents, we moderate the speed we have been in and seen/participated in too many crashes, so we were in our usual position of "undisputed last place."

We finally got to the bottom and the road leveled out. Remember Sterling Forest? Every year they host a Renaissance Fair with people dressed in costume, and all kinds of entertainment. Well, this road goes right past the Fair Entrance to the park. So, Teams Wells and Kimmel got stopped with traffic as the local Police Department allowed the people coming for the festival to cross the street. Eventually, we got moving again. Unfortunately, our leaders and Team Fisher were already way up the road and we had no idea of where they were. So, we pedaled on, and on, and on.... Finally we stopped at an entrance to a branch of the New York State University and we called Howie's cell. They were just a bit up the road and we had a choice to make.

The decision was, were we half-way through the ride or only a quarter of the way? That would determine the route from this point. We all agreed that we were halfway so we took the exit off 17A and headed back towards New Jersey. Howie promised that this route would be flatter and actually similar to a rolling down-grade from the July ride. What Howie didn't tell us was that we still had four miles of slightly uphill roads before we got the promised rolling down grade. Ah, but when we crested the small rise at 16 miles we started to fly. This road was better for higher speeds, not as many turns and almost no intersections as we passed by entrances to Sterling Forest. There were few side streets -- hence, even Team Wells could go a bit faster (still not as fast as Team Kimmel). Actually, Teams Wells and Kimmel traded leads. They would pass us on the downs and we would pass them on the ups -- back and forth till we got to about 18 miles of the ride where Howie and Nancy and Team Fisher were stopped for a break (and probably wondering what had happened to us). Refreshed, we started back with more down grades and good speeds, back into New Jersey and to Route 511 which takes us to the turn for Howie and Nancy's house. We were dreading the climb up Awosting Road off 511 because it is long and steep. Fortunately, they brought us up East Shore Road which is a longer, but middle-ring climb back to Awosting Road and the short steep climb up to the turnoff for their house at 216 Long Pond Road.

Back to their house on the lake and we did what the DOGS always do post-ride: Eat and Talk and Talk and Eat. The route was just over 29 miles and that was just enough for a great DOGS ride. As usual the food was fantastic, and as always, too much.

Before we started to leave, we all discussed the upcoming DOGS ride on the 22nd and most of us will be there for the Ice Cream bars and to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox (did you plan that Mark?) While the hours of daylight are getting shorter, the DOGS rides have not ended. Also, we need a DOGS Team to step up and host the Annual Winter Solstice Party which is usually a late Saturday afternoon around 22 December.

Finally, there is no reason to stop hosting rides just because it is Autumn. We’ve had some of our most memorable rides in the cool crisp air of Autumn, so think about sharing that favorite ride with the rest of the club in October or November.

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

DOGS Home Page

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Copyright © 2012, George Wells (text)