Rides We Like: Route 29 New Jersey
(2017) Several years ago I ran with a zippy crowd who crossed into New Jersey and turned north on route 29. I’ve had a bit of a resurgence of visiting this road in the past month because it’s worth the visit. Today was a nostalgic group ride with the lovely side effect of a pace line.
Many years ago we crossed the pedestrian bridge from Lumberville, PA, into Bull’s Island Recreational Area, NJ. The bridge itself was once a motor carriage bridge that was destroyed one time too many for designers to replace it. In its stead a concrete suspension bridge replaced the behemoth wooden covered bridges, which this area is certainly known for. It is a bridge of opportunity to send riders conveniently onto fresh roads and fresh experiences.
Route 29, as we’ve explained, is a newly resurfaced road that parallels the Delaware River. It is a two-lane road with equally wide shoulders. With the paving project being so recent, there is minimal debris on the shoulders for riders to herd together safely without alarm.
We started out in double file. This road, though, is best experienced in a single pace line and a hard turn, just like those days of old. With single file comes a greater chance to recover after an effort. Similarly, single file produces a better pursuit speed should any rider ahead dangle like a carrot for the leader.
All those years ago we formed a pace line that saw a regular meeting up with one rider. He just so happened to pass by heading south, turned around, and caught us single handedly. This happened for several weeks before the season came to a close and the regular ride was extinguished due to daylight. In other weeks several guys from a team heading south joined us. They latched on and it turned into a quick flight into Frenchtown, NJ. Today those riders who were on the northbound trip initially were all back.
This road is deceptive in its initial simple appearance. While it appears flat, rollers can zap the legs regardless of the direction. Should the wind come out of the north it becomes a struggle to get a satisfying average speed. If it comes out of the south it’s probably an inbound hurricane and why are you out there?
Anytime I feel the old inspiration to go, I am reminded of the brief scene in Seabiscuit when the horse remembers his purpose. When he sees the horse ahead, he picks up speed and begins his sorting out of feelings to become fast. With route 29 picking up in regular cycling traffic, I just may return to the regular plying of hard rides with hopes of getting the legs back to those olden days. Maybe I could use the riders ahead as carrots again and chase them down. If I’m not mistaken, I think horses quite like carrots.