RUSA Belmar-Princeton-Belmar 200K solo on Saturday in central New Jersey. Thick soupy fog, four torrential rains, beastly hot sunshine, and delightfully cool cloudy winds. All in one day. It was great.
I rode the four miles along the ocean to the 6am start. Dozens of police, vendors, and organizers were setting up for the day's Belmar 5K foot race. Luckily, I was able to bike through the cordoned-off road, rather than have to detour even before the start of my ride.
I rode the first three hours without eyewear since it was so foggy. Fog instantly condensed on the lenses. I missed my rear-view mirror.
The housing market is booming back. I saw several new housing developments since I rode last summer.
Roadside poison ivy is booming too, vines hanging from trees over the road, and lush ground growth encroaching along the fog line. Be careful.
As I rode through Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force base, I heard lots of booms, but encountered no black helicopters this year. A few miles later, a huge lumbering four-engine propeller plane passed directly overhead to a landing. Neat.
A first: As I passed one of many horse farms, I saw two harness-racing rigs racing around a track. It looked like two large men in little recumbent chariots getting mud kicked up in their faces from the hooves. I laughed.
Firemen were collecting donations at the main intersection in Hightstown. I got stopped at the traffic light next to a friendly fireman. He chatted me up, and asked my route. He immediately interrupted me, incredulous, as I started listing towns. "Wait, Belmar at the shore???" Excited conversation followed. Yay rando.
One of the checkpoints is at a pizza restaurant in Cranbury. I couldn't resist. I sat for a slice. Delicious.
As a kid, I loved biking in the rain. I especially loved riding through lakes that formed in a nearby park (where the only hazard was bumping into a submerged picnic table, but that's another story). Saturday's rain was a throwback. Each time I rode through a storm, I got totally soaked, raised rooster tails through shallow puddles, and the rain temperature was comfortable and not freezing. Yay.
I did zen cycling most of the day. I had memorized the route and its recent updates, never looked at cue sheet or GPS. And no odometer. I 'woke up' several times wondering where I was, and always recognized my location shortly. Fun!
This is a great route. Many thanks to Rando Paul for creating and maintaining it.
Click here to see a few boring checkpoint photos