Four Hills Loop

After taking time off to work up a couple of stories for FasterSkier, it’s a belated return to posting here.  There have been a few stories that didn’t make it here.  As my knee is acting up, the bike has been a big presence in the last few weeks.  (Euflexxa has a half-life, but that’s a story for another day.)  Last week, I was out with Lars and his neighbor through the back of beyond in Warren County.  A ride with great company and a good mix of flats and hills.  On Sunday, I was looking to reprise what I call the Four Hills loop, a staple from last summer.  Incorporating sections of the NJ Gran Fondo route, it’s somewhere between 40 – 45 hilly miles.

Mea culpa, it’s New Jersey.  You’re not gonna get huge climbs like a mountain stage in the Tour de France.  But if you go to  the right spots, you can beat yourself to a pulp with lots of small, steep hills, interspersed with rolling terrain that wears you down.

It was way warmer than the forecast, a welcome change to this spring’s cool weather.   Picking my way down to Mendham Township, I went over Old Army Road, featuring the first hairpin turn of the day, dropping in to Bernardsville.  A fox darted across the road in front of me.  Focused on forward motion, there was no way to extract the phone from my back pocket for a photo.

After three uncomfortable miles on Route 202, I dove on to Mount Harmony Road, featuring the second hairpin turn of the day.  Staying right after the church, I wended my way to Peapack for a restorative double espresso.

Originally, I’d planned to go up Black River Road in Pottersville and return via Chester, but I was running short on time.  So I headed back into Far Hills via Lake Road and up the stair step climb of Penns Brook.  The second fox of the day crisscrossed the road repeatedly, looking at me over its shoulder.  I wondered if it was sizing me up as prey.

At this point, the climbing began to get tough; I don’t have the leg strength that I had at this time last year.  I stood up to get over Penns Brook and Post Kennel before plummeting down to Mendham.  From there, I labored up the double whammy of Cold Hill Road and Woodland Road.  Then it was one more short grunt hill before cruising home.

Considering that I didn’t use an indoor trainer at all during the winter, it was a good day.  I’ve got some catching up to do, strength-wise, but that will come.  All in all, a great day!